We caught up with Lauren of Trinidad Leather for the next interview in our Meet the Maker Series! We talk about beginnings of the company, where Lauren's inspiration and influence comes from, future plans, and what she's been up to lately! Lauren shared that her brand has grown to be more "normal" now - and when she says "normal," it might not be what you're expecting. Catch it below -
Where does the name Trinidad Leather come from?
There’s an LED sign behind a welding warehouse down Hwy. 6 on the way to Hearne that says Trinidad on it. I don’t know why it’s there, I don’t even think that’s the name of the welding business. But it was lit up one night & I thought it looked so cool. I probably forgot about it but then was driving that way a month or so later & saw it again. I decided I liked the word Trinidad too, not just the sign & kept thinking about if I were to ever start up a business of items I made, I’d name it that. Just for fun. But then a couple weeks later, I was reading through all these old letters from my grandma & in one of them she was telling me about when her & my grandpa had moved to Trinidad while he was in the Navy, right after they got married. I figured that was confirmation enough & decided to name my leather projects after that.
We love your logo. What inspired the design?
To be honest I just knew I needed one. I wanted something simple & geometric that could be a semi-abstract representation of the name. (T for Trinidad.) My boyfriend is really good at drawing so he helped me go through some iterations until we found one we liked!
When and how did you get started in leather making? What was one of the first items you made?
I lived in Austin last summer & didn’t know a ton of people so outside of my job & my internship, I read & I crafted. When I was in highschool, I had found a piece of poly-leather material. No idea where it came from, but I had cut it into pieces to make a backpack with it. I got (& still get) pretty over eager with projects I wanted to make, so I think it just sat there after I realized “how am I supposed to stitch this?” Anyways, I came across that material again before I left for the summer, brought it with me, & stitched it all together with only a sewing needle & sewing thread. Basically the very incorrect tools for stitching that sort of material. My hands were really blistered. Once I finished, I wore it once, messed with the closure the whole day because it didn't work (go figure, I had zero supplies), felt mixed emotions towards it the whole time, & finally decided that it was a bad backpack but it was fun to make & I wanted to try again. With correct tools & knowledge.
What are some of the things you've learned since starting Trinidad Leather?
It’s a dang expensive hobby. Just kidding, that’s not the main takeaway but I quickly learned that leatherworking was no joke. The learning curve has been steep! I’m continuously learning new methods of leatherworking, to price correctly, & how to present a consistent voice through my brand.
What inspired your leather crafting? Where do you currently get inspiration from?
One of my favorite companies is Mansur Gavriel. They do leather bags & goods & also do clothing. They’re bright & bold but also really tasteful & I like that because I think you can still be functional with a fun product. & that’s where I draw a lot of inspiration from - be playful with your design but make it useful.
Your instagram feed has really taken a life of its own - where do you draw inspiration from, or what's the process behind curating your feed?
I like color & contrast & fun. I follow a lot of brands who have a similar style, so it’s easy to be inspired. It’s also a personal challenge. I’m not a photographer but there’s something about being able to represent your own product with your own styling & your own photos. I make these products but I want to bring them alive with color & fruit & flash as well as tidbits of the process of how they were crafted.
How do you think your business or style has evolved since you started?
I am being a lot more normal now. & by that I mean, when I first started up, I would talk on Instagram really plainly & businessy. Not me. Now I feel a lot more at ease to be myself - be sarcastic, use emojis, be personal. Obviously, communicating directly with clients is a little different & more professional than instagram captions. But I still always try to make sure they’re talking to me. Not dry, business me.
How do you pass the time while you're working on your leather goods. If it's music, is there a playlist you'd like to share with the readers?
Music or a Netflix! I usually like classical or chill, vibey tunes when I’m working. When I’m unmotivated is when I pull out the big guns. I stick in headphones, crank the volume unhealthily loud, & listen to some rap until I get hyper & then I’ll be good to go. But overall, I have one song I must share: Oui by Jeremih. I love it & have loved it & will always love it. I do not know why, that song is not cool. But it's catchy.
You're always wearing something cool when we see you. Do you have plans to incorporate clothing in Trinidad Leather?
Not currently! At least not while I’m in school, I don’t think I could handle it. I do love to sew & that’d be so fun so maybe in the future I’ll give clothing a whirl. I’m sure it would be awhile, don’t wait up.
We know you did an internship in New York this summer - tell us a little about it!
I was in Catskill, NY working for a small clothing brand who does ethical manufacturing & handmade products, sewing & doing production. Living up there was amazing. There’s a bunch of towns within a 10-20 mile radius & they’re all main street towns with their own little feel & community. Since they’re all different but so close, it’s easy to make a fun day of it without having to drive too far. My favorite thing to do is make & sometimes that’s not always only leather goods, so getting to sew & make clothes & accessories all summer was the best.
What should we expect from Trinidad Leather in 2019?
Hopefully some larger projects! I’m slowly transitioning to keeping only a few consistent “lines” of items & creating more one-of projects. Some of the designs I’m wanting to make are too time consuming to keep up with during school, so instead of feeling the need to make a whole set of inventory of those, I’ll be making them one or two at a time & that’s all of that item I’ll sell. I’ll be keeping the most popular items of course - the veg tan wallet, wall pocket, & laptop sleeve.
Do you have any advice for someone who wants to become a maker?
Go for it! Research. Learn. Experiment. I’ve always loved making & using my hands & I love seeing other people who are like minded in that go for something they love.