Life Life

28/09/2021 - 08:46

Hoang Anh Tuan and the passion for handmade leather products

Surging of passion, Hoang Anh Tuan had given up his stable graphic design job to pursue his making handmade leather products.

Hoang Anh Tuan is meticulously carving on leather

Starting up his business with handmade leather products

I have known about Up Leather's leather products for the first time at the exhibition space of the program “Kindness”, which was held in Hue in October 2020. Beautiful and delicate leather wallets, bags, backpacks, belts, bracelets, watch straps, and camera cases, etc., which are designed and crafted from high-quality leather material, have made many people full of admiration.

It is more surprising that these products are completely made by hand by the young married couple Hoang Anh Tuan (at No. 1 Lane 123, Nguyen Sinh Cung Street, Hue City).

From his passion for film cameras, Tuan had made his own leather camera straps and cases. After seeing these beautiful products, people with the similar interest ordered them. From the initial aim to make the products for him, the turning point for Tuan to decide to stick with handmade leather products was the experience from his trip to Japan.

It was in 2015 when Tuan had the opportunity to go to Japan and participate in an experience program at a leather products manufacturing company. Surprisingly, this company highly valued the products made by him and decided to buy them. They also invited Tuan to Japan to continue working.

Hoang Anh Tuan recalled: "When I come back home, I wondered that the products, made by me, had been highly valued by the Japanese, why not develop the leather industry right in the land with many traditional occupations and talented craftsmen, like Hue? That thought pushed me to quit my steady job as a graphic designer to start a business with handmade leather products. After overcoming many challenges, I have persevered in building the "Up Leather" brand name in Hue.”

All Up Leather’s products are made of genuine leather imported from Italy, France and Japan. Therefore, Tuan had difficulty finding the materials in the initial stage. The source of genuine leather materials in Hue is not available, he has to order them from big cities and also from abroad.

Tuan had to take the risk as he was not being able to directly check the materials. He ordered them from many places and then chose the reputable ones. The investment in materials and equipment for leather making also requires large expenses. In addition to the equipment and tools that must be ordered from abroad, there are some tools that Tuan has to create by himself.

A wallet is delicately carved with flowers and leaves

Unique personality of each product

Tuan, who graduated in graphic design major from Hue College of Education, has designed all of the products himself; however, only well drawing would not turn into perfect products, as he had absolutely had no sewing experience. In order to make beautiful products, with sharp seams…, Tuan has to carefully calculate each stitch, he works and learns at the same time.

He also hasn't had much time working on leather. It is also a long process for a newbie like Tuan to distinguish genuine and beautiful leather from others, as well as understanding the characteristics of each leather type, which require accumulating experience through practice.

Tuan shared: “In order to make beautiful and quality leather products, it is necessary to choose good materials. The product structure is also calculated according to the demand of each customer so as to ensure the durability of the products. For dyeing the leather, colors must be mixed well in order to create natural color gamut. The craftsmen need to ensure that the products are both functional and aesthetically pleasing, while creating the user’s own style and personality.”

Each product is entirely handmade, so it is done very elaborately and meticulously. He designs, dyes, slices, cuts, sews, and carves… himself. Tuan emphasizes the user's personal imprint on each product. All of Up Leather’s products are exclusive.

In addition to the exclusive designs, the products are designed according to personal preferences; and, their functions meet the demand of each customer. In order to increase the aesthetics of each leather wallet and bag, he also carved them with images of animals, patterns, flowers, leaves, and names, etc. This step takes a lot of time and effort.

Up Leather’s products are loved and trusted by customers. Thanks to the introduction of customers who have used his products, Tuan obtains a certain number of customers and affirms his brand name in the handmade leather products market in Hue.

Many customers from Ho Chi Minh City, Hanoi and also abroad have become Tuan's regular customers. Doctor Nguyen Dac Nguyen (Hue University Hospital of Medicine and Pharmacy), a regular customer of Tuan shared: "I have used Up Leather’s products for six years, including many leather watch straps, bags, and wallets, whose quality is very good. A watch strap, which I have used for six years, is still stay in good condition. The values of leather products are that they are handmade, good quality leather, and unique. Tuan's products meet all of them.”

Up Leather's products are handmade, so they cannot be mass-produced. Meanwhile, the orders are quite large, and Tuan is not able to handle all of them. He had also recruited workers, but after being trained, they chose to quit as not everyone can persevere with this job.

To pursue his passion, Tuan has to give up stable job opportunities and many other hobbies to spend all day focusing on sewing meticulously. However, for Tuan, leather products are full of attraction. He often envisions the products’ shapes before starting to work on them, and the joy of customers when using his products is the motivation for Tuan to pursue his passion.

Story and photos: Minh Hien