Letters from Zoë: April 2020
Support for Hobbyists
There has been debate about hobbyists in recent months. There was an idea that hobbyists are devaluing the worth of trained leatherworkers and saddlers, which quite frankly isn’t true in the slightest. The real truth is that hobbyists are so important to keeping the fascination and constant attention drawn towards leatherwork.
In the many forums and groups, I love to watch the communities develop as they pass tips, tricks and general advice over to both professionals and newbies alike. Especially in times like these, it is humbling to still see people encouraging and helping each other. The passing of ‘trade secrets’ as many would consider; is what makes apprenticeships and mentoring programmes so valuable to traditional saddlery training. There are so many instances and situations you just simply can’t be taught in a classroom, course or on your own. Sometimes you simply need to ask advice on the best route to take.
Saddlery differs much in the fact we are trained for welfare and safety of horse and rider and that requires formal training but I can always wish that one day I will create bags, accessories and wallets as stunning as some of the people who are regarded as ‘hobbyists’. The key to this is the community. Even throughout these tough times over the past weeks, I’m sure everyone has been touched with some sense of help, support and encouragement. The Saddlery and Saddle Fitting industry like many others is struggling. With many overseas imports of cheap and low-quality leather goods and fittings, our traditional quality and British made is often forgotten. Many people don’t know it’s even a possibility to hand-make bridle work, dog collars, belts and accessories.
This trade ignorance is what many of us are trying to educate, breaking down the stigmas and encouraging people to invest in traditional leather goods. With much of our income usually based on saddle fitting at this time of year, as we go into competition season, the lockdown and stopping of all saddle fitting has really created testing times for not only saddlers but many businesses.
The truth is I’m really hoping this virus pandemic which has caused worldwide trauma and distress, will lead people to appreciate British made goods and will encourage people to invest in the leather goods community more. Bring back proper British quality which also includes our British made manufacturers and suppliers for leather and fittings. Companies such as Abbey England and Sedgewick and Co are true and British made from start to finish
Til next time,