With the world moving a little faster every year and our lives rushing past us at the speed of light, we at Els & Co. turn back time to an era when craftsmen could live out their passion. A time when pride in what you made was more important than how many you could make.
Our vision is to revive the lost art of leather craftsmanship and to produce beautiful, well designed yet practical products that you’ll only have to purchase once in your lifetime.
Throughout the centuries leather has always been synonymous with quality and durability, with hand stitched leather products often outliving it’s first owner. Els & Co. originated from a passion for leather. The touch of it between your fingers, the smell when you handle it, the way it gets better every year you use it. When cared for it ages like a good bottle of red wine becoming more than what it was when freshly bottled. It softens to the touch, gains ‘battle scars’ and develops character, charming its current owner into wanting to use it.
Like a good red wine, to craft an exceptional product you have to start with the best components. And so our products are crafted from the best quality top grain vegetable tanned leather we can find. We source solid brass buckles and clips from small artisanal foundries, and the canvas and felt we purchase from weavers that have been in business for over 200 years. To further achieve that genuine old school finish we brush dye the leather, then oil it with our own mixture of beeswax and animal fat. After moulding the leather it is painstakingly hand stitched, an art in itself that takes several years to master. The result is a product that looks and feels like it was made 100 years ago, abundant in charm, and it will last lifetime.
Finding craftsmen in a mass-producing world is no small feat. We do however believe in the abilities of the millions of people of our beautiful country for whom there are very few opportunities to escape the poverty cycle they are trapped in. And so it became our mission to train as many of these wonderful people as we can and over time to build a team of true craftsmen who have intimate tactile knowledge of this dying art form. Our crafstmen start their journey with us as an apprentice, moving on to junior, senior and finally master craftsmenship. Reaching senior craftsmenship can take up to 18 to 24 months, but reaching master craftsmenship can take up to 5 to 7 years.
We employ primarily Xhosa women because the Xhosa tribe has an underlying sense of pride, and pride in what you do is the first step to becoming an exceptional craftswomen. Further more we believe that women, on average, are socially more responsible than men which will lead to the upliftment of not only our craftswomen but their families too.
Every product is made from start to finish by an individual craftswoman and is proudly embossed with a stamp of her initials. On our website you’ll find a bio on each woman with a sample of their signature stamp to easily identify who made your valuable leather item. Our entire team of craftswomen had no prior knowledge of leather craftsmanship before they joined Els & Company and ‘hand in hand’ we trained each other to the very high standard we pride ourselves in today.
So when you’re investing in an Els & Co. product you are not only buying a top end leather item, you’re also buying into our belief that we can all make a difference, one small bit at a time.
At Els & Company we believe that people are yearning for a product with a soul that will enrich your life and last a lifetime. We are here to fulfil that yearning and to contribute to the finer things in your life.