Stumped for gift ideas, Northbrook man starts leather goods business

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A dearth of Christmas gift ideas a few years ago led a Northbrook man to produce his own handmade leather goods. Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, he has started his own business, Cash and Card Leather Co.

Among the items Nikola Arandjelovic, 22, produces in his home workshop are wallets crafted from a single piece of leather, as well as bags and backpacks, which he sells at markets such as craft fairs as well as online at cashcardleather.com.

“I always liked working with my hands since I was a child, and I decided I would try out leather work because I knew I could find some really easy-to-follow patterns online,” Arandjelovic said. “I ended up making a backpack and a little felt pouch for a couple of my family members, and then, after that, I realized I really enjoyed doing leather work.”

After a year of experimentation, Arandjelovic found his “style,” and over the course of the pandemic started his business. He also took classes at a Chicago trade school to learn bag-making.

His product line includes the wallet and bags and backpacks styled for both men and women.

Wallets, which sell for $39, originate with the same pattern and have different color options. The green Jolly Wallet is an item available for the Christmas season.

Bags, which feature a handle at the top, are $169, while backpacks are $349.

Over the years, Arandjelovic has purchased wallets from stores, only to be disappointed to find they are comprised of thin pieces of leather that are glued together, which tend to fray and fall apart. He said he wanted to make something that would last for years.

        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        

 

“The main difference is that it’s one piece of leather that is folded on itself, and it creates one primary pocket,” Arandjelovic said.

He takes pride in the fact that his items are produced locally, and with the exception of thread, which comes from Germany, all materials come from U.S. sources.

Wallets are produced in batches and start out as a tan-colored piece of leather cut into a shape that resembles an airplane. During the production process, color is added, the leather is stamped with his company logo, then it is folded over a stack of credit-card sized plastic pieces, clamped, and stitched in one corner with thread using a sewing machine. His website includes a link to his YouTube channel, which offers a peek at how his pieces come together.

His workshop occupies a corner of his bedroom, and this arrangement allows him to keep costs down. The business is currently a part-time endeavor, though he was encouraged by the fact that he sold out of items at a recent Alabama craft fair.

I’m focusing on growing my business into something that is more self-sufficient,” Arandjelovic said. “Right now I’m trying to grow this into something I can live off 100%.”

        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        

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Originally Appeared Here