All Cheshire & Wain leather cat collars are made in-house at our East London studio by small leather goods maker extraordinaire - Chiara Carnevale. Chiara has over fifteen years of experience working with leather. She approaches her craft with great respect for this beautiful material, and this care is reflected in every collar she makes for us at Cheshire & Wain!
This Black Friday, we are offering up to 65% off perfectly imperfect collars, or 'seconds', that didn't entirely meet Cheshire & Wain's high standards during quality control. I caught up with Chiara about leather-working and what makes a collar a 'second'.
SF: Hi Chiara! Thanks for taking some time away from making to talk to me about cat collars. We've worked together for nine years, so I'm no stranger to your keen eye for detail when it comes to your craft, but for our readers that might not know, can you tell me - what do you mean by a cat collar being a 'second'?
CC: Hi Sonja! The idea of a ‘seconds sale’, I believe, was started by ceramicists who were looking for a way of selling their wares that had become aesthetically flawed during the firing process, but were still entirely functional. Over the last few years, this way of selling has been embraced by craftspeople and makers across all different pathways, primarily as a way to reduce waste.
In regards to Cheshire & Wain, a seconds sale is a perfect solution when working with an organic material such as leather. Leather is lovely to work with, but imperfections such as mottling, small scuffs or discolouration are a natural aspect of this organic material. When I prepare the leather for production, the irregular edges of the cowhide are trimmed away - these pieces become our offcut products, like leather teaser toys or Christmas baubles. The main surface is then cut into panels - cutting around slight imperfections would cause a great deal of waste, which has always been an issue for me. We make a conscious decision not to avoid areas with natural markings, with the knowledge that any collars that have natural markings will be sold as part of our seconds sale.
SF: What other factors constitute a second?
CC: Over the course of the year during our production runs, it's inevitable that some collars don't quite make the grade. These are handmade products, so mistakes during production do happen - I'm only human! Certain factors that would make a collar a second could be veering slightly off course with the stitching, being overzealous with the rivet press or embossing wonky branding. Some of these details are barely noticeable, and none of these imperfections affect the quality or integrity of the collar, so it would be such a shame to discard these products due to superficial flaws.
SF: So these are the 'seconds' that are discounted in the Black Friday Sale?
CC: That's right. Knowing that these collars can still be sold - albeit at a discounted price - puts my mind at ease that the bare minimum will be wasted during the production process. This also reduces the amount of pressure I put on myself which is beneficial to my wellbeing as a maker.
In addition, the fact that we opt for having a seconds sale instead of a Black Friday sale on products already made, is a way that we can offer discounts to our customers and take part in Black Friday without having a negative impact on our business and on the environment. Black Friday can be a pressure cooker where people expect huge discounts, which very often small and independent businesses are unable to offer. Opting for a seconds sale, not only reduces our material waste, but also makes our products more accessible.
SF: Well, that can only be a good thing. Thanks so much Chiara. I think there are going to be a lot of very happy kitties getting their paws on a perfectly imperfect Cheshire & Wain product during the sale.