The romance of hand crafting, with Minima

"Hand crafting has a sort of romance about it."
Especially when it's made in Australia using ethically-produced, vegetable-tanned leather.

Amanda Lee is the designer and artisan behind handcrafted leather handbag and accessories label, Minima.

The Perth-based creative studied her craft in Italy, going beyond handcrafting techniques to learn as much as she could about the leather tanning process to get a holistic view of the industry she was diving into.

Every single piece Amanda crafts uses no machines - and her attention to detail is obvious.

Minima founder Amanda uses no machines! Image via Minima

"It is a craft that has been passed from generation to generation, holding many traditions. This for me makes something hand crafted more valuable. It is a passion!" Amanda says.

"Hand crafted goods change over time, as do we.

"I want my customers to have an ongoing experience and not just an everyday purchase."

"I hope people can appreciate the workmanship that is involved in making a product by hand and to think from time to time ‘wow, someone actually made this! This has human value’."

What began as crafting leather gifts for friends and family quickly turned into a love for Amanda.

It's all in the detail for Minima. Image via Instagram
"The process became so emotionally rewarding that I decided to turn it into a business so I could follow my new found passion," Amanda says.

Minima uses only vegetable-tanned leathers, meaning they will break down without harm at the end of their life. No animal is killed for its skin; the raw hides used are the discarded by-products of the food industry.

Of course this has an aesthetic positive too.

"Not only is it great that they are ethically produced but this also give the leather its visual appeal. By not using so many chemicals and being extensively processed the leather has a more natural look."

I couldn't help but ask Amanda what she thought about the growing trend towards 'vegan leather' in accessories, as often these materials are simply plastic.

"Most vegan leather that we see today is what was once called 'faux leather' made from plastics and petrochemicals," Amanda explains.

"Some smaller companies are endeavoring to make vegan leather with natural products - like tree bark and Piñatex - that is good for the environment, and I hope these companies succeed."

Minima tan clutch, made by hand. Image via Minima Instagram

When it comes to sustainability there's not a lot the Minima brand hasn't incorporated. 

Leather off-cuts are used for key chains.
Image via Minima
From vegetable tanning to knowing her supply chain (all Minima leather is sourced from a traditional Tuscan tannery that's part of the Genuine Italian Vegetable Tanned Leather Consortium), Amanda works to minimise her materials and waste. 

Off-cuts are reused for things like key chains or donated to craft groups; dust cloth bags are made from unbleached calico and recycled cardboard is used for packaging.

But there's another aspect of sustainability Amanda says we need to think about more: the production, not just the product.

"I think it is important to support and promote small businesses, especially those that can pass on knowledge and developed techniques, because without them we will be in a mass-produced world with only fast fashion left!"

I couldn't agree more.

-  Ash

Minima artisan Amanda Lee making her leather accessories by hand.


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