Daniele Caselli, in art “Cuor di Pelle“, is one of our Florentine artisans.
This young craftsman makes leather bags, whose peculiarity is the seam made entirely by hand, in the shop that once belonged to his grandfather. We went to interview him there, asking him what led him to choose this lifestyle .
1) How did your love for this art come about? And how did you become a leather craftsman?
Early there was a passion in my family: my grandfather was a tailor and I went to his store. He had his work and I had my little table for drawings. I was often with him because I was intrigued by the kind of life he did: in contact with people in a creative world that was continually renewed itself. My grandfather passed away in 2003, but my family already wanted to sell it and I defended it for 18 years.
As for my love with the leather: I realized that the tailoring was not able to offer me what I was looking for. The fabrics were too fragile for me and this promptly led me to find something different. When I had the first physical contact with the skin… I fell in love with it like many.
I studied quite differently, so I took some lessons from relatives and searched on the internet, it’s experimentation that does all. There are no standards or precise rules for making constructions in leather, it’s enough have a little common sense and a lot of dexterity. Or maybe I just found it natural.
I was a tradesman early and later I became a craftsman. After commissioning some work I saw that didn’t come out well and there are some other problems with the unit production… so I started doing them in first person. Now, when I create a new product, I make the first piece entirely by hand. Thanks to this I understand where I can simplify and optimize the process.
The thickness of the leather and its structure are two very important variables. A very thick and soft skin is something completely different from a less thick and more rigid one. They have very specific physical characteristics that lead them to not be able to make certain curves or not, plus some are too manipulable and have no structure.
2) There were difficult moments during your journey? What would you do differently?
There were so many difficult moments at start. Before I had to commission all the models and was a very difficult time for me because I didn’t have an alternative.
Fortunately it was never a question of sketchy work, most of the finishings were fine, but there was really a difference between what I said and what was done. I suppose they did things as they used to do, instead of following my instructions. The fact is that the final product did not comply.
There are difficult times even now. Working for yourself means reinventing yourself every day, finding new ideas every day to stay relevant. But the difficulties are not everything, there are also beautiful things.
3) Do you have something unique?
There are. You can see some making of on my facebook page .
My “trademark” (so to speak) is the hand stitching. In the shop I sew everything by hand. The love for this art comes from my past, from when I watched my grandfather. In particular, I remember that all starts with a memory of my grandmother mending, she could easily talk to me looking at my face as nothing.
For a time I experimented a very beautiful seam that involves two threads and four needles, but otherwise I use rather classic stitching paying particular attention to the regularity of the stitches.
4) Do you have future projects already in mind or already in the pipeline?
I noticed that the “raw” style is very popular, because it looks a bit vintage, so I have four new models that I would like to launch as soon as possible.
Also, I would like to give more importance to my brand. In the shop I have products marked “Vera Pelle/Genuine Leather” (a standard) or with my brand, where you see my brand means that they are models that I designed myself. Another thing I would like to change is that at the moment I don’t have a seasonal division, but to do this I need the help of someone more suitable than me.
Initially I had thought of making three different lines: Basic, Lux and Extra Lux. The Lux line is already a reality. They’re products made with superior quality leathers and with the color given by hand.
My main long-term project is to create a team of trusted collaborators, to increase productivity and so I can concentrate on the designs of the new models. I don’t intend to completely abandon the manual part, I want to continue sewing because I love it and I find that this phase (in which I make the models by hand) is still very useful to understand what my style is.
5) Do you think the online is helping your business?
I’m trying to expand my market outside the local. There is a lot to do online and in my opinion it’s more effective than the territory, because you are reachable by more people.
I would make a difference between what is online and what is social. On social networks there are many “like” but with those you can’t eat. Still, if you have a business you must be traceable online, even if you are already very present on the territory.
6) Are you satisfied with what you’ve achieved so far? What do you think of this lifestyle?
I’m not satisfied and I think I never will. The key is to reinventing ourselves every time. Be “happy” but never be completely satisfied.
I don’t know if I would recommend this lifestyle to everyone, it depends a lot on the person: there are people who are cut to do it and others are not. Still I believe that the future is in independent work.