Talking to KC from Canadian Bespoke Strapworks
I’d like WatchPaper to be considered THE Canadian watch blog, at least that’s where I try to steer things here. As such, I’m always out hunting for Canadian topics and this is how I stumbled on KC’s @Canadian_Straps Twitter account. His Twitter feed mainly consists of photos of the straps he makes and after seeing them, I knew I have to talk to him.
WP: How did you get into the field of making watch straps?
KC: The exact time is a bit gray for me, seven, maybe eight years ago. I always have done work with leather, I’ve always had a leather shop and if I remember correctly it was something like I didn’t like the strap on my watch, or it broke and very quickly I made one for myself. It was probably very crude and not too pretty, but everything just developed from there.
It was a very busy time for me, I was starting my own business, I was moving, and there were just a lot of things going on.
Do you have a website? How do people find you?
Actually, I consider making watchstraps a hobby, not really a profession. I don’t have a website, because I can barely keep up with the amount of orders that I take right now and I’m worried that if I would have a website, I would probably say no more often than I would do straps.
Most of the business I find through referrals, from customers I already did a strap, there is also a lot of repeat business with ongoing customers and I’m also very active on some forums and blogs.
Yeah, that’s a fantastic blog! So, tell me, what kind of clients and what brands do you see more often?
I take pictures of every strap I make, I try to avoid making the same strap twice, but there are some styles that people really enjoy. I do whatever I can to make them a little bit different, of course I made thousands of watch straps, I don’t know if I can say that each one is different, but I do my best to make them unique.
I find that people are interested in watch straps in waves, sometimes I have a lot request for straps made from what I would call reclaimed leather. I have huge inventory in my shop of ammo pouches and rifle slings from WWII, from Vietnam, from WWI and it’s mostly the Panerai collectors that really like these straps. Other people do to, but Pam collectors love it!
Some of my favourites that I like to make are the ones with exotic hides. I have an inventory of bullfrog hides, stingray, fish, ostriches, different types of snakes and when they become popular and I get lots of orders for them.
Right now, what seem to be popular, at least in my shop are straps for vintage watches. In the past two months, I’ve been doing straps for people who bought pieces from the 60s, 50s or earlier.
I categorize the straps I make in three different categories: exotic, like those strange hides that I’ve mentioned, vintage or reclaimed leather, ammo bags, old baseball gloves, or sometimes people send me an old purse that was in their family and they ask me make a strap, or I also made straps. Finally there is what I would call “nice leather”; I have a large inventory of leathers from Horween, I think that they make one of the best leather in the world.
These are really interesting materials; I like the idea of making a strap from an old baseball glove. What was the most unusual request that you had?
Oh, I had some really weird requests… To be honest, I think the most unusual request that I got, was not so much the material but the watches that they were paired for. It’s easier to make straps for watches with more standard design, two lugs, straight down, 20 – 22 mm between them, but some pieces have more proprietary arrangements, for example Roger Dubuis. If you look at his watches, all of his lugs are unique. I can’t just take a request online or in an email for a strap like that. I have to have the watch with me. In these cases they will send me the watch and I have to make the strap around the watch, instead of making the strap and sending it.
I got orders from many different countries, all over the world. When somebody take the time to send me the watch so that I can work with it, I can tell that they are very dedicated to both timepieces and just having that custom look. They are not all super expensive watches either; I made custom straps for Swatch and they have a very unique lug pattern.
These are the most unusual request that I got, because people want something very specific and it’ll be for a very specific watch. That strap will always be with that watch.
If someone wants to see your straps, they’ll have to go on Twitter to check out your posts.
I don’t tweet that much, I will only post maybe one in every five straps that I make. I’m not a good tweeter; there are big gaps in my feed. I also noticed that I get requests in waves, sometimes I get ten requests in the same time, than a month would go by without hearing from anyone. I turn around my request very quickly; I won’t make people wait for a very long time. If I’m busy, I’ll make the strap, I take a picture, I’ll ship it out, and I might forget to post it on Twitter.
Thanks a lot KC, it was a real pleasure talking to you! I hope to see you soon in Montreal (he’s based in Ontario)!
For more photos, head over to https://twitter.com/Canadian_Straps