My Brave Leather Apprenticeship
I can't really say that I made this belt. but I did learn all the steps and I did assist so I'm calling it the Apprenticeship of Margot Austin. The scene was the Brave Leather head office and manufacturing facility right here in Toronto. I was among a select group of bloggers and social media influencers invited for a behind the scenes tour and to try our hands at leather craft.
My first impression of the Brave facility was that it was clean and bright and smelled deliciously of leather (as in, people who make scented candles should just come here and capture the air to add to their products). Scott Irvine founded Brave in 1992 and began selling his products as a street vendor in Toronto. Harsh Canadian winters put the kibosh on that part of the business plan and since then Brave has grown its retail presence and can now be found in 1000 stores. Visiting Brave HQ, meeting Scott and learning about his passion and then reading the beautifully written sections on the Brave website about the company and about the factory (where specific employees are named and thanked) made it clear to me that Scott is good people and he's a solid Canadian.
That's Brave founder Scott Irvine on the left. When I met him I kept thinking he looked familiar. It was only later when I got home that the lightbulb went off in my head — Don't you think he looks like Andrew Rennells, who played the assistant to Anne Hathaway's character in The Intern? I think Scott looks like Andrew's long lost Canadian brother/cousin. Anyway, back to the Brave Apprenticeship.
Choose a Brave Leather Style
My first task at Brave was to select which product to learn how to make and then take home at the end of the session. Here's how I decided:
Ember is a pretty bracelet but I just don't wear them that often so it was out.
Daphne is the super hip giant double buckle style that was introduced this spring in a capsule collection aimed at the music festival-going crowd. All the fashion girls at this event went for that one. I'm over 40 and short-waisted so those giant buckles would not do me any favours. I took a pass.
Nida, an obi-style, is actually the best-selling Brave belt. I think it's very sophisticated and timeless, but I don't have the type of clothing (or waist) to rock an obi.
Classic DING DING DING DING, by process of elimination (validating my first instinct) I went with the total no-brainer Margot style, aptly named the Classic. I mean, how could I not? Simple is so often best. (I later discovered it's technically a men's belt — ha!) I went for the gorgeous Brandy coloured leather shown here since it will go with absolutely everything but not disappear like black would.