I am Kristel and today I am over the moon, after 13 years of being proverbially lost, I have found myself once more.
In life not everything is always in balance, sometimes you need to go through some tough times to realise what your destiny in life really is.
I am starting my story by looking back on my first introduction to bookmaking. It was January 2002, I had been living in the Washington DC area for about 13 years working as a tour guide. At least I was a guide there. Because 9/11 brought about an abrupt end to that career.
A few months after 9/11 I met someone at the other end of the country in Seattle. This person invited me to work in his artisanal bookbinding business. Did I ever expect to become a bookbinder? Of course not, but that goes for being a tour guide or remaining in the USA for 20 years, as well.
I developed a deep passion for this type of work and to my own amazement I was actually pretty good at it (little pad on the shoulder ), but fate decided otherwise and the story ended in October of 2009 when after 20 years I moved back to Belgium.
Once home I had to start fresh, long story short, it did not happen overnight nor without any difficulties. At Christmas 2021 a friend approached me saying she needed to organize 3 workshops at the company where she was doing an internship and asked If I would consider giving one in bookbinding.
Of course, I was interested, I just did not quite see how. Everything had to be low-cost and leather is expensive plus it was only for one workshop after all.
During the next few days, this project kept churning around in my head almost constantly. How could I get this to work without costing me an arm and a leg?
Then I had an epiphany, you know the kind.Well I’ll be damned, I have the material I need right here in my own back yard… We had a discarded old leather couch waiting to be transported to the local dump.
I went to work immediately with a large piece of leather that I cut from the old couch and polished it up.
What will I make? I had no paper at hand, so something paperless. About 2 hours later I had an iPad cover all ready.
Call it what you will, fate, coincidence, or even “serendipity”. At 54 I found myself questioning career options. Had I let my passion lie dormant too long?
2 weeks later I decided to throw all caution to the wind … after scouring the internet for more “free old leather couches” to see if I could gather more leather that way, I found a proverbial goldmine or should I say leathermine and Kristel’s circular creations became a solid idea.
The old couches I find are dismantled and the leather is used to turn into all-new handcrafted leather gifts, while all other materials are distributed amongst other business partners to be recycled or reused.
It’s circular and it’s called upcycling. Great right?
This is it. This is what I must do and it is now or never. So you grab your chance. You leave everything else behind and you give it all you’ve got.