There are few leather crafters in the world who can lay claim to creating sturdy yet supple, functional yet fashionable, and above all else; beautiful pieces of leather. A few brands come to mind. Hermes, Bottega Veneta, Frank Clegg, and enter Chester Mox. The husband and wife team at Chester Mox use the same time-honored sewing techniques as their storied counterparts using the best materials available, working only by hand while maintaining a modern day aesthetic. In the latest interview in our Menswear Dialogue Series, we chat with Brandon Salcedo, the creative half of the duo, about his passion, his work, and his craft.
Image Granted ~ What is your job title/profession/craft? What are you passionate about? What gets you out of bed in the morning?
Chester Mox ~ My name is Brandon Salcedo. My wife and I are leather artisans. We are passionate about creating durable, good looking, hand made leather goods. Everyday we have new schedule on what we would like to put on our work table. It's usually planned out the night before, but we (specifically me) can get spontaneous. If a design comes into my mind, I will be working on those instead. But mainly, the thrill to make and play around with the leather inspire us to wake up daily.
IG ~ Chester Mox has been making quality handmade leather accessories for a few year snow. Where did the business start? What makes your product different than others on the market? How has the product progressed over time? Where is it headed?
CM ~ I had experience with crafting leather goods since I was young as I grew up in a family of leathercrafters. However, as I got older, I lost touch with it because I had an opportunity in a different industry, although, my heart was always lingering towards crafting. Through the years working full time and doing the same thing over-and-over, I felt very empty. My wife saw that I was unhappy with my job and suggested that I should start what I liked best. And so, I started leather crafting again, but as a hobby. I received many positive feedback from friends and family that I decided to move forward to open an Etsy shop, where I read that they supported handmade products.
The start was pretty slow that I began to lose faith. But my wife didn’t let me give up. I continued with my full time job and crafting pieces at night to post on Etsy store. Several weeks later, I sold my first wallet and from there, it was like a little snowball. The people who bought from me introduced us to their relatives and friends. and eventually we have a steady traffic in our Etsy store. I went from full time to part time so that I can fulfill orders that started to pile up.
Towards the end, I resigned to focus my attention on leather crafting. Even then, I was unable to keep up, so I started training my wife about leather basics to see if she liked it. Luckily, she loved it and shared the same enthusiasm as I did! She ended up resigning her full time job as well and dedicated her time to craft goods with me. After a while with the Etsy store, we felt that it was time to have our own website and that’s how Chester Mox was born!
There is a great deal of attention into our products; from designing to selecting materials. We are very picky and settle only for the best leathers available in the industry, which is not always easy. We also spent quite a handful of time in the crafting process making sure every stitch is pulled evenly, and the edges are fused together with a slick and uniformed finish. This we believe, separates Chester Mox from other companies.
Through the years, we have perfected our technique, which has helped us produce better quality and looking products. For example, all of the products we offer now are saddle-stitched, which is a very traditional and durable construction for luxury leather goods used by top houses such as Hermès. As for our future, we are introducing more luxury goods crafted from exotic skins, such as American Alligator and Ostrich.
IG ~ Your production is slow and steady based on the same construction handmade construction techniques as Hermes. Why did you decide to create small batch products versus going mass market or high production like many other leather crafters? What are your thoughts on the global leather market production? Is leather on the rise or is it losing steam similar to the bespoke tailor?
CM ~ Our production is slow because of the work and love involved in each piece that comes out of our shop. Each and every article we craft is unique and we think our customers appreciate that.
Products offer by mass production factories are in our opinion, not up to par. First and foremost, if you have a chance to hold a product made by a known designer, just take a look at their edge work. You will see that they use vinyl-like paint, which is easy to apply and does not require much attention. Also, the layers of leather are never fused together evenly. Which gives the product a very “fake” look.
I think we have reached a point where we believe there won’t be much expansion because not everyone understands the effort, time, and the materials involved in fine leather crafting. Our prices are not really competitive with others due, again, to the nature of our work; and this limits our customer base significantly.
IG ~ Many entrepreneurs have grand ideas abut working with their spouse, but it can be difficult to separate the two. You and your wife work together daily. How has your business relationship affected your personal relationship? How have you been successful at it? What lessons have you learned about working with a loved one?
CM ~ It is definitely a challenge to work with a spouse, but before co-workers and husband-and-wife, we are best friends. My wife understands my need of space and time, and I would like to think that I do too (she smiled, so I guess yes!).
We actually feel very blessed we can work together. We respect each other’s opinions very much, especially when it comes to business decisions. And definitely, we love to joke around while working to ease any stress. And since I can remember, our kids have been with us along the way too. I remember carrying my daughter in her baby wrap while stitching. The same goes for my son. They are also a vital part of our company, so, it’s safe to say that Chester Mox is a family business.
For lessons, I have learned not to answer and send emails before my wife takes a look at it first (LOL!).
IG ~ What can new and old customers of Chester Mox expect in the future? How will the business be the same or different in the next 5 or 10 years? Is there anything you'd like to share with our readers that we haven't covered?
CM ~ Our new and old customers can expect the same or better quality in our craftsmanship, but also a greater offering of larger leather goods. Some exciting new projects are coming up in the near future!
We deeply appreciate all the support that customers all over the world had given to Chester Mox through the years. We will continue offering traditional constructional leather goods, in any size! Thank you very much!