Even before we’d made a product, my brother Kirk and I had the name Billykirk for our family business. It was our father’s nickname for Kirk, whose full name is William Kirkland. Being from TN, the melding of the first and middle names is common. We wanted to make the kind of things our dad wore that would last as long as the items he’s given us. You just look at them to know they’re made right, and they have a history. We still have our leather boots from when we were kids (see left) – and our dad’s boots from the 1940’s.
We would go to a lot of swap meets and flea markets to find ideas, and we met other designers and artists who gave us inspiration. We still get new ideas this way. Historic websites, family albums, military surplus shops, old movies … they all provide ideas to build from. Ultimately, it was a watch strap from a vintage shop in Santa Monica that got things started.
Kirk bought the strap off of a real pain-in-the-ass shop owner who, at first, didn’t want to sell it to him without the broken watch. This was the late 90s, and leather cuffs were somewhat popular, but Kirk’s got a lot of compliments. Most of the cuffs you could find on the market were thick punk style ones made with real cheap leather and shiny hardware, but his looked like a family heirloom. One day, Kirk looked at me and said, “Let’s make this.”
The leather cuff was our first product (one of our earliest editions, featured right). We got there from a vintage watch strap, and a ton of lessons in leather craft and care (from our first mentor, Arnold).
Now, almost 15 years and a lot more stories later, we’re starting our blog to share some great information about American handmade bags, wallets, cuffs and others designs with you.
We want to give you a lot of good insights and images about what we make. This is a place where we’ll share updates from events and designers shaping our style, and you’ll get an inside look at some of our new collections and what’s on the market. We’ll also give you tips on how to take care of your leather, and you’ll hear from our customers about how their items look when they’re well worn.
We’re going to update our blog regularly – and you can expect a good mix of:
- Designer interviews talking to people who inspire our work
- Product spotlights highlighting new goods you can customize
- Leather care tips to help you preserve your own heirlooms
- Event features taking you inside the design shows and art fests we draw from
- Posts from the Billykirk community: Our customers, partners and friends sharing their well-worn goods
If you have something you want to say, email us and we’ll give you a voice here. And otherwise, subscribe to join our community and keep reading: We’ve got a lot in store.
p.s. Here’s a look at how our leather cuff has transformed over the years.