When I first started selling online, my shop bio said "over 30 years of experience". Though the number seemed larger than memory would have thought, it was a badge of pride. Validating.
And now, again, another milestone.
I tooled my very first belt in the beginning of April, 1972. That means it has been more than 40 years that I've been plying my trade. Holy Cow!
I was a 17-year old hippie chick when I went to work for Chuck at Silo Leather in Birmingham, Michigan. He didn't pay me a wage, but I was learning a trade. For every third belt I tooled, Chuck gave me a blank strip of leather. For every 10 belts, a new stamping tool. Chuck built his inventory and I built a starter tool set and a supply of belt strips I could work up and sell on the streets or at festivals.
I wish I could post some pictures of some of my earliest work, but I sold it almost as fast as it was made (like I said, Chuck didn't pay a wage). I'll have to settle for posting this grainy pic of teenage me, as well as a more current photo. Yes, I guess the years become obvious when I look at then vs now.
Chuck is long gone, as is Silo Leather.
But I carry on. I have been working with leather more than 2/3 of my life and I can't imagine I'll ever stop.
And that, my friends, is a milestone worth sharing!