Leather goods are popular in a lot of places, and, in many cases, they are still custom-made by hand, which requires a certain skillset. Rupertsland Hide and Awl’s owner Paul Skrypnyk is one of those who has such skills.
Skrypnyk honed his craft by learning from his father, who taught him how to fix leather hockey equipment.
He said that growing up, his family didn’t had a lot of money, so a time when the majority of hockey equipment used leather, he was able to hone his skills.
Skrypnyk found his leather-working skills useful again when he joined the military. Bringing his stitching tools with him, he was able to make field repairs to equipment such as boots, all while improving his skill set at the same time.
Skrypnyk said he came to Yellowknife in spring 2019. The pandemic hit the following year, meaning businesses started to close their doors and everything started to get slower.
He said he remained optimistic, though, and it became a unique opportunity for his career.
“I asked myself what I should do to be more productive with my time,” he said.
That’s when Skrypnyk started to put more time into making leather goods. Not long after, people became aware of his work and his home-based business selling custom-made leather goods began.
There are challenges, though. Since everything is handmade, there will only be small quantities made by order, which takes time and can get rather expensive.
“People don’t usually understand the reason behind the price tag,” he said. “Brand names have lower production costs (and) they can demand a higher price because they have the brand and people will buy them because of the brand recognition. I don’t have brand recognition — I’m just one guy working out of Yellowknife.”
Skrypnyk has even branched out into teaching, hosting workshops as recently as late last month during Makers Month. His class was part of a series of workshops which included bracelet-making, painting and glassworks.
Everything he makes comes with a lifetime warranty. If an item fails at some point, he’ll make that repair or find a solution that will work for both the customer and himself.