Featured Maker - Notyers
Your name: Colleen Wasilewski
Business name/ brand name: NOTYERS
Tell us everything, how did you get your start?
My love of animals, my accessory design background, and an inspiring trip to Iceland got me started making leashes! Rope-splicing, a technique I use to make the leash handles and attach the hardware, is a skill I picked up from some Icelandic fishermen. I also come from a corporate leather accessory design background, where I picked up leather-working skills from the master craftspeople who produced all our prototypes.
We walk into your workspace/ studio and the first thing we notice is….?
The first thing you notice about my studio is that .... it’s SMALL. My studio life and home life are very much intertwined. I had the sun porch on my apartment converted into a small design studio last year, and I really benefit from the all fresh air and natural light coming in from the windows.
What sets your product apart?
My product is completely handmade! There is no machinery used on these leashes, the most advanced machinery used in the production of the leashes is….a needle and thread. I am hand-splicing the rope, weaving the lacing, and cutting all the leather with a knife; these techniques really impart a “human touch” to the product. Another thing that really sets my product apart is that the components are of the highest quality: 100% cotton, genuine leather, and brass hardware.
If you were any flavor of ice cream, you would be a double scoop of…?
Definitely Superman. It’s a swirl of three flavors blended together and it leaves you with a blue tongue. If you haven’t had it you've gotta try!
What has been the biggest support in the growth of your business?
My biggest support has come from the local Chicago business community. I had no idea that any of these shops or businesses would want to carry my leashes. People actually wanted to buy my product and I was just kind of like “what?!"
Why American made [go ahead, preach]?
We need to value everyone’s human rights, and when you purchase a product made overseas you have no idea what you are truly getting and paying for. In my former job, I worked in factories all across China and witnessed firsthand the true price of fashion: people being paid extremely low/unlivable wages, hazardous work environments, and exposure to dangerous machinery and chemicals. We need to be aware of the ethics and labor standards each business holds, and I eventually realized that I needed to make a big change, to really build awareness of what’s happening over there. I try to be mindful of each purchase I make, buying less & local wherever I can.