We had the good fortune of connecting with Zachary Brown and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Zachary, what led you to pursuing a creative path professionally?
I grew up in a creative family and was exposed to a lot of art and creativity from an early age. At twelve years old, I made the decision to be a chef, and that singular goal shaped my decision making throughout the rest of my adolescence, and it drove me into any food service job where I could get my foot in the door. I’ve always had a vocational aptitude, and the idea of working in an office has never appealed to me. Being creative gives me such satisfaction, and being able to make things for people that bring them joy keeps me going.

Please tell us more about your business. We’d love to hear what sets you apart from others, what you are most proud of or excited about. How did you get to where you are today business-wise. Was it easy? If not, how did you overcome the challenges? What are the lessons you’ve learned along the way. What do you want the world to know about you or your brand and story?
I’m a self-taught leather artisan whose focus is making useful items that will last a lifetime. I believe that form always follows function, because while aesthetics are important, if the piece doesn’t do what it’s supposed to do, I don’t see the point. I make everything from wallets to bags, and anything in-between, and it’s all handmade. I don’t own a sewing machine, and as long as I’m able to stitch by hand, I will never own one. I’ve spent a lot of time reading old Leathercraft books, studying the work of those whose work I admire, practicing, and not ever being afraid to push my boundaries and try new things. My tenacity helped me a lot in the early days of working with leather. I sometimes had to make something three or four times until it was good enough, and it this was part of where I was able to get some serious practice in. I saw what others were doing with leather, and needed to get to that level, so I didn’t stop until I felt as if my skills were in a good place. It took several years to get there, and along the way I also found my creative voice and developed a style that’s uniquely ZeeBee Leather.

The piece that I made that I’m most excited about is my jacket. I made a leather jacket, completely by hand earlier this year, and it was by far the most challenging project I’d ever completed. It took me over 100 hours to make, and it’s absolutely gorgeous. None of this matters however, if my clients aren’t happy. I’m very heavily focused on customer service, and wouldn’t be here today if it weren’t for my amazing clientele who not only trust me to make their pieces, but also keep coming back.

What sets me apart from other leather artisans is how I interact with not only my clients, but other leather artisans. Leather artisans can be very secretive about their methods, and I vowed early-on to never be like that. I’m happy to help anyone who’s interested in learning this craft. A friend of mine asked for some advice on which tools to buy, and that led to writing a leather tool buying guide which has been a cornerstone of my website for five years now. It’s one of the internets best resources for aspiring leatherworkers, and has helped hundreds of thousands of people (according to my analytics) get the tools they need to get started with leather.

Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
I live in PB, so I definitely have some favorite spots around here. If I had some friends visiting, I’d take them to the bay, the beach, Kate Sessions, and PB Fish Shop for dinner. Another day, a trip to Cabrillo National Monument is a must. The Tide pools in La Jolla are wonderful as well. I’d take them to an old favorite of mine for a California Burrito, Adalberto’s on Rosecrans, and the best Acai Bowl on the face of the planet at Northside Shack on Point Loma. This is harder to answer than I thought. I’m out of practice because of COVID!

Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
I want to dedicate my shoutout to my wife Caitlin whose love and support has been behind me every step of the way. I dabbled in several hobbies before finding my way to leather, and despite the fact that I believe she was wary and skeptical at first, she was supportive of my trying something new, and has been the best cheerleader for me throughout my journey.

Website: http://zeebeeleather.com
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/zeebeeleather/

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