Sara is the owner and entrepreneur behind Illo Leather. She designs and makes beautiful and timeless hand-stitched leather bags and accessories in her studio in Calgary, AB.
My partner describes me as “strong-willed,” but he definitely means stubborn! After a bit of reflection, I realized there isn’t anything I’ve really wanted to do that I haven’t done or somehow made happen. I truly never say ‘can’t’ to myself. In my younger years, I was flying overseas, working random, fun (and not so fun) jobs, and living in new and exciting places. In my thirties, things changed after having our two boys. Becoming a mom was a bit of an adjustment, to say the least. What saved me from me was accidentally falling into leatherwork. I loved it and thought, “yes, I can.” So I started a business.
What I love about leatherwork is working with my hands using centuries-old techniques to create modern and enduring pieces. I refuse to use machines and, although my work is more labour intensive and time-consuming, I believe the quality and artisanship are worth it.
I write this in my fortieth year, and Illo Leather is now almost six years old. I run my business like I run my life, saying yes to things I want and no to things I don’t. I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to collaborate on this book. To be connected to all these incredible women in print form is so comforting. Also very daunting as I’m a woman of few words.
Due to my “strong-willed-ness,” it’s probably taken me a lot longer to get to where I am. I like spending my time creating and do the bare minimum when it comes to anything online. (Apologies to everyone still waiting for an email and my total inconsistency of posts. Thank you to my wonderful clients who spread the word for me.) Overall, I feel good about the progress I’ve made and proud I won’t have to compromise myself.
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