We recently caught up with Erik Holmberg, the founder of the new leather accessories company, J. Stark. Named after Jim Stark, the character played by James Dean in ‘Rebel without a Cause’, Erik was inspired by the heritage of goods that are durable, well designed and classic. He was also tired of being in front of a computer all day working as a graphic designer. The line launched this year and is gaining traction around the States as a new, well thought out line for guys who want something different. But different doesn’t have to mean eccentric.
Give us a bit of background about yourself.
I’m from a small suburb outside of Cleveland, Ohio called Brecksville. My parents moved me and my two older sisters there from Cleveland so we could get a better education. They pretty much based their whole existence on trying to give us a better life than they had. Now that I look back, I can see they set a great example of selflessness for me.
I started by sewing a felt iPad Mini case by hand. It was absolute shit and I didn’t craft anything else for a few months after that because I was discouraged. I came to the realization that you had to accept failure as part of the journey. If you’re paying careful attention to the craft, every minute you spend will progress you.
What brought you to Charleston?
Beaches and sunshine! I wanted to live an active and outdoor lifestyle, and it fits me very well. I feel like we’re all in tune at our core with the ocean. Now that I’ve lived by the ocean, I don’t think I can live away from it.
Where do you source your leather?
Horween! Family owned since 1905. They supply some of the biggest shoe and bag makers in the world with their leathers. They take their time and make the best finishes and toughest leather out there.
What has been a great seller?
The Hough by far. It’s a logical step if you’re transitioning from a traditional bi-fold Costanza wallet. It’s minimal, yet you can carry a stack of cards and cash folded once. Slides quickly out of the pocket and pops open for easy access.
What are some of the brands you admire?
– Imogene and Willie
– Spit Shine Goods
– Red Wing
What are you working on next?
I just bought four specialty leathers I’m going to use to make a product in four variations for the Garden & Gun Made in the South awards.
After that I want to introduce a slimmer messenger into the lineup and possibly a leather / selvedge duffle for travel.
Those sound great. What are your end-of-summer plans?
Working my ass off. I want to jump on the wave of rugged men’s stores popping up throughout the country and internationally right now. Trying to make every product better, one tiny step at a time.
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