My name is Erin McRoberts, and I’m the leather worker behind Awl Snap. I live in Richmond, Virginia.
I recognized the need for simple, practical accessories made from really nice, soft leather back in 2009. (I swear, I think some leathers out there feel like plastic!) So I made myself a bag, and shortly after, a demand surfaced. When I started selling on Etsy I had a full-time day job; I produced orders in the evenings and during the weekend. I kept that hustle going for a few years until I took the leap and quit my day job in August of 2013. Now I’m 100% focused on Awl Snap, learning and growing every day. It’s very demanding, but also exciting.
When I design a new product, I’m driven by necessity. That “ah-ha!” moment where I create a solution to a problem – well, that’s the jackpot for me. For example, my boyfriend Graham (who’s always on the road) needed a travel bag that was flexible and could accommodate however much he needed to carry each week. So I started working on a design that was expandable in size, and my Hot Shot bag (shown above) was born.
Awl Snap is a small team, and our typical work week is 6-7 days long. We start the week by reviewing the orders we need to fill; then we take a day or two cutting all the patterns out of leather and fabric. By Tuesday or Wednesday we start sewing, and we keep sewing like mad until we’re done. Usually my mornings are reserved for responding to emails, bookkeeping, and ordering supplies; I try to get that out of the way early in the day so I can focus later on. By 7:30 or 8 p.m. we’re ready to wrap up, and I head home, change out of my work attire (hello, sweatpants!) and respond to more emails from my “desk,” also known as bed. Then it’s lather, rinse and repeat.
To me, Etsy is community; it’s not just a collection of store fronts. I’ve learned so much from the Etsy Forums, groups, seller tips, and tutorials, and I wouldn’t be where I am today without it. In the future, I would love to see Awl Snap in a small storefront in Richmond’s Fan district, where I could display and sell my products while also sewing in the same space. I dream about that daily, and I’m so fortunate to be able to say that it’s very close to being a possibility.
All photographs by Casey Templeton Photography.