Hello, my name is Stepan. I live in small city called Ternopil in the west of Ukraine. I make hand-sewn leather accessories in my home studio. My shop is called SHKIRA, which means “leather” in Ukrainian.
My father is an artist who works mainly with metal. As a child, I always found it exciting to watch him working; I think that experience led me to appreciate work that’s made by hand. Growing up, I had a huge interest in art. I spent a lot of time working on paintings, drawings, and sculpture. Even now, I still try to find some free time for this hobby.
After I graduated from university, I worked as a designer at local print shop. Working as a designer in a small, provincial city was very boring. Around that time, I discovered leather and saddle stitching (hand stitching) as a way to make tidy, nice-looking and durable stitches. Since I always loved making things by hand, I decided to try it out. The first things I made were simple passport covers, which I gave to my friends and family as gifts. I received many positive comments, which inspired me to keep going.
Whenever an idea for a new product comes to mind, I usually think about it for a few days before I act. Once I’ve thought it through and decided that an idea is worth trying, I sketch until I’m happy with the design. The next step is making a prototype to check the fittings, size and overall usability. When everything is done, I make final patterns and get sewing. The last step is shooting photos, which I also do myself.
When I registered on Etsy, I never imagined that I would be able to leave my boring job within a year and replace it with one I really love. I’m thankful to Etsy for giving me a great opportunity to grow as a leather worker. My plans for the future include working with heavy duty fabrics and creating new items for my shop.
Follow SHKIRA on Instagram.
All photos by Nastia Handzha.