I'm a Leather Artisan
with Annie Margarita
I have been a professional artist since 1999, and started to create in leather in 2011
I grew up in southern Arizona, and had a company painting murals and working as an Interior Designer.
Hello ! Who are you and when did you open your business?
Hi! I’m Annie Margarita, and I have been a professional artist since 1999, and started to create in leather in 2011.
What's your backstory and how did you come up with the idea?
I grew up in southern Arizona, and had a company painting murals and working as an Interior Designer. When I started creating leather articles, I loved the medium so much, I left Tucson in a 5th wheel with all my tools, and created fly fishing cases and handbags as I went, in search of rivers and wild places.
Fly fishing and wildlife are my main interests and is reflected in my enthusiasm for creating beautiful utilitarian cases and fine art. I research aquatic life and fish, animals (especially birds), landscapes, figures and three dimensional techniques to bring each art piece to life in its own unique way. My emphasis in painting and leather carving is realism, and I utilize paint and beadwork to create new effects.
Tell us what was your first product.
A fly rod and reel case.
Describe the process of launching.
I had a lot of connections with clients with my painting business, but also know a lot of fishermen, because I am involved with Project Healing Waters Fly Fishing for disabled veterans. When I made my first case, it created excitement with my friends and clients, and I started to create things for other people. I would trade a rod case for a whole hide, and then I could make other cases without the cost.
Since launch, what was the first step to attract customers?
I built a website (having one already for painting and murals helped a lot). I searched the web for other protects like mine and couldn’t find many, so I contacted a flyfishing dealer and asked him to carry my products for a commission.
What do you love the most about your profession?
I love how versatile leather is. I can create something in three dimensions that can be any style, color and texture. I also love the freedom of creating what I think is beautiful, and having customers appreciate that they are getting something very unique.
How would you define what you do?
I’m an artist, but make practical, functional art like cases and handbags. Craftsmanship is very important, but artistry is what drives me. That’s the part that is unique. Bringing a different style to the medium is the main driver behind my craft.
Have you learned anything particularly helpful or advantageous?
Be original. I search Pinterest, facebook and Google for interesting things, bringing ideas together to create something new. Artists stand on the shoulders of the artists that came before. I try to continue their legacy.
What platform/tools do you use to sell your products?
I use my website, instagram, pinterest, facebook, conventions, art shows and teaching gigs. My main platform has been facebook. I have thousands of friends and join groups to show off my work. I use paypal to sell my products online and square at shows.
What have been the most influential resources?
Pinterest and going to leather shows to learn from other artists. Also, knowing how a product is used, such as a fly fishing case, helps to figure out what clients might want as improvement to what is already on the market.
What's your advice for leather artisans who want to get started or are just starting out?
Communicate with other artists. Try new things or methods, even if someone says it’s wrong. Be different. No one wants to be copied too closely, so watch out, don’t plagiarize. Be uniquely you! Stand by your project, if it doesn’t work, make another. Always get money up front, even from friends.
Where can we find your business ?
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