Benrik looks a little (er, quite a bit) different than the company Benrik of 2002. When I was dating my now husband in the early 2000’s, he had made himself a 3-inch wide leather cuff watch with a leather scrap he had bought from the local leather store and a watch face from an old watch. He was watching a gladiator-type movie and thought their wrist cuffs looked pretty rad, so he made one for himself. His roommates told him he looked ridiculous, but he wore it anyway. When some of his co-workers and Sundance Ski Resort saw his watch, they said “hey make me one- I’ll pay you $30”. $30 to a college student in early 2000 felt like a small fortune, so he jumped. Soon the word got out and he was making watches through word of mouth and friends and family.
We got married during this time, and decided we should make an official business out of it. We had our own watch faces made, got into several retail stores, and watched it grow. It was a fun, great, hard, learning and growing experience for both of us. In 2006, we made the bold decision to move from Virginia to Hawaii to start another business. Benrik had become a very small side business by then and we officially closed the doors and got rid of everything. If you’ve ever moved to Hawaii, you know you cant take everything.
Fast forward 7 moves and 3 kids later (4 kids total), and something happened to bring leather back into our lives… but it would eventually look much different than the original cuff watches and bracelets! We had recently moved to Utah, and my sister and niece were staying at our house, looking at colleges. My adorable and highly fashionable niece was wearing a bracelet that looked oddly familiar. It was a tan leather cuff that had a flower design punched in the leather. I asked “did I make that bracelet?” She replied “oh yes! It’s my moms but I wear it all the time and I love it!” It was so fun to see something that I had made 16 years previously, still being worn!
I kept thinking about that bracelet for the next few days. I couldn’t stop thinking about it. A few days later I told my husband that I wanted to maybe start making bracelets again. We had kept a couple tools (including the leather shears that I use to this day) and had some leather scraps from a previous project. I headed to the nearest Tandy Leather store and bought some snaps and a setter and got to work. I had to ask my husband to show me how to set the snaps because it had been so long since I had done it. I cut everything out by hand and started making them for my family. I would send pictures and talk about my bracelets and was so excited to introduce them to the world!
One day I was on the phone with my same sister who I had given the bracelet too, and she casually said “okay now you need to make some big old leather teardrop earrings!” I was like “huh?” That’s a thing? She told me how lots of people in the Midwest wore them because they were so lightweight. I had never even seen a pair. So I got to work, researching on Google and Pinterest, what leather teardrop statement earrings looked like, and started making prototypes. They weren’t very good, but everyone has to start from somewhere!
I have come quite a ways since then, making hundreds of styles and patterns and colors! I have fallen completely in love with all different types of leather, have added cork, wood, and acrylic. The possibilities are endless! Most people have to start from not being great at something, but if you keep going, magical things can happen! If there is something you’ve been wanting to learn, make, try do, do it! Take one little step today! Just one. And then keep going, and going, and see where it can take you.