Hand-Crafted Fine Leather Goods Shaped By A True Artist
Always crafty and artistic with his hands, Tom Schell knew he could create a version of the leather purse his wife spotted in a store for much less than the $1500.00 price tag. He went to work learning everything he could about leather and hand-crafted a purse she loved. Says Tom, “Leather has its own life form. It’s at its ugliest form when it’s brand new.” Pondering how they could turn a hobby into a money-making venture, Tom and his wife Brittanie invested money from their wedding and, using their two middle names, created Richard Paige Leather Goods.
Growing up in Australia, Tom loved making things on his own with his hands and investigating how things are made. He also owned many, many wallets as a teen. Says Tom,”It was only when I began making things with leather that I realized the connection…all the wallets I had as a teen I liked because they were leather.” In high school, he took classes to learn more about woodworking, metalworking, plastics, art and design. In college, he studied Marketing and Management.
Utilizing all of his self-taught knowledge, Tom excels when challenging himself to create something new, especially with leather. Depending on what he’s making, Tom uses different kinds of thread, hardware and leather, mostly from Europe. He says he feels Europe has the “best selection of fashion and on-trend styles and colors.”
He fulfills small batch orders like wallets, but mostly focuses his efforts on customized requests such as purses, briefcases, duffel bags, backpacks or other customized leather items. Adrienne Clark placed a customized order with Tom to make a work briefcase that suited her individual needs. Adrienne said, “I absolutely love my Richard Paige Bag! In my work often times I need a computer, iPad, a notebook, power cords, etc. This bag organizes everything for a professional appearance. I also love my Richard Paige clutches and always get compliments when I carry them.” Tom works with each customer from beginning to end when he makes a customized leather good, even making a prototype of the item to make sure it matches the customer’s vision before he begins making it. Says Tom, “Every good I put out is a reflection of me, so I want it to be the best I can do right now.”
Tom’s leather goods are unique because he sews all of them by hand. He says that sewing leather by hand allows the item to be repaired down the road if needed. Additionally, Tom wants people to know that his items are made locally, which “allows people the opportunity to know who made it, where it’s from and that it is custom-made.”
While Tom is busy making the leather goods, his wife Brittanie is in charge of the Marketing for Richard Paige Leather Goods. They came together to the interview. Tom and Brittanie met in Upstate New York at a summer camp they were both working. Tom’s desire to make his wife happy with a new purse is how it all began. People noticed Brittanie’s purse and would ask about it, which lead to more customized orders. Says, Tom, “Without her, we wouldn’t be where we are.”
In addition to filling customized orders, you can find Richard Paige Leather Goods at Optium Yoga Studio and Outpost in 30Avenue and Mast in Alys Beach. You can reach Tom at (850) 499-6955 to place your customized order or visit their website or Instagram page to view Tom’s work.