This week we’d like you to say “Hello” to Red Oker, a local leather brand from Joburg. We asked Casper, one of the owners a few questions about the new brand.
- How did Red Oker come about and how long as it been running for? RedOker was born through a vision to combine our God given talents and passions with a burden for social upliftment to create an environment where previously disadvantaged people can be equipped and empowered. We are very enthusiastic about design and manufacturing and saw an opportunity through which an initiative to design and produce authentic handcrafted items could produce much needed employment opportunities. RedOker was established in February of this year.
- Have you always be interested in producing leather goods or is this a new venture for you? We have always had a love for leather. When we started RedOker we didn’t necessarily start it with the mindset to base everything exclusively around leather products. However, leather proved to have been a great material to start with as the methods of manufacturing we have been applying thus far have been very basic, yet true to authentic craftsmanship. Leather offers a huge diversity in methods of manufacturing that helps to lay a good foundation for principles upon which we build our brand.
- What are some of the challenges you’re facing as a relatively new brand in SA? The biggest challenge we are facing has probably been the lack of skill and expertise in what we try to do. None of us heading RedOker up has had any formal training in the manufacturing of leather goods. We continue to figure things out for ourselves as we go along. Even though there are institutes and organizations that could teach us some of the skills we need, we never had the luxury of dedicating time to such opportunities.
- What materials do you mostly use and what, if any would you like to use more/experiment with? We are currently primarily working with cow hide leather and waxed canvas. For our leather range we would continue to experiment with different treatments, finishes and colours of cow leather as well as possibly starting to work with other forms of leather such as camel and game skins.
- I believe majority of your products are made by hand? Could you tell me a little more as to what inspired you to choose this method? There are basically two reasons for why we decided to have everything made by hand. The first being that we believe in offering only the best in quality and authentic craftsmanship in our products. This is what makes our products unique and special. It also lends an unique character to every product. We strive to put the soul back in manufacturing by making one individual craftsman responsible for the entire production process of each product. Upon completion, every product is fitted with a tag that carries the name of the craftsman, the date of completion and an unique serial number. Through that, every product carries an unique identity and a connection between product and person is established. The second reason is that because our main initiative is to create employment opportunities we saw the process of handcrafted production as a great way to capitalize on much needed labour hours.
Below are a few examples of their handy work.