Awl Snap is a brand of handmade leather accessories created and crafted by designer Erin McRoberts and her team in Richmond, Virginia.
Josette asked Erin a few questions
What is your background?
While I’ve been sewing since I was a teenager making my own clothes, I ended up with a BA in Fine Arts - more specifically painting. Once I realized painting wasn’t sticking as my “thing”, I jumped into corporate America to pay the bills. My stint there lasted about 6 years where I worked in marketing, before I found myself getting back into sewing on the side - this time with bags. I started teaching myself (thanks, internet!) and experimenting as much as I could, every spare moment I had. The dedication paid off because I was able to quit my corporate job in 2013 to work with Awl Snap full time.
What inspires you?
This is such a tough question to answer, because there is not one specific recipe to get my creativity going. I do know that it’s a combination of my mood, stimulation (colors, textures) and new experiences like enjoying company with a new friend, or traveling somewhere new. I find I’m the most creative under pressure - like the night before leaving for a big show somewhere when I have a million other things to do besides mock up new designs. Sometimes creativity shows up to party at the most inconvenient times!
How has your work evolved since you started?
After 7 years of practice and honing in on my skills, it feels good to see how far I’ve come, and to have such a wide knowledge base about working with leather specifically. There is SO much to learn about it, which is the best part - I’m never done. I do get a bit embarrassed though when I come across pictures of my very first designs (or experiments.) Kind of like when you see old pictures of your hair in 8th grade. You thought you looked super awesome at the time, but now you’re wondering why.
How do you stay motivated?
I find I’m most motivated when I’m surrounded by other people with the same energy. Summers are tough because it’s our slow season, and also it’s so easy to take everyone up on happy hours and cookouts! Luckily I’m part of a shared space with a handful of other Makers and Artists and we all feed off each other well!
Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
My entire world could change in 10 years, and I really like that mystery about life. It’s funny because in the past, I’ve never quite ended up where I thought I would. It’s not a bad thing at all, though. If I had known I’d ended up running my own accessories business for a living, It would have made all my twenty-something insecurities and meltdowns a lot more tolerable! I like to make shorter, more attainable goals to keep the business propelling forward, such as growing revenue, exploring new collaborative projects, etc. These are the types of goals that keep me focused and sane!
How do you deal with judgment and criticism?
With frustration and insecurity like most people! I think only the biggest egos can just let judgement roll off their backs! Really though, while it’s hard to take, criticism is very important to personal growth - especially in business. I ask for customer feedback on every order, and while I get nervous and cross my fingers, it’s all good, I know the constructive stuff is what matters most. It allows me to look critically at things I might not have otherwise caught.
Who will you thank when you receive an award?
I would give the Matthew McConaughey of acceptance speeches! I would keep rattling names 3 minutes after the music is queued. “I’d like to thank my roommates for helping pay my mortgage, my therapist and life coach Junie for all her support, my parents for not giving up once I got an “art” degree… Oh wow lets see, who else...”