meet Jose Estela
I started working with leather in 2013 and launched Smiths & Kings with the idea of designing and making high quality goods at an affordable price. With a graphic design background, I emphasize a clean design with a maximum functionality in all my products.
Made by Hand. Made to Last.
Hand-stitching is not only aesthetically beautiful, but also has a functional purpose. Saddle Stitching, which is done by hand, is a sewing technique that uses one thread and two needles to pass through the same hole, alternating sides. This means that if a stitch should break, there’s still another separate thread holding the seam together.
The alternative is lock stitching, which is done by machine and is how the majority of leather products are made. Lock stitching has two threads, a top thread that locks onto a bottom thread. Since each thread is dependent on one another, if a stitch breaks, it no longer has support to hold the seam together which makes it more likely to unravel.
At Smiths & Kings, we stitch all of our pieces by hand because we are deeply committed to high quality craftsmanship. A wallet that takes an hour to make by machine takes us three hours to stitch by hand. We choose to take the longer road because the process creates the strongest construction.
We take pride in every last detail of the products that leave our workbench.
One of those details is the finishing touch, burnishing the edges.
I use saddle soap and water to smooth the edges and create a seamless look. The next step is using bees wax and a wood burnisher to seal the layers of leather together and create a water repellent layer that will help prevent the edges from fraying.
The attention to detail that goes into every step of our process is done with a single purpose in mind: To offer a well-made, unique product that you will love and will last a lifetime.
Our process starts well before any of our products are made.
We start by seeking out high quality materials. We are proud to source our leather from Horween Co., specifically their Chromexcel leathers.
Manufactured in Chicago, IL with attention to detail and quality, Horween does not sacrifice quality. Neither do we.
One of the first characteristics of the leather you will notice is the waxy, supple, broken-in feel, which is attributed to Horween’s 100-year old tanning technique and formula. Their use of oils, wax, and greases gives the leather we use the beautiful “pull up” feature that you’ll notice over time. Pull-up is the temporary displacement of these oil and wax blends that causes a lightening of the leather and allows a patina to be created.
Using polyester thread over cotton ensures durability. Julius Koch Ritza Thread, a braided waxed polyester thread is one of the strongest thread available. Because of it’s waxed finish, it can withstand years of use and be water resistant.
Solid Brass Hardware
Solid brass is a strong and durable metal. Unlike plated steel, brass is not susceptible to rust or corrosion. The patina that is created on brass with wear is unique to every person.
Our philosophy begins at the intersection of high quality and timeless design. I make goods that you’ll want to use and hold onto. I strive to find the balance in making products that are beautiful but also useful, and it all begins with high quality craftsmanship that I put into each product. Every product that comes out of my shop is made to be used, and used hard.
My commitment to ensuring high quality craftsmanship begins with the process of hand stitching all of my products.
Equally important is giving my customers the confidence in knowing there is someone on the other end of the wallet personally making sure that every stitch, every detail, and every product is made with them in mind.
When designing new products, the customer experience is constantly on my mind.
I always ask myself how the product will be used so that I can make sure that it is useful in your daily life.
If you like to sketch and you like to carry a field notebook, what can I do to create a design that allows you to carry your everyday essentials, but also gives you easy access to your notebook? The Indy wallet makes that experience possible.
If you have a wedding to go to and you need something that holds just the minimal items to avoid bulk in your suit pockets, the Ludwig keeps things simple for you. These customer experiences are the foundation for what we want to accomplish.
It’s important for me to make goods that are designed to last because with use, they will start to tell the story of the user’s life. There is nothing better and more custom than a leather wallet or a case that you’ve had for 5, 10, 15 years that is still going strong and has created a beautiful patina the reflects your life experiences.