Meet Jonatan Staniec, a Polish artisan leathersmith who has decended from a family line of leathercraft. Jonatan brought his work to London, where he developed a new market for his family business, and now he is running leather workshops in the Southwestern French countryside. We have asked him to tell his story, and how he developed this idea into reality.
I met Kasia and Jason in London at a tradeshow a few years back. I had a stall and they were looking for artisans with a story. They quickly gravitated to my handiwork, almost as much as they fell for my beard. Before I knew it, I had moved into their house in London. They gave up the master bedroom so my project MES could have a life in the cutthroat city and I could have somewhere to sleep.
A couple of years later with a growing family, Kasia and Jason decided to ditch the city and moved to the peaceful French countryside. I was also ready for a change so joined them there, living with them in France for 6 months, helping them set up the new hub, preparing my workshops and lending a hand as we made it through the first hard winter.
The charming old stone building, once a medieval castle, sits on a hill surrounded by green pastures and forest. For miles around, there are but a few farmhouses in sight. On the property, there's a vegetable garden, orchard, free-running horses and some donkeys... And to my delight, a swimming pool! A short drive away, you'll find a lovely little Medieval village.
Kasia and Jason are great hosts, and real people lovers. They are warm and welcoming to anyone who enters their space, thanks to their openness and passion for story sharing.
In the most organic way, every day brings something new to their space, which could easily welcome a crowd.In a beautiful old barn that has been transformed into a purpose-built atelier, I run 3-day leather workshops. There's plenty of space for all kinds of projects, and the timeless rural atmosphere is perfect for my old craft techniques. I am surrounded by so much history; vintage tools clad the walls, and the old stone walls hold so many stories. People come and make gifts for themselves or loved ones. It can be a belt, purse, wallet, glasses case or even small bags for more advanced students. Usually a student will make 3 small items or 1-2 larger pieces. There's something very satisfying to experience how happy people become when they step back to see what they’ve made. When the course comes to an end, it's an emotional time, but we all take away a glint in our eye and the feeling that 'life is good'. Jonatan.
You can contact Jonatan about his leather workshops in the Southwest of France here.