To be completely truthful, I don’t use the word ‘goodness’ lightly. You’ve seen it pop up often here at the journal because thats what we strive to bring you, and though it may seem a light-hearted phrase, I apply it sparingly in life. That process is just so that I can filter and curate things that truly radiate its meaning through and through. So what is this goodness all about? Is it even a proper word? Does it make you coffee in the morning? Well sure it’s something I sort of made up, but just so to perfectly describe all the great things, places, and experiences that have been put together with a pure intention. These are the proper things that enrich us with meaning.
So on the topic of goodness, I’ll spritz a little scent of old leather over the top to get us into the mood for a perfect vessel, Bellanie Salcedo. The leather-goods she makes by hand, fascinatingly named Chester Mox (a family name hybridized with a nuclear fuel), scream of experience and maturity. To be honest, she and her husband are making some of the finest pieces I would dare to say are on the market. Personally speaking, I’ve been through my fair share of handmade vs machined bags to immediately notice the fine handiwork and buttery leather that is their Barenia Wiry Wallet, recently sent to us for review. So let me walk you through my little romance story that is: leather-love at first sight. Cheesy but very delicious.
It’s morning and a weighty package awaits at the doorstep of the studio. Coffee is brewed, and the workday starts off with the glorious anticipation of undiscovered goodness (yes, that word again). After a few satisfying tears of super ordinary brown paper, a blue box proudly surfaces. Debossed on the front spells ‘Chester Mox’, and I can already smell the oily leather escaping from within. I open to find a smart looking brown calfskin case lying inside, so the first thing I do is pick it up to feel its softness within the pads of my fingers. I take a closer sniff of that rounded nose that comes from a fatty treatment process when they are making the leather. The skin is buttery to the touch, and I run my fingertips along the immaculate stitching – the tiniest stitches I’ve seen on a small piece like this. This tells me its was made by hand; later I was told that it had in fact been saddle stitched and the slanting stitches were to show off the meticulous craft that made the piece so special.
I unfold the main flap to open her up and run my thumb down the interior; textured like you would expect, yet it showed off a velvety finish that others in its league don’t. I go on to inspect the hand painted edges done with robotic precision in utter admiration. Yes, this feels like it was made with as much care for detail and precision as a piece of art – yet it feels unpretentious and unassuming thanks to the charming branding etched on the back. I’m not wild about conspicuous branding but this somehow fits modestly – its not loud, nor is it confusing. It’s the mark of my crafts-lady.
After a month or so using the wallet as my little business card holder, its has expanded and settled into shape. The wallet is what I would call a proper briefcase or handbag piece that goes everywhere with you. Yes it is value for money, yes it was made by an obsessive perfectionist, yes it was made for the love of good product, all the same coming from a modest place. That’s goodness.
Here we have asked Bellanie herself what it all means to her – it’s a little peek into her great world.
Bellanie working in her studio.
What did you have for breakfast this morning?
A blueberry muffin and an iced, smoked butterscotch latte. I can’t drink anything hot, so everything has to be iced.
****What do you usually smell like?
Chanel No. 5
Where would you escape to during a zombie apocalypse?
To my uncle’s house! He would definitely be more prepared than me for an apocalypse.
What’s the best thing about what you’re wearing today?
That it’s white and comfy.
Tea or Coffee?
I am definitely a coffee gal.
Winter or Summer?
Ooh, no doubt Winter.
What would you cook for someone special?
I’m not the best chef, but I can definitely put together a great filet mignon with baked lobster tail. For the sides, I would do freshly-made mashed potatoes with gravy. My husband also loves my coconut jello, which I make from fresh coconut juice, so we’d probably have that for desert!
What’s the most special vintage piece you own?
I have a jade bracelet from my grandmother. It’s probably older than me by a hundred years.
If there were absolutely no boundaries, what would your ultimate wallet be made of?
If it’s an option, I’d take the hide from Viserion, the dragon from Game of Thrones, and turn it into the ultimate exotic handbag!
Would you call yourself a perfectionist? What pushes you to do better everyday?
Definitely. All of my wallets leave the workshop flawless. If the edges aren’t perfectly smooth, for example, I won’t ship them out until they’re right. It drives my husband nuts.
I push myself to be better every day because I want my children to see that anything is possible when you set your mind and heart to something.
Describe what the word ‘goodness’ means to you.
It means being the best that I can be to myself and others.