Folks…meet Marc Simard!
If you live in Montreal or Ottawa (or even Toronto and Winnipeg), you probably already know of Marc, having seen his cheery smiling face at every craft show worth attending in the above-mentioned cities. Or maybe you've seen his gorgeous hand etched scrap leather wallets whipped out at your local cafe, or a Marc Simard belt holding up many a pair of jeans.
Marc is a warm, conscientious guy. He's central to the craft/maker movement in Montreal and unfailingly kind and talented. We love Marc! And we love his creations. We use his wallets and biz card holders and belts every day, and have so for many years.
Marc's line of wallets, bags, purses, belts, satchels, buckles - and more - are all made of salvaged and found materials. He works primarily in scrap leather and wood. His pieces are unfussy, beautifully minimalist (with the exceptional exception of his incredible bird purses), functional to the max and super well-made. Many creations are topped off with his gorgeous signature leather etchings; cityscapes, garden tools, bikes, wood grain and all of our other favourite things.
Despite his dislike for being in the spotlight, we got him to answer some questions about the way he runs his business in line with this nature-loving values.
B&B: Hey Marc, can you tell us how your business started?
Marc: I stumbled into my business. Cause I try to use only scrap, thrifted or reclaimed materials in my day to day, I collect random useful materials where ever I find them. I had an old leather belt of my dad's kicking around my junk drawer and one day I just started carving it up with Japanese stamp chisels. The very first etching I did was of a city skyline and since it flowed nicely along the length of the belt I added a couple of snaps to make it into a cuff. The etching technique worked pretty well so I started making little wallets out of old leather bags I thrifted. Within 2 months I have made a bunch of stuff so I applied to one of the first Puces Pops (a prolific Montreal craft show associated with the epic Pop Montreal Music Festival) back in 2005 and made a whopping $500.
B&B: Have you always focused on using recycled leather?
Marc: I have always used recycled materials and always will…
B&B: You have been using new leather recently, right? veggie tanned, etc? Tell us more about that!
…And when I say "always will" I mean except for the veggie tan leather that I now use for belts. Belts are long and need to be made of a sturdy solid leather (in my opinion).
I was having a lot of trouble keeping up with demand and not super happy with the belts I had been making from thrifted belts or layers of leather. So, last year I decided that I would use vegetable tanned full grain cowhide to make belts.
The tanning process is less toxic than other methods but it is not a perfect solution. I need to do more work here to find a better compromise between a functional quality product and a clean process. Not sure yet how I will get there but I am keeping my eyes and ears open, and of course my heart!
B&B: Do you focus on incorporating an eco ethos into your business or is it more happenstance? What other eco choices do you make in business and life?
Marc: I don't really see how we can make any decisions in our lives without thinking of the impacts these decisions have. I know the problems are huge but I think it is important for all of us to think about all it takes to make something. Whether it is the shirt on my back, the food on my table or the way I get around I try to always consider the materials involved in a product, the way it was produced and where it came from.
Stuff should have meaning and I want no part of this throw culture. But of course it is all around us and difficult to always know what to do. Effort is our best ally.