“Be authentic. Stay curious” is one of Café Leather’s guiding principles. Founded by Miguel Sánchez Ibáñez and Kiko Requena Búa, the brand manufactures specialty leather goods that are designed and handcrafted in Spain - and meant to be passed down from generation to generation. The JOURNAL spoke with Miguel about the “Value of Time.”
“We live two days…
…and one of them, we are sleeping…
…so, let’s not miss a minute”
“My family, my partners, my team are the most valuable thing I have – apart from time”
How was Café Leather founded?
Café started when I realized that I wanted to be an entrepreneur. Since I was a child, I always wanted to create a brand. I wasn’t sure about what kind of product I would offer, but it was crystal clear what kind of philosophy I wanted to express through that brand.
I have loved the fashion industry since I was a child. First, I brought some skateboard- and surfboard-brands from the USA to Spain. When I was 20, I created my own brand for t-shirts and sweatshirts. Being able to create the designs, look for t-shirt suppliers and silkscreen printing companies made me feel really special inside.
However, what inspired me most to create Café Leather was when I had the chance to be Brand Manager in Spain of several different fashion brands.
These two years and the chance to see a brand from the inside, made me understand what I wanted to do with Café and what not to do.
What makes Café Leather a great company to work for?
Well, this will be a better question for the team than for myself. But I can definitely say that Café is a great company because everyone comes to work with a big smile on their face - even if it’s hard for people to wake up early in the morning. We are a family, not just numbers. We work 8 hours a day, 5 days a week. That means that you spend more time with your work colleagues than with your family, friends, and loved ones…. If you do not feel “at home” at your work, you should probably look for something else.
For us, coherence is one of our key pillars. If we say it, we lead it by example, and not just as a marketing lever
Tell us about the certifications you obtained for the vegetable tanning process.
For us, coherence is one of our key pillars. If we say it, we lead it by example, and not just as a marketing lever. We believe that any business that wants to be prosperous in the long term and not just for a short while, must always follow their philosophy and only change it for the better.
These certifications confirm that all our processes, our vegetable tanned leathers, our main raw materials and all the brand surroundings follow sustainable practices. We do our business in the most respectful way because we believe that is the only way to do it. Not only by not destroying our precious planet, but also trying to help to make it a better place to live in.
Where does the leather come from?
All our materials are traceable. We mainly use local suppliers, that’s one of our responsibility philosophies. If you can find raw material or goods of the best possible quality close to your home - even if it is more expensive - you do not need to contaminate the world with thousands of miles in logistics by bringing them to Spain.
We are proud to bring our specialty vegetable tanned leather from the North of Spain and some special products like Cordovan from Italy. Our textile collection is manufactured by amazing artisans in Portugal. If we cannot find some raw materials locally, we import them from the countries that have the best knowledge for those specialty materials. In order to avoid waste, we use leftover leather parts for small products such as keychains, watch straps, etc. So, we can say our waste equals zero.
Coherence is one of Café Leather’s key pillars
All materials used are traceable and come mostly from local suppliers
“Vegetable tanning allows the pores to remain open and create a patina”
“Each product develops its own unique style and character”
“I love designing new products”
“Those moments on my own, with no distractions…
…allow me to make the best design possible”
Miguel wearing the Pilot’s Watch Chronograph Top Gun at work
How do you stay creative in your manufacturing process?
Inspiration is everywhere. Traveling, getting to know new cultures, gastronomy, music, or hobbies. I do love nature, and mother nature can surprise you a lot. Also, the world of motor sports inspires me because I am a Petrolhead for sure.
Tradition, the old school way of doing things, and searching a bit in the past also help. I always say that everything is or was invented, but you have the chance to make it better. That is probably what makes Café so special. Our clients know that anything we launch at our Café_Lab, will be worthwhile.
What challenges have you learnt the most from since starting Café Leather?
Changes. It is funny because I always say not to change your philosophy, but as we all know, the world changes every day. And while yesterday it was a good strategy to keep moving, the next day you have a pandemic in front of you and you need to adapt. It is not about changing your philosophy as I said, but about not getting stuck.
You learn every day. Really, every single day. That’s why I consider myself a trainee, both in life and at work. You should always try to learn from your mistakes and get better. When you know that you want to be an entrepreneur, you should also know that there are more “gray days” than “sunny days”, but sunny days are f______ awesome and definitely pays off your gray ones.
Don’t be worried about those low moments. We all have them, but if you believe in yourself, […] you will always get compensated. And the most important… you will find happiness
What advice would you give to your younger self?
Good question. I will probably try to tell my younger self not to make the same mistakes I made, but it is true that these mistakes also made me grow. So, I will probably say to always try to be surrounded by good and quality people. And if someone is no longer helping you grow, or contaminating your atmosphere, just get far from that person.
I would also advise not to be worried about those low moments. We all have them, but if you believe in yourself, if you follow your dreams and your philosophy as hard as you can, you will always get compensated. And the most important… you will find happiness.
For me, happiness is to look back to the past and be able to smile. Being in the car alone and thinking about life with some nice music playing, and starting to smile, perhaps even throwing some tears out, without really understanding why. That probably means you are on the right path.
Founder and Creative Director of Café Leather, Miguel Sanchez
Miguel wearing the Pilot’s Watch Chronograph Top Gun
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