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    A Wallet is Like a Tree: In Conversation with Christine of Namu Leather Goods

    Christine and Whale, co-founders of Namu Leather Goods, started making leather products at the end of 2017, but Christine says the decision to turn the hobby into a business happened by accident. At first, it was just family and friends who celebrated the “dodgy creations” of their early days, but word quickly spread and pushed the couple to start selling their products to a larger audience. Namu officially got its start as an online store, while Christine and Whale were living in Perth. They became fixtures on the local market circuit before they settled in Brisbane, securing a physical space for the brand that’s much more than just a shopfront. Namu is a place for visitors to enjoy a filter coffee or a warm tea, a spot of conversation, and to gain first-hand experience in the joy of making their own leather goods. As Double Double launches its first capsule collection designed in collaboration with Namu, we spoke to Christine about Namu’s journey so far.

    What made you first fall in love with the practice of leather crafting? 

    Whale and I both love the process of making a leather product, especially hand-stitching and seeing the finished product at the end. The crafting process allows us to go at our own pace – it’s quite therapeutic.

    How did you come up with the name for Namu?

    Whale wrote a list of words down on a piece of paper, and Namu was one of them. The word means wood or tree in Korean, which we really clicked with. Even though leather and trees aren’t technically related, we saw them as the same because we wanted our products to share the same nature as trees, developing their beauty with age. 

    What’s important to you when you’re designing products for the Namu range? 

    Functionality. We think about the product’s function, and ask questions like: Is it for coins? Notes? Both? Does it need to fit a mobile? Or, in my case, do we just want to make something super tiny where customers can chuck everything in?

    It’s been 10 months since you opened Namu’s Store in Alderley – congratulations! What’s been a highlight of opening the store so far?

    Thank you! [I remember the day] when we removed the papers from our window – it was lovely, being able to show our neighbours what we were hiding for months. One of the many highlights has been the ability to share our creations and the techniques we use with the community. Most customers come in and say the shop reminds them of a café or shop they stumbled upon on their trip to Japan or Korea, and it’s nice to hear how Namu has elicited these happy memories of travel for them.

    The Namu store isn’t just a shop: it’s a studio for your work, a coffee and tea bar, and a workshop space for people who want to learn how to make their own leather-goods. How do you hope people feel after visiting Namu? 

    We want all our customers to think of Namu as a go-to place for when they’re feeling stuck. We want all our customers to leave Namu feeling relaxed or a place where they could collect their thoughts and leave feeling inspired.

    What do you like about sharing your techniques with others? 

    Before we start workshops, we always ask if leather crafting is something our students have done. The majority of them say no and you can see they’re nervous about their fine motor skills. There’s always a joy on their face once they see what they have achieved by the end of the workshop, and that’s what we enjoy seeing the most when we share our craft.

    Can you tell me a little bit about the products Namu and Double Double have created together? 

    With Double Double, we’ve created three items: A leather lighter case, incense holder and a leather strap which will wrap around a ceramic jar handmade by Double Double’s Simon and Kim. We’ve used one of our favourite leather, Buttero Natural Tan from Conceria Walpier tannery. 

    This leather will age beautifully over time and we hope you all enjoy using it.

    Namu Leather x Double Double, now available in-store and online.

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