On that very same day, I happened upon a street vendor who was selling the cutest hand-tooled suede bags. I picked up a card and resolved to look at his etsy shop when I had a free moment. The company was called East Nashville Upholstery, and it was basically just a guy named Emil making high-quality hand-stitched leather goods out of his house. I needed a new bag that was durable for toting textbooks and my computer (still in graduate school at the time). I hooked up with him and bought a grey suede bag for about eighty bucks.
Me and my beloved bag in Melbourne, Australia.
I proceeded to use and abuse the hell out of it. Although he had reinforced the shoulder straps, earlier this year they started to fray a bit. I google-searched his etsy shop, but found it had closed. Oh well, I thought, we had a good run, didn't we? But then I saw another link on the google search page!
Turns out Emil had caught on, and was doing big things with his bag line! Now called "Emil Erwin" (although his name is actually Emil Congdon?), these bags were a far cry from the eighty bucks I'd spent three years ago. High-end leather and canvas tote bags, men's wallets, and more, all running anywhere from $125 to $1400. They were for sale in Nashville and at Barney's in New York! I browsed around for a little bit, congratulating myself on my early-adopter good taste. Then I saw the link on his page where it says all his goods are guaranteed for life.
On a whim, I emailed him to see if he might repair my little grey suede bag he made years ago. He got back to me very quickly, and we proceeded to have a fairly hilarious Emil/Emily gmail exchange for the next few months. First he asked me to send the grey suede bag to him in Nashville, where he could look at it and repair it. After I did that, he got back to me with a proposal. He had just finished his holiday orders, he said, and he had an army-green canvas tote leftover from a miscommunication. Rather than repair the grey suede bag, could he just send me the green canvas tote and call it good?
I checked out his website again. People, this green canvas tote costs EIGHT HUNDRED DOLLARS.
So immediately I said YES SOUNDS GREAT LET'S DO THAT.
He sent it to me without further ado. The funny part is that, ever since I received the tote in the mail, it has been sitting in one of our dining room chairs. I'm scared to use it. I've never had something so expensive in my life, except a car or a degree. It's a beautifully made product, durable and hand-crafted. It makes me feel very chi-chi. I cannot recommend Emil Erwin/Congdon enough, and I will definitely support his business in the future. Just probably only with the $125 wallets.