Isaac Paul is the artisan behind Pigeon Tree Crafting. He brings a deep sense of authenticity, refinement and earnest to “Handmade in Los Angeles”.
Pigeon Tree Crafting focuses on leather & indigo goods that explore the marriage between natural indigo dye and vegetable tanned leather.
How did you get started?
I’ve always had an interest in Men’s Fashion, and for the past 5-6 years I’ve really moved away from labels that have high costs without the value to back them up. I’ve found that Made in USA is largely synonymous with being made well, and that’s one of the aspects that really sparked my interest in the Raw Denim community. These “Denimheads” are individuals that value quality above all- whether it’s the denim itself, or the accessories and lifestyle that go with it.
My growing appreciation for this community of craftsmen and supporters motivated me to find a way to contribute. Enter the “Quick Release Belt,” which deserves a lot of credit for bringing my craft to where it is today. When I first saw this belt, I thought it was the coolest thing ever!
(For a brief history: this belt is made with a buckle that was originally patented in the 1800’s and used by Firefighters to buckle the firehose for quick access, but is now being made by a small foundry in England in the form of belt buckles.)
The thing is, I couldn’t afford the belt from the maker who I first saw it from, and this kicked in the inspiration to start making things myself and others too. I tracked down the wholesaler, ordered a small batch of buckles, and got cracking. I made my first belt for myself, then a few for family and friends, and when I started to get the hang of it all, I started an Etsy store.
When I have a passion for something, I want to learn as much as I can about it, leading me to really dive into the art of leather crafting: I bought books, watched videos, joined forums, etc. I was also able to draw from childhood memories of my Mom making wet formed leather pouches, which we can now thank for the leather catchall trays that I make today.
Of course, then we have the use of Indigo, which is very prominent in all of my products. Indigo is the oldest dye in the world; it’s a natural dye that comes from the Indigofera flower, and even though mostly synthetic versions are used today, it is the backbone of the denim industry.
What I love most about Indigo and leather, is the commonality that they share. Indigo garments are known for their fading nature, like raw denim that starts off with a deep saturation, but over time, “crocks” or fades off, creating a garment that is totally unique to the user.
The type of leather that I use- natural vegetable tanned leather, is also like a blank canvas in a way, as it is used the leather reacts to the oils in your skin, the sun in the sky, the indigo from your pants, and all of these things create what’s called “patina”. Give the same natural wallet or pair of raw denim jeans to two people, and a year down the road each will have developed its own unique characteristics.
What is the inspiration for the brand name?
While sitting on my patio, I tried to come up with a brand name and logo that was fun, memorable, and had a deeper meaning behind it. I was struggling to envision anything, when there from my patio, I spotted a sight all too familiar here in Los Angeles, a telephone pole filled with pigeons.
It occurred to me that you never see a pigeon in a tree, they’re always on telephone poles, or buildings. I immediately imagined the logo and went to work in Photoshop. The logo that I created on that day is the same logo I use today.
The meaning? Both the telephone pole and the pigeon are messengers, and I would like to think that my products will help my customers tell their stories.
What was the biggest hurdle you had to overcome to get started?
I came from a background in the film industry, and the biggest hurdle for me would be the adversity I faced when telling people that this is what I’m doing now, and want to do from now on.
What was that “Just do it” moment for you to get started?
I had left my post as Director of Operations at an indie production company in Los Angeles to pursue an idea I had for an online distribution platform, and in this time had also started making these belts… It really came down to choosing what was going to make me happier in the end, and I know without a doubt that I’ve made the right choice. I’ve never felt happier than I do when I am making things with my own two hands.
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