Like with Whitehill Mercantile from our recent journal post, we came across Dukes Craftworks on the hunt for high quality locally made items for our Concept Store. Given that the Dukes Craftworks mantra is 'Crafted in Glasgow. Built to Last.' we feel we'd hit the nail on the head... the go-to items for gift giving for so many of you who have popped in since our opening last December.
Dukes Craftworks is owned by Jack Wells, a civil engineer by day and a master craftsman by... later that day(!) Originally from Edinburgh, having spent over a decade in Glasgow Jack explains despite his initial thoughts that he would move back to the capital, our home city has become his too.
'My full time day job outside the workshop (although for the last 18 months they have been the same desk…) is as a civil engineer... I generally work on infrastructure projects, in addition to flood prevention schemes, schools and residential development.'
'It is a pretty varied job in terms of what you might do on a day to day basis, but sometimes the technical nature of the work limits opportunities for creativity, so its good to be able to switch to creating something outwith the day job.'
Jack made his first leather piece in 2017 around the time Finnieston Clothing was in its infancy, and by the middle of the following year he began to sell, a steep learning curve which demanded a whole host of new skill and consideration including photography, marketing and book keeping to name a few. We know what that's like!
On Dukes Craftworks' initial obstacles...
'When you are getting started it can be so hard to decide on what to spend your limited budget on with no real idea of what you are wanting to do, that and my stubborn insistence to not invest in better tools (since remedied, and wish I had taken the plunge much sooner).'
You may be forgiven for thinking the 'Duke' in Dukes Craftworks refers to a certain Statue or a Street within the city, but you'd be wrong!
'Duke was a nickname at school (although if you ask my friends they will probably say that I am the only person who actually calls myself that…).' says Jack. When he opened his Etsy shop it was the first name that came to mind and it stuck, although he may change it in the future.
We think it fits the bill perfectly, leatherwork fit for a King.. made by the Duke(!)
The Dukes Craftworks range is ever evolving and we carry a vast range of options in our Concept Store. The Card Sleeves, and Cardholders are most popular by volume but we always manage to sell out of the premium Wallets and Belts never last long on our shelves either. We're quite fortunate that the look, feel and quality of craftsmanship is very apparent - and with every single item unique, they really do sell themselves.
As with any business, it wasn't always like that. Jack reminisces about the first 'perfect stranger' to buy from him.
'Its easy enough to guilt trip friends and family into buying your stuff, but for someone you have no connection with to freely choose to pay for something that you’ve made, that was (and still is) priceless.'
When asked what his favourite piece of work was,
'Tough one, currently it's my Oak Bark belt because it's such a solid piece, plus it smells especially good, and is one of those items that only gets better the longer you have it.'
It's something we say about our Outerwear too. Not the smell thing - but that they get better with age. It's true of all well crafted items really; Selvedge Denims, Leather Boots, Waxed Jackets to name but a few.
The plan is for Jack to keep improving skills, grow his confidence and tackle some more complex and detailed projects. The aim is to grow that customer base alongside the brand and offer a viable income stream outside of the 9-5. A goal shared by many, and supercharged in the last year. We chat every day with people who have a 'side hustle' or a passion project that's overtaken their profession.
We can expect the Duke's range to keep expanding,
'I am quite taken with the idea of making a handbag and adding a range of trucker and biker wallets to my range.’
Put it this way. Nothing we've had from Jack's workbench has sat and gathered dust. We guarantee they'll be spectacular!
Apart from the 9-5 and an hour at his desk at night Jack enjoys cycling. Is there a market for bespoke leather Saddles made in Glasgow? Could be a good fusion! He also fancies himself as a bit of a cook. He claims he makes a pretty good carbonara. And now we're hungry.
Food, music and people are the trinity that make Glasgow great in the Duke's opinion.
'In the last 10 years in the city Jack says there has been so much regeneration and development. I think that providing high quality public and open spaces is so important as a positive environment helps to promote a positive mindset, and although much has been done, especially in the city centre, it would be good to see this provided in all parts of the city.'
Wise words from a Civil Engineer - he knows what he's talking about!
On our humble brand...
'Finnieston Clothing is a refreshing independent brand with a focus on quality design and construction which takes inspiration and pays respect to the industrial heritage of shipbuilding and heavy industry on the Clyde, not to mention supporting and raising the profile of local brands. That is something I can support whole heartedly.'
Supporting and raising the profile of local brands is one of the core principles behind our Concept Store, the very fact you're reading this article is because we're serious about fostering meaningful relationships with local makers and craftspeople and showcasing what Glasgow has to offer!
Big thanks to Jack for taking the time to chat with us. Check out his entire range at our Concept Store 7 days a week or have a browse on Etsy HERE.