An old school satchel for the digital era

Thursday 15 October 2015

Brent Nelson, Master of Entrepreneurship and Innovation graduate, sitting down with his satchel

With vinyl records back on shelves and people trying ‘digital dieting’ (taking extended breaks from smartphones and social media), Brent Nelson, a Master of Entrepreneurship and Innovation (MEI) graduate, yearned for a product that reflected simpler times.

“We are getting smarter about how we buy things and how we produce things – largely thanks to the internet. Something bought in a retail shop for $100 was probably made for less than $5,” Brent says.

This led Brent to design a high-quality leather satchel start-up that can be backed on Kickstarter. However, there’s something a little bit different about this beautiful bag: you do the stitching.

Brent first thought of the idea while travelling, “I had a sense of being unfulfilled and wanting to dedicate my time to a single project. In a fast-paced world, there’s something special about slowing down to create something purposefully.”

When Brent returned to Melbourne, he created The Social Saddler Co. Their stitch-it-yourself leather bags are made from environmentally-friendly, vegetable tanned leather, solid brass fittings from England and hand-stitched thread from Germany.

Brent Nelson, Master of Entrepreneurship and Innovation graduate's satchel design

The leather has laser-cut holes with easy-to-follow instructions that allows anyone to try their hand at stitching, and Brent believes it’s the perfect product for someone who enjoys a challenge and is motivated by a sense of achievement.

It’s this sort of motivation that led Brent to design the satchel, using skills learned while undertaking his MEI.

“I learnt some valuable lessons during my time at Swinburne; getting out there and having a crack, the importance of talking to customers to test your assumptions and that selling and listening to objections are the best form of market research.”

With the Kickstarter campaign for the sew-it-yourself satchels already underway, Brent is hopeful that the project will be a success and that he’ll be able to take his throwback product to market.

“Being 35 per cent funded in four days was promising for me. People can help by talking about it, sharing it on their social networks and clicking the ‘back project’ button!”

Brent Nelson, Master of Entrepreneurship and Innovation graduate, showing his satchel

Brent’s Kickstarter campaign, A Beautiful Leather Satchel; Hand-Stitched By You, ends on Monday 2 November.

View more photos of Brent's satchels.