Mainstreet Redevelopment Sackville Inc. Business of the Month: Dave Carey Leatherworks
CONTRIBUTED SACKVILLE TRIBUNE POST
Dave Carey first started leather working as a hobby, but over time turned it into a full-fledged career. SACKVILLE, N.B. – The smell of leather, collections of oddlooking tools, snippets of leather, a new etcher-laser and a tablet with Elmo for a wee girl – these are the things that greet your senses when you enter Dave Carey’s shop on Lorne Street. Dave was not always an artist. He grew up in Riverview and worked a couple of years before completing a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree at Mount Allison, with a focus on photography and sculpture. Having come to the realization that art alone would not pay the bills, it was back to Moncton to work for a while. When Dave was diagnosed with Stage 4 Hodgkin’s lymphoma, he had time on his hands to tinker and read. His grandmother had done some leather working through ordering Tandy leather kits and her tools were available. Dave taught himself how to work with leather through Youtube and reading his grandmother’s books. On top of that, he frequently visited Bernard Cain’s western wear shop in Dieppe, where he learned more of the hands-on skills. “I always liked to work with my hands and saw working with leather as a nice way to bridge between art and something useful and practical. But my leather work was a hobby after work,” he says. In time, Dave says leather working made sense to him as a trade. Many people took their shoes, handbags, etc. to a cobbler for repair, although he says, “not so much now.” He says he has always felt very lucky to have the people in his life that he has had and mentions Tom Henderson and Thaddeus Holownia at Mount Allison as two of the best. Upon recovering from cancer, Dave worked in Moncton for a few years in warehouses and labour jobs. When he lost his job at an auto parts store in 2017, he signed up for the Community Business Development Corporation’s (CBDC) Self-employment Benefits (SEB) program. From there, he started his leather business with a grant from CBDC. He says he had nothing to lose at the time and the SEB program was a great start. “However,” he says, “the one thing missing after the completion of the SEB program was targeted mentoring.” He knew how to do his work but needed work in marketing, social media and accounting. He has since found people who have been very helpful in those aspects of his business. Dave and his partner Ashley, who is from Amherst, say living in Sackville has been a great experience. “The people here are awesome. We love the friendly back and forth.” Dave’s slow time is typically January-february. Knowing that, he bought an etcher-laser to be able to do more custom work. He has made coasters for Ducky’s and recently sent sample items to Mount Allison, which could be for sale in their Bookstore. Dave regularly attends the Sackville Farmers’ Market and a few craft shows. He admits it is difficult to determine who his customers are and where to find them, but he says word of mouth has been wonderful. He says handbags are the most interesting thing to make because there are many pieces to fit together. He also makes sporting goods items and has made beer and wine carriers for Bagtown Brewing Company here in Sackville. Re-usable coffee bags and coasters with logos are his newest products. In addition to working with leather, Dave also works with suede and waxed canvas (from which he has made aprons). He uses only top-grain leather, a high-quality leather with a moderate to light weight. He often incorporates both leather and fabric in his items. What are the challenges Dave faces? “Definitely trying to sort out an effective way of getting my items in front of people and an appropriate amount of space to show people what I can do,” he says. He adds that, with a little one at home, time management is sometimes tricky. In spite of all that, he says being in Sackville has been “a nurturing experience” and he and Ashley have found a place to call home. “I get to work and become friends with others in town. The best part is that everyone cares about everyone else,” he says. You can find Dave Carey Leatherworks at 9 Lorne St., in Sackville. In normal times, his hours are Tuesday – Friday 10:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. For more information, phone 506-862-8952; e-mail davecareyleatherworks@gmail. com or check out his website: https://davecareyleatherworks. com to view some of his works.