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MEET OUR MAKER Peter Maxwell
Our global community of like-minded partners include vase makers that work in vastly different
materials. Peter Maxwell of Made Solid creates eco-friendly, vegetable-tanned
leather vases in LA. We checked in with this small business owner recently to see how
he’s staying fulfilled, optimistic, and joyful during these challenging times.
ABOUT MADE SOLID STUDIO
Made Solid studio creates unique hand-crafted leather accessories like bags, belts and jewelry, as well as beautiful tanned and conditioned leather pieces for the home, including vases and trays. Artisans at the company use traditional saddle making techniques and vintage tools to craft Made Solid wares.
We caught up with Peter (Max to friends) at home in the Los Feliz neighborhood of LA, close to the company’s studio/shop.
What’s your biggest challenge as a maker?
Uncertainty and staying focused on design/production instead of getting wrapped up in my head. I’m pretty sure I have a lot of company in this… I find that the more I work on the hands part of what we do - meaning if I make things - it gets the worry and doubt out. Anything to move forward.
How are you staying strong and resilient?
I’m lucky that we’re small and self-contained. I live very close to my studio and I am VERY used to working 12+ hours a day. I can be alone in the studio. I can keep going more or less as before we were closed. I connect with our longtime industry partners and supporters to see how they’re adapting, pivoting, being flexible and thinking about the future.
There are a lot of us owner/operator/maker/designers that are feeling very optimistic. Talking it all out with those friends is amazing.
"I FIRMLY BELIEVE THAT IF WE’RE OPEN TO A NEW WAY OF APPROACHING THE WORLD WE’LL COME OUT OF THIS BETTER THAN EVER."
Where do you find moments of joy?
I’ve been DJ-ing and collecting records for about 25 years. I’ve been making mixes and playlists a lot more recently (all available for free on our website). Mixing records is a creative focus that makes me shut out distractions. It’s second nature to me so it clears a lot of the fuzz out of my brain. It helps. I am lucky to live close to Mexico where we have a family home. I’m able to go check on it every couple of weeks during the stay-at-home. We run on the beach, the dog loves it. We have old family friends around there. I find a ton of inspiration in that environment. I video with my wife everyday as well. She’s been stuck in Japan with family after heading to Tokyo for a collaboration release event months ago.
What are you grateful for? Any special silver linings?
I’m grateful to have amazing people in our orbit and that somehow, someway people have appreciated our work enough to keep us going! I’m grateful that we’ve not had more than a handful of orders cancelled or postponed! I’m grateful that our key partners in the materials and distribution world are all working. I’m grateful that our studio building owner is being super cool about rent payments.
I am seeing a reset of a market that has been oversaturated with impersonal products, cheap materials and poor workmanship. Not just in leatherwork, but apparel too, in many other markets and industries. A lot of that fast fashion, rip-off design, quick production, etc will fall off. Consumers are laser focused on where their $$ go - as they should. The shift was happening already but current circumstances have accelerated it all. That is a silver lining in and of itself but we’re lucky to have a connection to everything we do. We’re hands on. What we do with Made Solid comes out of who we are. There is a story for everything in our collections. We’re accessible as well. Come to the shop – it’s us. Email/DM/call - it’s us. Trade shows - us. Social media - us. Appreciation for that grows.
At a time when so many people feel disconnected, we’re inspired to become more connected than ever before. I think that’s amazing.
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