Introducing Simon Harvey Potts of MacKenzie Leathers

  • By Stewart Christie
  • 08 Dec, 2016

Stewart Christie and Co. are very proud to announce a collaboration with the exceptional MacKenzie Leathers of Edinburgh. We speak to Simon Harvey Potts about his history with MacKenzie Leathers, who hand craft the very best leather goods and bags in Edinburgh, and our exciting future with them.


Q
Name?
A Simon Harvey-Potts

Q Occupation?
A Leather craftsman (person)

Q Thinking back at the beginning of your apprenticship at Mackenzie Leathers, all those years ago, can you tell me the first thing you ever made?
A Oh...I think the very first item I made was a belt but the first bag was a traditional day sporran.

Q The craftsmanship of your work is really something to behold, did you have fine motor skills as a child? Do you think your son will follow in your foot steps?
A I've always been very artistic and struggled a bit at school with maths and English. I always knew I would would be working somehow with my hands. I feel incredibly lucky to have found my passion. I will definitely be encouraging my son to learn to make his first belt and of course will train him if he desires although I also don't want to project any future ideas onto him until he discovers his own passion, he's very artistic!

Q We are delighted to be collaborating with you, it's very important to Stewart Christie to be working with aunthenitcally British Brands and to keep crafts alive in Scotland. Do you have the same belief's and will that keep you manufacturing in the UK, even if you were given a large unrealistic order?
A I feel at our present moment in history we did loose quite a lot of knowledge and skills that was so readily accessible and available. It's definitely coming back and being valued as it should. I personally feel it is essential to keep it locally made in order to keep this high standard that we produce. Mackenzies will always be in Edinburgh.

Q With your skill and eye for detail does your passion to create extended beyond leather goods?
A Once upon a time I dreamt of making all manor of objects, clothing,hats,shoes etc. I have realised with time you do need to specialise your skills, although I always take on very bespoke projects every now and again to satisfy that deep creative core within.

Q What's the most exciting commission you've had to date?
A mmmm probably a bespoke zipped shirt case, it was stunning!


"Just as you change over time, so does your MacKenzie bag."


Q MacKenzie are known for their beautiful classic shapes and traditional styles. The Cartridge bag and the ever popular Gladstone case are works of functional art, but how long do these individual items take you to make from start to finish?  
A Well that depends on how your day (s) go, it is an artistic process and can go smoothly or not so smoothly. Generally speaking a Cartridge bag could be made in one good working day and a Gladstone bag would normally take around 3-4working days. Please do note the "good working day".

Q Where do you draw inspiration from for your new styles, will the collections stay classic or will you bring some modern techniques or colour-ways into the ethos?  
A Since I have owned the business I have introduced a lot of new colours and sizes to the existing ranges. I am trying to keep in touch with modern needs without loosing the timeless look. When I have more time I will be creating some new designs, for sure...

Q When travelling abroad, whats the most interesting souvenir or accessory you've picked up? Did it inspire you to create any items for your collection?
A My beloved other half is from Spain and we travel a lot there. The Spanish leather artisanos are highly skilled and experienced and I love to see there work, it's very inspiring. When I first started doing leatherwork I saw a very old styled passport/document pouch from Northern Africa which was very cunning and cleverly made, I have made some to date.. mmm maybe I smell a return of the passport holder?

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For any special events, weddings, or the need for specialised tailoring, head to Stewart Christie for the best traditional service and expert consultation email info@stewartchristie.com

Photography: Laura Meek, http://laurameek.tumblr.com  
Models: Abigail Gliksten and Tabitha Stevens
Gowns: Rowanjoy, http://rowanjoy.co.uk  
MUAH: Mairi Gordon, http://mairigordon
Millinery: http://www.sallyannprovan.co.uk
Styling: Vixy Rae
Flowers: Kirsty Downie


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Name? Ian Rankin

Profession? Novelist

Do you usually complete your work and then get it published or have you got some novels that you’ve secretly shelved that you may finally release at a later date?

I've only got one unpublished novel - my very first. Unlikely ever to see the light of day. It was a not very funny comedy set in a Highland hotel. There is one novel, Westwind, which was published, but I was unhappy with. I've never allowed it to be reissued. 

Very interested to know what you are currently working on that we may look forward to?
This is a sabbatical year. I am tinkering and pottering, but not doing a novel. A few short stories, meetings about film and TV. Travelling to festivals far and wide to promote Inspector Rebus' 30th anniversary.

It’s incredible that Rebus has been translated into 22 different languages, have you ever read them in other languages? We understand you resided in France for a while. It must be quite a strange feeling to see them in French, not that you would read it, but is there anything that would make you read any of your novels again once you've written them?

Translated into 35 languages - I need to update the information available online! I lived in France for six years but it wasn't translated into French until after I'd moved back to the UK, which was a bit annoying. I only ever reread my novels when asked by my publisher to provide the introduction to some new edition. 

Where do you find your inspiration in Edinburgh for such crime stories? Do you have a few "favourite haunts" you like to go to and write, or are you one of those writers who is constantly inspired throughout the day, like Alexander McCall Smith, who is forever writing?

I write seldom. I'm certainly no McCall Smith. The man is a machine. I hang out in pubs, especially the Oxford Bar. I eavesdrop on conversations. I go for drinks with retired cops. I am also a news junkie, and often get ideas from newspaper reports and such like.

We know you have a great passion for music. In a recent interview with Tim Burgess at the book festival, we experienced your immense knowledge of artists and albums, it was an interesting talk. Would you host or partake in more of them this year?

Like most crime writers, I am a frustrated rock star. Putting so much music in my books has led me to form friendships with a host of musicians, which is a lovely bonus. I will be interviewing at least one musician at this year's festival - but it's under wraps at the moment.



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