Hi there! My name is Andre Santamaria and I just want to say thank you for taking a peek at my Kickstarter project. If you haven’t watched the video, no worries! I’ll try to recap it as best as I can in the written word. ☺
I’m going to keep it real from the get-go: Rogue + Rubeus (ruby-us) is a new brand, so I’m not in the business to charge an astronomical amount of money for products without having proven myself first. My actual goal instead is twofold: To provide quality leather goods to those that want them, and to show people that craftsmanship, attention to detail, and beautiful leather products can come from other countries that aren’t in Europe.
All of my inspiration comes from my experience and exposure to fashion while growing up in NYC, living in Shanghai and Chicago, as well as having a background in retail luxury. I like the rustic, outdoorsy style I see most messenger bags have today—but that’s not what I wanted for these bags. The bags for this campaign are rugged, timeless, and a little more fashion-forward to give them that urban/city look.
Rogue + Rubeus (R+R) was started because of a leather bag purchased at a thrift store. A big motivator in launching this line of bags was the frustration in not being able to afford the bags I really liked when I needed to replace my old one. It was hard to understand why all the trendy bags were from Europe...and because they were from Europe in turn very expensive!
Once I decided on not buying an expensive bag, I went to work. Designing and delivering a messenger bag that could help guys look stylish and not break the bank became my obsession. Creating a cheap, fashionable product was never the goal. That's easy. The hard part is developing something that is of high quality while at the same time being affordable.
Before even considering looking at manufacturers to produce prototypes, I wanted to fully immerse myself into what the process of making leather goods was like. To do that I took leather-making classes for three months to try and learn everything about making leather goods: From the different types of leathers, to their different weights and uses, as well as sewing techniques and different threads used. It was an invaluable experience that provided me with the knowledge and confidence to launch this line of bags. Here a few of the projects I created:
Even though making leather goods was fun, let’s be real I needed professionals to make this successful—so off I went looking for the pros.
I first used my instructor to run ideas about the structure of the bag. Then, by chance, I ended up meeting a design director who used to work at John Varvatos. With his help I finalized the design, details the bag should have, and improvements I could make. The final step was looking for the person who was going to make the bags.
Each R+R bag is going to be produced in Ecuador. I know what you’re probably asking yourself right now: “Ecuador? Why Ecuador?” And I get it: Ecuador is not the first place you think of when thinking about fashion. But I chose Ecuador because there are cities that are known for their artisanal experience in the production of leather goods. And I know this because my grandmother has operated and ran her own leather business for over 40 years.
To decide on who I wanted to partner with to make this line of bags, I hired several artisans to make samples and prototypes of the bag I had in mind.
In the end I partnered with a 20-year veteran named Don Juan (yup, that’s his real name—the guy is a straight up savage). Everything in his shop is finished, stained, edged, stamped, and cut by hand. I feel honored and very lucky to have found someone as talented as him to help me with this venture.
The bags are going to be sourced and produced in Ecuador, including the leather. Selecting the leather for the bags was the most important part of the process because I was looking for something very specific: I wanted the leather to be rugged and luxurious, but also practical, durable and reliable, which is why I wanted it to be waterproof.
After visiting several leather manufactures I decided on going with one of Ecuador’s most iconic and longest running leather tanneries. With over 75 years of experience producing leather, the tannery has developed a reputation for producing high-quality leather, and because of this most of its leather is exported to cities all over the world including Italy, France, Spain, Portugal, Morocco, and the US.
All of the bags are going to be made from 100% full grain aniline leather, which means the leather is made from the strongest part of the hide and dyed in a process where the leather has been dyed all the way through. This kind of process is used on the most luxurious leathers because it keeps the leather looking the most natural. Pigmented leather on the other hand has a top coat of paint, which isn't necessarily a bad thing it's just a different process, but with pigmented leather the paint could potentially chip off.
Even though leather quality is very important, I also liked that my leather partner wanted to become more socially responsible. Around 2012 the tannery went through a technological revamp and imported equipment from Italy and Brazil to not only produce the highest quality leather, but also to reduce waste and save water. With this new equipment the tannery’s main priorities are security, cleanliness, and the correct treatment of tannery waste.
Apart from updating their technology to become more environmentally friendly, the tannery also created two non-profit organizations to help the province of Tungurahua restore its name of being the “City of Fruits and Flowers,” by helping neighborhoods across the province plant and grow trees. So far the tannery has helped plant over 60,000 trees!
- 100% top-grain bovine leather for black and brown
- 100% top-grain calf leather for navy blue colored bag
- 2 large interior flat pockets
- 1-way metal top zipper
- 1 large exterior back compartment
- Dimensions: 18 x 11 x 3 in (45 x 28 x 7.5 cm)
- Hand-cut and handcrafted
- Two small internal compartments
- Designed in the US and made in Ecuador
Launching this company wasn’t just about creating leather goods. I wanted the brand itself to represent something bigger than just products, which is why I came up with Rogue and Rubeus. I chose “rogue” because I liked that it means to stray away from the herd. I believe that to be successful you have to stray from the pack and be different and do your own thing and on your own terms—that’s my definition of rogue.
Rubeus is Latin for “red,” but it’s not the color itself I liked, it’s the symbolism the color represents. Red is associated with desire, strength, leadership, courage, willpower, rage, action, and determination. Put those words together and you have Rogue and Rubeus.
A lot of hours and resources have gone into getting this project this far—a year in and my focus remains the same: Deliver the best leather goods I can to the people that want them. I believe in these products so much that all I’m looking for with this campaign is to be able to expose these products to the world, but to do that I need to cover the costs of leather, production of the bags, and shipping fees. After a year of prep and several trips between Chicago, NYC and Ecuador the project is finally ready to launch.
June 2016: Idea to start producing leather goods that are made in Ecuador
July 2016: Begin to communicate with artisans and leather manufacturers
August 2016: Establish Rogue + Rubeus LLC
September 2016: 1st trip to Ecuador to meet artisans and leather manufacturers
November 2016: 2nd trip to Ecuador to finalize picking artisan and buy first order of leather
December-January: Work with artisan in developing several samples and prototypes
February 2017: 3rd trip to Ecuador to finalize messenger bag design and begin testing with different leather weights and color combinations
April 2017: 4th trip to Ecuador to begin trying out shipping internationally and begin website design
June 2017: Begin working on Kickstarter campaign full-time: writing script, recording first video, planning video sequence
August 2017: 5th trip to Ecuador to record professional video for Kickstarter campaign.
October 2017: Launch
November 2017: Begin to place leather orders
December 2017: Begin shipping bags and other rewards
Oh, hello there! Caught me cheesing. I'm Andre and for the past year this project has consumed most of my life: from the late nights, to the several internationals flights, and all the picture taking and editing. I'm originally from NYC but I've lived in Shanghai and Chicago. I worked in retail luxury for a few years and then worked as marketer for a Fortune 500 company. But in June of this year I was let go from my job because of company restructuring. Instead of fearing the outcome I embraced it and took it as a sign to pursue my passion for design and leather goods. Since June I've devoted all my time, passion and energy to this project and will continue to do so until it is complete.
If you would like to reach me, feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I would love to hear from you!