The East End has welcomed another bespoke long-term retail tenancy amid the COVID-19 pandemic, as new leatherwork shop Stentorian Leather opens on Ebenezer Place.
Stentorian Leather is bucking the retail trend during COVID
It wasn’t all too long ago that Sarah and Robert Scammell were out in their back shed at Port Willunga, making leather goods for their online store.
The working environment was less than ideal for the couple, who started Stentorian Leather about 18 months ago.
They were reliant on other stockists to sell their wares and allow customers to touch the leather. When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, a lot of those stores shut. Some permanently.
“It wasn’t really working too well,” Sarah says.
“We loved Ebenezer Place in the East End and when that little retail rental spot came up we thought that would be a good location, and we also wanted that point of contact with our customer.”
The North Adelaide couple opened their first bricks-and-mortar store this month in a Maras Group-owned building, sandwiched between Midwest Trader and The Laneway on Ebenezer café bar.
The building, which was originally built in the mid-90s for arthouse cinema brand, NOVA, was fully upgraded and re-purposed in 2018 to create the new office HQ for advertising powerhouse, KWP!
Stentorian’s bright, airy tenancy is filled with simply designed wallets, messenger bags, purses, belts and handbags.
They also want the shop to be a bit of a “collective”. As testament to this, the couple are selling pottery made by Canberra-based ceramics maker Kindly Clay and other pieces by local artists from the JamFactory.
Their store is yet another popular addition to the retail landscape in the East End through the COVID-19 pandemic, with Sarah and Robert one of the very few Adelaide creatives to make the move from online to shopfront since the outbreak.
“Obviously people are trying to get out of retail and we could be crazy getting into it,” Sarah says.
“But what we really needed was a studio and we wanted to have a place we could work, produce the products and have a showroom for the customer to come and meet us in person.
“Most of our intention is to grow online and through wholesale and outside of the shop. We just needed a base, and it’s handy to have place for stockists to meet us and sell the products online.”
“Also, being leather, you can’t feel it when you are shopping online and I think that adds quite a lot when you can pick it up and try it on and feel the quality of it.”
Sarah started dabbling with leatherwork as a hobby about six years ago. She later met Robert and they decided to “get it off the ground” and start selling to “more than just friends and family”.
The couple have started developing their leather with a tannery in Wingfield and the majority of the bags are made with kangaroo leather.
“We are trying to move all of our products over to kangaroo leather,” Sarah says.
“When we first started and tried to source leather better, it was really difficult to track the supply chain and we were buying retail price leather and also struggling to find out where that leather was coming from,” Sarah says.
“Kangaroo leather is the strongest leather in the world for its weight. It’s super thin and light – but extremely strong.
“As wild Kangaroos are culled across Australia to control overpopulation, we view the use of the leather byproducts as the most sustainable source for us at this point in time.
“Our longer-term vision includes a desire to source products through relationships with primary producers, such as demonstrated by Land to Market Australia, which is a part of a global network committed to farming practices that measurably regenerate the land.”