Santa Cruz Good Times

Thursday
Jul 24th
Text size
  • Increase font size
  • Default font size
  • Decrease font size

Bursting at the Seams

ae_totesLocal craftsman designs totes for men

The murse—a man purse. That’s the slang term for a messenger bag, a tote—anything that a man uses to carry his stuff around. Just like women, men also have things to haul around. Now, they can do it in style and without that dreaded “murse” title attached to their carryall. Meet Garrett Kautz, who has revolutionized the idea of a man-purse and made it not only hip and stylish to carry a tote bag, but extremely practical, very manly, and quite rugged. So much so that his rough and tumble bags are being sold at places like Unionmade (a very Americana/manly/upscale store in San Francisco), as well as at local Downtown Santa Cruz retailer Stripe.

Kautz greets me on a sunny fall day at his workshop in Santa Cruz. He wears a canvas and leather apron that he made, along with sturdy, stylish work clothes. His studio looks like the type of place you’d find in Brooklyn where an artist got a clever idea, made something brilliant and launched a successful business, while still crafting everything themselves. This DIY mentality, hard work ethic, and artistic sensibility is what’s giving Kautz a loyal following and an endless order of bags.

Here in his shop in Santa Cruz, Kautz has an inspired studio. Bags hang on a coat rack, an industrial sewing machine is set up to stitch through layers of tough wax canvas, and supplies linger here and there.

Kautz’s story is an appealing one to any aspiring artist, freelancer or self-employed crafter. About a year-and-a-half ago, Kautz got married. As a wedding gift, someone gave the newlyweds an old 1960s sewing machine that cost just a few bucks. Kautz started playing around with the machine and was able to learn some basics: How to hem and alter clothing.

ae_totes2“I had no idea that I wanted to sew,” he says. “My grandma and mother had always sewn but I grew up on a farm. I was always driving tractors and doing manual labor stuff, but I wanted to make stuff that I could use and was functional. Being able to sew, you can do so many things—fix tears in your jeans, make kitchen towels.” He decided he wanted to make his own bag to lug around his camera, jacket, and laptop.

But the wedding present machine just couldn’t handle heavy tote fabric, so he upgraded to an industrial machine which can handle tougher projects. He learned some tips from Fabrica, a co-op in Downtown Santa Cruz that offers free sewing instruction, and then, after learning how to make other things like surfboard covers, he ventured into designing and sewing men’s tote bags. They were an instant hit.     The bags have a rustic, beat up, Americana type of look—they come in various sizes, with earth-colored wax canvas and leather straps. You can shove a laptop, a sweatshirt, work files, a water bottle and more into them, while still maintaining a hip look. He even offers some that are less masculine looking—check them out at Stripe exclusively.

Kautz cuts, sews and designs every bag that he makes, so it’s a completely one-man operation. And while he doesn’t adhere to fashion magazines for what’s the latest in fashion, he seems to be hitting the mark and finds his inspiration instead in surf photography, old music, and the style and craftsmanship from the early 1900s.

“In the last three or four years, I’ve seen a lot of men paying attention to what they are wearing, not in a vain way, but they will spend money on a haircut, a shave,” Kautz says. “It’s an old-fashioned, cool, throwback kind of thing.” And so is exactly what he’s doing—making something with your hands, and watching it take off—literally—on someone’s shoulder.


Visit strawfoothandmade.com for more information. Bags can be purchased online, or locally at Stripe, 107 Walnut Ave., Santa Cruz, 421-9252.
Comments (3)Add Comment
...
written by J. Steinmetz McTavish, October 29, 2011
So very cool. My name is J. Steinmetz McTavish and I approve of this man's efforts.
...
written by Mona, October 28, 2011
Thanks for finding us a local place to buy great stuff for the holidays!! Love this guy's vision!
...
written by valerie sophinos, October 27, 2011
I love the article. Keep up the great work!!!!!

Write comment
smaller | bigger

busy
 

Share this on your social networks

Bookmark and Share

Share this

Bookmark and Share

 

Mars Enters Scorpio: The Nine Tests

Over the years I’ve mentioned the nine tests of Mars and Scorpio. The tests are given to everyone—unawakened, beginning to awaken, and the awakened. The purpose is to test our strength, courage, ability to adapt, discriminate and have discernment. To see if we are deceived by illusion or are “warriors triumphant, emerging from the battle.”

 

Final Cut

Cedar Street Video to close after 10 years at downtown location

 

Roger That

The late film critic Robert Ebert profiled in lively doc, ‘Life Itself’

 

The Maestra Returns

Cabrillo Festival’s Marin Alsop is back to ‘rock the boat of tradition’
Sign up for Good Times weekly newsletter
Get the latest news, events

RSS Feed Burner

 Subscribe in a reader

Latest Comments

 

Time is Ripe

Local fruit harvests hit markets, Storrs Winery celebrates ‘Best White’, and a salt fix from heaven

 

I remember Santa Cruz when…

Santa Cruz | Librarian

 

Best of Santa Cruz County

The 2013 Santa Cruz County Readers' Poll and Critics’ Picks It’s our biggest issue of the year, and in it, your votes—more than 6,500 of them—determined the winners of The Best of Santa Cruz County Readers’ Poll. New to the long list of local restaurants, shops and other notables that captured your interest: Best Beer Selection, Best Locally Owned Business, Best Customer Service and Best Marijuana Dispensary. In the meantime, many readers were ever so chatty online about potential new categories. Some of the suggestions that stood out: Best Teen Program and Best Web Design/Designer. But what about: Dog Park, Church, Hotel, Local Farm, Therapist (I second that!) or Sports Bar—not to be confused with Bra. Our favorite suggestion: Best Act of Kindness—one reader noted Café Gratitude and the free meals it offered to the Santa Cruz Police Department in the aftermath of recent crimes. Perhaps some of these can be woven into next year’s ballot, so stay tuned. In the meantime, enjoy the following pages and take note of our Critics’ Picks, too, beginning on page 91. A big thanks for voting—and for reading—and an even bigger congratulations to all of the winners. Enjoy.  -Greg Archer, EditorBest of Santa Cruz County Readers’ Poll INDEX

 

Hunter Hill Cabernet Sauvignon

Smooth with soft tannins, this velvety crimson Cabernet Sauvignon 2011 is delicious and very drinkable.