Santa Cruz Good Times

Tuesday
Oct 21st
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

 

Field Work

Santa Cruz Mountain winemakers explain how the harvest works, and what kind of wine to expect from this year's crop

 

Libra's Two Choices

Libra (our last week) is the sign of creating right relations and values. In Libra we are asked to choose how to be, our identity in the world. We can maintain a hermetic sealed-off attitude (my life, my work, my money, etc.) or we can gain knowledge of world events and learn more about those in need. Libra is a group sign—self with others. Here are some events occurring in our world this week concerning food, poverty, spirituality, values and global realities. The UN (a spiritual experiment) each month places a “light” upon world problems. This week a light shines on Rural Women, Farms, Food & Poverty. Before we choose to respond we must have knowledge. “So we can each do our part.” Oct. 15 - International Day of Rural Women (unrecognized with few resources); Oct. 16 - World Food Day & Family Farming: Feeding the World, Caring for the Earth; Oct. 17 - Eradication of Poverty Day (international). During the month of Libra (with Saturn exalted), we pause, contemplate and assess what it is we know, don’t know, and need to know. Libra receives and distributes Ray 3 of divine intelligence, right relations, right choice and right economy (Venus). Use your intelligence “tips the Libran scales” in terms of being able to see and then choose between the two paths Libra offers (return to the past or step forward into Scorpio’s Discipleship). Libra (the oscillating light) prepares us for the great tests and conflicts in Scorpio. In Libra we are subtly tested as we learn the nature of polarized energies (s/he loves me, s/he loves me not). In Libra we learn more about ourselves through others. Libra’s Ray 3 asks us to become more adaptable and skillful. And then we are to teach each other what we know. In Libra, we all become teachers. In all these ways love is cultivated.

 

The New Tech Nexus

Community leaders in science and technology unite to form web-based networking program

 

Docs Without Borders

United Nations Association Film Festival showcases documentaries from around the globe
Sign up for Good Times weekly newsletter
Get the latest news, events

RSS Feed Burner

 Subscribe in a reader

Latest Comments

 

Nut Kreations

Co-owner Craig Olsen goes nuts over nuts

 

What artist or artists participating in the encore weekend of Open Studios should not be missed?

Santa Cruz | Teacher

 

Martin Ranch Winery

Friends who are wine club members of Martin Ranch invited us to the winery’s fun and festive annual barbecue, where the wine is flowing and the food just keeps on coming. Music and dancing are part and parcel of the action, and a good time is guaranteed.

 

Beer Bus

Santa Cruz’s new Brew Cruz, award winning ales, mole by el Jardín, and Wildcat Ridge Chardonnay