Santa Cruz Good Times

Sunday
Mar 29th
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

 

Best of Santa Cruz 2015

In 40 years of publishing, Good Times has seen a lot of “bests.”

 

Spring Triangle: Three Spring Festivals—Aries, Taurus, Gemini

The Spring signs Aries, Taurus and Gemini constitute a triangle of force that sets the template for the nine signs that follow and the template for the entire year (Spring 2015 - Spring 2016) ahead. Aries initiates new ideas, Taurus stabilizes the new thinking of Aries and Gemini takes the initiating stabilized ideas of Aries/Taurus and disperses them to all of humanity. It is in this way that humanity learns new things, with the help of Mercury, the messenger. As Spring unfolds, three elements emerge: the Fire of Aries (initiating new ideas), the Earth of Taurus (anchoring the ideas of God through Mercury) and the Air of communicating Gemini. These three signs/elements are the Three Spring Festivals. They are the “triangle of force” forming the template (patterns) of energy for the upcoming new year. After these three we then have the soothing, calming, warming, nurturing and tending waters of the mother (Cancer). Cancer initiates our next season under the hot suns of summer. Planets, stars and signs create the Temple of Light directing humanity towards all things new. March 29 is Palm Sunday, when the Christ, World Teacher, was led into Jerusalem (City of Peace) on a donkey (humility). Palms waving above His head, signified recognition of the Christ’s divinity. Palm Sunday is the Sunday before the Easter (Resurrection Festival). Palm Sunday begins Holy Week, the week of capture, imprisonment, passion, sacrifice, crucifixion, death and resurrection of the christ. All events in the Christ’s life represent events (initiations) that humanity experiences through many lifetimes. We turn our attention to these holy events this week. Their concepts portray and reveal to us greater spiritual understanding. Then, Aries, the “light of life itself” shines through us.

 

The New Tech Nexus

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

 

Best of Santa Cruz 2015 Editor's Picks

BEST NIGHT CAP WARSAW MULE AT SHADOWBROOK
Sign up for Good Times weekly newsletter
Get the latest news, events

RSS Feed Burner

 Subscribe in a reader

Latest Comments

 

Spring Spirits

Sean Venus’ gin straight up, remembering Rosa’s and a tasting of Hungarian wines

 

What’s your favorite most recent outdoor discovery in Santa Cruz?

A hike that’s across from Waddell Beach. I didn’t realize you could go across the highway and do a super simple loop, and it’s beautiful. You can see the coastline. Liz Porter, Santa Cruz, Community Outreach

 

Martin Ranch Winery

Muscat 2012

 

Front Street Kitchen

Pop-up spot attracts paleo crowd with locally sourced low-carb meals