Today’s interview is with the wonderfully talented Béatrice Amblard, master leather artisan and owner of the boutique, April in Paris. Béatrice worked for Hermes as a leather craftsman and “Ambassador” for many years, before leaving to start her own business in 2000. Now, Béatrice is currently the only Hermes artisan to have her own label in the United States. It was fascinating to speak with Béatrice on a variety of topics – her business, her opinions on the leather goods world and the importance of buying local, and a little bit about the woman as well. Enjoy meeting Béatrice!
Who are you? What do you do, and where do you live?
I live in San Francisco, and I am Bea.
What do I do….well, I have two businesses right now. One is called April in Paris, and what I do is custom leather accessories. It’s all kinds of luxury oriented leather goods, made using traditional methods.
That’s one part of my day. The other part? I have a school called Amblard Leather Atelier and what it is, is the beginning of a trade school. I want to bring back old traditional methods of teaching and keep this craft and this art form alive. So, I created this school a year ago to keep that going.
A leather atelier is unique business that one doesn’t see often. Has there been a lot of demand?
There is. I have about 40 students a week right now.
Running two successful businesses is an amazing accomplishment. Are you a solo entrepreneur?
I’ve done this all myself in the last 15 years. No investors. I have a 9th grade education but I run two businesses and have kept them that long (15 years), which is a big thing. Keeping my businesses the way they should be, and not over expanding, is really important to me. That’s why I’m still there…because if I had expanded when everybody did, I wouldn’t be around anymore.
You were just 16 when you started the education that would begin your career. How did you know so early that you wanted to work in leather goods?
It was love at first sight. I was 16 and because I had dyslexia, I was told by the school system that I wasn’t fit to head into the 10th grade. So, I had to find something to do, and applied to different schools. I knew very early on that I was good with my hands…I remember being in a wood working class when I was just seven or eight. Continue Reading