Ferdinand's Leather Goods

“Why don't you run and play with the other little bulls and skip and butt your head?” she would say. But Ferdinand would shake his head. “I like it better here where I can sit just quietly and smell the flowers.” - Munro Leaf, The Story of Ferdinand

Taking time to “smell the flowers” is the spirit behind Ferdinand’s, a beautiful line of leather goods designed and hand made by Dane and Bonnie Alderfer.

Calves on a ranch via ferdinandsco.com.

The illustration of Ferdinand, drawn by Robert Lawson in the orignal book published in 1934, had remained in Dane Alderfer’s memory. The story is about a gentle bull that refuses to fight and simply wishes to smell the flowers. The flowers mentioned in the story seem to reflect a reverence for nature, while the peaceful bull was an eccentric character when compared to other bulls. Ferdinand could not be convinced to compete in any sort of rat race. Having the flowers around, he knew he already had it all.

To enjoy and marvel at what one already has, that is hardly promoted in today’s fast paced world. Speaking with Dane, I had a unique opportunity to discuss his inspiration and how it manifests in the activities behind Ferdinand’s.

Dane and Bonnie live in Ballard, an eclectic neighborhood in Seattle. Their leather bags are a local fixture at the Sunday Farmer’s market, down the street from home, and are available at local Seattle boutiques, such as Velouria and Glasswing.

While Dane works on crafting the leather goods, Bonnie is in charge of the marketing and communications. Bonnie is also an amazing photographer.

Having been exposed to Bonnie’s photography over the past few years, I’ve found a similar flavor of inspiration in her work as well. In one image I recall, she notices and captures an effervescent ray of light reflecting from a pool of water. From her image, I felt a bittersweet longing for that moment, knowing that it was never to occur, ever again. The image suggested that the unique beauty of that particular moment was lost, and reminded me to be more conscious of such moments that are happening all around.

One of Bonnie's beautiful images via ferdinandsco.com.

Bonnie’s photography provides a glimpse into her extraordinary perspective. Being sensitive to details allows the two to experience the unique beauty of the most trivial objects. Their work becomes an invitation into that world, of beauty and nature.

Complete sustainability, to live off of one’s ability to build and cultivate, is a dream for Dane. To live out in nature, relying on your own resources (and perhaps through acquiring expertise in the mechanics of producing renewable energy), is something Dane is inspired by—just the possibility of returning to nature and the ability to live off the land. He’s quite inspired by the west. The leather and lifestyle is reminiscent of the cowboys who rode with cattle and lived off the land.

Beautiful and lush nature via ferdinandsco.com.

Ferdinand’s has unique origins. It all began when Dane studied fashion design and made his first motorcycle jacket. From there, he found a deep appreciation for leather. “It’s a natural material”. Sustainability is not utilized as a selling tool for the leather goods; rather, the ethos led to the formation of the leather goods line. This approach is at the core of everything Dane considers.

The Savoir Faire Black Bag via ferdinandsco.com.

The most popular bag is the Savoire Fair tote in black. It’s easy to see why. Versatile, in black, this bag can be used on a daily basis, for professional and leisure.

How do the feminine bags fit the manly themed, outdoorsy inspiration? Most of the designs are made for women who possess a “natural aesthetic”. How does that match the manly and “cowboy” Wild Wild West that Dane is inspired by?

“We had an order for a clutch. I had no idea what that was. So Bonnie designed it and I made it.”

That’s how it works: a deep collaboration between two aesthetes who both have an appreciation for nature. Currently pursuing the line full time, Dane takes it one day at a time to see where it’s headed. From what I hear, it’s a path of organic development, providing ample room to smell the flowers.

For the full collection, visit ferdinandsco.com.

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