Smiths & Kings is a quality goods company that designs and hand stitches its products in the U.S. and as a matter of fact in our backyard – Los Angeles, Calif. It was founded by Jose Estela, a young visionary and entrepreneur that is ready to introduce new items to his line in 2016.

Pictures Credited to Humans of St. Louis.

Credit: Humans of St. Louis.

Jose has been working with leather since 2013 and it all began when he was living in St. Louis, MO with the idea of making high quality goods at an affordable price. He has a graphic design background and likes to emphasize a clean design with the maximum functionality possible for his products.

In a recent chat with Jose #AVivirLA was able to learn more about his fervent entrepreneurial spirit, his goals for the coming years and I was able to even give some of his great products a try. By the way I love them. The wallets have become my favorite because they are unique and functional.

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Take a look at how I’ve decided to pair the “Curry” wallet in my casual outfit of the day and how perfectly they go with my men’s wear swag.

How long does it take you to put one wallet together? 

Jose: It varies. I have some wallets that can take me 45 minutes to finish from beginning to end. I have others that take me 3 to 3.5 hours. Then I have done custom work that varies. Larger portfolios like an iPad case takes longer too.

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When he lived in St. Louis he purchased his leather material from a company that is located in Chicago and he continues to buy from them because they are able to provide him with the highest quality assuring that his clients will receive the best. He utilizes leather that has been processed and is softer and waxier, which also allows for easier stitching.

“I like it when the leather is already broken and has a waxy feeling. I get it already stained and tanned and I just go ahead and design it. Hand cut and hand stitch everything,” said Jose.

What is the inspiration behind the company name? 

Jose: I had the idea – Smiths to pay homage to people that work with the hands such as metal smiths, wood smiths, leather smiths and stuff like that. And Kings comes from the idea that when I design something the most important thing to me is the end user. When I make something I say, “I make it for royalty.” I design products that you would want to give to your kings and queens. I have this idea of making something that lasts, is timeless and that can be passed on and I value that a lot.

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Do your designs have names?

Jose: Yes! There’s one that is called the “Curry Wallet” and I named it after Stephen Curry, the NBA player. I did it because he has a pull-up jump shot and I have the pull-up feature on the wallet. Then I have a larger wallet that I call the “Triumph” that is motorcycle inspired. It’s a little bit larger. It’s a tri-fold. It has pockets in the inside. It is motorcycle inspired like the old triumph motorcycles. I got it from styles like Brando, James Dean and Steve McQueen. I tried to get that aesthetic and incorporated that on them. There is another one that I call the “Ludwig”, which is inspired by the German architect Ludwig Mies van der Rohe and he came up with the idea that less is more. So I tried to be as minimal as possible with that wallet. This is for someone that carries a couple of cards and some cash in a money clip.

Who is your audience? 

Jose: I would say 50/50 – male/females. I would say a lot of the wallets are male-oriented, but women still buy my minimalist wallet. Those can be pretty universal.

Smiths & Kings has a new version of a phone wallet where you can carry your iPhone and two pockets for cards or cash.

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Where do you see yourself 5 years from now? 

Jose: I do not just want to be a wallet company. I want it to be a lifestyle company. When I make something I want it to be very functional and high quality. I believe in having beautiful aesthetics so I want to incorporate that into home accessories. I plan on taking out a home collection. Various things, like a magazine holder, start incorporating a little bit of wood into my designs and combining wood and leather. Wood and leather to me has this very earthy, organic feel to it already and it just makes sense to combine them somehow so that is where I am heading. In the next 5 years I still want to do a lot of accessory collection, home collection and grow to be a provider and larger employer. I want to have a little shop where people can come in and purchase. I love retail. I love designing retail and having that experience. I want to be able to offer my customers an experience from beginning to end. When they walk into my shop and everything they see is part of my brand. And having a retail shop will be incorporated in that. I want to be big enough and do something for others.

Jose believes that in our society we may have undervalued aesthetic stuff and he wants to put a bigger focus on the combination of good looking and functional items.

“I think there is value to have something be part of you, your workspace, and your living space and be beautiful and be functional. And there is value to that. I want this brand to be associated to people with knowing that Smiths & Kinds makes beautiful and high quality stuff and if those are the first words that come out of people’s mouths I am good,” explained Jose.

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This young entrepreneur has become a jack of all trades within his company (Founder, HR, designer, accountant, marketer and more) and realizes that he needs to micromanage his days in order to get everything done, but by far his favorite part of the job is interacting with clients because that makes him “giddy”.

“Talking to people of what I do is very liberating. Especially to see someone use it. It’s a fun thing. When I make a wallet — I make it for it to last. When I make something I have all of the intentions in the world that I want you to keep it. This person may possibly have my wallet for 10 years,” said Jose.

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He currently finds himself working 12-13 hours a day and 6 days a week in order to reach his purpose of being an employer in the near future.

His products range from $35-$100 and his iPad cases being the most expensive at $125. With Father’s Day being around the corner these products may be the perfect match that you were looking for to give to your father, grandfather, boyfriend, husband or male friend.

I have started using my very own wallets and I enjoy how they are making their own story through the patina as it ages throughout the normal wear. I look forward to having these wallets for many years and how they will become unique to my persona. And why not even pass them along to my children one day.

You can find these aesthetically pleasing products on www.smithsandkings.com and if you live in the Los Angeles area you can purchase them in person at the Abbot Kinney Marketplace in Venice on Saturdays from 11-5 pm and every Sunday at the Melrose Trading Post from 10-5 pm.

For all my readers of #AVivirLA you can enter into a giveaway of a Passport Cover and Luggage Badge from Smiths & Kings by sending me a message to my Facebook page for details on participation and rules.

The contest ends on June 30th 2015! Good Luck!

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Credit: Humans of St. Louis.

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