The way it was, and IS...

Awl Made Here was born on a whim and a “why not”…twenty + years ago. At its start, Awl Made Here was a small shop next to Skinny Legs Bar & Grill on the tiny island of St. John in the US Virgin Islands. In the very beginning, it resembled a food wagon more than it did a storefront. It was actually a quick add-on to the side of a building – long and narrow, with a small door on the side, and a big lift-up shutter along the front wall (see pics below). Hard to believe, but I opened with only a single belt and a few bracelets to sell. My first customers were gracious & encouraging though. I remember one of them ordering what would be my first custom made wallet. Upon completion, so gently did the customer tell me that the dollars didn’t fit in! Believe it or not, he insisted on keeping it as it was, telling me “just make the next wallets longer, that’s all.” Thank you, kind sir, from so long ago.

Back then, it was mostly “how to” pamphlets & books and figuring things out as I went along...these were the pre-world wide web days so there was no looking up info online (can you imagine?!). Gradually, as I worked with my growing number of tools, and played with different hides, I learned how to make things “the right way” and gained respect for leather in general.

Eventually I acquired an old Singer sewing machine; one of my most cherished belongings still. Needless to say, it changed my leather working world! Amazing that in our current state of computer everything, I can still depend on a machine made in 1924.

Once the shop closed (in 2011), Awl Made Here moved into the online arena. While it’s fun to think about “the way it was,” it’s hard for me to imagine doing business without at least a digital camera and my laptop. So much of my work, custom work especially, is based on emailing info & photos to my customers. I’ve become a lot more comfortable with the “computer side” of biz, but really, on any given day I’ll say, get me back to my workbench!


Awl Made Here at its start, St John USVI: 1994