Artie Shell worked in the banking industry for many years. After discovering his passion and talent for leather crafting, he left the corporate world to pursue his dream. Now owner of the successful brand Mascon Leather, his leather goods have been sold on every continent in the world.
- I always wanted to make leather that was more
artistic than functional.
Instead of people seeing my items and thinking
how many cards could fit in that pocket,
or you know, how much cash can I fit in that pouch,
I wanted them to look at it and say, "That's pretty."
So I had to blend aesthetics with functionality,
but I lean more towards aesthetics.
When I graduated from college,
I was working in construction for my family business.
It was hot in the summers, cold in the winters,
and my dad always said, "Use your brain, not your hands."
So I got a job at the credit union.
So I kept moving up and moving up,
and then the next thing I knew,
I was just getting tired of the whole atmosphere of banking
and going to meetings and no individuality,
so I just started looking for things to do.
I was ordering some planner
from another leather crafter years ago,
and I asked him if he could just send me a piece of leather
to make a pocket on the back of my bag with,
and he did, and it was just oddly enjoyable.
That's really what started it.
I researched and researched and watched YouTube videos.
And I learned how to do edges.
I learned how to do glue better.
I would take a little bit of this person's style,
a little bit of that person's style,
and then put it together and make my style.
And then I accidentally got good, I guess.
I figured if I were to take those eight hours
that I was at the credit union
and made leather items,
that I could make just as much or more.
So I put my two weeks in.
(upbeat music) If anyone were to come
to this house at any given time,
you could find almost any sort of crafting
or artwork going on.
My wife is an artist, artist.
Painter, stained glass, pencil, charcoal.
- I'm playing, 'cause I've worked this morning,
so I've earned to play now.
- She's also a hairstylist,
which is an art form all on its own.ú
One day I looked out in the backyard,
and my son Mason was stacking up bricks.
And I went out there,
and he had built a little forge in the yard.
And that's when I was like, I think he's serious about it.
What are you working on, Mase?
- A ton.
- And he just started making everything you could imagine.
And my other son Nick does lathe work.
So he makes pens and duck calls.
What's up, Nick?
- What's going on?
- Both sons have acquired a craft
that has nothing at all to do with my craft.
It was a lot harder to go out back and build a forge
or go research what wood goes in with what.
And it's just cool that they did something different,
but they're still just as passionate about it.
I like to be surrounded with things
that are pleasing to the eye,
and Colonial Williamsburg is pleasing to the eye.
♪ You dare me to close my eyes ♪
♪ And slowly pull the curtains ♪
♪ I hear you shut the lights ♪
♪ How I wish you could cut the noise ♪
♪ How I wish you could cut the noise ♪
I feel fortunate to live in this area
because of the history
and how accessible the Colonial district is.
♪ Your heat is so appeasing ♪
If you look at my work, you'll see a lot of fluff.
♪ How I wish I could cut the noise ♪
You don't want your eye to just suddenly stop.
And I get a lot of that
from architecture and Colonial Williamsburg.
A regular department store wallet there is
one and a half to two ounce thick,
and mine's at least four times thicker.
And a department store wallet can last sometimes 10 years,
but I would say average, mine would probably last 275 years?
I don't know.
It'll last your lifetime that's for sure.
And probably your kids.
♪ I pretend to sleep while you dress ♪
♪ But all I hear is the noise ♪
♪ All I hear is the noise ♪
Well, when I figured out that branding was important,
I started with the Facebook page,
and then I researched photography.
So then I would take a picture and post it.
Practice, take a picture, post it.
I just kept going deeper and deeper and deeper.
What I've tried to do
is have it so that someone could imagine them
in the photograph.
Anyone could see what the wallet is,
but you might as well have fun with a story.
People see the picture and almost instantly recognize
that it's a Mascon leather photo.
So I'm able to do well with the leather
and also do well with reach.
Everyone wanted me to do the YouTube videos.
What I've found with the video is
that I enjoy the creative process
because it's so different than photography,
and obviously so different than leather.
I have so much more area, so many more angles, lights.
It is a lot more creative. It's a lot more satisfying.
I think I spilled coffee in the first video,
and people commented that it made it
so that it wasn't just this step, this step, this step.
Well, then I realized I never took into consideration
who my audience was.
I shoulda known because that's what I did.
- Three years ago, you run a bank.
Now you're crafting leather.
Do you feel like the man?
- I'm blessed. I never expected it.
The fact that my items are sold globally,
and the people are willing to wait,
it's flattering and very humbling.
Makes my decision to leave the corporate world,
the right decision for sure.
- [Artie's Wife] And you're happy.
- Yes, 20 years, and now we're finally happy.
- Makes a big difference, doesn't it?
- It's unbelievable.