How We Came to Be
Growing up, the Founder of Atelier Emi, Rachel Chen, was passionate for drawing, sewing, sculpture/ceramics, and various creative hobbies. In college, she studied fashion design, graphic design, and was also a freelance illustrator. But as the years went by, she detoured from her creative calling to work in an office job, and pursue fitness & competitive bodybuilding.
Her journey into the leather craft world began when Rachel was looking for a unique costume piece, and stumbled across a beautiful, intricately-carved, leather bunny mask. She found herself constantly thinking about that work of art, and felt the urge to “create” grow stronger and stronger. Thus, began our small, home-based business, located in sunny California. What had started out as a need for a creative outlet, has now sparked into a full-fledged passion, where uncompromising quality and refining small details are our focus.
Atelier Emi is driven by creating bespoke (made-to-order) leather goods. We always welcome custom requests, and encourage clients to share their dreams, customization requests, and designs with us. It's truly inspiring to hear the amazing ideas our supporters come up with, and a pleasure to have the opportunity of bringing those dreams to life.
"A Beautiful Blessing" : Behind the Name
Years ago, Rachel used to be a vegetarian, then vegan. So when we first started, we considered working with vegan leathers, as it pained us to think about the sacrifices made to obtain leather. But as we researched further, learned the differences between faux vs natural leather manufacturing, and how to the leather industry could be sustainable, we decided to proceed with natural leathers.
For our brand name, we originally brainstormed through multiple variations of “opals”. This was the first idea that came to mind, as this is Rachel's birthstone (October). The thought was that opals could also symbolize the uniqueness of every leather. We even sketched out a few logos, and played around with different variations on the gemstone’s chemical formula. But that name always seemed very superficial and never fully fit into our brand vision/purpose..
As we were finalizing the logo, Rachel noticed Emi lying next to her.
(Little backstory: Emi was adopted from a local animal shelter, back when Rachel was going through a rough patch. The shelter had no history on her, and had found her in the streets. When Rachel first saw her, she looked like she had just given birth, and was practically skin & bones. She hid in the corner of her kennel, didn’t make a sound, kept her head down, and barely looked at anyone.
The moment they made eye contact, Rachel was drawn to her, empathized with her pain, and signed the papers right away. Since then, Emi has always been there in the worst of times. She has this innate ability to sense sadness/pain, and is always quick to comfort everyone around us. 💕)
So when we saw her next to us, a light bulb went off. All that brainstorming, and the perfect name was staring right back at us: Emi. Her name, which means “a beautiful blessing”, acknowledges the gratitude we have for the animals who gave their lives for this industry. It also encompasses our brand values, speaks from our hearts, and grounds us.
Emi brand leather goods are hand crafted in our small home-based business. Sewing machines are non-existent in our shop, as we hand-stitch every product for maximum durability. We dedicate hours, days, weeks or even months on every item. Our hands are involved in the entire process, from cutting the leather to sewing it together.
Yes, leather comes from animals. However, we believe that because of this very reason, we should treat leather with the utmost respect. We believe that this beautiful material deserves the appreciation of something that is luxurious, high-quality and life-lasting. We believe that every detail should be addressed, no matter how small, and no step should go unnoticed. To carry on traditional leather craft techniques, and in saddle stitching by hand for a more intimate appreciation of the craft itself.
We also believe in sustainability by supporting tanneries who try to minimize their environmental impact, and are transparent on where their leather is coming from and their manufacturing practices. We promise this, and hope that our loyal customers can see the love, care, and passion in our work.
Behind the Scenes
For an inside peak on the work behind our collections, follow us on other social media platforms:
For an inside peak on our lives outside of leather craft, follow us on other social media platforms:
We take our brand reps seriously, and look at more than the typical following and engagement counts. We choose to work with people who share similar values, because these values need to portray both our brand culture and the heart of our ambassadors as well.
Camille is an educated skincare fanatic, health enthusiast and adventure-seeking traveler. She’s a Southern California native who received a masters degree in journalism where she learned everything there is to know about conveying stories and information through television, radio, print and digital.
She inspires and sends little sparks of joy through her blog and through the letters and videos she’s created. She shares with you her experiences and passions from traveling to faraway places to her journey with eczema and tips on feeling confident inside and out. Camille believes self-love, proper care and a little bit of wanderlust are the key to living a healthy, positive and radiant life.