CQ dad’s unique hobby sparks creative career move
WAL Machin is the face behind handmade business, Mt Usher Leather Co - a business born from the need to keep busy as a stay-at-home dad.
Based from his home at Bouldercombe, Wal can be found at his desk in the dining room tinkering away with his tools most days.
The business came about when Wal’s wife, Mona, went back to work after being on maternity leave from having their daughter Scarlett.
Wal was working in construction at the time and he was away during the week working on building sites out of town.
The pair decided Wal would stay home with Scarlett and Mona was offered a senior role to return back to work.
“That way we both got to be home with her and he doesn't just see her on weekends,” Mona said.
Not one to sit around, Wal began making small leather items.
“He is hopeless at being home and not doing anything,” Mona said.
“It started off as a hobby, playing and making wallets for kids and nieces and nephews and someone said ‘can I buy one’.”
The pair visited Germany for Christmas in 2018 and when there were at the markets and looking at products, Wal’s love and fascination for leatherwork was reinvigorated.
Leatherwork was something he had always done.
Growing up in the “bush” at Mount Morgan, his dad taught him some of it and Wal picked up a lot of it himself, just learning from trial and error.
Wal also has three teenage sons himself who he sees on weekends.
He is now passing on what he learnt from his dad to his sons, something he said he really enjoyed.
“They love watching him,” Mona said.
“He makes bracelets with the kids from the leftovers.
“They ask ‘why are you doing this and can I do this’ or they come up with new designs.”
Scarlett would also love to help but given she is only one, she is a bit counter-productive.
Wal uses full-grain vegetable leather for his products.
Full-grain leather is the strongest and most durable part of the hide and is just below the hair.
It is the highest quality and lasts the longest, Wal has found.
Finding the right supplier has been quite the journey.
Most of the leather comes from suppliers in Sydney and Melbourne and they like to support small companies in Australia.
“It is very hard because every company will advertise it is one colour and you get it and it is different,” Wal said.
Starting off from his dining room table. the business has slowly grown.
His website, www.mtusherleather.com stocks standard products from wallets and purses to diary covers, tobacco pouches and dog collars.
Wal’s passion, however are custom and personalised designs.
“I get to spend a bit of time on them and work them out,” he said.
Wal said customer feedback has also been great and many customers have placed more orders as soon as they received their products.