Mark Rossi is a photographer who also happens to make handmade leather camera straps with his company Due North Leather Goods. When it comes to leather, he really knows his stuff. He sent me a strap to review myself, which will be coming soon on my YouTube channel, but until then, I wanted to get to know Mark and some of the info behind what goes into his craft.
Mark Rossi and Due North Leather Goods
Hey Mark, thanks for joining me today. Before we get into your camera straps, why don’t you tell my readers a little about yourself, and how you got into photography.
MR: Hi Alyssa. I was born and raised in Toronto, Ontario, Canada and I have been shooting since the early 80’s. My first camera was a Konica C35 which was gifted to me by my grandfather at the age of ten. Ever since, I have been loving and growing in my photography. I also like to create with my hands and I have other hobbies like turning pens, riding and building bikes, and of course leather working.
So obviously as a photographer you know first hand what people may be looking for in a camera strap. Was that what made you start to create them yourself, and what was the market lacking that you wanted to bring to the table yourself?
MR: As a photographer, yes you could say I did have an idea of what a camera strap should be like and how it should feel and perform. There are of course many options available on the market that are overpriced and highly marked up offshore junk. These products are made in mass numbers, but in my opinion can never match a well made hand crafted leather camera strap. At Due North Leather Goods Company, I want to focus on comfort, quality and style. I would say my design approach is simplistic and I really try to bring orignial and beautiful design to the products. As an example, many of my products make use of a floating leather camera guard to protect the area around the lugs on a camera. The nice thing about the floating guard is that they prevent restrictive movement in the strap when using your camera and when the leather wears out, simply replace it by placing another floating gurard between the ring and the lug and viola! I also have designs on the website that are new to the market and I have many many more to list on the website….. if only there was more time I guess to do it quicker! LOL
All of your leather is sourced here in North America correct? How important is it for you to have your products locally sourced?
MR: Yes, all the leather is sourced here in North America. It is extremely important for me to support North American suppliers as the quality and customer service is much better.
I personally love that.
I see that you have recently added Peak Design anchors to one of your straps. Tell us about that and why you decided to collaborate with them.
MR: I use Peak Design anchors on the Baron series of neck straps and wrist straps. For those looking for a quick release option, I believe that the Peak Design anchor system is simply the best! A lot of camera strap makers use metal clips or similar gizmos which I don’t like because A. Those clips were never meant to be used with cameras and B. Becasue of safety for my customer’s gear! When something was not made to work with something else, there is always the potential for a mishap and mishap is not something Due North Leather wants! There is a leather camera strap company (I will not mention names) that has designed their own plastic injected quick release system. I would never trust that because for the first thing, it’s not proven and second, it’s SOLEY plastic! I actually studied polymer science/organic chemistry in college and the connector to your camera SHOULD NOT JUST be plastic!
A Peak Inside Leather Works
I can tell you really know your craft. I’d love to know more about what goes into the actual making of your leather products. Can you share anything about the process that goes into creating one of your straps?
MR: Yes I give 100% to the art of leather camera strap making. That’s a really tough one because every product is different. Some things that are consistent are things like the quality of the leather. I use full grain vegetable tan leather. All the leather is inspected by me before using. I also test every hide of leather before I use it. Everything like hardware and thread are professional grade. One thing that I do that I really don’t see out there is dying of leather. I have a special way of applying and treating the leather to make the leather waterproof and prevent colour bleed. Leather dying is fantastic because it opens up the doors for much more creativity and that is something I want to do more of with future products.
And you’re self taught right? I also heard something about a Leather Worker’s Guild. Can you tell us about that?
MR: Yes for the most part I am self taught. I attended a leather guild for a long while and that was a great source of information in the beginning of my leather crafting journey. Nowadays, I do most of my learning on my own. I have friends who are in the craft and I can always rely on them for any advice or suggestions. I have always been the type of person who will just read and read and then practice.
That’s amazing. I really admire that.
Well, Mark thanks for chatting with me.
MR: I enjoyed it.
I would encourage you all to head over to Due North Leather Goods and check out Mark’s handmade leather straps. He has kindly given me a code for 5% off of your purchase of $50 or more. Use the code avca at checkout. Limit one per customer.
Until next time, stay motivated and keep shooting.