Hi! My name is Ryan Valentich, and I run Tich Bags with my wife, Jill. I make backpacks, messenger bags, and a few purses here and there. We currently live in Boston, Massachusetts, but by the time this interview is published we will be in Ridgway, Colorado, setting up our studio/retail space for Tich Bags.
I usually take a seat at my big plywood table and close my eyes or stare out the window thinking about the size and shape of bag I want to make. When I have the shape dialed in, I sketch it out. Once I have my colors picked out, it’s time to cut and sew for 3 to 10 hours. Then I take a nice long bike ride or swim.
I have always been an artist and a maker. Four years ago, I found an old brown leather jacket slung over a garbage can in Denver. I took it home, ripped and cut it up, and hand stitched it back together with long strips of leather. I have been building bags ever since.
Three people test my bags: my wife, my great friend Brendan, and myself. It’s a tiny operation which allows me to really focus on detail and great design.
Our creative business gives us a reason to keep a clear head and really go for it everyday. Life is rich when you are conceptualizing ideas and building them into something people will love and have for many years. It has also allowed my wife and I to work closely together. We love the freedom and satisfaction that gives us.
Etsy is a giant internet art gallery, and if you work your butt off, it’s a place where people will appreciate and buy what you put your blood, sweat and tears into. It relates to the idea of conscious consumerism – which, to us means being aware that the earth is fragile, and not spending your hard earned dollars on junk.