Naga Leatherman products.
Morung Express Feature
Chümoukedima | May 4
Meet Chubatemsu, a self-taught leather craftsman whose custom brand ‘Naga Leatherman’ is emerging as a premium and contemporary name in the business. His carefully handcrafted bespoke leather products- wallets, purse, bags, belts, holsters and harness -are sumptuous, durable and trendy and made to order.
Handcrafted leather items require a lot of skill and dedication from the maker. By judging the fine craftmanship of the leather products created by Chubatemsu, one is surprised to learn that he has had no professional training and all the crafting skills were acquired from YouTube tutorials-and of course countless hours of practice and trail and errors.
Leather craftsman Chubatemsu at his home workshop in Naga United Village.
“All it needed was an old leather file case, the kind you tuck in your academic mark-sheets away, to create a spark for a passion that ultimately would become a full time occupation,” the craftsman tells The Morung Express in a teta-a-tete.
“I had received this file case as a gift from one of my sister for clearing HSLC. As I was dusting it off one day, I realized it was made of good quality leather and the condition was still brand new even after 8 years. I was suddenly fascinated and my passion for leathers was ignited.”
That was in 2018 and at one of the low moments in his life- switching from one job to another and yet finding no contentment and nearly giving way to depression. After graduating in Accountancy from Guwahati, Chubatemsu tried working in a call centre, became a sales executive, was a travel agent and opened a Naga food hotel in Paltan Bazaar, Guwahati.
“I was restless and feeling discontent with my life. That was when this spark of realizing my passion transpired with that leather file case,” he reminisces. “I began searching for leather products online, explore the accessories that are used, the tools required and binged on countless of DIYs with an obsession.”
Discovering a passion is one thing but churning it into a profession is altogether a different equation requiring plenty of resources. Life has not been easy for Chubatemsu with tragedy striking his family one after the other. His father, a police constable passed away in 1994 when he was just 2 years and his sister only 6 month old. Then in 2011, his mother passed away. Since then he was surviving with the support of his kind relatives.
“There I was - no professional training, no resources, only with a passion for leather. I had on me Rs 50,000 which my mother had left when she passed away. With this money I bought some leather crafting tools and began my foray into this craft.”
Officially establishing Naga Leatherman from a rented house in Guwahati in September 2019, Chubatemsu recalls how during the initial stage he could hardly sell two wallets in a month that also after convincing friends to help support his work.
“What I learnt at the initial stage is you can’t afford to despair just because your venture is not picking up. You have to remain consistent, be patient and keep doing what you love; eventually opportunities find its way to you.”
Passion is a must
Back to 2023. Three years and 8 months since the leather crafting journey begin, Chubatemsu today considers himself sustainably established yet still learning and growing in the craft.
Chubatemsu currently has a home based workshop at Naga United Village, Chümoukedima. For his products, he only uses full grain and top grain leather. Full grain is the best quality of the grades as it comes from the top layer of the hide while top grain leather has the outermost layer of the hide removed. They are the strongest and most durable part of the skin. Materials are procured from Kolkata, Chennai, Kanpur and Delhi.
Chubatemsu asserts that his crafts are incomparable. “My leather works are single and handcrafted. It is unique and incomparable to reputed brands that are into mass producing. You cannot customize a product like the way you want it with company brands. I create a product the way you like it- you can provide designs, choose the type of leather, colour and stitches...”
So what does it take to become a leather craftsman? “To be one, you need to be patient, rational and passionate. It takes time to master stitches, precise free hand cutting and even hammering. However, the most important of all is passion. Without passion to create, to bring into existence an idea in your mind, it would be difficult to succeed.”
Chubatemsu plans to train people who can work with him or start their own brand. The craftsman has come up with two courses- one basic and the other advanced. He is also in the process of coming up with a master course.
One can get in touch with him via his instagram handle- Naga Leatherman or his contact number-7578937796.