A Ten Minute Tea Break With…Ian, Clicker
Meet the faces behind the Tusting brand, we sit down with Ian, one of our house clickers. Learn a little about what he does and what makes him tick below.
How long have you worked at Tusting?
It will be 5 years this October.
What is your role at Tusting?
I work as a Clicker. That essentially means, a Cutter. I use the hulking great Press machine that you see upon entering the workshop. It is a heavy, multi-tonne piece of kit, but is designed to keep you safe!
Do you live locally?
Compared to many of my colleagues who live right here in Lavendon, I live quite far away. I am based in Wellingborough, 10 miles away.
Were you familiar with Tusting before joining the company? Did you already know any of its other employees?
Yes. My girlfriend was a bencher with the company for a few years. She then moved into the design team.
Where did you work before? What training do you have?
I worked at various places but was trained on the job. I worked at a couple of shoe factories when I left school, so had some prior knowledge of the leather industry and its significance to the area.
I started working on the Press straight away. I was trained by our floor manager, Paul. There is little he does not know. I am still learning though, as every hide presents its own story and our bag designs change frequently.
It is a daunting process at first, as the leather hide is where the money is. Cut through it and make a mistake and it cannot be salvaged, as our MD Alistair likes to remind me (in jest, of course!).
What is the trickiest part of your job?
Trying to get the most out of a hide of leather and being cost effective. Our pattern shapes are made from knives. These are like cookie cutters that we lay onto the press. We have to place them carefully so as to be efficient and to work around any imperfections in the hide.
What do you mean by imperfection?
This might be a scar, perhaps from the cow rubbing against a fence, or a bite. There might even be a small stretch mark! Hides are natural things and some have had a run in or two, although generally speaking, those that we receive are in very good order. I rather like that each mark or blemish tells a story.
What is your favourite bag to work on?
I love working on the bags we produce for Aston Martin bags, in particular the DB11 bag. They involve a lot of work and I cut everything for them, from the body leather through to the trims. I like everything that goes into them and the hand cutting that is involved too. We tend to process the bags in batches of five and each one is fairly labour intensive.
I also enjoy making our Clipper bags. I don’t know why, but I have a fondness for them.
What is the hardest, most challenging bag to work on?
Without sounding cocky, none of them are too challenging now that I know them so well. It is the new bags or bespoke orders that occasionally throw up a new puzzle.
What is your favourite bag in the Tusting collection?
I have always liked our Clipper bags. I like them both for their style and for their make.
Favourite leather to work with?
I love Black Yamai. This is the grainy leather that we use for Aston Martin.
Are you trained in any other areas of production?
No. I am a dedicated Clicker.
Who do you admire style wise?
I am not really into looking at celebrity style, although will concede that I quite like Tom Hardy’s look.
Colleague you most admire?
It would have to be Terry, who is actually retiring today (April 2019). He has worked for Tusting for 30 years and has an incredible knowledge of leather. Terry is responsible for inspecting every hide that comes into the company. He has a solution for almost anything you need to know. Paul has superior knowledge too, as does Alistair.
The funniest thing about the Tusting Christmas party is…?
Alistair wearing a silly hat! It is a Tusting Christmas tradition that we all look forward to.
What part of your job do you most enjoy?
Like the job, like the cutting and the challenge of it and the wrath of Alistair every now and then!
What is the accessory/accessories you can’t live without?
Your Tusting bag of choice?
The Clipper. Hands down! I have a fondness for the Kimbolton too. We gave my mum a raspberry one and my girlfriend received a red one when she left the company to take up a career in teaching.
If you could create your perfect bag, what would it look like?
It would be a Messenger bag with a flap, suitable for fishing. I would make it in our classic khaki canvas with leather trim.