Sandast: Handmade With Passion and Soul
Chris Pak wasn’t a leatherworker or a painter before he started Sandast in 2010. He worked in finance. After spending a lot of time in vintage shops and military surplus stores looking for military bags and leather goods, he had the idea to make modern versions of some of his most beloved bags. While he appreciated the timeless style and durability of those bags, he was never a big fan of the smell they carried from the untold lives they lived before arriving at the shop.
A partner, who was skilled in leather work, and Chris launched Sandast with a small collection of designs. They tested out different materials and methods, hoping to find that balance of quality and profit. Things did not go as expected. Bags didn’t sell as they had hoped. Chris attributes that to the idea they cut some corners on quality to maximize profit. “It just wasn’t right,” he says. There came a moment when his business partner left, and he had to decide to either shut the whole business down or figure out a way to move forward. “When I looked at the logo, it was like looking at my child. I have children, and I always say, ‘You either protect your child, or you die trying to protect your child.’ I knew I couldn’t give up.”
Uncertain of how to move forward, Chris designed his next bag, called Sidus. When he saw the final bag in his hands, he knew that he could keep going. Instead of focusing on making a profit, Chris sought out the highest quality materials from around the world and hired the most skilled leather workers he could find. They developed a new line of bags using fine leather, classic designs, and a proprietary finishing method to give each back a vintage yet current style. The risk paid off. “All our products are made to last forever. Because they are always aging, you’ll enjoy them more as time goes. They change and adapt to you and how you use them.”
Sandast continues to hand make leather goods in their studio in South Park and has gained popularity with neighborhood locals and celebrities like Blake Lively. Sandast encourages clients to collaborate with them on a new design if they don’t already make what you want. “We give everything to every product we make. It has been hard, but things are getting better.” Chris’s personal bag is on display in the showroom. There’s a quote inscribed on the back of the bag, “In order to move a mountain, you must move small stones with intention.”
Written by Kort Havens | Photography by Kort Havens