Linda Brown may own one of the few business in the country that relies almost solely on kangaroos.
From her home in Sooke, Brown runs Knotty Linda leathercrafting.
“I specialize in fine braiding and fancy knotting of kangaroo and English bridle leathers,” she said.
Brown uses mostly kangaroo leather because of its unique physical properties.
“In a lot of the work to make a braid, you have to pull really tight on it. And if you pull that tight on cow leather with it that thin to make those decorative knots and braids, it will break.”
Several rooms in her home have been dedicated to the construction and storage of her creations: hundreds of colourful bracelets were displayed neatly on racks near the kitchen, and dozens of what looked like belts hung from the ceiling in a converted bedroom — but they weren’t designed for humans.
“About a year ago I changed the focus of my business to dog leads and collars,” said Brown.
Making them from English bridle leather, which is derived from cow hide and is very strong and water resistant, it gets its name from from being commonly used to construct bridles for horses.
Designs range from supple brown leads with gold buckles to jet black collars with polished studs, costing anywhere from around $30 to $60.
“I can’t help but make bling, because people want it,” she said.
Brown didn’t always focus on canines — initially, her products were very much people-focused.
“When I first started off my business, I wanted to make whips and floggers. And the reason for that is a good whip handle or flogger handle can really show off my talent as a braider and knotter.”
While it fulfilled her creative needs, she said there wasn’t a lucrative market for her work.
“A lot of people who want those kinds of instruments are not interested in a $300 work of art, a $20 sting will do the trick.”
She still makes custom orders here and there, but other items have unexpectedly been far more popular — like her zipper pulls.
“A little boy came up to my booth with a toonie in his hand wanting to buy something, but $30 is about the cheapest thing in my booth. So I went home trying to figure out what I can do, and I started to make zipper pulls out of cord.”
What was meant to be a trinket for kids has garnered quite a following — Brown now makes fancier versions with kangaroo leather for adults, as well as sport-themed pulls complete with logos for teams. She even provides members of the Sooke business community, like Western Foods and Sooke Harbour House, with customized zipper pulls to hand out to clients and employees.
You can find more of Knotty Linda’s products at www.knottyl inda.com.