For an elite few, there is no greater satisfaction than making things by hand. The intimate bond between maker and craft far exceeds the completed product. Indeed, superb craftsmanship demands a lifelong devotion to perfecting one’s skills and an unwavering commitment to excellence. No one knows this better than Franky Boateng.
Finding his true calling as a leather artisan through a rare twist of fate, Franky began tailoring handmade bags and accessories for his friends and family. Transforming his passion into a profession, he established his self-made brand Flybird in 2009. From their Amsterdam atelier, Franky and his team design and construct original leather pieces, culminating in a contemporary collection of mini-bags, packs and totes.
Flybird founder Franky Boateng tells us more:
Flybird specialises in crafting one-of-a-kind leather bags and accessories. What made you decide to start your own brand?
In my teenage years, I was young and naïve, which got me into prison. The Western movies I used to watch as a kid made a big impact on me. I was totally captured by the adventures, freedom and weapons of cowboys. That developed into a huge fascination for weapons, so I started collecting old vintage pieces. The naïve teenager as I was back then didn’t realize that it was illegal. I got arrested and was sentenced to 6 months in prison. Because of the teachings of my mother, I knew that I could turn any situation into a learning experience, which could benefit me in the future and so I started to look for something useful to do to keep me busy while in prison.
One day, I saw two leather sewing machines in the working department that caught my interest. I asked the guards about it and soon they allowed me to work on the leather sewing machines. They taught me how to make leather phone covers. I already obtained some experience due to my fashion education, but it was in prison where I learned to work with leather and where my passion for leather started.
As soon as I discovered my love for leather crafting, it released the hidden creativity inside me. When I got out of prison, I made plans to develop my skills and to follow this passion I had discovered. Once I knew what I wanted to do, I was unstoppable and I made plans to build Flybird.
What makes Flybird unique compared to other labels?
Flybird never looks at other labels as competition. We love to surround ourselves with creative people from all fields to inspire ourselves. Every piece we make is a reflection of our surroundings, the people we meet and the experiences we make. We make one-of-a-kind pieces of luggage because we see our products as stories. Like one of my favorite quotes states: ‘Stories are the creative conversion of life itself into a more powerful, clearer, more meaningful experience. They are the currency of human contact.’ No stitch is the same because no person is the same. Leather is an organic material that lived, breathed and experienced a unique world and that’s why we think that every piece we give to someone is a unique gift.
What do you find most challenging in running your own business?
I think every business has its up and downs. When I started Flybird, I had no major business experience or big buckets of money to put into the brand. I started with a skill I acquired through hard work and determination, and the motivation to build something that would last and make me happy. I learned by trial and error, and looking back, I wouldn’t change those experiences for anything. A successful person or business for that matter grows by the mistakes they make. Knowing this, I welcome every challenge and every reward that comes with it. Also, listening to your gut feeling is irreplaceable. Surrounding yourself with people that have the same determination and motivation to build something they believe in is invaluable. I am blessed to have those kinds of people around me. Together we grow and take Flybird to the next level.
Flybird has collaborated with a number of designers, DJs and retailers. How important are these partnerships to your brand?
At Flybird, we love to work with creatives from all fields. When the chemistry is right, magic will happen–as cheesy as it sounds! But in all seriousness, I love to work with people that have a creative view other than your own. It provides you with new insights and inspirations, and gives Flybird an extra dimension. I would never want to limit Flybird as just a luggage brand. We work with people who we believe in and have a story to tell, no matter what they do.
What’s next for Flybird?
We have big plans for Flybird in the future. We want to spread our wings (no pun intended) and tell our story to a bigger audience. Just like with any brand, growth is important, and so it is for Flybird. We are taking the next steps in order for Flybird to grow. More collaborations are coming up. Diversifying our product range and selling our products abroad are just a few of the things we want to do in the coming months.
For more information on Flybird Indie BRANDS and other brands featured in the Indie BRANDS blog, visit the websites listed below:
The Official Launch of Indie BRANDS (book) was featured in the phillipqgangan website and can be viewed here: Indie BRANDS, the Launch