Ever since I was a little boy I have always been fascinated with working with my hands. Growing up in Toronto we didn’t have a TV so we were constantly outside inventing and playing games and building things. I would often find things that people had thrown away (like old bikes and toys) and try to fix them or make them into completely new inventions. I guess I always had a love for design or redesigning old things into new things.
As I continued to grow, my passion for working with my hands grew as well. I was always handy around our house, helping my dad with different renovation projects. He always let me do things even if I didn’t quite do them right. He was always there coaching and guiding me and encouraging me to do better.
Right out of high school I started an apprenticeship as an electrician. In the middle of my apprenticeship I had an unfortunate skateboarding accident in which I tore my ACL and MCL in my knee and had to have reconstructive knee surgery. During my time off I was alway itching to get back on my feet and work with my hands.
After recovering from my surgery, I continued my apprenticeship but found it hard to work because my knee just wasn’t the same. I started to look for other opportunities in which I could focus my gifts and passions. In 2005 I was accepted into a multimedia design program at Durham College. I fell in love with photography and videography. After the three year program I graduated and started to do freelance design work and photography. It was hard to find work during that time so I decided to go back and finish my electrical apprenticeship.
About three years later I was a fully licensed electrician working for the city of Toronto maintaining and building intersection traffic signals and street lights. Although I was working with my hands, I felt like something was still missing. Design. Designing and being creative were missing. I started to get back into Photography and soon I had more photography jobs than I could handle, but still not enough to quit my day job as an electrician. As the years went by that small voice in my head kept pushing me towards design and creativity. As my side photography business started to grow I kept thinking about quitting. I was now photographing so many weddings and portrait sessions that I had to keep refusing work and turning down jobs. This kept pushing me to quit my electrical job. At this time my wife, baby boy, and I moved to Morriston, Ontario to be closer to my parents.
Finally one day, in August of 2016 during my parental leave (for my baby boy) I needed a leather camera strap for my camera. I decided to go looking for one online and quickly found out that they were really expensive, especially the full grain leather ones I was looking at. Then an idea popped into my head. “Why don’t I just make one?”. From that moment forward my life would change in a huge way. I bought a small inexpensive leather tool kit from Amazon. That was it. I was hooked. Everything I was doing wasexactly what I loved! Design, handcrafting, photography, videography were all rolled up into creating this small business. I felt alive again. I felt like I could work for hours and hours and not want to quit! I had found what I loved to do. There were so many different products I could design and create. Wallets, journals, satchels, tote bags, watch straps, passport holders, and the list goes on and on.
At the beginning of 2017 I had an opportunity to leave my job and do photography and leather crafting full time. I am not saying that it has been easy by any means, but I am finally doing something that I feel like I was created to do. I feel like my designer has instilled design into my heart and I feel alive. So very alive. There are many things I still have to learn but I am excited for what the future has in store.
All of my products are designed and handcrafted by myself using ethically sourced materials from Canada and the US. I am blessed to be able to grow and continue to live my passion. I get to have my hand in everything from design, photography, branding, videography, creativity, and much more because of this business. Little King Goods was started in August of 2016 and my hope is that there are many more years to come. So if you are interested in locally handmade goods check out my work at www.littlekinggoods.com and have a look. I have also been blessed by having my products in select stores in Cambridge. And in case you want to know where I got my company name, the meaning of my name Ryan, means: Little King.
I believe we all have special gifts that we were blessed with. If we aren’t using them they are going to waste. I am not saying that it will be easy or that the road ahead will be all downhill, I am saying that if we use our gifts wisely we can grow and learn and live a better and healthier life while doing something we love. Live your passion.
“Are you a local handcrafter in our community and have a story to tell? Send us your story and photographs to [email protected]