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Local Craftsman Ryan James: From Electrician To Artisan In The Heart Of Morriston

ryan james
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

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.

ryan james
ryan james

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.


ryan james
ryan james

ryan james
ryan james

ryan james

“Are you a local handcrafter in our community and have a story to tell? Send us your story and photographs to [email protected]

One Comment

  1. Ryan makes some of the most beautiful handcrafted leather goods I’ve ever seen, his attention to detail and great customer service makes LittleKingGoods the only place I’d even consider buying from. Please check them out!!

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