Never was the phrase “necessity is mother of invention” more true than in the story of Seattle’s own Moxie and Oliver.
Caitlin McNamara Sullivan started her leather craft work in 2004 when she was working as a paralegal in a Seattle law firm. She needed a belt to comply with the firm’s dress code but her search for a high quality leather belt in something other than a solid color left her disappointed and beltless. So, Sullivan tapped into her childhood experience in leather crafting and made her own belt.
Belts for other family members soon followed and from there her shop, Moxie and Oliver, was born. In 2010, Moxie and Oliver became Sullivan’s full time job and she moved her work space out of the dark corner of her basement into an airy, girly, remodeled garage that she calls her own.
Over the years Sullivan’s work has expanded far beyond belts. She makes bags of all sizes, wallets, guitar straps, flasks, ebook covers, and even stockings. All of these additions have been born from necessity. Well, all except the stockings. She made those just because she thought it would be funny.
Her “Mighty Wallet” came to be after she went shopping while wearing her infant son in a front carrier. She needed a wallet that would fit in her pocket and would carry cash and credit cards. So, in true Moxie and Oliver spirit, she made one.
I recently toured Sullivan’s work space and got to learn about her craft first hand. All hides used at Moxie and Oliver are vegetable tanned, which allows for the permanent addition of pattern and color. The leather is rigid to start but, because it lasts for so long, it wears in beautifully and softens up over time. The items she makes are hand stitched, hand carved or branded, and hand painted. She does a lot of custom work, putting initials or special phrases on her work. She even carved a marriage proposal into a guitar strap at one point. Her pieces really are wearable art that lasts a lifetime.