Riveted to leather crafting

Mr Sylvester Ng (right) enjoys working with leather, making wallets and cardholders (far right) with the material.
Mr Sylvester Ng (above) enjoys working with leather, making wallets and cardholders with the material.PHOTOS: DESMOND WEE, RIVETS CO
Mr Sylvester Ng (right) enjoys working with leather, making wallets and cardholders (far right) with the material.
Mr Sylvester Ng enjoys working with leather, making wallets and cardholders (above) with the material.PHOTOS: DESMOND WEE, RIVETS CO

When he could not find a tool roll pencil case in stores last year, undergraduate Sylvester Ng decided to make one out of canvas himself.

The 24-year-old felt so accomplished doing so that he got hooked on crafting.

Now, he is the co-founder and master craftsman of new leather goods brand Rivets Co.

The second-year mechanical engineering student at Nanyang Technological University started the business with six of his classmates in May. The items can be purchased from the Rivets Co website (rivetsco.weebly.com/) and online marketplace Carousell.

After Mr Ng made the pencil case - "it did not look the best but gave me a sense of satisfaction" - he continued experimenting with canvas and other fabrics before focusing on leather this year.

He says: "Leather ages well and the patina on each item is different depending on how the owner treats it. I like that you can add a personal touch to the material."

He learnt how to work with leather by watching online videos for three to four hours daily.

"It affected my grades slightly, but I found it addictive and enjoyed working with my hands to create something," he says with a twinkle in his eye.

When he took an entrepreneurship module in December, he told his teammates about his leather- crafting skills and they were interested to take it further.

Rivets Co, with an investment of slightly more than $1,000, was thus born. Mr Ng is the creative force behind the brand as he is the sole crafter.

The catalogue is kept to fewer than 10 items, which includes wallets and card and key holders. Prices start from $12 for a ring tag and up to $78 for a cable roll-up organiser.

Customisation is available too - customers can pick the colour of the leather and thread, and the size of the item.

Rivets Co has sold 15 items since June. Last weekend, it set up a booth at the two-day Makers' Market in TripleOne Somerset.

Currently juggling the business with their studies, Mr Ng and his partners intend to continue with the business after they complete the module in September.

And if business is good enough, they would possibly do it full time after they graduate in two years.

Mr Ng, who is single, says: "If there is a chance to take the business further, I will, but if not, I will continue to play with leather and learn all there is to know about it."

Gurveen Kaur

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 10, 2015, with the headline 'Riveted to leather crafting'. Print Edition | Subscribe