Leather Repairer

Leather Repairer

A DIY education is required for a career in leather repairs. But the smile on a satisfied customer's face can make all that hard work seem worthwhile

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Photo: Nora Tam
Requirements: Repairing a leather product is completely different from making it from scratch. It requires extreme patience and care. This is not a mass production process. You need to know where to find the materials for a particular repair, which may be unique and difficult to locate.

Qualifications: There are no formal qualifications for leather repairers, but classes and books are available. Learning how leather goods are made gives you a good foundation, but it takes countless hours of practise to improve your skills and craftsmanship.

Average salary: Each job is different . The charge depends on the nature of the problem, and the size and condition of the item. It can cost from a few hundred to a thousand dollars. Complicated and time-consuming problems cost more. Work prospects: Hui Kwok-ming started his repairing career in 2003, after his existing business closed down.

At first he worked as a locksmith as well as a shoe repairer.

Hui says he did not have any official training but taught himself while cutting keys and repairing shoes.

He says he gradually learnt his skills on his own. He bought books on the manufacture of leather goods, so he could understand the process and know how to take them apart and put them back together.

He gained most of his customers through word of mouth and referrals. Once you become more skilful, you can charge a higher price for your work.

Although his job is time-consuming, he feels satisfied and fulfilled whenever he sees the happy look on a customer's face as they receive back a treasured item looking as good as new.

Long-term work prospects: Hui now employs another repairer to help out in his shop.

He says business has become more stable over the years. However, he stressed that it is difficult to sustain a repair business.

He made his reputation gradually, and now gets more corporate customers from chain and department stores.

Hui says the job is repetitive and can be boring to many people - it requires a lot of persistence and patience. He and his wife can rarely go away on holiday, except at the Lunar New Year when most people are too busy celebrating to have the time to repair their leather goods.

Since there are no more than 10 leather repairers in Hong Kong, there is enough work to keep those in the field busy, Hui says.

Where to apply: Shoe and leather repair shop

A day at work

Hui Kwok-ming now runs his repairs business in Causeway Bay, and his wife helps out in the shop. He begins his day at noon and works until about 8pm.

The couple source materials they need early in the morning before the shop opens, and stay in the shop the whole day.

Hui says he and his wife can be quite tied up with work, so they mostly have lunch in the shop late in the afternoon.

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