Kyle McPhee is the owner and creative behind Phee’s Original Goods, makers of leather and canvas accessories. Born and raised in Glace Bay, NS, Kyle was heavily involved in the skateboarding and music scene on the island. He said he has done his best to stay involved in creative pursuits that have led him across both the country and the world. Through his pursuits he has been able to see how other communities embrace their creativity and his hope is to share what he has learned throughout his ventures here at home.
We spoke to Kyle to learn more about his business, his creative process and his inspiration behind his creations. Here is what he had to tell us:
Photo by Corey Katz
How did you get into creating?
Phee’s Original Goods grew out of a hobby that began around 2010. I saw some work John Roberts of Leatherworks had done and that led me to buying some tools and leather of my own. I made some wallets and belts and familiarized myself with the tools but didn’t get too serious with it.
A few years later I took on some work building skate parks that led me around the country in the sunny months and laid off on the winters. I took up the leather work again to stay busy over the winter. In 2016 I injured my foot skateboarding and happened to hobble into Clo’s General Leather Goods in Edmonton. He was looking for help at the time and I was available. Through working with him I saw what it took to run a business in this industry and worked over the next few years to slowly build Phee’s Original Goods into a full time gig.
In 2018 I took up a studio in the Customs House Artisan Incubator in Port Hawkesbury and have been working full time there producing a line of standard issue goods as well as some wholesale and commissioned work.
What does your creative process look like?
My creative process is always changing but it usually follows a similar pattern. Most designs in our lineup start as custom commissions. After making a few iterations of the product we refine it to something we’re stoked on we’ll add it to the lineup. The actual making of the goods is all very manual and hands on. Everything is hand cut, hardware is set by hand, most stitching is done by hand and we use a vintage singer to help out as well.
How long does it take to create a piece from start to finish?
Our work is super labour intensive, on some of our bigger pieces like our duffel bags, we can spend a few days making them. As for our smaller items we try to create them in small batches, around ten at a time which can take a day or two depending on the design and the day.
Where do you get inspiration for your items? What is your favourite item to create?
I’m always scouring the internet for different designs, styles, and looks to take inspiration from. Same goes for my day to day life, I’ve developed a bit of a hawk eye for nice accessories. Lately I’ve been paying a lot of attention to the raw denim, traditional tattoo, and vintage thrift communities for looks to take inspiration from and I’m a dyed in the wool skateboarder so all of those threads tend to compliment each other.
My favourite things to make are new designs that I haven’t tackled yet. Sometimes it’s bigger more technical designs, sometimes simpler but it’s always what’s new that’s stoking me out.
Where is your favourite place to create?
My favourite place to make stuff is anywhere in Cape Breton. There’s such a good community of like-minded folks making cool things and lately there seems to be a rejuvenated excitement for creative endeavours on the island.
What does your business mean to you?
Running a business to me means a full commitment of time, effort, and creativity. You can see that commitment reflected in other local small business owners who’re all working towards a similar goal of bolstering the island’s economy and creating a community where we want to live.
We are thrilled to carry several products from Phee’s Original Goods, both in-store + online. Shop our selection of wallets, coasters, dog collars and more here.
Thanks so much to Kyle for giving us a behind the scenes look at his creative process!
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