Senior Moments: Sew far sew good

Billy Smith ’07 isn’t waiting for his degree before he jumps into the world of commerce. A business major and art and design minor, Smith turns old sweaters, worn-out wet suits, and vintage fabrics into custom bags of all sorts—everything from iPod pouches to computer covers. The nifty satchels are either stitched by hand or with the help of a $12 Singer sewing machine purchased from Goodwill.

Smith calls his one-man company Sukräfte, a made-up word that melds surfing and skateboarding, two of his favorite activities. He picked up sewing in 2001, when, working out of his garage in Mill Valley, Calif., he made his first bag by recycling his mother’s kitchen curtain, a sock, a boot lace, beads, and three cotton balls.

Now more than 200 of his creations are in circulation. Buyers range from UPS students to the president of Banana Republic. At $43–$143 (depending on size and complexity of design) the bags may sound spendy, but the price is a reflection of the time Smith puts into each item. He starts with an evaluation of his buyer, then tries to pick aspects of the customer’s personality to incorporate in the finished product. He also photographs his work as it progresses and includes a CD documenting the creative process.

With graduation looming, Smith says he is unsure whether he wants to make Sukräfte a career or a side-project. He is dabbling with the idea of living and working in Europe, with the use of his Swiss citizenship. (His mother is from Switzerland, and his grandmother is German.) Either way, Smith doesn’t plan to let his craft die. “I will never stop skating and creating,” he says.

Want your own Sukräfte bag? Surf over to www.sukrafte.com.

— Lan Nguyen ’08