NASHVILLE, Tenn. – A little national exposure has created a new career for an east Nashville craftsman.
Emil Congdon's successful career all started with the gift of a sewing machine at the age of 21.
Now, he's using his sewing machine to make handmade leather and canvas bags that sell for as much as $750 a piece.
They're not cheap because they're made to last a lifetime and possibly be passed down through generations.
"We put a lot of work into them," he explained, adding, "One of these bags, like a briefcase, takes 12 hours per bag to make."
Just a few months ago, Congdon was working fulltime at Dell Computers and making and selling the bags in his free time.
It was after Garden and Gun magazine featured his products and he got 75 orders in one month, his wife Leslie, convinced him it was time to quit his fulltime job.
"He was working all night long and sleeping just a few hours and going to work in the morning, working all day and coming back, doing the same thing over and over," Leslie Congdon recalled.
Emil Congdon added, "We took the leap, and it's working out so far."
For now, the bags are made in Congdon's backyard shop and it currently takes a few months for orders to be filled.
Congdon is doing what he can to get the custom-made goods to people sooner, working seven days a week, many more hours than he was ever working at Dell but he doesn't seem to mind.
"It's a labor of love," he said. "Plus, it's nice to be in the backyard."
Soon, Congdon will be launching seven new products, including wallets, aprons and belts, ranging in price from $75 to $1,100.One day, Congdon said he would like to have his own storefront in Nashville but added he always wants to be involved in making the products.
To purchase his products or to read more, visit EmilErwin.com.