With Christmas fast approaching (I know, I know, we haven’t even celebrated Halloween yet!), would now be an appropriate time to introduce you to a little gift inspiration?
I recently discovered JooJoobs’ range of handcrafted personalised leather travel products and, as all good discoveries should be shared, I thought I’d take the opportunity to share this one with you.
A little bit about JooJoobs
JooJoobs are a small family-run business. The JooJoobs family are based in one of my favourite cities in the world (I have some posts coming up very soon about my latest visit) – Chiang Mai.
Noi (also known as “dad”) is the family’s master leathersmith. He designs and manufactures his products from his very own workshop overlooking lush gardens and rice paddies, and has been doing so for the last 30 years. He doesn’t view his craft as work, which is why he has continued to practise it well into his retirement.
Noi runs JooJoobs with his daughter Bibi and her husband Kelly, both of whom look after the online side of the business.
What attracted me to JooJoobs
I’m a massive supporter of small, independent, family run businesses. I live in a town that’s famous for having the longest uninterrupted row of independent shops anywhere in the UK, and that’s something I’m really proud of; I think we should support businesses like these as much as we can.
I also love leather products. I love the smell, and the strength, sophistication, and durability of the material. I own multiple pairs of leather boots and shoes (Dr. Martens are my favourites), as well as leather shoulder bags, belts, sofas (I recently purchased a bright red one for my new home), a leather jacket and a purse/wallet.
In fact, I bought said wallet on my second visit to Thailand back in 2006. I use it every day and it’s still going strong 11 years later. A testament in itself to the quality of Thai leather.
So, when I had the opportunity to road-test and review a handmade leather travel product, manufactured by a small Thai family who live in a city I love dearly, I simply couldn’t refuse.
The main material JooJoobs use in all of their handcrafted products is a full-grain distressed leather. Now I don’t claim to know much about the different varieties of leather, but Bibi explains on the website that this is,
“the really good stuff. It only gets better with age as the leather can literally heal itself, turning each scuff and bend into smooth and beautiful characteristics.”
Distressed leather is great for making rustic vintage looking products.
As well as travel wallets, JooJoobs make passport holders, chain wallets (I’ve always thought these are such a brilliant idea for keeping your money safe when you don’t carry a handbag; guys, I’m looking at you!), iPhone and Samsung cases, credit card holders, and belts.
I’ve got my eye on this belt, which even has a hidden pocket stitched into the inner lining!
All of JooJoobs products can be personalised, with a name, initials, or a logo, so they make fantastic gifts. Did you know it’s only 83 days until Christmas? 😉
First impressions of my travel wallet
First off, I was impressed with how quickly it arrived. The website states that you should allow up to 2-3 weeks for shipping to the UK (which is fair enough considering that Chiang Mai is 11,485 kilometres from Shrewsbury!), but I received my wallet in just seven days. I’m not saying that you should expect that with every order, but it certainly got them brownie points in my book.
Secondly, the leather feels strong and sturdy; as if it will withstand the test of time. I love the contrast stitching around the edges, and the little impurities in the leather add to the uniqueness of the product.
Testing it on the road
I took my leather travel wallet with me on a long weekend break to Cluj-Napoca in Romania with a couple of friends. I thought this would be the perfect opportunity to road test it, as I would need to access my passport and boarding passes on multiple occasions at the airport, and I would be able to keep other useful bits and pieces in it, like receipts, bus tickets, and tickets to attractions.
Up until now I’ve kept my passport in a Lifeventure document wallet, which I stored in the large zipped compartment on the front of my Cabin Zero backpack, because it’s too bulky to fit in my handbag. So it was nice to finally have something that was compact enough to carry with my money wallet/purse and mobile phone; somewhere it was easily accessible and that didn’t involve me having to remove my backpack in order to reach it.
I kept my travel insurance documents folded up in one of the larger pockets, my passport in the other, any cards I knew I may need at the airport (Boots Advantage Card, Bite Discount Card, Costa Loyalty Card) in one of the smaller pockets, and my boarding pass and return train ticket in the other. I was able to fit important receipts and tickets in the same pocket as my insurance documents, so I instantly knew where everything was, should I need to access any one or more of the items in a hurry.
My portable battery charger was also the perfect size to slip inside the leather travel wallet, which helped to protect it from knocks and scratches. And when I didn’t need the charger my travel notepad fitted perfectly in its place.
Room for improvement
The only feature I may possibly add to my personalised leather travel wallet is some kind of popper or zip closure, which would prevent other items in my handbag getting inadvertently lodged inside the wallet.
I also noticed that the leather became easily scuffed, but the good news is that these scuff marks can be removed as easily as they form (see caring instructions at the end of this post).
Where can I buy JooJoobs products?
JooJoobs have an Etsy Shop, but you’ll find the largest selection of products on their website. Their travel wallets are available from $39 plus shipping costs. Shipping is available worldwide.
Caring for your JooJoobs product
JooJoobs recommend coconut oil for smoothing out any scuff marks. I use Vita Coco extra virgin coconut oil, which is also fantastic for cooking, and as a moisturiser and hair conditioner.
**This article was written in collaboration with JooJoobs. However all opinions are my own and are without bias**
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