Watch: Brothers keep up family craft tradition in Cork

Despite his degree in history teaching, Attila Magyar has chosen to continue what his family started hundreds of years ago
Watch: Brothers keep up family craft tradition in Cork

Attila’s partner, Nora. She is the backbone of the leather factory that the family runs in Kinsale. Picture: Mostafa Darwish

“MY brother and I were both unemployed in 2011. And we were thinking about what to do, what journey to take. And my brother suggested, pursuing our background in leathercraft.”

Despite his high graduation degree in history teaching, Attila Magyar has chosen to continue what his family started hundreds of years ago. Attila and his brother are the sixth generation leather workers.

‘’My father is a leatherworker, fifth-generation, my mother is a leatherworker. But my studies were different. I studied English language and history, but we started the business together. So he did the craft aspect. I did more the business aspect, but in the eight years that we are together, I stole the craft, so I learned everything from him.’’

Back in 2011, the brothers didn’t have tools or material or domestic machines to build actual workshops for their business. Instead, they had one rural machine.

Adding to this, Attila said they had no idea how to run a business. 

"We just had our family background. We’ve seen how our parents did. You know back in Hungary and Transylvania, we just had the drive and the faith that we can make this work.’’

‘’We just wanted to do something, and we had the faith and drive to do it.’’

Attila’s brother is a jazz musician, and while he wasn’t always involved in the workshop; he taught Attila the industry’s tricks.

The materials used at the Mamukko workshop are different from the ordinary methods of any leather factory.

“We use the marine-related end of life, waste or end of life products; we use leather that we sourced, we have various sources like clothes, shoe factories, or aeroplane seats, which is a post-consumer end of life product. Or we also use Bechtle leather. So the leather is one of the main materials that we mix with other upcycled materials.’’

Attila believes that people appreciate the combination of various things he uses in his products and his family history and background.

‘’Some people appreciate the reuse, some appreciate the design, some appreciate the uniqueness of the product of the blending of the material because it’s unusual.’’

He believes that the ordinary leather industry is sticking to one material.

‘’Our background is in leather, so we use the leather bit. And we take a life raft and the sail and we combine these, and some elements, leather, some are upcycled. So the combination is like a new genre, new music. It’s very aesthetic.’’

‘’We are in between linear and circular economy. So we take an old product, we turn it into a new product, and we add value, we add value to design, to ethical production...and we add a bit of soul into our product.’’

Despite his high graduation degree in history teaching, Attila Magyar has chosen to continue what his family started hundreds of years ago.
Despite his high graduation degree in history teaching, Attila Magyar has chosen to continue what his family started hundreds of years ago.

In the beginning, both brothers were able to get a grant from Enterprise Ireland that gave their business a push.

“In the meantime, we developed our business as well. We are thinking about whether we want to grow if that’s our journey to grow and to have employees.’’

When there were many orders, they had two full-time employees and one part-time, which led them to open a shop in Kinsale. But at the moment, Attila is just running the business with his wife, encompassing the factory and the shop.

CUSTOMERS CAN SEE AND FEEL THE PRODUCT

They usually rely on their shop to sell their products, but they still sell online in the meantime.

‘’For us, it’s easier to sell directly in the shop than the website, it’s easier when you meet a customer client, they come to the shop, they smell the product they see they can touch. And we can talk to them.’’

Attila and Nora. Picture: Mostafa Darwish.
Attila and Nora. Picture: Mostafa Darwish.

Attila’s partner, Nora, is the factory’s backbone that the family runs in Kinsale. Nora said that their son was born in the same year as the company was born.

Nora said she started stitching the bags and this was her main job. But her role increased every day, especially in the last two years when her brother in law decided to leave the company entirely.

It takes a lot of labour from the couple to finish a piece of the product in both the factory and shop. ‘’I always think of which fabric matches with the others, and then how we create those bags to be more durable, practical, strong, and we have to wash them, we have to cut them up’’, Nora said.

“All our bags have a soul, so we put our soul in it.”

Since Covid, the couple got massive support from the Irish community.. Additionally, American tourists who visit Kinsale love their products, and they are the primary clients’ pre and post-pandemic.

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