Every once in a while we like to feature a different online crafting store we’ve recently fallen in love with. This time around we’re chatting with Megan Winn, the owner and operator of The Binding Bee on Etsy. With almost 600 transactions and a 100% positive feedback rating, this super-selling Etsy shop features vintage-inspired leather journals and wedding guest books as well as leather-tooled accessories. “Beautiful,” “high-quality” and “loved by everyone” are just a few of the praises from customers of The Binding Bee.
Flawed beauty, rustic simplicity and vintage-inspired.
Your main product these days is custom wedding guest books, correct?
I still have two main lines that I am currently working on: Binding Bee Weddings and Binding Bee Classic. Binding Bee Wedding includes my popular vintage wedding guest books, which are created using genuine rescued antique book covers and archival papers, and then personalized for the bride and groom's wedding day.
I also make vintage and literary-inspired paper decor, including centerpieces and vintage paper confetti. Binding Bee Classic is mainly comprised of my signature leather writing journals and has grown to also include leather sundries and accessories like leather boho key chains, wallets and iPhone cases.
Why is upcycling old materials important to you?
Upcycling materials has always been a part of my life even before I knew much about the necessity and benefits of doing so. My mom was always re-purposing and recycling things so the habit was ingrained in me from a young age. I have also been a collector of remnants since I was young and am always incorporating my found objects into the things I make. Rusty old washers, antique skeleton keys, vintage fabrics, book covers and other small odds and ends are examples of collections that at some point have been incorporated into my designs. I love antiques too and value things that are timeworn and have the character to prove their age.
How did you fall in love with making journals?
I love making handmade books for many reasons. I love the form of the book as an object. I love (and have always loved) keeping a journal. I love blank paper. I like the smell of paper, and of leather, and of books. I love the way the materials feel ... the process of binding each piece of paper together, one on top of the next. It's repetitious and therapeutic. I am super energetic and book binding is a very calming and grounding art form. I love that books hold stories and that my journals get to hold peoples really important, special and intimate words.
Why are your leather journals unique?
I am sensitive to my customers and concerns that they have with the leather industry, which is why from the very beginning I decided to work almost exclusively with leather remnants instead of buying brand new leather. Plus, I love the character from the "reject" leather as it often has scars, rough edges, brands and imperfections.
I try to maintain and incorporate as much of this original character into each piece. I use a variety of colors but because of how I have chosen to source my leather, all of my books are either one-of-a-kind or made in very small runs or editions. The leather is amazingly durable and typically I choose it based on the texture and "feel" (I am very tactile-oriented) as well as the color.
What is the best compliment/customer feedback you have ever received?
The most breathtaking feedback by far was from a customer who e-mailed me a long note about a journal of mine that she bought as a gratitude book. Her story was so raw and kind that I cried when I read it. I actually have a copy of the e-mail printed out above my desk because of how much it moved me.
All images from Megan Winn and The Binding Bee