Kika Vilegenthart -- a trained filmmaker and economics student -- became interested in leather-crafting by rather old fashioned means, walking into Barbara Shaum's gorgeous leather workshop in the East Village and initiating an apprenticeship."It was then and there that I fell in love with leather work -- the craft and the designing," Kika explains.
For the next fifteen years, Kika could be found in Barbara's studio whenever she wasn't on a film job. But after a documentary series brought her all the way around the world, filming indigenous communities and local crafters, Kika decided to resettle in Dumbo -- this time working for herself.
Having carefully honed her skills with Shaum, Kika was more than prepared to design her own line. Composed of colorful leather belts, handsome satchels, braided suspenders and small leather accessories, Kika NY is devoted to "keeping the quality of product as high as possible." As Kika explains it, "'Made in Brooklyn' will always be our goal."
Today, Kika and partner Sabine Spanjer manage their atelier in the Brooklyn Navy Yard, working together to meet orders. Someday, though, they hope to work with an entire team of artisans who share their infatuation with the craft. "Our goal is to run a workshop in Brooklyn where we will work with skilled, dedicated people and keep making unique, high-quality goods," says Kika. Surely, a few more curious pilgrims (like Kika herself, when she wandered to Barbara's studio) will find their way to her doorstep.