One to Watch: Maxx & Unicorn

[UGCCHI-CJ]First Halloween
Sunny Stroud

Greenpoint-based accessories brand, Maxx & Unicorn, is the ultimate in locally-made handicraft. Inspired by a single vintage wallet, designer Nathan Gryszowka sought to improve the original design with a few leather scraps (remains from a school project at FIT) and, miraculously, without any sewing machines. The result of an afternoon of tinkering -- yes, Elmer's glue was involved -- yielded spectacular results, and soon enough Maxx & Unicorn was stocked on shelves at the local In God We Trust outpost.

"The final product felt like a wallet I had owned forever--or that I had always wanted to," explains Gryszowka, who now offers the same design, since dubbed "Number 43," in over 20 different vegetable-tanned leathers sourced from a factory in Italy. The actual assembly process, however, takes in the 2-bedroom Greenpoint apartment he shares with his wife, who handles everything from email orders to iTunes playlists while Nathan folds, stamps, and burnishes each piece.

Like any business, the Gryszowkas owe some of their success to a little help from their friends. "On the weekends our studio is a revolving door of friends who help with the wallet-making," Nathan explains. "Picking up leather cuts and dropping off finished wallets, they're all local Brooklynites employed elsewhere in fashion, graphic design, and even in music. Not your typical day laborers. They all have a shared interest in seeing our business grow and making a few extra dollars along the way."

As for future projects, Gryszowka says "there have been discussions with a great old American shoe company to do a collaborative line of handmade moccasins and boat shoes." The brand will also introduce new styles of leather accessories in the Fall, including leather journals and passport wallets -- all made from the single cut, fold and tab design.

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