Today, we want to take you on a trip down memory lane. In particular, the humble beginnings of our Two Pocket Cardholder. This handmade kangaroo leather wallet has changed a lot over the years.
Each year, we listen to our customer’s feedback (if that’s you – cheers!) and keep perfecting the design. Now that we’re up to variation four, we thought it’d be interesting to talk about the little tweaks along the way and the insights behind them.
THE BEGINNING: A HANDMADE KANGAROO LEATHER WALLET
The first variation of our Two-Pocket Cardholder came to life in November 2016. Like you, we’d had enough of generic bulky wallets stuffed full of old receipts and every loyalty card – there had to be a better solution… right? We went on a mission to find out.We started by creating a slim design with raw square edges. It came in two orientations, landscape (opening on the long side) and portrait (opening on the short side). It was also all hand-cut and stitched by our founder using carefully selected thread and vegetable-tanned kangaroo leather from Australian tanneries. The original colourways were kept simple – classic tan, mocha brown and black. We called it the “Two Pocket Cardholder”.
We first sold it at Brisbane’s Finders Keepers Market. The curated design market fit our approach perfectly and connected us with like-minded people that valued a local and sustainably made wallet. Out of all our items, people gravitated to the Two Pocket Cardholder, particularly in portrait orientation, so we decided to focus our energy there.
From the first variation of our Two Pocket Cardholder, some common feedback we heard was the challenge of getting your fingers into the wallet to get your card or cash out. This fuelled us to go back to the drawing board and develop version two.
TAKE TWO: ROUNDING IT OUT IN LATE 2017
With the first iteration of the Two Pocket Cardholder becoming our best selling product, we started to think about how we could improve it even more. From this, variation two of the Two Pocket Cardholder was born.
A major change was turning the square edges into rounded ones. Although it was purely an aesthetic decision at the time, there’s a humorous story of the early days at Apple that Steve Jobs hounded software designer Bill Atkinson to figure out a way to render rounded rectangles. He thought it was impossible but managed to figure it out and rounded rectangles became an integral part of the Macintosh UX and continue to be in many Apple Products - they even tried to patent it!
It made perfect sense. The change from square to rounded corners made the wallet feel friendlier and welcoming. The raw edge was also smoothed out by burnishing it, a rather slow and challenging process that fashioned a tidier edge.
To address the feedback we had from customers finding it difficult to take their card out of the wallet, we decided to add a thumb hole into the back pocket, a simple but satisfying modification.
Finally, we went crazy with the colourways. Expanding up to 21 colours including purple, pink and red was a huge learning curve and helped us understand which ones appealed to customers the most.
THIRD TIME'S A CHARM: 2018 IS PIVOTAL FOR THE TWO POCKET CARDHOLDER
This design update brought our biggest changes ever in late 2018. After hours spent speaking to customers at various design markets throughout the year, we had some gained some great insights into what was working and what we could do better.
The first topic of discussion was the size. Around this time, mobile payment services like Apple Pay and Google Pay were on the rise, and many people were downsizing the number of cards in their wallet. The first two variations of the Two Pocket Cardholder were slightly bigger than a card width and with only one or two cards inside, the fit was looser rather than snug. So, we thought, let’s shorten the width of the wallet. Then, straight out of the box, the Two Pocket could nicely fit one to two cards without the worry of them falling out. Given the flexible yet durable nature of kangaroo leather, the supple leather could still stretch out to fit seven cards if desired, for those who still like to carry those few extra cards.
The front pocket received some love too. In Variations 1 & 2, the wallet had stitching along the sides right up to the top edge of the wallet. For this variation, we decided to remove a few of these stitches to create a “lip” at the top of the wallet. This was a subtle change, but one we made to give easier and quicker access to the cards inside.
We also introduced another visual change by applying edge paint onto a lightly burnished edge, instead of burnished only, for a cleaner aesthetic – but we also probably would’ve popped a disk with all that rubbing! That led the way for us to add contrast to the colourways as well.
And how do we decide on our colourways? Trial and error! In the workshop, we followed a principle that the edge colour paint should match the thread or lining colour and, after playing around with dozens of different combinations, eventually we decided on seven styles that we couldn’t stop admiring.
The last update for the Two Pocket 3.0 was adding optional RFID protection. This is an aluminium mesh lining that protects card chip information being extracted by credit card skimming. To do this thoughtfully, we added a lining of a softer kangaroo leather over the RFID mesh layer, allowing us to keep the same aesthetic appeal with the added security. We chose to use kangaroo leather instead of alternatives like a cotton, polyester or cowhide leather lining, as these other options could not provide the same thin yet ultra-durable strength and distinct feel.
WHERE WE ARE TODAY: FRESH TWO POCKET EDITION LAUNCHED IN 2020
With so many big changes happening in the previous variation of the Two Pocket, we decided to leave it a few years before again tinkering with the design and aesthetic of our bestselling wallet. In mid-2020, it was time to see how we could take the Two Pocket Cardholder to the next level.
To keep Blackinkk growing sustainably and delivering a consistent product to our customers, we decided it was necessary to switch from hand-stitched to hand-operated, machine stitched. It wasn’t a decision made lightly, as the roots of our business were in small-batch and handmade design. Thankfully, we were able to get to a nice middle point between business growth and living our values by selecting a local Australian craftsman to take on this role.
Our handmade ethos is carried on by our master craftsman Gil, who owns a leather goods workshop called Abide Leatherworks in Mount Beauty, Victoria. Using his trusty heavy duty sewing machine, Gil applies over a decade of leather working experience to create exceptional quality products made with passion and love. For us, Gil’s expertise in working with leather means better consistency, expanding our design capability and precision finishes.
Other changes in variation four were motivated by a desire to refine the overall aesthetic. We transitioned back to a square edge that is tidier than the original variations (also thanks to the edge painting introduced in V3!) and exudes a timeless, masculine feel. The useful thumb slot was also changed from oval to a rectangle and moved to the bottom for cleaner lines and privacy without sacrificing functionality.
Functional improvements came by making the dimensions smaller again – we’re talking mere millimetres. The height was reduced 4-5mm because we noticed the wallet edge was slightly taller than the cards itself and over time that would begin causing the leather to age at a different rate to the rest of the wallet. The width was reduced by 2-3mm so that cards fit more snugly inside. This was helped by transitioning to Gil’s precision sewing machine. While these changes may go unnoticed, they help to further the pursuit of a minimal, aesthetically beautiful and ultra-functional designed wallet.
So there you have it! It has been delightful reflecting on how far we’ve come. Thank you to all of our customers that helped us along the way, we couldn’t have done it without you. If you would like to keep following along for the rest of the journey, sign up to our newsletter and check out our Facebook and Instagram!