Sergei and Aleksandr are at the heart of the OCULT brand, which has just entered a new chapter, and are setting out on an exciting journey to secure OCULT the international appreciation it deserves. They have answered a couple of questions about themselves, the leather craftsmanship, and about the journey that has brought them together.
Sergei Parfenovic, the leather craftsman
Tell us a bit about yourself
I am 31 years old, and I am from the second largest city in Latvia, Daugavpils. It is where I currently live and work.
How did you become interested in leather craftsmanship?
My background is in arts. I was trying out several things, including graphics, painting, and photography, but there came a point when I realized that I wanted to create something more tangible - something that can be used on an everyday basis. Canvasses and printed photographs only offer the aesthetic benefit, but I was more interested in the practical use of items – I wanted to create something which can be used every day and also be elegant and aesthetically pleasing. This led me towards the work with leather products, and I started creating various leather accessories and bags.
How did you learn this craft?
At first, I studied the leather craftsmanship on my own, by trial and error. I looked up all the relevant information I could get my hands on, I got to know the masters who worked with leather, as I wanted to find out all there was – all the secrets that went into the production of leather goods, and I kept doing this for about four or five years. Afterwards I considered the benefits of a formal education, and sent my portfolio to several universities, which all, to my surprise, came back to me with the response that my work exceeds the level of what can be expected after graduating their courses. It upset me and made me quite happy at the same time.
What do you love the most about your job?
The thing I love most about this work is that it allows for an idea in your mind to be transformed into an actual, physical item. This gives me a feeling of immense joy and happiness, as well as motivation to move on – onto the next project, which is always exciting. This feeling can be quite addicting – to the extent that, whenever I have free time, I rush to my workshop and start working on the leather in order to experience this same feeling again.
What was the first item you made and sold? Do you remember how you felt at that moment?
It is hard to say, because, when I had just started out working with leather, I always gave away all my creations to my friends for free. I am quite demanding towards myself, and this is why it took me some years to be sufficiently satisfied with my work to even think of selling it. If I remember correctly, the first product that I sold, was a Zip Wallet – the exact model, which is now available on our website, but it was made from a different type of leather.
What are your hobbies outside of leather craftsmanship?
Since work is also my passion and I tend to spend as much time as possible working on the leather in my workshop, I do not have time for much else. However, when I do have some free time, I use it to sketch ideas for new products and I also like taking photos of the items I have made and other things around me. I love good quality furniture too, and for some time I have been thinking about creating a chair with leather elements.
Name 3 musical bands/albums, which you love the most?
I listen to different kinds of music, but most often, especially when I am at our workshop, I listen to BadBadNotGood, The Blaze and Jungle.
Tell us 3 interesting facts about yourself
- At the age of 18 I moved to Denmark and lived there for 10 years.
- I love to play chess. I've studied chess since childhood in the special section and got the 3rd grade
- My profession is furniture maker, but then in 2010 I turned abruptly to leather crafting.
Aleksandr Karev, sales and marketing
Tell us a bit about yourself
My name is Aleksandr, I am 31 years old, and I live in Riga, Latvia. For the past eight years I have worked as the marketing director of a company, which specializes in liquid petroleum gas, as well as gas equipment. The experience at this company taught me a lot about marketing and how to sell complex, technical and expensive products using modern marketing tools. E-commerce has always been my true passion – I have launched several e-commerce projects in the past, while completing my university degree. Thus, I teamed up with Sergei recently and joined the OCULT project, which encompasses everything I am passionate about professionally, and I believe we will make it grow into something truly exceptional.
Tell us how did you meet Sergei and what cultivated you to join OCULT team?
I quite accidentally met Sergei five years ago, when I was on the lookout for a leather sleeve for my newly purchased MacBook. I could not find anything that I would really like – most of the cases in an affordable price range were made of nylon, and, for the most part also had various design elements which were too catchy for my taste. There were some cases which I liked, but were too expensive (approximately 300 EUR), therefore I decided to search for someone, who could create a custom MacBook case for me.
I reached out to my Facebook friends, and was pleasantly surprised when soon after a friend of mine sent me a link to Sergei’s profile on Instagram. The profile featured some of Sergei’s work, and I remember really liking one of the wallets featuring a geometrical pattern. I remember thinking that it would be great to have the laptop case feature the same pattern, so I got in touch with Sergei and asked if he would consider making it for me. He agreed, and a couple of weeks later I already had my custom-made MacBook case ready. To say I was happy would have been a massive understatement! The sleeve was of exceptional quality, and Sergei had even added a personalised name tag inside of it, which was a really nice touch.
I kept following Sergei’s work for the next few years, and really liked what I saw. Even then I was occasionally thinking that this is the kind of project I would one day really like to be working on. This day came, when, after seeing yet another post of one of Sergei’s creations on Instagram, I decided to give it a try: I wrote an e-mail to Sergei and pitched the idea of working together, where I would bring my expertise in marketing and e-commerce to the project. We met, discussed the project, and were both pleased to learn we have quite a lot of things in common. At the end of the first meeting both of us felt that together we could really create something truly exceptional.
What do you love most about your job?
I love marketing and e-commerce because it is a professional field, which never stops evolving and advancing. If you wish to remain relevant in it, you constantly have to stay up to date, which is challenging and exciting at the same time. Another thing I really love about this job is that it always connects me with interesting new people, and occasionally also opens doors for new and exciting projects and collaborations – such as OCULT.
What are your hobbies?
I have always been very interested in photography, but, when I purchased a professional mirrorless camera a couple of years ago, it really became a true passion of mine. I enjoy taking lifestyle photos, but recently I have become even more obsessed with product photography, which is a very specific branch of photography and requires a lot of technical knowledge if one wants to produce truly stunning result. This is a hobby, which sits very well with my profession, and allows us to create high quality content for the website and our social media platforms with ease and exactly the way we see fit. Thus, it won’t come as a surprise to learn that most of the photos on our website are taken by me.
Name 3 musical bands/albums you love the most
Music is also one of my hobbies/passions. I collect vinyl records and have around 80 of them in my collection, and it keeps growing year by year. But if I must name three bands which I love the most, it would be Moby, Jungle and Dorn.
Tell us 3 interesting facts about yourself
- I lost 21 kg during only one year when I was 17 years old!
- I love running and I have completed the half-marathon (21 km) several times.
- Every time I need to focus on something important, I put on my headphones and listen to the album Play by Moby. I’m not sure what it is, but his songs make me that much more focused and productive.