The Process of Excellence

“Even if you’re flippin’ fries at McDonald’s, if you are excellent, everyone wants to be in your line.”
-Oprah Winfrey

A few days ago, I happened upon this profound quote by Oprah which inspired this week’s blog about the mindset of excellence.

If you are a student of success, odds are you have been exposed to the theory that if you commit to 10,000 hours of practicing a skill you become an expert. According Daniel Goleman who authored the best selling book, Focus: The Hidden Driver of Success, that theory only holds water if those hours are devoted to focused attention on the activity and performing deliberate, corrective actions.

For instance, a basketball player who wants to perfect his or her free throw shooting. The theory of devoting thousands of repetitious hours shooting the ball at the free throw line making the same errors is unproductive, as compared to fine-tuning the execution with adjustments to reach free throw goals.
Examples of excellence in all professions would agree that devoting hours, days and years of focused attention, pinpointing errors and making corrections is the singular road to being at the top of your game, whether that is in sports, the arts, or business. Those we tout as the best at their game, earned that title for their commitment to that effort.

Applying this practice to Beau Satchelle, in learning the Old World style of saddle stitching takes countless hours and hundreds of thousands of stitches to learn the art and more importantly join the distinct club of skillful leather artisans.

To give you a picture of how intricate this practice is, thinking about darning a sock (translation: repairing a whole). A pretty basic task in taking a needle, spool of thread and a rounded item such as a tennis ball to position the sock while applying a running stitch to close the hole.
Now visualize taking a piece of precise hand cut leather, two leather stitching needles, wax coated linen thread, a pricking tool for creating holes in the leather and a clamping tool called a pony or horse to hold the leather in place as its being sewn. To a layperson, watching the stitching will appear effortless and graceful. Yet the amount of repetition that goes into learning stitching rhythms is mind-blowing. A leather crafters talent excels when knowing the type of tension to apply when pulling the thread for perfectly lined stitches. If the stitches are too taunt, a discerning eye will notice that the leather wrinkles and will not lay flat. Perfectly hand stitched leather is simply beautiful.


A leather artisan, not only perfects the skill of saddle stitching, but must study and appreciate the multiplicity of leather. The types of leather will influence the craftsman’s approach to sewing. Some leathers are more pliable and delicate and need to be handled accordingly to keep creases to a minimal; other leathers are extremely rigid and durable which will stand-up to years of wear and tear because of its durability; exotics (anything other than cow leather) present a different type of approach depending on the toughness or of the hide.

T. Michael’s commitment to the perfect stitch is what produces luxury leather products which speaks to excellence. His dedication to his creations is motivated by knowing that an owner of a Beau Satchelle handbag or travel bag will fall in love with their purchase. I’ve witnessed repeatedly his process of taking a visual concept from drawings on paper to final product and everything in between (including all of the slight corrections, the do-overs, the mishaps, the back to the drawing board days) and the hours upon hours of focus attention to manufacture by hand a piece of raw leather in to a functional and handsome bespoke accessory.

Needless to say, we remain committed to producing and revealing beautiful bags such as the one above. And, stay tuned for this lovely (work in progress) bespoke business travel tote ‘below’ in English bridle leather. -AJ

We would love your feedback on our blog or on Twitter!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *