What do mechanical engineering and manufacturing leather goods have in common? Absolutely nothing. Other than a creative side, not much. But that didn’t stop Kono Authentic founder, Given Monaise, from following her heart.
Given grew up in Alexandra in Gauteng and from a young age she loved to take things apart to see how they worked. For her, understanding the ins and outs of how things worked, and the design was always important. She enrolled in a mechanical engineering course at the University of Johannesburg (UJ) and graduated as a mechanical engineer.
After university she worked in the mining and construction sectors for seven years. She wanted to design machinery and change the way things were done but she soon found out that her job consisted primarily of the maintenance and installation of machinery. She had all this creative energy and no outlet.
Given has always loved the aesthetics of leather goods and accessories, but when her 9 to 5 no longer fulfilled her needs, she knew she needed to make changes. In her spare time Given researched the manufacture of leather products and what she needed to do to get started.
With a short course in leather craft under her belt and her goals in sight, Given started to make leather accessories and sell them to her family, friends and colleagues. She saved this money to start her own business. This is how Kono Authentic was started in 2014.
To keep things simple. Our design aesthetic is minimal, with a focus on functionality and quality. Every single item is made in our workshop with love and attention to detail.
Our hope is that Kono Authentic is known not just for quality goods that last, but for creating a legacy that we can all be proud to be a part of. We believe in community, the careful selection of materials, thoughtful simple design, ethical production and the beauty in products that are timeless.
Design and production
We like to keep it to the bare minimum by designing bags that can be made from 1 to 2-piece patterns. This simplicity minimizes environmental impact compared to conventional production processes. We keep our products unlined and raw on the inside except for laptop bags that require padding for protection. There are no unnecessary hidden parts. This is to prevent from cluttering our bags and using access material.
When everything is raw and to a minimal it requires attention to detail and careful consideration in design and production and this is where we don’t keep it minimal. We ensure every stitch, rivet and edge is neat and strong. Every piece is handcrafted in small batches by skilled craftsman using traditional leather craft methods.
We currently source our leather locally, which is a bi product of the meat industry. We use full grain and vegetable tanned leather.
Our mission is for Kono Authentic to produce sustainably and ethically. We’d like our entire cycle and systems including materials used to be environmentally friendly and cruelty free. As our business grows our goal is to research and start using animal free leather entirely.