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Inside Johnny Depp-Favorite Sandast's DTLA Showroom

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Photos by Elizabeth Daniels

Sandast CEO and founder, Chris Pak, is originally from Seoul, Korea and with the hopes of creating a luxury leather goods line of quality, launched the brand in 2010. After parting ways with his partner, Pak who is self-taught, refocused on the quality of the product and admits that the best way for him to distress at the end of a long day is to be alone working, distressing and waxing the leathers. Sandast, which ranges in price from $40 to $8500 for that bulletproof bag Johnny Depp's been rockin', offers everything from small accessories to messenger bags, travel bags and belts made from high-quality leathers from Horween Tannery in Chicago.

We visited the brand's showroom, which also serves as a storefront and hub for design meetings, in the middle of a big expansion-Sandast just moved their production into a separate building down the street. We chatted with Pak about working out of Downtown LA, his process and why focusing on quality has been key to the brand's success.

You've been really focusing on the quality of the product lately. What sort of changes are you making to the line?
"I pretty much changed everything from top to bottom. I was initially so fixated on the visual aspect of the products and the marketing when I started it four years ago. I took a step back last year and realized I needed to make my creations not just visually stunning but also well-made; so I put the focus back on the quality: I upgraded the leather and changed all of our hardware to the finest products available in Italy and France. When we create our leather pieces now, we also work in a slower, more precise manner. Our quality improved overall and our business got better."

Describe your design and production process.
"I get my inspirations from so many different sources. From going to thrift stores, watching an old western classic movie, to people watching when I'm out and around town. I find inspiration everywhere. I become obsessed with a new style/design that I dream of. Once the exterior or the shape is determined then my first question is always 'What would be the most practical and functional way to use this bag?' We will create different sample bags, trying out different techniques, before I choose and create with the leather. From there, I distress, polish, burnish, and wax the leather so that it looks naturally aged and beautiful."

How does working out of Downtown LA enhance the brand?
"I believe LA has become the cultural epicenter of the world with the help of Hollywood. Working and living downtown allows me to meet and befriend so many different types of artists. Everyone has so many fresh ideas, which I try to implement on our collection. "

What are some of your favorite places around here to eat, drink and be merry?
"I live in Little Tokyo which is not far from here. I often go to Japanese Yakidori place called 'Kokkekoro' in Little Tokyo, not only do they serve amazingly delicious chicken yakidori, but it is a great place to have some sake, and I can just walk a block to get home!"

What is next for Sandast?
"I sincerely believe as long as I put my focus on the beauty and the superior quality, it will naturally lead me to the 'promised land.'"
· Sandast [Official Site]
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1205 S Hill Street, Los Angeles, CA 90015 213-748-1210 Visit Website