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From Hermès to April in Paris, Béatrice Amblard’s
Personal Testimony to the Traditional Leathermaking Artisan

By Adelina, 10-17-2019

French native and San Francisco based leather artisan, Béatrice Amblard is a master of handcrafted leather goods after more than 30 years of experience. She makes strict use of traditional French hand tools and techniques originated from the Medieval period. After designing custom leather goods for Hermès and worked at its San Francisco store for fourteen years, Béatrice launched her own line, April in Paris, at a South of Market workshop. With the expansion of business, she quickly opened her own boutique and workshop on Clement Street.

Courtesy: Béatrice Amblard

When it comes to making refined, one-of-a-kind leather goods for each customer, Béatrice engages in an intensive process starting with conceptualization, design, mockup, to finished product. Every piece is created mostly by hand, using the finest quality materials and takes as much time as it takes to finish (e.g., usually 2-4 months for a lady’s handbag). Her adherence to perfection includes working with well-established tanneries, mostly in France, using only the finest leathers, and spending much of her time in the leather detailing as well as linings. Her dedication to perfection has won her many loyal customers and a strong word-of-mouth network of clients. Her other source of business comes from her online store. Béatrice chooses to shy away from department stores because she wants to keep her business small so that she can ensure every step is performed according to her standards and the quality represents the brand.

Courtesy: Béatrice Amblard

Courtesy: Béatrice Amblard

At the age of 16, Béatrice went to a prestigious trade school, the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Paris. There she found her talents and passion in making leather goods by hand. Being dyslexic, she gravitated towards visualization rather than the printed word. She finds most rewarding the moment when her vision is transformed into the final product.

Her talents were noticed by Hermès in Paris; immediately after graduation from the trade school, she was hired as an apprentice leather artisan by the firm. In 1987, she was appointed as the “Ambassador” of Hermès at its newly opened boutique in San Francisco. Béatrice is the only Hermès artisan in the US that has her own label and boutique.

(Courtesy: Béatrice Amblard)

In 2012, Béatrice founded Amblard Leather Atelier to revive this century old tradition in leather making. More than 400 students from all over the world, such as Europe, South America, Asian and local Bay Area, have taken lessons from her. The school’s curriculum offers four levels of achievement starting with the basics, such as cutting, patterns making, and saddle stitching on leathers. Every step is by hand which requires diligence and repetition until hands acquire muscle memories to perform the tasks with precision. To Beatrice’s delight, over the years, she has seen a pick-up of interests from young people in learning this traditional craftsmanship.  

Courtesy: Béatrice Amblard

We greatly admire Béatrice, a lady who strongly believes in traditional handcrafts skills and devotes herself for the past 35 years in creating long-lasting, refined leather products for her customers that are timeless and not for those seeking the latest transient fashion. Furthermore, through her devotion to teaching, many young adults are able to learn this traditional skill by hand and have not let this tradition fade away. Her personal story is a legacy hard to match and is also an inspiration for many to follow. 

Courtesy: Béatrice Amblard

If you are interested in her store and school, here are the links: