Persistence and Survival
My grandfather, Joseph Erlich, was orphaned in 1925 at age eight. Poverty-stricken, he dreamed of pursuing the trade of leather craftsmanship. For several years, he tried to forget this calling to focus on his immediate survival. But dreams are not so readily cast aside. Convincing a townsman at age 12 to employ him, he began apprenticing in harsh conditions, terrified that when he broke the needle on his master’s sewing machine he would no longer be able to use the expensive equipment. A child, especially an orphan, could not afford to make mistakes. As Joseph wrote in his memoir, “In my day there were no easy times.”
10 years later as WWII raged on in Europe, most of Joseph's family was murdered, yet he survived. In a Displaced Persons Camp, he became aware of The Tailor Project – a small Canadian program sponsoring craftsmen to work in the country’s burgeoning fashion industry. He emigrated to Canada as a refugee. With only the clothes on his back, he was determined to start his leather goods business as a way to rebuild his life. And he did. A life built on quality, integrity, and personal relationships. This was his dream, and he never compromised.