The Sunday Paper | November 2006
By: Julie Douglas
Joxasa (yok-sa) is an Atlanta-based custom leather accessory company specializing in personalized one-off leather pieces such as cuffs, belts, wallets, messenger bags and women's handbags at reasonable prices (cuffs start at $40).
The Sunday Paper recently spoke with owner and designer John Sanders about his clientele (which includes such luminaries as Dallas Austin) and his gazelle-hide messenger bag.
Q How did you come up with the name Joxasa?
A It's an acronym for my full name: John Xavier Sanders
Tell us about your work.
I use top of the line materials: wallets, cuffs, belts, handbags and messenger bags - I make everything from scratch.
You've custom-designed pieces for Dallas Austin, R&B artist Tony Rich and comedian Ricky Smiley. What did they ask for?
For Dallas Austin, I created custom watch bands and leather cuffs. I made a cuff for Tony Rich, [who is also] a producer for TLC. He just released a new album and is wearing one of my cuffs on the cover. [Comedian] Ricky Smiley requested a belt for one of his Atlanta shows. I've also made cuffs for Kid Millionaire. I'm just getting my name out there.
What took you down this path?
I used to live in Grand Rapids, Mich., and there were these guys who were always doing creative stuff - they were industrial design majors - and I was inspired by them. I saw this Christian Dior cap in Vogue and decided to make it. I wore it to work the next day and this guy asked if he could buy it. I sold it for $150. I figured I should be in design.
So you create a lot of custom-designed pieces?
I will custom-make whatever they [customers] like - within reason. My cuffs vary and are very eclectic, from clean design to hard rock, chic to something a businessperson could wear.
Tell us about your messenger bags.
I make them out of leather and canvas, and the lining is always funky. There's the Joxasa gazelle-hide messenger bag that looks like a mohawk when the flap is turned over - like a gazelle in the wild when its hair stands up.
What are some of your inspirations?
Smiles, loving what I do, pop culture, glamour. I'm not pretentious. My sister, Sheila Sanders, and parents, Janice and Alvin Corry, have been an inspiration and a great support base in keeping me inspired and focused. What makes what I do fun is that I want people to have something special and affordable. These cuffs that I make are all one-of-a-kind at a price they can afford. They make great presents because [the item] can capture the spirit of the person receiving the gift - it's unique to them. SP