Success is in the bag for this Kinsale business

Danny Albu leather studio and shop in Kinsale is a labour of love. Together in life and business, Dana and Danny Albu have poured such passion into their quality bags and leather goods, the result is beautiful design complemented by a mesmerising spectrum of luscious colours offset by the spicy scent of Italian leather. A unique element of the shop is that Danny’s leather crafting studio is also located there. Customers can browse the finished products while also watching as the bags come to life in Danny’s creative hands.

Dana and Danny Albu came to Ireland with their son from Transylvania 13 years ago. ‘We fell in love with this country and stayed,” says Dana simply.

At the beginning the couple took work where they could find it. Dana exchanged her career in sales management in Transylvania for mucking out on a farm in Ireland.

With leather crafting in Danny’s blood, it wasn’t long before he noticed a gap in the Irish market for high quality leather equestrian boots.

After working from home for a number of years – “he filled my house with machinery… the kitchen, living room, bedrooms,” says Dana laughing – the husband and wife team decided to start the search for a premises where they could run the business from and bring Danny’s unique designs into the public eye.

In January 2019, they finally found the right premises in Kinsale. “We wanted something different, unique, so we combined the workshop and the shop,” explains Dana “and it’s a success… the customers love watching Danny at work.

“It’s not just about business and making money, it’s about giving back,” she says passionately.

Dana laughingly describes herself as Danny’s elf. “He is the designer, the creator and I am his helper!”

It’s obvious to anyone who enters the shop that the couple work well together. Their friendly, charming banter makes this a place you could easily lose yourself in for quite a while.

Ranging in price from €30 for a glasses case up to €290 for a large shoulder bag, there is something for everyone here. Clever little pockets are incorporated in the bags to hide anything from passports to money. One of the bestsellers is a pyramid shape small bag. “It started out as a joke between myself and Danny and now we can’t make enough of them,” says Dana.

Always up for a challenge and learning something new, Dana loves the human side of her job. “My job is to find out my customer’s needs and fulfill them,” she says. “I’d prefer to sell a small bag and have my customer walk away happy rather than pushing an expensive one on someone.”

Bags can also be custom made to suit the customers needs in regards to size, pockets, straps, colour and so on. Dana and Danny are very happy to work with their customers to give them the bag of their dreams!

Danny finds inspirations for his bags in shadows, twisting shadowy shapes into things of beauty. “It’s a process of seeing and twisting and feeding the idea and then the creation,” he explains. “Two hours later you have your thought in your hand – a design that comes from the soul.”

Like her husband, Dana got to where she is today through hard work and determination. She studied at Kinsale College of Further Education to improve her English and learn about business, while also holding down a part-time job, helping Danny with his leather crafting business and raising their son. 

This is a couple who aren’t afraid to dream big and put their dreams into action. They are currently sourcing machinery that will allow them to personalise bags.

They are also working towards opening a leathercrafting academy in Kinsale. 

The big dream however is to open a shoe factory in the town. The couple are already trying to source the right premises to keep the business located in Kinsale.

“In ten years time we would like to have more shops, have the academy up and running and also the shoe factory,” says Dana.

“Follow your heart and do what you love. Money will come after,” she says.

With the seeds of their leather empire already firmly planted, this young start-up is already well on the way to success.

DANNY ALBU, 10 Market Quay, Kinsale

Mary O'Brien

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