America’s Oldest Furrier
Est. 1889

He’s an amazing new designer and apprentice to our Master Furrier, Cynthia Parks.  And she says, “He’s a natural”!

In a recent inteview I had with Jake, this is what he had to say;

Tina: “I know you’re huge fan of fashion, but why fur?”

Jake: “I still remember the moment when I knew I wanted to become a furrier. I realize now that for my whole life I have loved fur. As a small child, my great grandfather made me a wooden rocking horse and on the seat he draped a rabbit skin that he’d hunted. I was absolutely mesmerized by it. It was so soft and unlike anything I had ever seen before. It never occurred to me that you could make a career of working with fur. It wasn’t until I was 17 when I was working in an antique store and was going through some things when I found a beautiful three mink stole still with the head, feet, tails and glass eyes. I was instantly in love with it. I had just found something that combined my favorite things, fashion, taxidermy, and fur. I wrapped it around my neck and at that moment I knew I needed to work with fur as a career.”

Tina: “How did you get started in career working with fur?”

Jake: “I began doing some research and discovered that a person who creates with fur was called a furrier, but unfortunately that was about the most information I could find online. Since there was a lack of online information, I figured the second best thing was to start buying coats and fur scraps, taking them apart to see how they are made. I did that for a while, making small hand-sewn accessories and crafts but eventually hit another roadblock. I didn’t have a fur sewing machine. My creativity was inhibited because of it so that’s when I started searching for one. It was over a year of searching and googling when one day I was on eBay and saw a listing for a fur machine that was a few miles from my house. I got so excited and contacted them and said I can come to pick it up that night! The fur machine really opened up my eyes to the endless ways I could use fur. During this time, I was taking sewing classes at the Maryland Center of Fashion Design. I got talking to instructor about my love of fur and asked if she knew anyone. She said that she knew the owner of Mano Swartz and at the end of the course if I was still interested she would put me in contact with him. I finished the class and as promised put me in contact with Richard Swartz. Over the next few days, we emailed and set up an interview. I went to Mano Swartz for the interview and just fell in love with everything. It was so cool to meet people who love fur as much as me!  Fast forward almost two years later and I’m still working at Mano Swartz! I am so grateful I get to study under the incredibly talented Master Furrier, Cynthia Parks, who teaches me so much! There’s not a question I have that she doesn’t have the answer for.

Tina: “Tell me about your newest design creations.”

Jake: “A Black Napa Shearling with a black and white intarsia hem.  Each piece was cut separately and sewn in like a puzzle. I also have a tri-colored shearling intarsia vest in the works.”

Tina: “Fur in the future?

Jake: “Fur is one of the few trades that still holds a high level of craftsmanship and attention to detail. So many things are still done by hand which is much different from our industrialized society. I really hope that one day everyone can see fur for what it is, a beautiful natural material that is handmade into a piece that will last you a lifetime.”

We can’t wait see what Jake will create in the future!

~ Tina and The Entire Mano Swartz Team