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Meet the Maker: Nicki Knatz

Frustrated with what was on offer, Nicki Knatz of BiteSize Creations started being the change they wanted to see in the world. Sympathetic to how they’ve started out as someone who was in the Table Top space for quite a while, I rattled off a short form call to action on my own social media, only to catch Nicki more than willing to offer up their philosophy on Leatherworking and how they started. Now, from the community they’ve built and the interests they all share, they’ve started a business one BiteSize’d Leatherworking Creation at a time.

Nicki, I’m familiar with some of your leatherworking and craft from Tiktok, but please tell the people what you do!

I am Nicki of BiteSize Creations Leatherworks and I make all sorts of things out of leather. My best sellers by far are my leather dice trays and their matching notebooks but I also make wallets, trinket boxes, rune sets, and wearable items like hair accessories, bracelets, or even custom masks.

How did you get into Leatherworking?

I got into leatherwork through my LARP and Ren Faire hobbies but what started my business was actually D&D. My husband was DMing a game for a group of our friends, most of which were pretty new to TTRPG (Table Top Roleplaying Games) so I decided to get supplies for the group to keep at our house for our sessions, dice trays, folders, character sheets, pencils, etc. I had bought cheap folding dice trays from Amazon and I ended up loving the concept but not the materials so I made myself a dice tray out of leather using the cheap one as a template. Before that, I’d already made my roommate a belt pouch and a few other projects. Next thing I know I’m making a buddy one for Christmas, another friend pays me to make one, someone suggests a matching notebook and off I go.

What exactly is it you’re Nerdy about and what’s a common misconception about what you do you wish you could shake?

Even today when there are so many nerdy and professional tradeswomen I still get the guys who want to gate-keep fandom spaces and it is wild to me. LARP/Boffer fighting is what really got me into leatherwork. I’ve been fighting in a game called Dagorhir for 15 years now and that’s where I met my initial mentor. I am kind of a nerd of all trades really, I love anime, D&D, LARP, Ren Faire, video games and I’m also into things like cryptids, the occult, and history.

Was there Something that you didn’t see that you needed to put out there in the world?

With my size and body shape, I had a hard time finding ready-to-wear armor and custom armor can be really expensive so I decided to learn how to make it myself. At first, I had planned to make armor for women in the game but between the pandemic and the rule variations between game systems, I ended up pivoting into other avenues.

What is the biggest problem facing your Craft at the moment? 

With any craft industry at the moment our biggest issue is the economy. Between inflation, stagnating wages, drop shipping, and an oversaturated maker market times are tough for a lot of makers out there. Unfortunately, there isn’t much we as makers can do about that. I never want to gate-keep small business ownership, but the fact that so many people are looking for a “side hustle” because their 9 to 5 doesn’t make ends meet leads to a lot of re-sellers, drop shippers, and things like MLMs taking up space in the maker economy. The only real solution I feel like is for hosts of craft events and companies like Etsy to crack down on these types of businesses.

I find myself frustrated with the same issues, and I have a hard time appreciating any efforts Etsy is putting forth. What leatherworking did you find yourself developing that was completely your own?

 I kinda dabbled in everything, my most unrelated project is probably my cosplay mask I made for Huntress from Dead By Daylight, I’ve made around 5 masks in total, mostly the half mask style that covers your mouth and nose and honestly, I thought that was the direction I was going to take the business but no such luck. I stumbled around a lot in finding my niche, wallets, runes, masks, notebooks, costuming pieces but dice trays really came out as the front runner and my by far best seller.

Nicki’s Amazing rendition of the Huntress Mask From Dead by Daylight, Credit Bitesize_Creations, IG
Where do you want to take your leatherworking in the future? 

 Ideally, I want to keep doing what I’m doing just better. That’s always my goal, to improve my craftsmanship and my process. Like instead of making just notebook covers with inserts in them I want to learn how to bind my own. For my dice trays and notebooks I also just got a wood-burning tool that I’m going to start practicing with to get a smoother way to put designs into leather. I’m also working on a personal fashion harness after making 2 custom harnesses for clients. That community is one that overlaps a lot with nerd culture and I’d like to expand into that market. Especially considering one of my dream projects is to make a harness or garter belt setup for Lzzy Hale or Rhea Ripley.

Who’s the Dream Collaborator for your Leatherworking?

As for a dream collab, I’d love to do a series with my friend Smoking Glue Guns of matching dice and dice trays. Smoking Glue Guns has been my friend since High School and we’ve taken turns pushing and encouraging each other as small business owners. Her whole world essentially stopped with the pandemic because she comes from the world of technical theater and I pushed her to keep making things and start posting more and she took off like a rocket. Then when the tables turned and I was the one looking around like “Where do I even begin?” Whitney invested in me and my business so I could start buying tools.

What does time away from Work look like and what else do you unabashedly enjoy outside of what you’re known for?”

Time away from work is scarce for me, with working full time on top of my business I mostly spend my free time with my husband watching TV, playing video games, crocheting, or hanging with friends either in person or over Discord. I’m also a huge music nerd and metalhead. I will take any excuse to go to a concert, like just a few weeks ago a friend mentioned Slipknot was coming to town in August and the tickets were on sale super cheap so now I’m going to a Slipknot show.

I can relate about how little time I seem to have outside of developing my career, but also, I’m jealous of the concert. Good on you for making the time! What’s your “Secret Fandom” or what might surprise people?

I am and have always been a fan of wrestling. I got out of it for a long time but when I started dating my husband my love of it picked right back up. We used to go to local shows to watch our friend Chris wrestle like every other month and even after he stopped wrestling we’d still go. I love the WWE but indy wrestling shows are so much fun. One of the random projects I worked on was redoing the leather on all the championship belts for the local promotion.

What’s the upcoming or new project you’re excited for that you can tell us about?

I’m working on perfecting my harness and belt designs and I would really love to get more of those projects on my workbench. About a year ago the kink community fully embraced my business after Mister Pierre (Warning, link is NSFW) shared my TikTok, and while the Venn diagram of kink and nerd is almost a circle I’m looking to do more in that part of the community. I’ll admit the strappy leather harnesses make me anxious because of how difficult proper sizing can be. So my main goal is to make them very adjustable because inclusivity is very important to me

Where can people find you and your leatherworking?

You can find me on Tiktok and Instagram (as @bitesize_creations) , on Facebook and Ko-fi (as Bite-size Creations), and on Etsy BiteSizeCreationsLW.

Closing Thoughts

It’s always awesome to see more varied voices in Tabletop and Nerdom, and hence the reason it was a pleasure to interview Nicki. In fact, I do have to disclose we may be or have to work on a collaboration shortly in the future, Cause I can just see what kinda of fantastic it’d be to create something to pair with her amazing trays and leatherwork. Best of Everything for you Nicki, and here’s to growth and fulfillment in your future.

About the Author:
Thomas Tusano is a Michigan Based Writer/Woodworker and Game Streamer passionate about Hand Crafts, RPGs and Gaming with friends, He works out of Makerworks Ann Arbor where he can be found crafting the perfect desk or dice tray to roll clicky clacky math rocks into to make stories and memories with friends, Streaming and Gaming to support his lumber habit, or to raise money for the Jimmy Fund

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