"Quality or Nothing"
Reiner Henneveld's sons grew up watching and learning from their Pa in his workshop and they vividly remember him repeating this motto. It didn't mean much to two young boys at the time but what a difference a generation makes.
Reiner spent most of his life in the garment and handicraft manufacturing business. Born in Berlin, Germany, in 1939, he began apprenticing with a furrier at a young age. When he was just 21, Reiner received a $1,000 scholarship for one of his original creations. With that money, he and his brother set out for a new life in Canada. After settling in Montreal and renting a small room, Reiner immediately found work with a furrier and continued to study his trade. Soon after, the brothers opened their own business - Canadian Handicraft & Furs. They were experienced manufacturers, after all. The two boys from Berlin had grown up watching their own Pa in the knitted goods trade running his own business called The Wool Shop in Berlin with them by his side.
At Canadian Handicraft & Furs, Reiner designed and manufactured anything pertaining to leather – coats, jackets, vests, pants, belts and key chains are some of the items for which he was known. Retailers were impressed with the quality of Reiner's work and he had a loyal following of customers all over North America.
It was in 1967 with the upcoming World Expo in Montreal that Reiner began to design leather and fur animal keepsakes to sell to the influx of travellers visiting the Montreal area. It was the start of Reiner's 'original'collection with his infamous Ookpiks along with animal-shaped figurines, and other novelties designed in leather, that were sold across Canada.
With his products in high demand, Reiner opened two retail showrooms, called Boutique Remi, after the World Expo. One on the always-fashionable Crescent Street in Montreal and one - in Ste. Adele, Quebec. It was here in Ste. Adele that his first son, Rob, was born.
In the late 1970s, Reiner moved to Kitchener, Ontario where he continued his work manufacturing and selling leather products. Always resourceful and thinking of new markets for his trade, Reiner created his first small ottoman in the shape of a pig – an animal close to Reiner's heart. Anyone who remembers Reiner from his days in Kitchener remembers his pet potbellied pig, Wilbur – wherever Reiner went, Wilbur was sure to follow.
It was in the mid-1980s when Reiner's second son, Jesse, was born. With his sons at his side, Reiner worked diligently at his business teaching them all aspects of the trade from the showroom to the trade shows to the cutting room floor. He manufactured and sold his ottomans side by side with his leather garments. Their unique style made them an immediate hit and their quality craftsmanship made them stand the test of time. Reiner ensured their durability: cut from the toughest leather, stitched with the strongest #69 upholstery thread, double sewn on the ears and tails, and bound with #10 leather zippers – the sturdiest zipper made. Reiner used nothing but the best materials in his work – for him it was "Quality or Nothing."
Reiner worked at the business he loved until he passed away at the young age of 61 in the year 2000. At that time, his sons Rob and Jesse – who had been involved in the business since the time they could crawl – set out to continue their father's legacy. Through their hard work and passion for what their Pa had started, the leather ottomans are now available across North America. The line includes not only the infamous pigs but also hippos, rhinos and elephants – all original, created by Reiner.
We are proud of the quality that goes into each and every ottoman – individually designed, hand cut, hand sewn and hand stuffed by Rob, Jesse and our team in Kitchener, Ontario. We think Reiner would also be proud.
Now that his sons are responsible for Reiner's Originals, they fondly remember and can appreciate what their Pa meant when he said "Quality or Nothing."