Midwest-Made Leather Goods
A photo conveys the style of these Midwest-made leather pieces—but you’ll just have to take our word on how good they smell and feel.
1 Map Clutch Tactile Craftworks in Milwaukee laser-etches maps onto leather, then burnishes edges with beeswax from the founder's hives. $125. tactilecraftworks.com
2 Fly Swatter An Amish family from Ohio makes this tool with oil-tanned leather that retains its sheen even when striking down pests. $18. coblentzleather.etsy.com
3 The Roundabout Bag Instead of applying sheer vinyl, Cleveland artisans leave the leather exposed so a natural, distinctive patina can develop over time. $530. fountleather.com
4 Journal Cover Nebraska's Elevate fights global poverty by giving small start-up loans to businesses crafting items like this luxe sheath for a moleskin journal. $58. elevatepeople.com
5 Lucky Penny Pouch Necklace Sturdy brass hardware and reinforced saddle stitching keep a tiny treasure safe. $46. fountleather.com
6 Leather Baseball Score big with a ball crafted in Detroit from Shinola leather and waxed linen thread. $40. shinoladetroit.com
7 Camp Mug An Iowa-made leather sleeve transforms a 1-pint mason jar into a rustic mug. $32. fontenellesupplyco.com
8 Wrap Bracelets Buttery bracelets from Minneapolis blend tough and chic and look great stacked. $44. urbantribejewelry.etsy.com
9 The Cass Watch The coral- and blush-washed strap will have you gazing at your wrist so often, you'll never be late again. $650. shinoladetroit.com
Behind the Pieces
Phillip and Jackie Wachter designed Fount's first purses in their apartment five years ago. Now they have 50 employees and storefronts in Cleveland and Columbus.
Jackie When we first started dating, we loved making crafts. We started thinking, what if we made this stuff-laptop cases, wallets, jewelry-with leather?
Phillip We were intrigued by the heritage style. Leather has this rich, classic look that we found very attractive.
Jackie It ages so gracefully. Since we're designing something that lasts 30, 40 years, we work with the best leather we can. Right now, we're sourcing from a tannery near Venice that filters water used in the tanning process so that it's drinkable.
Phillip A lot of the cutting is by hand, and we stitch bags in batches on sewing machines. We don't use glue or anything.
Jackie There's this magical simplicity to working with your hands. You can hold a tangible example of your progress. It's really fulfilling.
Tactile Craftworks Milwaukee
Founders and avid travelers Sarah Heck (pictured) and Anna Warren marry the ancient craft of leatherwork with the modern technology of lasers to adorn journals, clutches and passport holders with antique maps: "We love how visceral working with leather is. It's all sharp knives, metal stamps and rawhide mallets."
Photos Courtesy of Tactile Craftworks.
Leather Care Tips from Elevate Kearney, Nebraska
Store special pieces in a dust bag, away from sun and ideally cooler than 68 degrees. Every eight to 12 weeks, give full-grain leather some TLC with a high-quality leather conditioner and sponge. We recommend Chamberlain's Leather Milk, but always test any conditioner or cleaner first in a small, discreet spot.