Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Trade Books

Trade books and leather suppliers list:

Doing a google search on that phone number (414 6457500) turns up an interesting link of businesses withsic code 3111, a list of tanners, suppliers andpossible producers et al. http://www.webstersonline.com/sicresults.asp?siccode=3111Regarding the issue of getting into the sewn productsbusiness, as useful as I found _The E myth revisted_I'd be remiss in failing to mention _TheEntrepreneur's Guide to Sewn Product Manufacturing_ aswell as Fashion-Incubator.com.

best Kathleen
http://www.fashion-incubator.com~~~Nurture people, not products~~~

Kathleen comes through again.

That search sure turned up a lot of tanners andfinishers, including a few in Gloversville. I should have mentioned Kathleen's book sooner. The emyth book is way simplistic by comparison. It just gets you thinking about your business as a finished work and tells you how to reverse engineer it right from the beginning. I actually mentioned it because it is so cheap and easy to read. If the guy would just SAY IT, it would be a one chapter book. Entrepreneur's Guide to Sewn Product Manufacturing has a lot more specific info. You want more it costs more. I'm not trying to sell books here but... it's something to consider.

Oh, and don't go to her blog unless you have a lot of time to spend, you'll get hooked and read for an hour or two.
What one reviewer says about her book:

I happened upon this book one day & hesitated to pay $60 for it...now I laugh at myself for thinking:a)$60 was a big investmentb) i could "learn" my way without it Now that I have read it...and highlighted it...and consulted it time and time again, I realize it was the smartest $60 I have spent in my time in the industry. I have run the gamut-- from "how-to" and "fashion design" books to contractors, business "partners", and bad samples...NOTHING has been better for me or my business than THIS BOOK. Think I'm over exaggerating? This book is absolutely priceless if you are starting out in the industry and THINK you havea handle on how to do it. You don't. You think you do, you think you're close enough, but you are wrong! I can say all this because I made so many mistakes until I got my hands on this book. I cannot tell you how many times over the years I have caught myself saying, "Kathleen was right!".An invaluable book. Worth ten times the price-- but please only buy from Kathleen directly! This is one of the hardest-working ladies in the industry who takes her valuable time to answer newbie (like me) questions in person. What a wealth of info! What a resource! I have a LIBRARY of sewn product manufacturing, design, and production books, and NONE have been worth the price-- until this one. Oh-- I took the courses in college, too, FYI. I'll say it again-- the book has proved more valuable than all my years studying at an uppety, private university!

Well... hard to beat that review. After I published this a guy from ...@Princeton.edu sent me 3 emails wanting me to unsubscribe him. I had to email him twice that there was an unsubscribe link at the bottom of every message, and if I did it, I would unsubscribe myself not him. Guess he didn't like the "uppety, private university" part, but he did kind of validate the reviewer.

Monday, October 8, 2007

Hello All, I have been making deerskin handbags, pouches and baby moccasins (not Native American Style) for almost 30 years. There have been many changes in this business the hardest of which to deal with is finding new suppliers when tanneries close. My current delemma is trying to find a supplier for gold deerskin that is sueded on the back in 2.5-2.75 ounce. I require the gold which is almost yellow-orange in a very good quality. Can't count how many samples I've sent off and no luck so far. I usually buy around 100 square feet at a time. Thanks.Peace,MarieLeather Treasures

If you have been using deerskin that long you know that deer are wild and so they get scratched up and each one has at least one bullet hole in it. Tannerys or finishing companies can put a finish on it to cover up a lot of blemishes but if you want that naked yellow deerskin color you are going to have to deal with a lot of scuffs and scars. To me Deerskin means Gloversville NY... however just about everyone there is out of business now. There is a tannery there but I don't remember the name. Try asking Bob at www.thehitchinpost.com I asked around and I also came up with Law Tanning in Milwaukee 414 645 7500

Another Question:

I never add to the group but I have a question now. I do all of my own sewing, designing, patternmaking, selling, website developing, the whole kit and caboodle. I am ready to hand off the sewing. How can I find either good sewers who are experienced in working with leather? Is there a network or organizations you can recommend? Terina McKinney, Owner/DesignerJypsea~Eclectic Hand crafted Leathergoodswww.jypsea.com

Wouldn't it be great if we could just hand it off... I don't think that people who can sew leather are groupies. I used to advertize for them in the paper. The title is "Sewing Machine Operator". There were a bunch of shoe factories around and a lot of women did that. My experience was that they were incompitent. They couldn't start sewing...they ran a piece of scrap into the machine when they stopped so it wouldn't jam up when they started the next time. They could only "sew in a string", part after part, same operation. I found that if I put the material on their machine facing the other way they would sew it backwards instead of turning the work around. That is only the start of it. Then you have the government to deal with... and insurance...

I told more about that to the guy in India in the post before this one. What you want is someone who can do it as a subcontractor. The way I am doing it now is to train someone and set them up as self employed. You need to read the book the e myth revisited that I recommended before.

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Sunday, October 7, 2007

Hi Henry,

This is Shamsuddin here from Kolkata , India. I joined this website a few months back. I am in the leather industry for quite some time now. I have an own tannery and a leather goods manufacturing facility. I have produced leather items like handbags and wallets for over 2 years. But now my work is closed. I have all the resources required for this business but i am not able to move ahead. Please advise how to move ahead and if you can help me. Thanks in advance. Regards Shamsuddin

I don't know if your problem is manufacturing, sales, or organization.In any case, you should read a book called "The E myth revisited" byMichael Gerber. It's a must read for anyone starting a business or anyone in business who can't figure out what to do next. You can get a used copy on Amazon for around $4.00

Dear Henry,

Thanks very much for your reply.
My problem is that i don't have sales.
I try a lot but i do not find genuine customers.
Inspite of having all the resources i don't have
work. Kolkata, being the hub of leather
goods manufacturing of the world its really bad
not to have business in this field having all the
Let me know what can be done.


I guess you have to make different stuff and find someone who can sell it. Probably the easiest thing to do is find someone who is selling stuff and make stuff for them.

I did that years ago. There was a company that I was buying handbags from, to sell in my store. I would visit thenm every few weeks and pick out what I wanted from their inventory. They bought leather in big lots, that I was unable to do. I started buying some leather from them. They were good to me and sold it at their cost or maybe a little more. They sold me thread also. I was in their factory and it got so that they would sell me whatever supplies I wanted. I also learned a lot about how they made things. What I was making then was really crude handmade stuff. Tooled handbags laced together with rawhide.

I had a sewing machine but that was about it. I saw what a skiver could do and wanted one. The factory foreman found me a used machine. I started making better stuff. I bought a clicker and needed dies. There was a die shop near my store... Quality steel rule die Co. They made dies mostly for cutting out cardboard boxes. The box business was big in town at the time. All kinds of boxes with printing on them. Anyone who makes stuff has to have a box to put it in.

Well the owner was good to me and let me make my own dies in his shop. I didn't really have any money in those years. That's how I learned to do that, though I do them different now... welded, without the wood that is used in steel rule dies. I learned what equipment is used to bend the steel rule and managed to get it for my own shop. I learned about welding over the years and knew what I would need to weld the steel rule. The welder was the most expensive part of that operation.

So then what I did was to make a clutch wallet as a sample and showed it to the owner of the factory where I was buying the handbags... made out of the same leather he was using. I suggested adding it to his line to sell with the handbags. He liked the idea, it used small parts and he had a lot of scrap from the handbags. He would cut out the wallets and send them to me to be made. It is called "contract labor", he just wrote me a check for it... he called the scrap "free leather" as it was paid for by the handbags and it was something that kept his clicker operator busy when there was nothing else to cut out. I started making other stuff as well, like cigarette cases. That gave me enough steady business that I could hire people to sew, and have them make stuff for my store also.

Saturday, October 6, 2007

The editor for this blog is driving me nuts. It reformats everything when I publish it to the internet.

I haven't posted anything lately. Here is my excuse... besides being overloaded with work, I've been to Italy for a couple weeks. What trip to Italy would be complete without a picture of the grand canal in Venice? So here it is.Actually Florence was a bigger highlight with so many sights to see, as well as being a center for the Italian leather industry. Here are a few interesting Handbag treatments I saw.

These two bags are interesting because the pattern is really simple and rectangular, then the bag is twisted into another shape. The strap attachment on the brown bag is really interesting .

This bag has a feature I've only seen on luggage. You would think the teeth on the bottom would scratch furnature, nice leather though.

On this one the interesting strap attachment doesn't save it from being just plain ugly.

Friday, June 1, 2007


Hello and welcome to:

"Henry's Leather News"

This blog will eventually replace the Leather Goods Connection Yahoo group.


This format will allow placing images with the text, and will be available to everyone. In the meantime you can use the link above to read the group messages. I will probably move the tutorials here from: http://home.alltel.net/henryh and Making Dawns custom handbag from: http://www.leathergoodsconnection.com/maculeha.html

Today I'm making a few belts, a couple wallets, the Equestrian handbag in a larger size, and the large equestrian bag with camouflage lining. Not many people have ordered that lining. I thought it would be more popular... kind of your own little secret inside, the way we had dragons embroidered inside our navy pea coats when we were in Japan.

Yesterday some wallets and a couple backpack samples came in from Impex. They are made in India and warehoused in TX. The backpacks only come in Black and are sold in units of 24 per style at a price of $55.00 each. The wallets cost $8.75 each and come is units of 300 with 200 black, 50 brown, and 50 tan. The backpacks actually look good and appear to be what you get when using better leather to start with. A cynic here suggested that those were made to be samples and they may not run that way all the time. The wallets have a lot of pockets and zipper compartment and are what you expect from an import. I'm not going to get involved with that stuff. I think I'll send the samples to Mark Mowen, it's more his kind of stuff.