Manufacture This

The blog of the Alliance for American Manufacturing

It’s nearly impossible for most businesses to operate successfully without the use of electricity. But for more than seven years, Eric Heins has crafted leather goods for his company, Corter Leather & Cloth, completely by hand – no electricity allowed. 

Heins and an assistant design, cut, stitch, package and sell every product the company sells from a solar-powered workshop situated in Cape Cod, MA. Using traditional methods and simple hand tools such as needles and thread, Heins handcrafts each of his products, which include wallets, bracelets, bottle hooks, belts and bags.

The metal detailing used for belt buckles and bottle hooks are nearly always designed in house and are produced exclusively in California and Georgia.

Heins told the online magazine Denimhunters that the craft is what inspires him:

“My motivation now is pretty simple – I just want to make good, honest stuff with my own hands. As long as I get to do that, I’ll be happy.”

Heins launched Corter Leather & Cloth in 2007 as a way to make extra money as a college student.  But his passion for handcrafted goods runs in the family, as his stepdad showed him how to do everything from “stained glass to broom making” growing up.

He also grew up with a sense of practicality.

“My mom was a very typical New Englander – you saved up and bought the best quality you could afford so you’d only have to buy it once,” Heins said. “You bought it from a local place so they could fix it when it eventually broke, and you could keep using it.”

Heins said necessity is behind everything he does — “If I don’t need it, I don’t make it.”

The formula seems to be working, as Corter Leather & Cloth has been featured in publications such as GQ and Inside Hook.

Shop Heins’ products (read about his materials) and take a peek at his process here. 

Photo courtesy Corter Leather & Cloth.

AAM Intern Lauren Pak authored this post.