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Meet the Maker

My name is Nolee, sole designer and maker at Hale Lake Leather & Light. I began my leathercraft journey back in 2019 and have never looked back since! Each product that you see here was hand-cut and hand-sewn by me in my studio. Every leather good I make is guaranteed to be the highest quality full-grain leather - the kind that only gets better with age! Because of this, any product of mine that you invest in will easily last decades, and can even be used as family heirlooms!
My mission is to bring back true craftsmanship and sustainable, quality goods in an industry that is dominated by fast fashion and cheaply-made products. Animal hides are a by-product of the meat industry. Sustainably tanning these hides and making them into quality goods gives them new life and keeps them out of landfills. For more information on how I make my goods or where I source my materials from, browse through my blog posts or check out my YouTube channel:

How did I get into Leathercraft?

Allow me to set the scene for you!

My husband and I went on a trip to Oregon during my birthday week back in 2019. We went backpacking and hiking for several days -- it was our first time ever being in the Pacific Northwest and we both fell in love with it immediately! On one of our last days we stopped in Portland and went to a weekend market. Being a small-town girl from Missouri, this was the BIGGEST market I'd ever been to! There were hundreds of vendors, and my husband and I were on cloud nine. There were people selling artwork, soaps, t-shirts, exotic jerkys, wooden landscapes, and so much more! After awhile we noticed that the majority of the vendors were selling similar things, basically a repeat of all of the aforementioned goods (that's not to deter from how unique and talented each one was though).

But towards the end of our browsing we came across... you guessed it! A leathercrafter. He was the only leathercrafter out of the hundreds of vendors there. It impressed us so much and before that point I had never before considered that people still made leather goods by hand. I was used to the cheap consumer world of fast-fashion and low-quality bags. 

My husband and I were so impressed and intrigued with this leathercrafter that we each bought something from him. We couldn't stop thinking about it! And this is the point where I have to give all the credit to my husband for my start in leathercraft, because without him I never would have taken it seriously.

Here's what I mean: when we got home from our trip my husband was completely fascinated with the thought of leathercraft. And while I was also quite fascinated, it didn't quite hold a candle to how enthusiastic my husband was. He started saying that we should be leathercrafters, and at first I chuckled and said that would be nice, but slowly I began to realize that he was completely serious.

He refused to drop the subject. He took to YouTube and looked up leathercraft. I figured that leathercraft was such an obscure thing, why would anyone make videos about it? But sure enough, we found some leathercrafters. We watched every single video we could find. The more videos I watched of people making leather goods, the more I was completely confident I could replicate what they were doing.

You see, growing up, I used to wonder if there was something wrong with me. All my friends seemed to have something they were really great at. I, however, was kind of a "Jack of all trades, master of none," type. I was decent at almost anything I tried. I was decent in sports, I had an incredible ear and taught myself to play several instruments. I swam, I rode horses, I played soccer, I did color guard, I took photos, I danced. But I never really excelled at any of those things. I never found that one thing that I absolutely loved enough to never quit. I never found that one thing that I truly wanted to be good at.

My mom also taught me to sew with fabric growing up. I liked making my own patterns and bringing them to life, but I didn't like how flimsy fabric was. I also loved shop class, making bird houses and boomerangs out of wood. I loved using the big industrial machines to cut and sand the wood, but I hated the splinters and how rigid and unforgiving the wood was.

So fast-forward to 2019 when I discovered leathercraft, I realized that leather was the perfect in-between of fabric and wood. And thanks to my husband's seriousness about leathercraft, I took it seriously as well and he encouraged me to buy some tools and some leather. So I did. And I made several wallets while sitting on the floor of our living room (which completely killed my back but was also absolutely worth it).

My first wallet actually didn't turn out too bad considering my complete inexperience and the cheap tools I used! Seeing the finished product helped bolster my confidence, and since then I have graduated from the living room floor, to the kitchen table, to my very own leathercraft table in my very own leathercraft studio.

Hale Lake Leather was quickly born in the winter of 2019 and I started selling my leather goods in 2020. And I couldn't be happier knowing that I finally found that "something" I could love and excel at! Something that I could be known for. 

Now if you've read this far, kudos to you! You're a trooper, and I appreciate you caring enough to read my story! As a thanks I want to extend to you a special offer. Click here for ten percent off your next purchase!

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