Crooked River Leather
13956 Kathleen Dr
Brookpark, OH 44142
How did you first get started in leather crafting?
I first got started in leather working in 1994. My friends and I had gotten involved in cowboy action shooting and at the time there were not many providers of cowboy holsters, belts, cuffs, etc. We then went to our local Tandy leather store and learned to make our own. Our small group was called the Crooked River Cowboys. Cuyahoga County, where we all worked as law officers, is the Indian name for Crooked River.
Once I retired from the sheriff’s office I went to work for a small town valley view Police Dept. Some of the officers who learned that I made leather goods started asking for leather holsters, belts, etc. Word soon spread that I was making quality custom leather holsters. I then started setting up at local gun shows and graft shows, displaying purses, wallets, and a variety of leather goods. And the rest, as they say, is history.
Since I make custom leather goods and am semi retired I can afford the time sit down with a customer and discuss his/her special requests for designs, stamping, custom colors, and leathers (including alligator and pink leather.) Some customers have actually drawn out their own designs and I make the holster to their specifications.
My motto is, “It’s your money – have it made the way you want it made.”
A local major holster maker actually refers customers to me who want that special custom job that he does not offer in his line of leather products. I do the same with some local custom knife makers and local gun shops whose customers cannot find the ready-made item(s) they need.
A recent emergency request came in for a rather large belt, 4 inches wide, by 72 inches long, with a very large brass buckle. It came from none other than Santa Claus himself. It seems he broke his cheap made in China belt and wanted a good quality belt. So I stopped my line. How could you turn down Santa in his hour of need? He had his belt the next day, ho ho ho. Can’t wait until Christmas this year.
How long have you had (a) Tippmann machine(s)?
I have had a Boss by Tippmann for the last two years now. Everything before was stitched by hand. It’s been a God-send and allows me to complete orders quicker.
What made you decide to purchase the BOSS?
I purchased the Boss as it’s easy to control and economical, unlike some other electric machines. Each pull of the handle is a lock stitch. I can control my stitch line. With an automatic machine you get off line and your project is kaput.
Do you recommend any accessories?
I recommend getting a good sturdy table and the small presser foot. I also recommend plenty of lighting. I use a light with a magnifying glass assembly as it helps to see the stitch lines.
A good tip is “Treat everyone the way you would want to be treated, the way you would want a member of your family treated.” The customer is paying for quality custom products so give it to them.
Also, sit down with a customer one on one, and talk with them about their needs and wants. Remember the customer is always right (even when they may be wrong) haha! They seem to enjoy this and I have to say many customers have come back time and time again.
What are your plans for the future?
My future plans are to open a small custom leather shop attached to a gun shop. That way I can have the best of both worlds and the guns would draw in the holster and belt buyers, which is my main goal.