Los Angeles Leathercraft
Sep 5th, 2012
Uniforma’s first collection was crafted in collaboration with Los Angeles Leathercraft. Founded by Mitzi Guidry, Los Angeles Leathercraft produces quality leather goods crafted by skilled leatherworkers in LA. We’re excited that our first collection was designed and produced not just in the USA, but right here in California. We talked with Mitzi about this history of her business and how the Uniforma line was developed.
U: What drew you to leather after your background in fashion?
MG: I had a women’s knitwear line back in the early 2000s and I started to incorporate leather trim, and eventually entire leather pieces, into the last few collections. I became really interested at that point in leather so when I discontinued the line I sought out a job where I could work with and learn more about leather. I completely lucked out and found a job as a Product Developer for Wrangler Western accessories at Chambers Belt in Commerce, CA. There was an incredible sample department staffed with craftsmen who had been handcrafting leather accessories for 25-30 years. On my lunch breaks or after hours I would design accessories for myself and friends and the sample makers would teach me how to make them. I fell in love with leather at that point.
U: My blue Uniforma wallet is so soft. How do you go about sourcing your materials? Where do the leathers for the Uniforma line come from?
MG: We are very proud of our efforts in sourcing most of our raw materials within North America, however, in some cases such as the Uniform collection, which is Italian lamb skin, we will work with suppliers in Europe and South America.
U: You started Los Angeles Leathercraft with experienced leather craftsmen you'd worked with while producing products for Wrangler. Who is on your team today? What do they specialize in?
MG: Our craftsmen are the same men who produced the products I developed for Wrangler. When the company we were all working for closed their doors in LA, a small group of us started Los Angeles Leathercraft. So they have years of experience in traditional Western detailing… hand tooling, inlays, various types of hand stitching/knotting etc. They are so highly skilled and have worked on so many intricately detailed products that they could probably craft some of our simpler styles with their eyes closed!
U: You started Los Angeles Leathercraft after the manufacturing site you work at moved overseas. What's the hardest part of owning a small business?
MG: The hardest part of owning a small business is knowing that everything depends on my efforts. I am constantly servicing accounts and seeking out new business opportunities to keep work flowing. There is never a break from that, which is fine for me because I love what I do and I love my clients and the products that we make together, but there are moments where that reality hits me and it can be overwhelming.
U: What's your favorite Los Angeles Leathercraft product -- something you use/wear most and can't do without?
MG: I wear a brindle, hair-on cow hide skinny belt almost everyday. It's very neutral in color but the texture of the hair adds a little interest to whatever I'm wearing.
U: What was the process like for designing the Uniforma products?
MG: Kelly and I have worked on many design projects together in the past so it was awesome to be able to work with her again. She is an artist and she had a very clear vision so that combination, with any client, always makes my role fun and easy. Since the leather pieces are just one part of the Uniforma story, we had to consider how the function, materials and colors would relate to the ceramic and textiles pieces to keep the story cohesive. It was exciting to watch all the products come together… not just the leather pieces.