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Retail Tipsheet: Fairhaven shop makes leather bags, wallets

Video: Fairhaven leather goods studio launches fall line

Co-owner Leah Macaleer talks about Found Leather Goods, a Fairhaven business that launched a new website and its fall line of handcrafted leather bags and accessories.
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Co-owner Leah Macaleer talks about Found Leather Goods, a Fairhaven business that launched a new website and its fall line of handcrafted leather bags and accessories.

When Nicki Lang’s dad made her a leather bag many years ago, she had no idea what impact it would have on her future career.

That bag now hangs on a wall in her studio Found Leather Goods, which is at 1000 Harris Ave. on the second floor above Artwood and Good Earth Pottery. Lang founded the company six years ago after becoming a mom and seeking a career that offered flexible hours. She makes handcrafted leather bags and accessories, including wallets, much of it from repurposed materials.

The bag her dad made was originally a leather coat, and it’s something she came back to when seeking a new career after being a teacher.

“I don’t think I would ever have thought to start a business like this,” she said.

The company steadily grew and about a year ago Leah Macaleer joined Found as a co-owner. Macaleer, who has a background in marketing, also was seeking a career to balance work and family, and both like to call themselves “momtrepreneurs.”

The business has continued to grow, allowing the owners to launch a new website as well as an expanded fall/winter line. Found has six bag and five wallet designs ranging from $20 for some wallets up to $300 for the bags. Many of the bags are sold online, but they are also available at the Whatcom Museum gift store and Backcountry Essentials as well as at the Found studio.

Lang said she started the business because she felt there was an opportunity to sell bags and wallets that were not mass produced and offered custom features. She describes them as having a rustic elegance and vintage feel.

“It’s a bag that someone can carry for years,” said Macaleer.

It takes about a day for Lang to make one bag, using her hands as well as a couple vintage sewing machines. The name Found refers to the idea that at the start of the business, Lang used only “found” secondhand materials, including the thread. Lang uses some new material now but continues to also be on the lookout for repurposed material.

Lang began by selling her products using the e-commerce site Etsy, which she said was a great way to get started. Selling a product like a bag or wallet used to be challenging to sell online because those are items that people typically want to touch before buying. Customers are more willing to purchase the product based on pictures, and they tend to be pleasantly surprised when it arrives and discover what it feels like, Macaleer said.

For further details on the company, call 360-296-0860.

OTHER TIDBITS

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Reach Dave Gallagher at 360-715-2269 or dave.gallagher@bellinghamherald.com. Follow him on Twitter at @BhamHeraldBiz and on Facebook at BellinghamHeraldBusiness.

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