Minnesota Legacy Brands: Leather Works Minnesota

It all started in a backyard shed near St. Paul in 1999
Founder Kent Begnaud conducts a quality check on the Gina tote
Founder Kent Begnaud conducts a quality check on the Gina tote

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Leather Works is our “youngest” legacy brand (read about the others: August Schell Brewing Company, Abdallah Candies, Nordic Ware, and Red Wing Shoes) and the only one still led by its founder. It all started in a backyard shed near St. Paul in 1999.

Today, from a studio in a shared building in downtown St. Paul, the Leather Works Minnesota team crafts leather goods with the guiding principle of getting it right every time. Founder Kent Begnaud learned leather-smithing in the 1970s, first as a hobby and then as a vocation. It wasn’t until his employer’s shop closed that he knew he could do it on his own with his wife, son, and longtime family friend, who all continue to work together today.

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Leather Works started with belts and wallets and has expanded to other goods for men and women. The company uses time-worn tools and techniques and handcrafts each item in the studio.

Working with the finest leather, the company also notes that when you respect the craft, the customer respects you.

For Leather Works, partnerships and collaborations have brought in fresh creativity. Those partners include local artists Adam Turman and DC Ice. Begnaud knows there is power in human connection, not just with those in the studio but with the customers who carry his goods. Leather Works maintains sustainable practices, in that no scrap is left to waste and all materials are ethically sourced. Smaller scraps become smaller goods, like the iconic toothpick holder. The smallest of scraps that Leather Works cannot put to use are donated to other makers in the building and become jewelry and other goods. leatherworksminnesota.com

“Legacy comes from the notion that when you do something good long enough, people will notice.” Kent Begnaud, founder of Leather Works Minnesota

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