We’re into leather! The White Oak Pastures Leather Department was created to utilize our cowhides in a way that is continuous with our zero-waste protocol.
The journey of our cowhides to leather is a labor intensive one. Hides are removed by hand in our red meat abattoir, then there are three avenues for our hides once they are removed from the carcass. Hides are either A.) used by our leather department, B.) hand crafted on our farm into pet chews or C.) sold to a pretannery in Kentucky.
We learned the hard way, but now, we only save cowhides during the winter months because this time of year is cool enough to preserve them. At the end of each day, the hides are transported to an on-farm barn where they are salted and stored. We create a hide-salt lasagna layering hide, salt, hide, salt. We use about 200 pounds of salt per hide. The hides are stored here for 4-6 weeks. After this, we shake the excess salt off the hides, fold them onto pallets and load them onto our trailer which we personally drive to a multi-generational family-owned tannery in Sebring, FL: Sebring Custom Tanning. About 6 months later, after the hides are tanned and ready for pick up, we make the drive back down to FL and bring them back to White Oak Pastures. We have a great relationship with the tannery and they do a wonderful job with our hair-on and hair-off cattle hides. The product returned to us is a Full Grain Leather, which means the suede and the top grain layers remain together to create a quality product and feel.
Our leather craftsman, Alena, is self-taught in the art of measuring, cutting, dying and sewing leather into beautiful finished products. We create patterns that we like and want to wear or carry, and in return, our customers appreciate these same patterns as well. Although we use the same design every time, each hide is different, and as such there are no two identical items in our store. The spine of each hide is thickest, this is where the sturdiest leather comes from. We use this section for our bigger bags (totes), coasters, mouse pads, belts, dog collars and keychains. The edges of the hide (the belly) are thinnest and most flexible and we use this section for our smaller bags, new cross-body bags, bracelets, earrings, and wallets.
Come see us in our newly opened White Oak Pastures General Store. In the far corner, tucked away, you’ll find our leather workshop.
With the holidays quickly approaching, keep in mind our leather products make great gifts and are available in our online store. Look forward to new patterns, color palates and craftsmanship in 2017!