...but don't know where to source?!
This is an issue I hear about all the time. If you follow my socials and have traveled with me to source leather, "I wish we had leather suppliers like that in my area" [inserts sad face] is what viewers message me on a regular. Even if I'm visiting the same suppliers, the frustration for most people working with leather is that leather suppliers aren't as accessible. Depending on your location, finding local suppliers, can be tricky - I get it. But with all the resources available online, getting the leather you need for any project is less challenging than some believe. You might have to do some extra research, but it's not impossible to get the leather you want!
Maybe you're new to working with leather and you really don't know where to begin sourcing -or- maybe you're in an area that has zero to no suppliers within range! This blog is specifically for you.
Here's 5 tips on where to source leather for your project:
1st - Visit your local leather suppliers (if available in your area). There's nobody more knowledgeable about leather than the workers at the leather supplier! When I first started in leather, Tandy Leather among others, was my go-to for sourcing leather & learning about leather. Their associates were so kind (varies per location) and knowledgeable - I learned a ton about leather by being proactive and just asking lots of questions (like...a LOT) and they had most of the answers I needed.
2nd - ETSY! Now, if this was years ago I would never recommend this platform but over time, ETSY has become saturated with vendors from all over. Leather vendors being one of them. It's as simple as putting "leather hides, leather suppliers, leather vendors" etc. in their search engine and a list of businesses will appear.
3rd - Use Leather Scraps! I wish somebody would've told me this before I spent unnecessary money on whole hides. Most leather suppliers, whether it be online or locally, sell scraps of leather. If you're a newbie to leather work, scraps are perfect to start with. Additionally, leather workers, such as myself, give, donate and/or sell small bags of leather scraps from time to time. It never hurts to Google leather suppliers, round up a list no matter what area they're in, contact them and ask if they have scraps available to donate or to sell! Depending on the quality and costs of the original hide, I'm always discarding or selling small - large boxes of leather scraps. If you're interested in purchasing scraps, depending on what's available, send an email to: firstname.lastname@example.org and inquire.
4th - Did you know that IKEA sells leather?! They sure do! If you're lucky enough to have an IKEA in your area, their furniture department has a minimal selection of leather hides available to purchase. Most of their hides are sold as "rugs" but leather is leather and can be used to suit your preference. And can I note - they're beautiful! **This is not the place to learn about leather, just a place to shop for leather. You can also purchase online if one doesn't exist in your area**
5th - Google!!! I don't know why people sleep on Google but Google is your best friend! In conjunction to what I mentioned in the 3rd tip, if you search the term "Leather Suppliers", countless leather vendors in your area will come up. Places you would never consider might come to surface. Whether near or far, email them, call them, send a note on a boat to them and request leather samples. Most suppliers are happy to either send you a catalog or a batch of samples FOR FREE! At most, you'll have to pay for shipping, if that. If you're new to sourcing leather or need to look through options before choosing leather for your project, start with swatches. This is a great way to get a feel for the leather, test it out, create swatch boards, mood boards and build a project from there!
Again, you might not have suppliers local to your area but everything is accessible if you have a laptop and wi-fi connection. Sometimes you have to put in the work to get what you want. Find out which suppliers ship to your area and go from there!
Good Luck Hunting! No Pun.