Photo Credit: Made Leather Co.
Made Leather Co: A Black-Owned Leather Goods Brand Handcrafted In Morocco
Lenise Williams is the Founder of Made Leather Co., a brand offering high-quality vegetable tanned leather items handcrafted by artisans in Morocco. A New Orleans native now based in Atlanta, she is an attorney turned entrepreneur. Her brand provided her the opportunity to transition from practicing law to operating her business full-time.
Williams began formulating her the plan for her company in 2016 while on a flight back home from Morocco. She had been invited to speak at a United Nations conference in Marrakech. While there, she was able to explore the city, and stumbled across leather tanneries.
“I became intrigued by the tanning and handcrafting process,” said Williams to Travel Noire. “I had been desiring a product-based business for some time. As a service-based entrepreneur for years, I desired a business in which I did not have to trade my time for money, and could also teach my two sons more about the business/retail industry.”
While on the flight back to the U.S., Williams had the idea to import the bags from Morocco to the States. She jotted down some ideas and concepts on cocktail napkins on the plane, and once home, began to research and put her plan into motion.
Made Leather Co. offers leather duffel bags, backpacks, handbags, and accessories. Prior to COVID, their duffle bags were their top-selling items, but now their backpacks have become more of a hot commodity. To meet the demand, the brand has readjusted and started offering a larger variety of backpacks in various bold colors.
That have also recently been receiving more corporate custom orders, including for both international and national corporations like Google, YouTube, Spotify, and LinkedIn.
Williams learned that most of the leather for bags produced in the United States are prepared using chromium tanning, a process which uses harsh chemicals to treat the leather. Instead, she decided that she wanted her company to use leather prepared using a process called vegetable tanning.
“Vegetable tanning is an organic process that is much better for the environment and also for our skin. It takes about six months as opposed to chromium tanning, which only takes a little time, and it is authentic to the style that the bags have been crafted in Morocco for centuries. After learning more about how much better it is for the environment and skin, we opted to continue our operations in Morocco as opposed to bringing the crafting process domestically.”
In addition to these benefits, producing handcrafted items allow Made Leather Co. customers the advantage of having an item that will never be exactly like another that they sell. Being hand-crafted and colored by hand, neither the stitching nor the coloring of the bags can be identical. Having a unique item crafted of genuine leather that ages with time allows customers to carry a truly unique piece.
Purchasing from Made Leather Co. means supporting a Black-owned company while simultaneously supporting the artisan community in Morocco. The company also partners with non-profit organizations from time to time, donating a portion of their proceeds. Most recently, the brand did this with Black Girls Rock on Giving Tuesday.