The seeds of Old School Leather Company were planted in the early 1970s. After becoming pregnant with my younger sister, my mom received a Tandy Leathercraft kit from dad. The kit was to "give mom something to do" while she was stuck in the house. Both mom and dad got much use from the deluxe starter kit. In fact, the "kit-in-a-box" evolved into a workbench in the garage and Custom Leathercraft was born. It was not long after that mom and dad were personalizing Name Bracelets for every kid in my school at the Dog Patch Daze Scott Lake Elementary School Carnival! Mom and dad moved along to develop their own style and to display their fine goods at some of the premier art and craft festivals in Florida and along the East Coast. Dad eventually quit his corporate lifestyle at IBM and Custom Leathercraft became a full-time venture. Meanwhile, some things remained the same. Every item made was cut, tooled, and dyed by hand. Meanwhile, I, Scott Cortelyou was graduating from college in the early 90s without a clue what to do and no motivation to do it. After a few years of dead-end jobs, I met the inspiration in my life; a free spirit named Jami and her little boy Gaige. I noticed Jami for the first time from far across the room at a bar in Ybor City (yes! it is possible to find love in a bar!) After a long friendship, we quickly fell in love and in January 1996, we decided to make a fresh start in Washington state. Our 1978 Plymouth Volare Station Wagon made it to Tucson, Arizona before losing third gear. While we were "stuck," Jami's birthday came up. We were living on a whim and a prayer with nothing to spare. Our first Christmas together, my favorite gift from Jami was a macrame hemp necklace she handmade. So, I spent a couple bucks on a 4oz. bottle of Fiebing's purple leather dye at the local Tandy Leather store and went to work on a handmade gift. I had some leather scrap, a few carving tools, and a few Craftool 3D stamps thanks to mom and dad's encouragement to do SOMETHING. I made Jami a belt decorated with a simple geometric design and the Zodiac signs for Gaige, Jami, and me. The "special" aspect of this gift was that I left a blank space to be filled with the astrological sign of the baby we planned to have some day. The belt was fastened with a tooled mushroom buckle. It was very rough and unfinished looking, but Jami loved it. She was also intrigued with the concept of leatherworking. I showed her the little I knew, and within a week we had stick barrettes and bic lighter covers for sale on the sidewalks of downtown Tucson. Our work has been in a constant state of evolution since then. Jami's belt was finally finished when our second son, Jayan, was born in August 2000.
Above are a few pics of the belt that set the wheels of Old School Leather Co. in motion. Notice in the center picture, the Leo Stamp does not show the contrast that can be seen in the rest of the belt. That is because the stamp was placed after the belt was Block Dyed. The belt was made January, 1996. The Leo stamp was placed in August, 2000. These photos were taken August, 2015. Yes, we have been established nearly 20 years!... we've come a long way! Today, we make our home just north of Tampa in Wesley Chapel, FL. We do not have a store front... just a 400 square foot backyard workshop. You can also come see us in real life at the Florida Strawberry Festival. Feel free to Contact Us with any questions.