Years ago, Chad Von Lind bought an old German hunting knife at a gun show.
He started to build a leather sheath for it at his kitchen table in Seattle, but what resulted was a change in his career, life and outlook.
Lind started a business now located off Kathleen Avenue in Coeur d’Alene where he builds and designs leather, metal and canvas items with the help of his fellow craftsman, Michael Miles.
They prefer to call themselves “makers.”
“Well I think from my point of view a maker just denotes that you’re building something,” Miles said.
“We fiddle with stuff. We’re always just trying to figure out a new thing to make,” Lind said.
They operate two brands.
Craft & Lore has gained an international reputation for high quality, hand-stitched leather wallets, belts and household goods. They expanded with Folkland in early 2017 as another lifestyle brand of leather and canvas bags.
Lind said they may expand into more apparel items like flannels and chore coats.
He said their meticulous process of creating items in their intimate workshop is inspired by an American heritage of hard work compounded by carefully chosen materials, which both create products that are durable enough to last a lifetime.
He said the end product is an item made by hand and designed to become an heirloom.
“We’re building something that’s becoming part of someone’s life, for the duration of their life, for the duration that they have the product, which if they take care of it could be the rest of their life. There’s something endearing about that,” Miles said.
Lind said they hand-stitch each wallet with wax cord double-locked with two threads and two needles.
“What people don’t know is with hand-stitching you can cut the thread on this wallet and it will not unravel,” he said. “A machine stitch, like your shirt, you pull that string and it all comes unraveled when it’s loose. You can run razor blades across this (wallet).”
Lind said their devotion to craft is inspired by old-way American industrialism, and tempered by domestically sourced leather from the renowned Chicago tannery Horween, the historic Pennsylvania tannery Wickett and Craig, and thread sourced from Maine.
Miles said he channels their forefathers’ legacy of dedicated craftsmanship, but there’s something more personal to the work they do in their studio, which they moved into in 2016 after operating in a crowded Coeur d’Alene warehouse.
“We pour a piece of ourself into every single one of our products made, since it’s so intimate making it by hand, sewing it by hand, looking at every little detail,” he said. “I just feel like each piece that goes out is a part of me. It’s an extension of me.”
Miles is now the studio’s primary maker, having started for free to help Lind finish a backlog of wallets.
Now, they take their work everywhere they go, hand-stitching together at lunch in local restaurants, and thinking about new designs when they go home.
Miles said it can be hard to turn off and focus on other things when he leaves, something Lind said he agrees with and struggles with, having five children.
“Sometimes when we start we just can’t stop,” Miles said. “We’ll be up until two o’clock in the morning trying to get a functional prototype at the very least.”
Lind said despite the long hours and rigors of building a small business, he lives on his own terms and enjoys this new path after leaving his prior career in graphic design, which didn’t satisfy his need to build something physical with his hands.
“It’s really not coming to work. It’s hard work, but we don’t look at it as work. We’re happy to stay here until 10 o’clock at night if it’s something that needs to get done,” Lind said.
He said they plan to expand on Folkland throughout the year with scheduled Kickstarter campaigns, which is a crowdfunding process that has partially helped him build his business.
Although they operate primarily in e-commerce, the two welcome locals to visit their brick-and-mortar location in Coeur d’Alene, 3909 N. Schreiber Way No. 4, offering visitors more than 20 percent off certain items.
Lind said the business operates on a mantra: buy it once, buy it right.
“I don’t want to have to sell you the same wallet over and over again. I want to sell you one and for you have it forever and pass it on,” he said. “That makes me feel good about my own work. I would say that just the satisfaction and the feeling alone makes it worth it.”