New England Strong: Corter Leather & Cloth
Sometimes the best new products are born from necessity. Eric Heins, the craftsman behind Corter Leather & Cloth started his company in 2007 by attempting to make a leather wallet similar to one he couldn’t afford. The project was a hit, and after posting pictures of it online, people put in requests for similar wallets. After a successful Kickstarter campaign and several innovative new additions to his offerings, the Cape Cod-based, one-man-team continues to expand his artisan empire. See our chat with him below:
“I like that our products really aren’t finished until they’re used …”
Can you briefly tell us about the origins of Corter leather & Cloth?
Corter informally started in the fall of 2007. I needed a wallet in college and wanted a Redmoon wallet from Japan, but couldn’t afford one. I used half of my grocery budget for the week (about $30) and bought a cheap piece of leather and a couple of tools. I reverse engineered a Japanese wallet from pictures and used a couple tutorials to learn how to stitch, and I made my first wallet on the stoop of my Allston college apartment. I posted the pictures on SuperFuture, and other people wanted me to make them one too! Corter’s been my main gig ever since.
What was your original brand philosophy and how has it evolved over the years?
I’ve always tried to make accessible and necessary products that are super high quality. I make things for college-aged me, things I would have been super psyched to have and stuff I would have been able to afford. This hasn’t ever changed, I don’t make many superfluous things and I don’t do a lot of trend chasing, just simple stuff that’ll last a long time.
What would you say is your signature product that has resonated with your customers since the very beginning?
I think Corter is most known for the Bottlehook, which I released in 2012. That was really the first piece of design work that I did for Corter, and it’s often times the first piece that brings Corter to people’s attention.
Where do you source your leather and other manufacturing materials and where are your products manufactured?
My assistant Kayleena and I punch and hand sew all of the leather goods in our shop on Cape Cod. We use leathers from various US tanneries like Wickett and Craig, our threads are made in Maine, hardware in Georgia and California.
Do you only sell via your online store or do you have other stockists that carry your wares?
Most of our sales are online, but we do have a growing number of stockists around the world selling a selection of our products these days. I’m always super psyched to get emails from shops that want to carry Corter products.
What would you say is the most rewarding compliment you have ever received about your goods to date?
I made a charity bracelet for the Japan tsunami victims back in 2011 and raised over $30,000 for the Red Cross there. When the owners of Redmoon found out they sent me a very kind note and a signed wallet. That was a highlight for sure. However, the most rewarding compliments are seeing well worn wallets that we made a long time ago still in use. When I meet folks that carry Corter goods, they always have stories about their products. They remember the things behind specific marks and scuffs, water marks, etc., and I get to hear so many cool things. I like that our products really aren’t finished until they’re used, and I love that they keep those memories alive for people.
When you are not working on your brand and making/designing goods, what do you to do unwind and relax?
I like to make things! I’m big on projects- I’m currently finishing the build out of a VW van and I’m taking wood turning classes. Next I’m going to learn how to build bike frames, that’s always been something I’ve wanted to do because I’ve been an avid cyclist my entire life. I have a hard time sitting still, so I like to keep busy.
Lastly, in the coming years, what are the areas of expansion you plan for Corter leather?
We’re going to be opening a small retail workshop soon, but to be honest I don’t plan ahead all too much- I just want to keep making things that folks need and design more cool stuff!
To see more Corter leather handcrafted creations, click here.
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