Hand-Made Leather Goods Come to Newburgh
Posted in Manufacturing | Last Updated April 6, 2020
Making hand-made leather goods at 605 Broadway in Newburgh, N.Y.
Beautiful hand-made belt by leather manufacturer, Elizabeth Collection, of Newburgh, N.Y.
West Point has a long and storied history, but this may be a first: It was at West Point that Elizabeth Moore and Eric Noll met and formed the alliance that’s given birth to a custom leatherwork company.
Four years later, their company is part of the emerging Hudson Valley makers’ revolution, right at home in historic Newburgh, N.Y. at The Orange County Accelerator’s 605 Broadway campus.
The Elizabeth Collection creates hand-made leather goods, that are also hand-painted.
They’ve customized private label panels, belts, wallets, journals, guitar straps and corsets, and added flourish to high-end riding boots and shoes.
If it can be made of leather and/or enhanced with leather, Eric and Elizabeth can do it.
This year, they’ve supplied themed hand-made leather bookmarks, keychains, and notebooks for Storm King Art Center’s Mark Dion “Follies” exhibit, and they’re currently crafting a camera bag for a professional photographer.
“He looked all over and couldn’t find exactly what he needed,” says Elizabeth, “with the perfectly shaped pockets for lenses and equipment so it would work flawlessly for him.
Becoming a bespoke leather goods manufacturer
He googled ‘bespoke leather’ and we were the first hit!”
Eric, born and raised in Pittsburgh (and a diehard Steelers fan), has never really thought of himself as an artist, even though creativity ran in the family and even though he found himself painting Dungeons and Dragons figures and doing needlepoint throughout his Army career.
On retirement, he considered woodwork, but leather was much handier.
It was after he saw Elizabeth’s art and asked her to add color to his designs that the business began to click.
Elizabeth, on the other hand, can’t remember a time when she wasn’t making art.
“My first memory of my mom is watching her paint with oils,” she says. “Growing up in Ohio, I was always the kid who was thrilled to find a box of art supplies under the Christmas tree.
“I never really lost track of that; I was lucky to have wonderful teachers. I always painted, even traveling the world as a military wife. But I never thought about leatherwork until Eric asked me to add color to one of his pieces. I loved the way it came out.”
Earth-friendly tanning techniques
Elizabeth Moore hand-paints Eric Noll’s leather goods
The Elizabeth Collection tans some of its own leather using earth-friendly vegetable tanning techniques, and purchases some as remnants from “all around the leather industry,” says Elizabeth.
“We take leather that would have gone to the landfill otherwise and transform it. We’re very eco-conscious; we built our store shelves from upcycled pallet wood.”
The Elizabeth Collection first opened a retail shop in Cornwall in 2015 and developed a loyal customer base of people looking for hand-made leather goods, and then took the opportunity to become part of the Orange County Accelerator at 605 Broadway in Newburgh.
650 Broadway is where Accelerator clients, including Zielwear, a fashion manufacturer, get to nurture their businesses in a startup lab with mentoring and guidance as well as technical help.
What kind of technical help? Well, process improvement, engineering, business and marketing guidance, for example.
Accelerator location facilitates manufacturing expansion
Outside 605 Broadway, The Orange County Accelerator’s Newburgh Campus for startups like The Elizabeth Collection
“We loved doing retail, and we’ll still make whatever a customer wants. The Orange County Accelerator has given us an opportunity to expand our manufacturing capabilities and add equipment.”
Now I want to get to where I can create a few local jobs, hire people and train them in this business. Because we’re living proof that you can make a living doing art and craftwork.”
Local educational resources have aided them in taking their love of leatherwork to the next level.
“We learned as we went, networked with other businesses — the Accelerator has been great that way — and just asked a ton of questions,” says Eric.
Elizabeth has just graduated from the 60-hour entrepreneurial training offered at the Women’s Enterprise Development Center (WEDC), an Accelerator partner organization, and Eric is in his second year at SUNY Orange, majoring in Business Management and planning a transfer to a four-year school for his bachelor’s.
Since relocating to 605 Broadway in Newburgh, they’ve found they enjoy being surrounded by the ongoing renaissance in Newburgh’s East End historic district.
Making it happen in Newburgh
Elizabeth Moore and Eric Noll of the Elizabeth Collection
“We knew about the waterfront restaurants and SUNY Orange,” says Elizabeth, “but then we went to Newburgh Illuminated and it was eye-opening. There’s a lot of greatness on Liberty Street, and on Broadway, and it’s spreading.
“In a lot of spots that were rough when we first got here, there are now beautiful buildings being freshened and renovated, and the people doing it are taking care to capture the essence and the history, and I love seeing it.
“I just noticed another reno going on, on Washington Street — new life springing up. It’s so neat to be here watching it happen.”
Watching it happen is a modest way to put it.
Their creative flair and meticulous work, along with a love of people expressed through customer service and outreach, put Eric and Elizabeth firmly in the category of those making it happen.
“I didn’t really set out to make ‘art’ or start a business at first,” says Eric. “I just wanted a hobby. I started with a wallet kit and just really enjoyed the process.
Tapping the demand for custom manufactured, hand-made leather goods
“It turns out that there is quite a demand; there are a lot of places that offer tooled leather, but their designs are machine-stamped.
“We deal with customers who appreciate the results when we put the hand-work into it; no two pieces are exactly alike. We can tailor-make any design, picture or logo you can imagine.”
“I didn’t know anything about leatherworking until Eric started dabbling in it,” says Elizabeth. “He asked me if I could add color to his pieces and paint in the designs he carved. I’d never stained or painted leather before, and I just treated it as a canvas. I was pleasantly surprised by how beautiful the pieces came out.”
For information about The Orange County Accelerator and to see if your startup might qualify for its programs, contact them here!