A lesser known fact about SLC is our dedication to serving inmates across the nation through approved leather craft programs. These programs allow inmates to purchase leather and crafting tools, giving them something to occupy their time and, in some cases, earn some cash.
Tommy developed an interest in leather craft through one of those programs and now, he’s come to work for us! Here’s a bit of his story.
Tommy is a 32-year-old production assistant that has been with Springfield Leather for a few months. As we mentioned before, he began his work with leather in prison and quickly grew to love it. He got so good, he even began teaching others the trade. Prior to getting into leather work, his craft experience could be whittled down to “a little bit of wood.” He says that he was attracted to working with leather because he, “just knows [he] likes it a lot.”
He made many purchases with SLC during his time there and from that, created unique projects. His favorite? A pebble grain backpack. Another great project was one he made for his mother. Using our 2lb. ostrich remnants bags, he was able to hand-stitch a handbag, wallet and cell phone case for his mother.
“[I] pieced it together by hand. I tried to get as many colors as I could and used only the best pieces. [Each piece is] all hand-sewn, with rolled edges. The bag has pig liner and suede pockets with brass hardware.” It took him several bags of remnants to get the right pieces with a week and a half’s work.
These days, Tommy is working on bags for a big client but says that his favorite thing to make are wallets. We asked him if there is anything he wanted people to know about him and leather work and he said, “Give it a try. Don’t give up if something doesn’t go how you want. Take your mistake and use it to get a better project.”
Get the story behind the brand from the man himself.
About us? Are you sure that you really want to know? I mean, you could be mowing the lawn or steam cleaning the family pet or something.
Well, ok. I’ll start at the beginning.
A long, long time ago, in a galaxy far away (AKA Iowa)…
There was a young man who organized a small rock-and-roll band and decided it would be really cool if he made his own leather guitar strap. So, taking some of his ill-gotten monetary gain, he visited the closest Tandy Leather store, and in a very ignorant fashion, purchased many unnecessary supplies to make a guitar strap. Upon arriving home, he promptly spent the next half-day creating the masterpiece of all cruddy-looking guitar straps. After seeing it, the rhythm guitar and bass players decided that they needed straps of similar ilk. The young man made them the straps, collecting a most exorbitant fee…
And so it began.
Leather craft became part and fiber of the poor fellow. Realizing the futility of playing music with little talent, he proceeded to settle a multitude of overhanging legal problems (early 70’s, y’know) and plunged full-time into the business of making and selling happy little leather things to the unsuspecting public. Still plagued by a lack of talent, he promptly proceeded to the edge of bankruptcy. With his last few dollars, he went back to the Tandy store to buy some supplies and discovered a sign on the door that said: “MANAGER TRAINEE WANTED”.
The now very humble young man got the job, managed various Tandy Leather stores in Minnesota, North Dakota, Iowa, and Missouri, for about 25 years, broke every sales volume record that had previously existed within the company, and thus created the largest volume retail/mail order store within the store chain. He also set up a small leather goods manufacturing operation to supply finished leather products to the tourist industry and became a major distributor for one of the largest leather goods manufacturers in the country. I should know–the young man was me!
In 1999, when Tandy announced that they would be closing all of their store locations, I counted all of my pennies and made an offer to buy the Tandy store that I had managed for 16 years. They accepted, and that’s when we made the transition from plain, old Tandy Leather of Springfield, MO., to the grand, glorious and absolutely wonderful…
Springfield Leather Company!
Since our humble origins, we’ve gotten nothing but bigger and better and are having lots of fun along the way. Now, along with myself and my wife Becky, the second generation has joined the team and is leading the way! Our daughter, Lindsey Darnell, bravely manages the office and accounts payable, and our son-in-law, Rusty Darnell, has courageously taken on the role of General Manager. He’s present for any questions you might have.
It is our mission to create a culture that engenders mutual trust, humility, and respect among all employees and customers. We work towards enabling our customers’ success by continuously providing superb customer service and support, product expertise, proper materials, and timely delivery of products.
We owe a huge thanks to our customers for joining us on this epic journey. We hope that you’ll continue to be a part of our legacy!