A Stitch Above the Rest | An SLC Profile with Jennifer

Springfield Leather Company has a shinier, rockier side of the business that you may not know about. Years ago, Kevin and his daughter, Molly, began to sell beads and stones. The small table grew to about half the store and they dubbed it Touchstone Beads

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Jennifer, an avid beader, discovered the store and quickly went from customer, to student, to teacher. Today, Jennifer is Touchstone’s bead buying captain, master of Inventory Management and the undefeated Receiving Coordinator. 


Jennifer got her start with SLC around the mid-2000s when she came in for a seed bead weaving class with Molly. Not long after, she began teaching classes and eventually joined the SLC team full time. Eight years later, she is the receiving coordinator and inventory manager for SLC and Touchstone and she gets to buy all of the beads! 

Buying beads may be the fun part, but she says it is also her biggest challenge.   “I’m not on the floor anymore so I am not able to see when something is out. I find out when things are gone, but not when they’re getting low.” Still, she manages to stay on top of things.

 It’s bead trends, she says, that really throw her for a loop. “The challenge is keeping up with the new beads. They’re coming out with a new bead a week. It used to be like once a year. A lot of the time we don’t have new beads in stock because, I would have to order 20 colors of each new bead or more and I don’t have the room for that.”

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When she’s not buying beads, she crafts with them. Jennifer still teaches classes once a month and they are almost always involve her favorite bead of all – seed beads. Her favorite, she says, is the Netted Lace class because of its twisted configuration.

On the other hand, her least favorite is popular online. The puffy heart, which she teaches every January is open only to advanced weavers. “It’s so hard,” she says. “Every step is different and it’s a two needle, three dimensional weave. Most things you do in layers, so you do one layer and then you add on top of it. With this one, you’re making all of the layers at once while shaping it.”

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In her free time, Jennifer beads, but for her own enjoyment. 

She’s in a beading group comprised of many of her current and former students. They formed the group, she said, so that she would have a chance to bead for herself. “My friends started as my students, but I wasn’t getting a chance to bead.

We still help each other and figure things out together.

Several of my students are in my beading group and they’ve surpassed me.” 

The beading circle isn’t just about helping each other. It’s also a chance to learn a new pattern or two. Jennifer enjoys traveling for beading retreats where designers teach attendees their patterns. Her love of these trips has inspired her, along with her circle, to host one themselves. “Usually [bead societies] will have a designer come in and teach us. We were going to start a beading society but that’s complicated. We learned that if you have a good enough rapport with the designers, they will come [even if you’re not a society]. So, we’re hosting a retreat for one of the national designers.” 

Above all else, the beading circle is about having a good time. “Some people bring their knitting or crochet. One of the ladies called it her estrogen therapy. It’s just a place to hang out and bead.”


Jennifer says that the beading circle is pretty loose, but they usually come together on Saturdays. If you’re interested in joining, she says to just ask. 
You can catch Jennifer at least one Saturday a month at Touchstone. Otherwise, she’s likely to pop up somewhere around the store during the week. To find out when Jennifer or any of our wonderful staff are teaching classes, be sure to sign up for our email newsletter or like us on Facebook, where we share weekly events

A Pretty Rockin’ Time | An SLC Profile with Cori Edwards

The mail order and gathering departments are bustling segments of SLC that are so busy, they need three supervisors. Meet Cori, one of those awesome supervisors, order coordination master, training virtuoso and keeper of BIN locations! 

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Cori started with SLC by applying for a marketing job. Though she didn’t get hired for that gig, she seemed a great fit for our hardware gathering department. Two years went by and she’s doing much more than that now. 

In addition to coordinating orders by separating and organizing them, managing back orders, getting locations for stock items and adjusting orders, she’s also “…responsible for training our new gatherers to use Netsuite, gather orders efficiently and accurately, and also incorporate our company’s culture and personality.” 

With all of that on her plate, she still manages to keep up and even solve problems for the department. 

“My challenge is definitely getting problem items on orders taken care of and intercepted fast enough. It’s something that’s always a challenge and we’re really working hard to create a faster flow,” she said. 

While that part may be tough, she loves the challenge and attributes her ease of mind to her coworkers. She said, “My favorite part is definitely the culture here and the people that I work with.” 

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While she is well-versed in Springfield Leather products, she isn’t much of a crafter these days. When asked if she does leathercraft, she said, 

“I am inspired by it and I used to feel like I was pretty crafty but coming into a work environment with people that are much craftier than I am, I wasn’t even at a level close. I think it’s inspiring and I love seeing what other people can make.”

Instead, she focuses her attention on another kind of art. “I’m a musician and I go home and write music. That’s my side of the brain that I feel more confident in.”

Cori plays the cello and provides some vocals for her band Kill Crows.

Cori says that the band is in the finishing stages of an album. Their music is a mix of folk, country, gospel and punk rock. “It’s definitely a hybrid crazy combination but it’s pretty rockin.” We could say the same about Cori and her job. It’s a big mix of responsibilities, but she rocks it! 


If you’d like to do business with Cori, just place an order with SLC! More than likely, she’ll have a hand in getting it to you. 

Working *with* this Company | An SLC Profile with Heather Ryan

For Heather, finding her current position wasn’t quite the intricate road that others have traveled. She started in mail order, the same department she now supervises alongside Justin and Cori. Ace order fulfillment support, casual hardware gatherer and irrefutable delight, Heather Ryan is happy to be working with SLC, not just for us. 

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Heather started at SLC about two and half years ago as a hardware gatherer. She loved the active nature of the job. After a system change at SLC, the department needed to adjust and Heather rose to the challenge. 

“After we switched systems, they needed somebody to deal with all of the back orders. Before we didn’t have a system to track orders and now we can see what an order is, what it’s up to, who touched it and what’s left.” 

These days, Heather works on order fulfillment support. That means she tracks every single order that we get and ensures that they are completely fulfilled. She does this for every department at SLC including all of our e-commerce platforms like Amazon, Etsy, eBay; and our more traditional ones like mail orders, call-ins and SpringfieldLeather.com. 

“Right now it shows we have 500 orders…we’re taking in 200 orders a day and sometimes getting over 300 orders shipped a day. One of my jobs is to make sure that all of those orders are going through. Hardware gets gathered, then it might need to go through shop, it might need something from Tandy or needs the leather to be produced.” Heather makes sure that all of those steps are taken before it’s ready to go out the door. 

She also has to contact customers when we run out of items. “Sometimes we may not have all of the hardware for an order and it may take a few weeks to get it in. So, it’s my job to also contact customers and offer substitutes for those back ordered items…whatever they need to get their project done on time.” 

Still, she likes to switch it up from time to time. She provides support to the hardware gatherers, making sure they get items that they need, adjusting inventory and occasionally gathering hardware herself.

“It’s fun to change it up,” she said. “No day is really exactly the same here.”  

She says the challenges come along when we are busy or when our system is down. “There is never a dull moment for sure!” She explained, “When our [correctional facility customers] start their new fiscal year, we might get 200 or 300 Federal orders in a couple of days on top of our other 200 orders.” 

Like Heather Kingsley, she likes a challenge. “Keeping the customers satisfied, I would say is not that hard, but it’s always a challenge you want to strive for. We are always being creative in the ways we can get those orders finished.”

Her favorite part? The company culture, she says. 

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“I feel like I don’t work for this company, that I work with this company. I feel like it’s a company that works for me. That’s important at a job because you don’t want to feel like your job is mundane, repetitive or that you have to do it. You want to go to work where you can express your creativity, your opinions and you have a little bit of freedom. I feel like I’ve had that here at SLC.”

She says that freedom has allowed the department to grow. 

“Cori, Justin and I have [made big changes] in the mail order department. It used to be pretty hectic back here. We’re working with a great team. I have only been here for two and a half years and things have changed drastically in that two and a half years. I think that it’s better in our department than it ever was and I am lucky enough to work with two of the best supervisors that have helped build it up. I couldn’t do any of it without them!” 

When she’s not making waves at SLC, she is brainstorming about ways to make the team even better and spending time with her friends, family and pet bunny. Dubbed Hot Fudge Sundae by Heather’s daughter, she is best known as Sundae Bunny and she rules the house. 

Though Heather’s not a leathercrafter she has a stash of leather she likes and even tried her hand at reupholstering a stool. “It looks bad because I stapled it,” she said. We think it looks pretty good though. 


Do business with Heather by ordering anything from SLC! 

Give Them Something That Will Last | An SLC Profile with Heather Kingsley

If you follow SLC, you probably know Thor, but do you know his mom, Heather? Maven of international orders and inmate relations, Heather has been with SLC for eight years and counting! Believe it or not, she has worn (and still wears) more hats than she has ponytails! 

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It all started in the summer of 2009 in SLC’s production department. “I worked in the shop for a while,” she said. “Then, I moved to the retail floor for about nine months.” From there, she moved to our gathering department where she would eventually become gathering manager for five years. 

These days,

Heather is a go-to member of the office team for a lot of things: customer service, federal orders, sewing machines and international orders, to name a few! Like Cameron, it took her some time to get where she is today.

 

On the annual trip to Sheridan, Heather recalled Rusty announcing her love for solving problems to the people they met. “He would say, ‘If you call complaining, that’s who you get!’ A lot of people don’t like angry customers, but I enjoy dealing with them…It’s kind of a challenge. I love to kill them with kindness.” 

While angry customers are Heather’s bread and butter, International relations is her biggest challenge. She said, “Talking to international customers that don’t speak English [is the toughest part of my job], especially when they call.” But, she doesn’t let the language barrier get in the way. Though she doesn’t “like telling them I can’t hear them or understand them”, she has those customers send her emails. “I can always translate words through Google Translate. Sometimes, I even have to translate the translations!” she said, laughing.  

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Though a lot of SLC folks like to work with leather in their spare time, Heather has her hands full at home. She’s not just a mom to Thor, she has three teenagers, two cats and seven dogs!! “With kids and football and all that…I like my off time so I like to just sit down and watch a movie.” We don’t blame ya, Heather! 

With the holiday season coming up, business will be booming. Around the middle of October, the federal institutions’ fiscal year begins again. That means a rush to spend the last of the budget money for some and making big, new budget, purchases for others. 

Heather says that the busy time of year makes getting to the phone more difficult – a situation that grows more challenging as the business grows. “We used to be a small company. We used to get 100 orders out of the door a day and we were proud of that. Now, it’s 500!” Heather is pleased with the growth, but says it can be a bit difficult to explain longer turn around times to customers that have been doing business with SLC since the beginning. Still, she says, she is pleased to take on the challenge and provide the best service possible!  

Her favorite part about SLC? 

“I love working with the inmates. That’s my favorite part of it. I just kind of relate. I want to see people do better for themselves and we are giving them that opportunity and it’s something that will last.”

Heather is talking about our program with correctional facilities across the US. We provide leather craft materials for inmates as a positive outlet for them to learn a trade that can help them in the long term. We think they work so well, we hired someone in our production shop who learned everything he knows about leather craft in one of those programs! Read more about Tommy’s story here


Update: Heather has since moved to Leather Machine Company. If you are looking for assistance for international orders, please contact Lindsey by calling 800-668-8518 or email lindsey@springfieldleather.com. 

Finding Your Fit | An SLC Profile with Cameron Stacy

SLC is a unique place to work. Our small group of team members work diligently at a job (or three) around the clock to serve customers on a variety of platforms. 

One of those team members is Cameron Stacy,  our resident laser engraver, master of the leather dies and

custom stamp extraordinaire! Cameron has been part of the SLC team for nearly five years and, like many employees, it took him a bit of time to find his place. 

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His connection to the leather company began at a local Culver’s where he worked for several years. When SLC owner Kevin, Rusty and the gang came in, Cameron took their orders. 

“I knew their orders and that Kevin preferred a raspberry sundae…or something like that.” He had a roommate who was leaving SLC for Portland and decided to apply. “I came in before a shift and as I was filling out an application, Kevin saw me. I went to work at Culver’s right after. They came [into Culver’s] that day and I took their orders.”  

A week later, Cameron was working in the shop clicking leather shapes, making belts and wallets. 

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Around the same time Kevin purchased a laser engraver for the shop. Initially, they had Clayton, who now heads the Research and Development department, operating the machine. Clayton interjects, “Fun fact: I ran the laser first! I wasn’t very good at it.” 

With his superior Adobe skills, after six months, Cameron began running the laser full time. Later on, he began ordering custom stamps for customers and ordering all of our leather dies. He adds, “[Our custom stamps] are really nice because they’re a really good price. They’re magnesium and run [much cheaper] than most stamps you’ll find.” 

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He says that the job is pretty easy now and his biggest challenge is, “juggling everything…coming up with new ways to operate the laser and keep it clean.” 

Otherwise, he just struggles a bit in the morning. “I’m not a morning person. I prefer to be called after 10:30.” Of course, we open at 9 am, just don’t tell him we told you! 😉 

In his free time, Cameron plays the guitar in his band Justice Adams Band and makes holsters. It seems kismet that he should appear on our holster kit, doesn’t it? The sample happened to be just his size. 

Contact Cameron by phone at 800-668-8518 or email to learn more about leather, glass, wood and/or plastic engraving, custom stamps and more! Learn more about all of SLC Production offerings by clicking here

Take Your Mistake and Get a Better Project | An SLC Profile with Tommy Driscoll

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. 

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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. 

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“[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.”