Lisa Florey simply needed a small storage bag to use while riding her horse. She didn't realize her handcrafted creation would launch a successful leather goods business that shipped items across the country.
Florey needed something to tuck a few items in while trail riding. So she created a leather hip bag. It worked perfectly. She figured other horseback riders probably needed the same type of bag while taking to the trails.
That leather bag she created soon sparked interest.
She launched Gypsy Leatherworks and began to build her business with other western-themed and nature-inspired bags, fanny packs, cuff bracelets and earrings.
At first, Florey found the leather hard to work. She rose to the challenge, not letting the tough leather hold her back. The work began to take shape and evolve.
"I never really drew or sewed before doing this," Florey said.
Today, Florey features her leatherworks at the Powell and Pineville Farmers Markets. She also sells her items nationwide on Etsy.
"I do some custom orders," Florey says. "I have sent some to California, the West Coast, Texas. I've shipped all over."
Ginger, Buckshot and Success
Florey began riding horses at the young age of 5. That was about the time she lost her hearing, due to meningitis. Riding horses helped her in numerous ways.
"The horseback riding was great therapy to help me regain my balance," she said. "After I had meningitis, my balance was so bad I could barely walk."
Florey has a soft spot for her first pony, Ginger.
"She was just as stubborn as I was and taught me to never give up."
Her second-favorite horse, Buckshot, was a real thrill to train.
"I took her from a green horse to winning the western riding class at the Minnesota State 4-H show."
Florey gained a lot of experience, showing POAs and quarter horses. These days, Florey enjoys trail rides, riding out from her mom's property. She often meets her mom in Arizona for trail rides.
That's why creating leatherworks for fellow trail riders is therapeutic. She painstakingly spends time carving out unique butterflies, sunflowers and other designs inspired by nature.
She draws a pattern, takes a swivel knife and cuts out the design, taps down the design with a mallet, then paints and seals it.
She creates custom orders for those who want a specific item. She's always open to new ideas. One of her most recent creations found a great reception at the Simplicity Lavendar Farm Festival in Washburn. Florey hand-crafted earrings featuring lavender.
She also recently finished a custom-order watchband that featured hand-painted turquoise feathers. Basically self-taught, Florey finds creating one-of-a-kind leather pieces challenging, yet rewarding.
"I enjoy it so much," she says.
The creation involves many steps. The art cannot be hurried. Florey feels she has grown as an artist, learning with each piece and creating new items that the customer can use, wear, enjoy.
Other items are created out of necessity, such as the new minimalist wallets.
The artisan is finding that people, both local and nationwide, appreciate the time she devotes to her hand-crafted pieces.
What is her biggest challenge?
"Restraining myself when I go shopping for leather," she says, laughing.
General News on 07/11/2019
Print Headline: Riding Success: Local Artist Creates Leather Items For Trail Rides And More