leather for strength, beauty and ethics
From 2008-2010, I documented the history of tanneries in the US and prototyped a full production cycle of sustainable leather, from ranch life to custom furniture and costume designs for high-end clients. I used hides from legacy ranch White Oak Pastures and processed them in partnership with several North American family tanneries.
Located in America's shadow cowboy country of southwestern Georgia, White Oak Pastures is the South's most biodiverse Certified Organic farm. It is also a multi-species ranch with two pioneering, Certified Humane, on-farm abattoirs designed by Dr. Temple Grandin. Having raised cattle for 150 years, White Oak Pastures' owners entered the 21st century returning to their 19th century roots by de-industrializing, de-commoditizing, and de-centralizing their operations.
Following my detailed research on American tanneries and work with the American Grassfed Association and numerous textile and furniture designers. I partnered with fourth generation owner, Will Harris, to experiment with establishing a wholesale business for the hides of their grassfed, free-roaming cattle herds. We identified and secured opportunities to sustainably tan these non-commodity hides which were distinctively and naturally marked from a lifetime of pasturing. We also worked to establish a market for this leather in the design world and oversaw tannery trials with a heritage US tannery to begin the process of segregating these hides during the vegetable tanning process.