From College Thesis to Entrepreneurial Dream
Brookes & Hyde Leather Goods all started as my senior thesis in college. I went to the University of Cincinnati and studied Industrial Design in the DAAP program, which stands for Design, Architecture, Art, and Planning. While in school, I always dreamt of becoming a shoe designer and working for the big companies, such as Nike, Adidas or Under Armour. I wanted to design shoes and work with all the famous athletes, I unfortunately never had that opportunity, but it ended up being for the best. My senior year, I landed an internship in Chicago at a company that ultimately owns the market on men’s accessory design. I was designing for big named brands, such as Dockers, Levi’s and Columbia. However, everything I was designing was being shipped overseas to be made and eventually mass-produced. I ended up loving my time there and the job I was doing that I came back for a second internship during my final year of school. It was during my second internship at the company that I told my team, I was doing my senior thesis on creating my own brand and product line of men’s accessories. It was during the time on my second internship, that I had the opportunity to work with the company’s sample maker. With over 20 years of experience in handcrafted leather goods, she taught me everything from sewing to skiving to treating each edge with the right materials. She taught me the entire process of taking a full hide of leather and turning it into quality products that have much more meaning and character behind them compared to the mass produced goods, I had originally designed. While in Chicago, I had the opportunity to tour Horween Tannery. Horween Tannery is one of the oldest and most well known leather tanneries not just just in America, but in the world. They are highly renowned for having some of the world’s best leather. After touring the tannery and seeing how much history it has and the process they go through to create the leathers they offer, I was sold on sourcing all of my material from them. My final semester of college rolled around in the spring of 2015. I was receiving such great feedback from my peers and professors on both the quality and professionalism of the final products I made and having already fell in love with the art and craft of handmade goods, I decided to ditch the corporate world and sought the entrepreneurial route of seeing the brand through.
Once I graduated I went straight into planning mode, and eventually launched the business in December of 2015. I currently work out of my parent’s garage in Cincinnati, Ohio where I manufacture all of the brand’s products. I don’t outsource any of my manufacturing because I believe you lose that sense of character and uniqueness that often comes with handcrafted leather goods. I plan on growing the brand to be one of the next big names in today’s industry, while continually building on the core values that I started the business on. The brand initially started as my senior thesis in college, but it has turned into an overall lifestyle for me now. I think the art of handcrafted goods is a lost novelty in today’s society. There is a certain uniqueness and quality in handcrafted goods that you don’t get with mass produced items. Each product develops it’s own story and differentiates itself from the next.
I try to incorporate everyday passions into the brand and products. I want the brand and products to be a reflection of our everyday passions that we love. For example, I love craft beer and have chosen the color names of the leather I use based off different craft beer colors. Brookes & Hyde takes an unparalleled approach to every product we design and make with a cohesive blend of quality, simplicity, practicality and above all else authenticity. It can be extremely difficult to grow a brand from nothing to being one of the major brands in today’s industry because the market is so oversaturated with brands. However, I firmly believe that if you stick to your core values of what the brand stands for and are able to continually tell your story to new audiences that a brand can truly grow into something more than just a senior thesis for school. Brookes & Hyde will one day be a household name, but for now we are happy growing small and seeing how our products continually grow with the lifestyle’s of each person that buys them. Thanks for checking out our brand and helping us share our products with the world.
Connor Sambrookes | Founder