The Leather Satchel Co Story
The Leather Satchel Co. are a group of British Master Craftsmen that create satchels based on the traditional style of Oxford and Cambridge schools as well as other traditional accessories.
The company was started in 1966 by Steven Hanshaw and is still a family owned business. Throughout the early-to-mid 1960’s, Steven operated a small street stall selling leather goods that he would make. One day, whilst exhibiting in London, Steven was presented with an opportunity by a local headmaster – to make satchels for an independent school based in Hammersmith. Due to the high demand for these satchels, Steven was soon joined by his two younger brothers – Barry and Paul Hanshaw – and together they established their first workshop on Smithdown Road in Liverpool.
Over time, they continued to work on a wide variety of other leather goods, not just satchels. The Hanshaw family has a vast experience working with a wide variety of leathers but a lot of their products are made from heavy equestrian leather as this is their core skill-set and is rare profession in the UK. It is because of these skills that their work has a very distinctive style which many companies now try to emulate.
During the 1980s and 1990s the company was the last surviving maker of the Classic British Leather Satchel and the Traditional Music Case in England. Every other company that produced these bags (apart from sole craftsmen who could make custom items) had either gone bankrupt or moved production overseas where labour was much cheaper.
As a family, the Hanshaws continued working in the classical method and diversified into producing other goods for other brands, whilst continuing to supply Schools, Universities and Bookshops with classic satchels.
Shortly after the millennium, the Hanshaw family moved their workshops from Smithdown Road and set up a brand new purpose built workshop in Huyton, on the outskirts of Liverpool. Here they have continued to craft leather goods and accessories.
Nowadays there is a revival in this style of leatherwork and the Hanshaw family are very pleased to see that there are now a huge number of satchel-makers in the UK. This helps with the popularity of satchels and in turn helps keep the traditional skills of satchel-making alive. Some of the UK’s satchel makers are very big and owned by huge investment companies and generally cater for the mass market and high-street, whilst there’s a growing number of small bespoke makers offering all kinds of variations on the classic design.
Steven Hanshaw (the founder) has now entered semi-retirement and has opened a small workshop on the edge of Loch Ness in Scotland and has turned over the steering wheel of the company to his eldest nephew, Keith Hanshaw, who is also a time-served master craftsmen like his uncle, whose footsteps he’s follows within.
A testament to the families hard work and dedication, the company has been a member of the British Guild of Master Craftsman for over 40 years.
The next generation of the Hanshaw family have started to play a more active role in the family business with Chris, Keith and (young) Ste Hanshaw all having significant roles and greater responsibilities.
The mission of the company is to ensure that the trade skills that only the Hanshaw family possesses are not lost and that future generations are taught these fundamental leather-working skills and they continue to survive and are not made extinct by modern machinery and mass-manufacture.
In 2010, the family started an apprenticeship training program in the hope that it would inspire the local youth to take an interest in working with leather whilst providing employment opportunities within the community. All apprentices that graduate from their specific training programs are offered full-time placements within the company.
Keith Hanshaw, also work with local schools and colleges to teach young persons the basic of working leather in the hope to inspire them to take up the craft.
The Leather Satchel Co. goods are popular in the UK but the company now exports most of it’s products to countries within Europe and further afield as the traditional style of craftsmanship is highly sought after.
At The Leather Satchel Company we believe in a core set of values:
- For us, the term ‘customer’ refers to everyone that we deal with.
- We treat customers as though they are family.
- We hope to exceed our customers’ needs and expectations.
- We believe that improvement is driven by seeing our business through the customers’ eyes.
- Our ethics are at the heart of what we do and are more important than simply making money.
We strive to source all of our materials locally from ethically aware companies within the UK. However, on occasion we source our raw materials from with the EU.
All of our leather suppliers adhere to strict standards and regulations relating to animal welfare and protecting the environment.
We believe in making sustainable products and all our products come with lengthy Craftsmenship Guarantee’s and we even offer a lifetime repair service for products that are outside their guarantee period.
We strongly believe that consumer products shouldn’t end up in landfill – we should take care to look after the world we live in – part of this belief is re-enforced by ensuring that we are always able to repair anything we craft – even if it’s many decades after it was originally made.
We have very low wastage and energy usage and endeavour to recycle almost everything we can – even our leather. All our packaging is crafted from recycled material and is 100% recyclable – this keeps the raw material in a continuous product cycle – reducing waste and causing less harm to the environment. We even use recycled leather to make the handles for our gift packaging!
The company has seen it’s products featured in various fashion magazines such as Vogue, Look, Elle, Grazia and in men’s magazine GQ.
Their satchel designs have been seen completing wardrobes for celebrities like Alexa Chung, Dakota Fanning and Zooey Deschanel.
One of their original designs was even worn by Angus Young of AC/DC back in the 1970s!
Their goal isn’t to be the biggest satchel company in the United Kingdom, they simply want to be the best.
Why not see how they are ranking: trustpilot.com/leathergoods