Made In Midwood

Scott Hofert
Scott Hofert

A frequent traveler in his 20’s and early 30’s, Scott Hofert was always a “leather junkie.”  Working in the non-profit sector raising funds for humanitarian organizations, Hofert found himself traveling a great deal.  His travels took him to over 45 countries in a period of 25 years: countries such as India, Burma, Nepal, China, South America, and Russia where leather products flourish. During this time, Hofert became a people-watcher, always on the look-out for that perfect satchel or leather accessory that would make his travels easier.

I bought a lot of bags. It’s rather an obsession of mine–high-end leather goods,” he explains.  “I’d say to my wife, ‘I found the perfect bag; it will last forever,’ and she’d just roll her eyes.  After about eight or nine months, I’d get tired of it and ask ‘If I sold it on Ebay and found a good deal, can I buy a new one?’ I guess you could say starting the business saved my marriage,” he laughs.  
“Our decision to settle down in a more permanent location brought us to Charlotte about 8 years ago when my job as a Church Planter helped build Watershed, a church in the NoDa area,” says Hofert. Along with his church planting came the realization that he needed a creative outlet, and ColsenKeane Leather was conceived.

Hofert leads a double life.  One side is Church Planter, and the other side is leather maker.  “This is my Mistress to the Church,” he says.  Working as a Church Planter, you create a lot of concepts, intangible things, the developing and selling of which can change your life but take time to show results.  “Up in my 40’s, I found I needed something tangible, something creative.  That’s when I started doing this.  After 12 hours, you feel great. Working with your hands, creating something beautiful…the Mistress makes the other side – the service side – better,” says Hofert.  

A pastor at heart, Hofert loves to work with his hands.  “I surmise philosophically and theologically that mankind was created to create.  We’’re fundamentally designed to make stuff.  Thousands – heck, millions of years ago – humanity worked with their hands. It wasn’t until the last 200 years that we had the resources to sit back while machines did some of the work,” says Hofert.
ColsenKeane Leather produces custom-made goods from satchels to accessories, from micro wallets, belts, moleskin, field notes, to all things Apple (iPhone, iPad, and MacBook covers.)  They are one of a kind– simple, durable, and memorable, with clean lines, and made from high quality leather.  The leather is latigo (leather prepared from cattle hide), vegetable dyed, or oiled.  Colors range from Vintage Brown, Dark Brown, Tan Natural, to Deep Black.  The hide is what makes these items work.  “By design,” Hofert explains, “they have the capacity to age gracefully.  Whereas bridle leather continues to remain the same, the leather we use ages over time.  The oils explode out of the hide, the imperfections and natural impressions become more beautiful, and the leather shows changes as you touch it.”

For Hofert, creating these bags is a type of storytelling.  He considers them a form of narrative.  Each bag begins with its own distinct story.  Each piece is individually cut, uniquely designed, and prepared by the craftsman. It can take up to 12 hours to make one satchel.  Overtime, its story develops a “line of history that a throw-away item cannot have.”   Hofert explains, “The bag I’ve traveled with over the last 10-15 years tells of these experiences through markings.  It literally shows by the wear and tear of time; the coffee stain from Chattanooga; the dirt from India.”  

His business builds character, and he will be the first to say he considers himself in the “heirloom-making business.”  Hofert lives his life as he works his business. Most all of his household furnishings are between 20-50 years old.  No end table matches.  Everything is unique, and he is okay with that.  “Everyone wants to compete with the Jones’ – the same car, the same house – but where is the individuality; do you really want to be the same as your neighbor,” questions Hofert.  
ColsenKeane Leather is not cheap, but they are one-of-a-kind items.  “Our customers almost live a minimalist life style.  They’re collectors who don’t want several bags; they only want one bag, and one that will last a lifetime.”  Whether it’s starting out in a new career or ending an old one, ColsenKeane customers are willing to spend the money in order to buy top- of-the-line, high-quality, unique satchels and leather accessories.

Hofert at Work
Hofert at Work

“I’’m a huge American fan, especially of leather because we have some of the healthiest cows in the world.  This enables us to cut the hide thicker. Not all our hides are U.S. hides; some we have treated in Mexico,” says Hofert.  The process for making these bags is arduous.  The hide must be cut, laid out on tables, a template must be made and then cut, holes must be punched, and then rivets set. “A lot of investment goes into each piece.  The man power is about 12 hours.  The men who work for me are truly artists.  I don’t look for leathersmiths but for someone who has the capacity to work well with the leather.  The work must be thorough,” says Hofert.  

Upon each piece is a small logo.  If you go to the website, you’ll see that the logo is a knife with a curved edge.  Designed to cut straight lines by arching it, the knife is considered old school.  Some of his employees may use it, but for Hofert, a straight edge and razor is perfect.

ColsenKeane Leather produces original, “old-soulishness, and American-craftsmanship goods.”  They take pride in creating practical, one-of-a-kind “head turning” pieces inspired by “simplicity and a deep sense of clean form.”  Hofert strongly believes in “American-made products that are rooted in rugged individualism.”  

Their studio is located at 1318 Central Avenue, Suite A9, Charlotte, NC.  Feel free to reach them at info@ColsenKeane.com or call 704-251-9368.  The studio is open Monday-Thursday from 8am-4pm, but they prefer to meet by appointment.  For further information, and to see what is available go to www.ColsenKeane.com.

Scott Hofert