Holtz Leather, Huntsville
The Makers: Rick and Coleen Holtz
Times were tough for the Holtz family.
Rick and Coleen Holtz grew up together in Huntsville, meeting as childhood neighbors and getting married when they were teenagers. They settled down, had six children, and then the recession of 2008 hit.
“We were almost homeless and needed to find a way to pay the bills,” Rick says. “Luckily, my Dad had an old embroidery machine in his garage.”
They learned how to use the machine; then Coleen came up with the idea to monogram bridal robes for weddings and post them on Etsy.
“They sold like hot cakes, and that was enough to keep us going,” Rick says. “Soon, we had four machines.”
But Rick wanted to do more than stitch letters onto cloth; he also wanted to create.
“I had a dream of starting a leather company,” he says. Using funds from their embroidery business, they founded Holtz Leather two years ago.
Before making the switch from monogramming to leather crafting, Rick had to teach himself how to sew — often by trial and error.
“I wanted to sew in a manly way, so I bought this huge machine,” he says with a laugh. “And it just ate up that leather. Fine leathers are very delicate and take a lot of detailed stitching. So I got a smaller machine and refined my skills.”
Now Rick and Coleen sew and sell handmade wallets, purses, keychains, belts, journal and portfolio covers, pillows, dog collars and other items to individual and corporate customers all over the world. Their children (ages 4 to 19) often pitch in to help around the business that employs 30 Huntsville residents.
“Our oldest daughter is getting a bookkeeping certification so she can handle the accounting, while another daughter helps me with the internet marketing,” Rick says. “We want to give our children something they can hand down to their children and grandchildren. I want to teach them that life brings both good and bad times, and your family is critical to it all.”
And the times just keep getting better for the Holtz family. They recently received permission from Babe Ruth’s estate to produce a wallet embossed with the famous ballplayer’s signature.
“Being able to make the Babe Ruth wallet was a big deal. It has become our biggest seller,” Rick says. “But we try to give folks a little extra with anything they buy — each wallet we make comes in a hand-stitched cotton bag. We want all of our customers to get a good feeling after ordering something from us, because we’ve been so blessed and you never know what other folks may be going through.”
The Product: Handmade leather wallets, purses, journal and portfolio covers, belts and other products for men, women, children — and even pets.
Take Home: An officially licensed No. 3 Babe Ruth signature leather-front-pocket wallet (on sale now for $50).
Holtz Leather Co., 2100 Highway 72 East, Huntsville, Alabama 35811
www.holtzleather.com or 256-883-1111