Hemlock and Hyde Makes Leather Goods Made to Last

Soulful, earthy hues in olive, navy, russet, English tan, sienna, and black. Leather goods designed and made to order in eastern Pennsylvania. Small batch. A husband and wife team pursuing their dream.

“Our whole adult lives have been spent trying to figure out how to make a living doing something we love,” says Leanne Polidore, bag designer, spokesperson, and reluctant model who handmakes three to four bags a day, methodically stitching each seam on a Cobra Class 26 leathermaking sewing machine that weighs about 200 lbs. “Reluctant model is a badge I’ll wear proudly,” she laughs. Her designs are structured yet sculptural; easy, organic silhouettes thoughtfully adorned with brass hardware obtained from Massachusetts. The leather hides are sourced from the meat industry, North American cattle of European stock, and tanned at Wickett & Craig in Curwensville, PA, one of only two vegetable tanneries in America.

The name, Hemlock and Hyde, is a play on the words “leather hide” and a nod to the hemlock bark used in the vegetable tanning process, which they use exclusively. “No chemicals, less environmental harm, and it’s sustainable,” says her husband, Nick, who cuts and preps the bags for sewing, serves as the customer service and shipping departments, and also, videographer, photographer, webmaster, finance guy, and business strategist.

Orders are taken in batches the first week of every month, allowing for a manageable
production schedule. At 10:30 am on Thursdays, they host a laid-back, hour-ish long live stream on IG, filmed in the basement workshop of their 1920s craftsman bungalow home. Working, doing their thing, candidly answering questions.

“In art school, everyone can use the same paint, but everyone can produce something different,” he says. “We feel really grateful for those who have helped us and want to maintain that positive, creative community.”

Story by Kate Benz / Photography by Laura Petrilla

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