MiVT: OLM Leatherwork

Published: Sep. 5, 2022 at 1:00 PM EDT
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ESSEX, Vt. (WCAX) - The smell of leather fills a bright blue home studio in Essex. It’s where you can find Ober Lopez Mazariegos more often than not.

“When I was a kid, my dad used to do all the repairing for shoes and all that stuff. So I kind of had an idea of what to do,” he recounted.

Ober is no stranger to working with textiles, but things have gotten a bit more serious since his childhood. He opened OLM Leatherwork back in November of 2021.

Before that, it all started out as a simple project; a pouch for his multitool. Typically the pouches are nylon and come from the manufacturer, but he wanted something more rugged.

“I decided to purchase some scrap leathers through Amazon and the tools, as well,” Ober explained.

When that came out well, he made one for his partner, Abbie Senesac Lopez. Then he started making things for friends.

“I think there was a moment, too, where we kind of realized that we can make things so much nicer than what we can buy. Especially leather goods, I mean leather if it’s made well will last forever,” said Abbie. “So we just kind of segued into, ‘What else can we make?’”

Ober started researching new stitches to use and products to make. Abbie helped to form the business, starting a website and upping their social media.

“I think you have to have kind of an engineer brain to be able to do this. There’s something to be said for starting from nothing and being able to watch a YouTube video and go, ‘OK, I’m going to make this actually in real life,’” she said.

Before long, they had an online store, and Ober started selling their items at the Grand Isle farmers market. Now, they take appointments at their home studio.

The two draw inspiration from their pets, and say they wanted to create something they could actually use in their adventures, while also striving to be different than other Vermont leatherworkers.

The leathers they use are craft leathers, with some from Italy or Mexico. You’ll notice imperfections like scarring in the materials, which Ober says he loves because it reminds him that the materials have had a life of their own.

It’s something that connects him to his work.

“I feel like it’s part of me now,” he said. “After putting my logo on there, it’s more than just a motivation for me to continue.”