Jordan Lee realized pretty quickly that he didn't have the patience for woodworking when he started the hobby two years ago. But now he sits at the first piece he ever built — a small square workbench — where he cuts, dyes, crafts and stitches his Wright & Rede collection of cowhide leather wallets, bracelets, cases and more. He launched the business from his basement in 2012 to make a wallet that would force him to carry fewer items. "The goal was to sell four [wallets] by the end of October," Lee says. "I sold four by the end of the week, and I was like, That's a sign. I'm going to do this." Home Work: Lee's workroom, which he refers to as his "dreary, dungeonlike basement" in his Cleveland Heights home, is lined with a cluttered set of U-shaped tables topped with threads and leather crafting tools such as a mallet and a pony. He purchased the set for $100 when he first began. "I still use the same tools," Lee says. Buying Local: Lee uses vegetable-tanned leather, which he buys from a handful of U.S. vendors, to make his pieces. His snaps, clasps and buttons come exclusively from the Ohio Travel Bag Co. in Solon. Dyeing to Know: Lee adds color to each leather piece using a water-based aniline dye. "It works more like stain," he explains. "Once you apply it, you can still see the grain and the character of the leather." The designer recently added a deep turquoise dye to complement the rich brown hue. The color pairing can be seen in his Duo-Tone Double Wrap Bracelet ($25). Keeping His Cool: Lee carves a tally of his "starting a business freak-outs" into an 8-inch piece of brown-stained leather topping his workbench. So far, nine marks have been etched into the hide. "That's part of me just trying to keep reality in check, " Lee says. "You have to have a sense a humor."
Wright & Rede's simple and clean-cut bifold wallet ($53) has two card slots that hold up to five credit cards each and a bill pocket for unfolded bills. It's hand-stitched with waxed linen thread and sealed with a house-made, water-resistant dubbin finish.MORE INFO: wrightandrede.com