SMITH & HIDE leather goods • evansville, indiana

The holidays are upon us, and shoppers are seeking high quality, ethically made products that loved ones can enjoy for a lifetime. With these demands, it’s no surprise that Christian South-Alderson was thrown into business when he saw a need for quality and locally made leather goods. Christian is an outdoorsman, a husband, a father of three, and the owner of the renowned leather goods company, Smith and Hide.

Based in Evansville, Indiana, Smith and Hide began when Christian made his signature tote bags for his family at Christmastime.

“I made one for my wife and a few more for close family members with no intention of making more. After a lot of positive feedback, I decided to make a few to sell. It kind of snowballed from there.”

After brainstorming with his wife April, Christian began offering a variety of leather goods under the business name Smith and Hide in the summer of 2011. Christian set up a leather workshop in his garage. Business picked up tremendously in 2012, and in the early months of 2013, Smith and Hide opened an online store.

Most of Smith and Hide’s products started out as custom orders for local shoppers who wanted a specific product but didn’t want to compromise on the quality. He recalls the first baseball glove wallet he made. A local woman challenged Christian to make something useful from her son’s old baseball glove, allowing him to keep his childhood keepsake with him everywhere. The baseball glove wallet is now a signature item in Smith and Hide’s collection.

Recently, Smith and Hide began offering leather key chains fashioned after elephants, horses and other animals. They’re perfect for gift giving and they help Christian cut back on waste.

“I’m constantly trying to figure out how to utilize my waste down to the smallest piece, so I have come up with a few products to solve that problem. With smaller pieces of leather I make travel chess sets, key covers, and the newest addition: leather animals.”

            While ten percent of Smith and Hide’s high quality leather is from Italy, Christian primarily uses leather from tanneries in the United States. He orders the bulk of his leather from tanneries located in Illinois, Missouri, Maine and Pennsylvania.  In addition to creating leather goods, he also purchases and resells leather tools and equipment dating from the late 1800’s to the early 1900’s.

            “Over the past six years, several thousand tools have passed through my hands, hopefully being put back into use.”

            Christian plans to fully incorporate hand forged steel into his work over the next few years. He also aims to offer larger, more challenging products such as duffel bags and durable outdoor gear. River City Mercantile is proud to have Smith and Hide as a vendor. From unique wallets to adorable animal keychains, Smith and Hide has something for the whole family this holiday.


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