REBOOT - Pooler Man Strikes Out on His Own with Customized Leather Shop
Sean Mosley emulates the indigenous people of several hundred years ago by wasting little of the animals that go into making his various leather products.
The Pooler resident takes it one step further by engaging in an art that reflects the old West and the people who lived off the land and didn’t rely on factories to mass produce everyday items. Along with the satisfaction of owning his own business and pursuing a vocation that started as a hobby, he wants to help popularize a craft that’s big in the western part of the country and other areas of the world.
Mosley, 36, is owner of Savannah River Boot Co., in Pooler. Opened in July, the store features cowboy boots and various leather accessories crafted by Mosley, who works on customized items in the rear part of his business. He opened the store after selling his leather items online and on River Street in Savannah.
“With the pandemic, it’s kind of an escape outside the walls,” Mosley said. “A lot of the box stores have closed. This is a local retail store. It adds value to the community. I’ve always wanted to have a store.”
Mosley also offers workshops on the art of leather making. Held Saturdays from 6 to 9 pm (as long as there are at least two people), they offer basic leather working in an intimate setting that includes vinyl music; participants are encouraged to bring their own records and favorite adult beverage; since he doesn’t have a liquor license, Mosley can’t serve alcoholic beverages.
“It’s a time where you can prick your fingers, make new friends and learn the basics of leather working,” said Mosley, who can accommodate up to six people for each workshop. “It’s a great ice breaker and they’ll leave with a small wallet they made.”
Kenneth Meeks attended a workshop in September. “I will do it again,” Meeks said. “He taught us how to stitch leather and make a card keeper. They also had a bunch of nice merchandise in the shop. I would definitely recommend it for a date night.”
Leatherware to Last a Lifetime
Mosley spends all day in his store making cowboy boots, earrings, wallets, belts, tote bags and journals. Tote bags and earrings are big sellers among women, he noted, while his fitted belts are popular with men.
“You tend to see belts with thin strips of leather and whatever in between,” Mosley said. “They don’t hold up. My belts are made of solid leather an eighth of an inch thick and feature buckles with brass or nickel hardware. They’re made to last forever.”
Crafting leather boots is a process that involves 300 steps and can take 35 to 40- man hours for a basic pair; a pair with an intricate design can take 50-plus hours, according to Mosley. He typically takes two to three months to finish the boots but can do it in less time on a rush order.
After sizing the customer’s feet, which can vary in size, Mosley makes corresponding plastic molds and builds the boots around them. The patters are hand cut and stitched, one at a time. No automation is involved. The boots feature lemon wood pegged shanks, saddle stitched welts and outsoles, leather counters, leather insoles and outsoles and stacked leather heels, and the upper leathers are assembled and hand sewn to the insole.
The tanneries Mosley uses for his leather are Acadia Leather in Maine, Wickett and Craig in Pennsylvania and Horween Leather, the last tannery in Chicago and the providers of leather for NFL footballs and NBA basketballs. He also uses skins from pigs, alligators, kangaroos, ostrich and bison. Mosley doesn’t use snakeskin, noting it’s too fragile.
The common denominator is that little goes to waste. “I have a personal respect for the items I’m using,” Mosley said. “It’s an honor to the animal to use all of it and to make sure no item goes to waste. Leather is the byproduct of what we consume. As a maker of leather, I want to maximize the use of the hide. I buy leather by the square foot and am literally throwing money away with whatever I don’t use.”
Workmanship Worthy of Praise
His workmanship has garnered praise from his customers. “I give five stars to this amazing company,” said Julie Lokhai, who bought earrings and two wallets for her husband; the first was stolen. “They go out of their way to provide exceptional customer service. They delivered above and beyond my expectations. I will recommend them to anyone for leather products.”
Kristel Gregory Jackson purchased earrings and bracelets and said everything is so well made and she loves the variety of products.
“I will definitely shop there again,” she noted. “Now I just need an excuse to get out and show them off.”
Honing his Creative Eye
Mosley developed his leather making skills by working on inanimate objects.
A native of Boston, Mosley moved to Sylvania when he was 10 years old. Growing up, he had an interest in LEGOs, looking at pictures of various subjects and using the blocks to replicate them. Later, Mosley played video games, which introduced him to graphic art, and read comic books and did sketches. He attended Middle Tennessee State University and majored in universal studies.
Returning to Georgia, he fabricated cabinets at a manufacturing company and worked around master craftsmen. “I learned a lot by just watching them and working alongside them,” Mosley said. “Most are older men who don’t want to die with their knowledge. They want to pass it on and I wanted to learn. By walking several feet, I got to see the finished product. It humbles you, seeing something you didn’t create.”
Further enhancing his creative bent, Mosley did abstract painting and improvements/upgrades on the home he and his wife purchased. In the process of working on his home, Mosley acquired a whole array of tools, several of which he would later use in leather making.
Mosley’s creative eye turned toward shoes after watching a video on how to make them. “That piqued my interest,” he said. That led to boots and purchasing a DVD by Lisa Sorrell on how to craft them; when in college, Mosley visited Nashville and noted that many people wore cowboy boots, many of which had nice designs and exotic skins. “They were a work of art,” he said.
Mosley started spending his free time and weekends learning and practicing the art of boot making. There was a lot of trial and error. “The first few pairs ended up in the garbage,” Mosley said. “The big challenge was learning how to sew. It wasn’t the boots’ fault. I blamed myself. I didn’t get discouraged, however.”
Mosley stuck with it, and what started out as a hobby in 2012 eventually evolved into a home business five years later. Last summer, he set up shop in a tent on River Street the third weekend of each month.
Then, in July, after leaving his manufacturing job earlier in the year, he realized his longtime dream of opening his own place.
“I’ve always wanted to have a store,” Mosley said. “I love the reaction when someone comes in and says, ‘You made this?’ I enjoy being able to have happy customers who get what they want and of not producing throwaway items. For me, it’s the perfect blend of bringing together art, crafting and fashion.”
Website - https://srbcompany.com/