North Star Leather is a South Carolina-based leather goods brand that began in Boston in 1969. Founder Stephen M. Batson found his passion for handcrafted leather, originally selling it from a street cart in Boston before starting his own line of leather goods. Their products now ship to all 50 U.S. States and even internationally and they carry over 150 leather products.
North Star Leather is a 90% wholesale company that produces leather goods of all kinds, from wallets to checkbooks, handbags to belts, and even guitar straps and bracelets. Besides their own North Star line, they produce handcrafted leather merchandise for other companies, such as custom keychains, embossed leather pouches, accessories for police and security uniforms, and more.
North Star is a mid-sized company with less than 20 employees and is very much “family-run.” Both Stephen M. Batson and his son, Mike Batson, run the company as well as regularly assist in the production of leather products, particularly projects that are more detailed and complicated.
Not only do the Batson’s pride themselves on their hands-on work in their company’s product production, they even develop their website and catalog “in house.” They find that it is the most effective method of running a successful wholesale business and an excellent way to maintain their family business integrity.
North Star Leather sets itself apart from the rest with all of its leather goods made entirely in the United States, while 80% of all leather goods nowadays are made overseas. Not only is North Star a local business with passion and integrity, but you can be sure that you are supporting a brand that they entirely run out of the U.S.
High-quality products and customer satisfaction are top priorities for North Star Leather. They put in effort and dedication to ensure the highest level of quality from their products. North Star offers lifetime warranties on their incredible craftsmanship (although that does not extend to the finish, which naturally may experience wear and tear with normal use). They are very upfront and honest with their return policy on their website.
North Star Leather is a family-run, U.S.-based company that prides itself on its high-quality goods at affordable prices. They have a true passion for their work and the products they produce and ensure the best experience for every buyer, whether purchasing wholesale, directly from the shop, or even custom order.
Our Favorite North Star Leather Products Made in the USA
Wallets: North Star offers a huge range of leather wallets, ranging from a simple credit card sheath to trifold trucker wallets. There are even money clips, front pocket wallets, and passport wallets, meaning that no matter how much you like to take out with you, North Star has you covered. Their premium leather bifold credit card wallet is their most popular, with six card pockets, a cash compartment, and two additional pockets. Made from full-grain leather from the SB Foot leather tannery in Red Wing, Minnesota, it’s available in three different colors.
Belts: Whether you’re after a sleek, narrow black belt for work or a chunkier ‘rough and tough’ tanned belt, you’ll get a quality, long-lasting item with North Star. There are no returns or exchanges accepted on belts because they’re each made to custom order. Though this may seem worrying to some, they give detailed instructions on how to measure for your new belt and have huge customization options. There are options for buckles, whether you want the ability to change the buckles, hole spacing, width size, and can even get custom sizes if yours isn’t listed.
Backpacks: There is one backpack on offer from North Star leather, but is designed to meet all of your needs. Crafted from ‘Copper Rough and Tough’ leather, this backpack is water, stain, and perspiration-resistant, and its leather makes it easy to buff out any scratches. It has a secure roll-top feature but also has some internal and external pockets, making it easy to find those essentials. The Deluxe Copper Rough and Tough Roll Top Backpack also has adjustable shoulder straps and removable sliding shoulder pads, making this perfect for traveling or hiking as well as everyday use.
Handbags: No matter the occasion or your style, you’ll find a quality leather handbag from North Star. There are classic rectangular handbags, tote bags, fringe bags, hobo bags, and duffel bags. These handbags are made from North Star’s top-grain leather and typically feature internal zippered pockets or internal phone slots and most do not have internal fabric linings, as fabric linings tend to wear out before the bag does. They’re soft to the touch but also strong and durable.
One thing you can definitely say about North Star Leather is that they’re refreshingly transparent and honest about their materials, manufacturing process, and pricing. They’ve published blog posts to answer questions on these above points.
A priority for North Star Leather has been affordability. Mike Batson himself agrees that he probably should charge more for genuine handcrafted leather products, but that its mission has always been to create products for “the average person”. He even says he gets some criticism and people questioning the quality of the leather, whether they’re really making things in the USA or just simply, why they’re so cheap.
North Star explains how it can offer high-quality handcrafted products at such a cheap price. First off, let’s look at the leather. Mike explains that since being around since 1969, they have loads of connections and often get great leather deals from these suppliers, especially on overruns. They also get huge amounts of leather scrap from factories such as upholstery makers and shoemakers. Sometimes this can be 10,000 pounds of unassorted hides.
This is, of course, a risky move as it means they often pay thousands of dollars without knowing what they’re getting. However, he has said that they’ve now established relationships with some of these places and can know what to expect. Though this does mean that they can’t guarantee that the leather they use is made in the USA. Sometimes the hide is stamped as coming from Canada or Europe, or not stamped at all.
As a result of this, North Star ensures to state on its products pages when items are made from ‘unknown’ leather or when they’re made from leather from American suppliers.
Another way that they’ve been able to cut prices is by bulk sourcing hardware – once again Batson admits that some of their hardware, like the metal clips for their money clips, is sourced from overseas.
They also don’t burnish their edges, saving an hour on each product. Instead, they paint the edges, ensuring that this guarantees as much durability as brandished edges and also saves their customers about 50% on the cost. They also do larger production runs which save huge amounts of time. They don’t advertise at all or run sales and promotions; and finally, they’re based in rural South Carolina which means living costs are minimal and that they’ve been able to buy their production building and machines outright so they have no debt.
Once competing with the likes of Walmart wallets in the 80s and 90s, North Star believes that people are now understanding and appreciating good craftsmanship. Many are now willing to pay extra for American-made wallets where they know where the leather has been sourced. This is why North Star is explicit in their product listings about exactly where their leather is sourced. These are typically from the world-famous Horween Tannery in Chicago or SB Foot leather tannery in Red Wing, Minnesota.
As you can see, North Star is a very interesting business in how they do things and how transparent they are. All of their products are made in the USA, using predominantly American hide, but some items use elements sourced from overseas and not all of the leather used is American either.
However, North Star clearly values quality and affordability for its customers, coming up with innovative ways to provide just that. If you’re looking for a high-quality American-made leather product, then North Star is a good place to start.