This Alabama manufacturer makes leather bags as buttery as cookies


Biscuit Leather Company, Homewood

The manufacturer: Becky Stayner

Three years ago, Becky Stayner saw a leather handbag, did some bartering, and found a new calling.

“My daughter and I were spending a weekend in Smith Lake, and I noticed this beautiful leather bag hanging from a staircase,” says Stayner. “I asked the owner where she got it, and she said she made it herself. His father had been a tanner and had taught him the trade.

A professional food photographer with cooking light magazine, Stayner then took a portrait of the woman’s daughter at a high school football game. So they made a deal – Stayner took the picture and his friend showed him how to cut and sew leather.

“It was a bucket bag with two handles, very simple to make,” she recalls. “I started training in the evenings and weekends, learning how to work leather – and the Biscuit Leather Company grew organically from there. I had one of my bags with me when I would go out and people would ask me, ‘Where did you get that?’ So I thought, “I bet I could charge that.”

Biscuit Leather Company is an Alabama maker with the mind of a great baker from the Alabama NewsCenter on Vimeo.

Combining the aesthetic sensibilities of a fine photographer with the practical skills of a master craftsman, Stayner now creates high quality bags, clutches, belts, journal covers and other functional leather pieces.

“I either use vegetable tanned leather or dyed leather from Horween in Chicago, America’s oldest tannery,” she says. “The tanned materials have a natural beauty and base, and many are honey-colored like a biscuit – hence the company name.”

Stayner and her team of seamstresses cut the leather, then punch, sew, rub and wax (with a secret recipe) the bags until they shine like freshly buttered pastries. Although its line of bags includes six styles (ranging from $300 to $500), its Original Grand Biscuit bag is still the top seller. Stayner offers them on its website and at arts and crafts shows throughout the state. Or clients can make an appointment to visit her new studio in the Rosedale area of ​​Homewood and personally choose the leather and style for a bespoke bag, which usually takes six to eight weeks.

“I was working outside my house until we had a fire last spring,” she says. “A friend lent me her garage for a while. Then I met Terry Slaughter. A Birmingham advertising executive who runs the nonprofit Simon Cyrene, Slaughter had recently launched the New Rosedale Initiative to help revitalize the neighborhood.

“He was renovating these little riflemen’s houses and looking for artists to occupy them. So I rented one,” says Stayner. “It’s really cute, like a little cottage by the sea. And it gives me more space to work.

Stayner also shares her sewing and start-up skills through Atelier BLC, a nonprofit she helped form to teach others how to start their own home-based businesses.

“With the exodus of textile workers to foreign countries, there are fewer men and women who have the skills to sew by hand,” she says. “The workshop’s mission is to train them in these skills, provide them with the education necessary to own and operate a piecework business, and provide micro-loans for the tools and business licenses they need. will need. I hope to teach more people the craft and I want to do it for a long time – because I think age makes people better, like leather bags.

The product: Hand-sewn leather belts, pouches, purses, totes and travel bags, as well as notebook and legal notebook covers.

Bring back home: Protect your planner or appointment calendar with a leather journal cover ($100).

Biscuit Leather Company, 2764 BM Montgomery St., Homewood, AL 35209; 205-790-0786


Comments are closed.