Check out this great Wyoming Kickstarter campaign for Range Leather travel bag and
For all the benefits of mass production, maximum efficiency and cutting-edge technology, a growing number of people believe that sometimes bygone, tried and true methods work best.
Laramie resident Kyle Koster, founder of Range Leather LLC, thinks the modern consumer is ready to turn back the clock to a time when craftsman built products they took pride in, and consumers were rewarded with something built to last. He likes to tell the story of an old wooden ironing board he bought at a craft show. Built in the 1940s, the sturdy plank easily supports his body weight, a testament to its workmanship and strength — and exactly the opposite of what you’d see with a modern ironing board from a big-box store.
“That’s why I really think we’re seeing … this revival of the tradesman,” Koster says. “You’re seeing all these little people who are going back to the way things were made 100 years ago.”
Putting together modern innovation with classic techniques, Koster and Range Leather are ready to introduce a different, better traveling bag and razor case via Kickstarter, a website that allows backers to support new products at discounted prices.
Range Leather’s story began a few years ago in, of all places, Asia, where Koster worked in Hong Kong and Mongolia at a car accessory company. Through connections at an international church where he served as youth pastor, Koster entered the world of manufacturing, a staple of Hong Kong’s economy.
He started off launching a company revolving around guitar accessories mass produced through injection molding. Koster noticed all his work was done digitally and then created by others using machines. He rarely dealt with a tangible product.
Leatherwork, which he admitted knowing nothing about when he started, offered the exact opposite — Koster could see the product go from material to completion in a way he found rewarding.
When his guitar accessory company began negotiations for a licensing agreement with a larger firm, Koster began Range Leather.
Right around this time, Koster found the inspiration for his latest product from an unlikely source. While traveling, he reached into his bag only to slice open his finger on the exposed blade of his razor. Determined to create a better way to travel and store toiletries, the Travellr case was born, fulfilling an unmet need in the marketplace.
“I really thought these were important products to bring to market and something I really hadn’t found,” Koster says.
Other leather dopp kits are built like bricks and difficult to pack, he adds. The Travellr has a flat design, allowing for easy storage in a carry-on, suitcase or backpack.
Not only is the design different, but the quality is something that separates the Travellr from its competition. Leather products, Koster explains, break down into three categories. The lowest is genuine. Most of the time you buy leather, this is what you’re buying. Because of branding, customers think they are getting a premium product, when in actuality genuine leather comes from the under part of the hide or parts that touch the meat of the animal. It’s the weakest section, which explains why many wallets and belts wear out and crack very quickly.
Top grain sits in the middle slot, while the pinnacle of leather is called full grain — leather from the whole hide — meaning it’s the strongest and most durable leather you can buy. This is what Range Leather uses to craft the Travellr.
“You see your great grandfather’s briefcase that’s still around 100 years later,” Koster says. “The reason is because they used full-grain leather. So that really inspired me to use that stuff and pay the premium. Then the consumer, knowing that, is willing to pay that price and get a product that is going to last 100 years.”
Travellr is built from a full-grain Horween leather called Buccaneer. Koster utilizes a specific tannage with a water-resistant finish. Each case is crafted by hand and assembled with copper rivets, premium brass hardware, genuine YKK zippers and durable thread.
Needless to say, Range Leather guarantees the bags for life.
Customers also have the option of leather razor cases. The standard case fits pretty much any men’s or women’s razor on the market, including Gillette, Schick, Dollar Shave and others. The safety case holds any DE or SE safety razor with handles up to 4.25 inches in length and 17 millimeters in diameter.
Kickstarter might not be a common name to some Wyoming residents, but if you haven’t heard of it yet, familiarize yourself. This will be Range Leather’s third Kickstarter campaign.
Koster loves the website for the direct feedback he gets from backers. Also, the platform is ideal for individuals with unique ideas who want to get their products to market quickly.
“You really find an interest from people who are looking for something different and are willing to be an early adopter,” he says.
From a customer standpoint, initial backers receive a hefty discount on the product and get to be the first to try it out.
Koster said the Kickstarter goal is $2,500, enough to get the opening batch of leather ordered. The company is hoping the Kickstarter is much, much larger than that — not just for the current campaign, but for the future of Range Leather.
Koster and his wife would like to open a shop in downtown Laramie sooner than later, a move that would likely coincide with the hiring of a couple additional crafters.
“I would make the front third of the shop like a showroom,” he says. “The back two-thirds would be essentially a work space. So people could come in and be in the showroom with the products but see back to us making the product.”
It might not be the 1940s anymore, but with high-quality leatherwork and the best possible materials, it’s safe to say Range Leather’s products will be gracing Koster’s old ironing board for a long, long time.
To get all the information on the Travellr bag and Range Leather’s razor cases, check out the Kickstarter page Here.