CLEVELAND, Ohio - Fount leather bags and accessories are a lot like tattoos. Once you have one, you can't wait to get another. So, to keep things interesting the four-year-old Cleveland company is introducing some new styles and opening their chic design studio for tours during this weekend's 30th Annual ArtCraft Building Open Studio Holiday Sale.
Visitors will be able to see some of the beautiful, handmade leather bags being worked on by staff, there will be informative tours of the manufacturing space and plenty of bags and accessories for sale. Included are some slightly and unnoticeably imperfect bags at discounts ranging from 10 to 30 percent off of retail.
Fount owners Jackie and Phillip Wachter seem as surprised as anyone at how their company has grown. They began without even a sewing machine as a kitchen table hobby, selling necklaces, a tote, wallets and dog collars at the very first Cleveland Flea in 2013. Today, Fount is a well-oiled machine featuring a design studio full of sewing machines and other sophisticated equipment, chic brick and mortar stores in Cleveland's Gordon Square Arts District and on bustling High Street in Columbus, a loyal Cleveland Flea following, an overwhelming online business and they currently employ 39 creative and passionate staffers.
It seems these days you can't go anywhere in Cleveland without seeing one of their iconic and best-selling Bellfield Totes. "We've sent bags to every state in the U.S and to cities in countries all over the world including China, Australia, Dubai and Abu Dhabi in United Arab Emirates and throughout Europe and Canada," says Phillip Wachter. "It was super exciting the day we reached our 50th state."
Fount creates heirloom leather bags that surpass the quality of so many bags from any high-end design house. They're handmade without any of those cheaper materials found in coated canvas, factory-built pieces that sell for several times the price. A visit to their 5th floor studio to see the process and craftsmanship that goes into building each bag proves that. Fount bags start at about $154 for a Finley Wristlet and many loyal customers, who have begun to call themselves "Founteers" will tell you, they are well worth it.
Fount employs a grassroots method to sales, as well. "In the pocket of each bag we place ten business cards," says Jackie Wachter, "we're homegrown and ask people to share them each time they get a compliment on their bag."
Fount chooses leathers that will age well and last. The hides come from an eight-generation old family tannery outside of Florence, Italy. Wachter says it's one of the best in the world. "In the 1960s they supplied leather to Ferrari," he says. Jackie Wachter also says that today they supply leather to Frye and Restoration Hardware and have an ethical water cleaning process leaving the water, post-tanning, clean enough to drink.
Fount is so confident in their products that they guarantee the bags and straps for a lifetime. Other than an unfortunate incident with a customer's duo of hungry puppies, they have never had a strap come apart. They pride themselves on keeping their customers happy.
In the last year or so, Phillip Wachter says that besides opening two stores, they've learned about ordering and logistics and how to keep up with a growing demand and a busy production schedule. "We spent the first two years as a company figuring out how to make a bag and how to make it well," he says "and now we'll spend some extra energy on design."
Courtney McCrone, Fount's lead designer and "studio magician" spends her days dreaming up new designs and fixing and improving details on existing designs and manufacturing practices. "None of us are formally trained in bag design, but we've figured it out," she says.
They also listen to their customers who are invited to email or fill out comment cards at the stores. After they received several requests for a zippered tote the team went to work. Refusing to settle on just any zipper, they did the research and sourced the smoothest zipper available. They come from Los Angeles and are a staple of the Fount line. The thread comes from Canada. Having a zipper lead to several new designs.
At the studio this weekend new designs will be available. They include some items for the guys like a bi-fold wallet, card case, briefcase and dopp kit. There is the Finley Wristlet and a few new crossbody styles. There is the Roundabout, the shape resembles a vintage canteen. It comes with either a brass chain or a leather crossbody strap. The Finley Crossbody is a chic going-out bag and the new Petite Coventry Bucket is a growing hit. Fount also produces a special selection of hair-on-hide Bellfield Totes for the holidays and is happy to introduce the Bellfield Totes with zippers. The new Atlas line of zippered satchels is available in three sizes.
"We're trying to create a luxury experience in our stores and this weekend in the studio," says Jackie Wachter. "We want our customers to feel a part of our story and to join our Made in America movement." They even offer complimentary conditioning treatments of their products at the stores so that customers feel welcome to pop in, say hello and get their bag conditioned. "We love for our customers to just stay connected," she says.
Fount employees receive a Founteer card in each paycheck. It's printed with the words "Thanks for making Fount look so good." They are asked to hand that card out to someone they see carrying a Fount bag. The recipient can turn the card into a $25 gift card at Fount. "We hand out about 80 cards a month and love to reward people for representing Fount," says Phillip Wachter.
Fount and ArtCraft Building details:
What:This is the 30th year for this popular art sale. See more than 70 resident and invited artists featuring everything from works in clay, paper, textiles, photography, paintings, jewelry, glass, candles, soaps, confections, clothing, wood, furniture and more.
Where:2570 Superior Avenue, Cleveland
When:Saturday and Sunday December 2, 3.
Hours:10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m Sunday
Parking:Large lot at the rear of the building and a lot across the street, street parking.
6706 Detroit Avenue in Gordon Square
11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesday - Thursday
11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Friday, Saturday
11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday
668 North High Street
11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesday - Thursday
11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Friday, Saturday
Noon to 5 p.m. Sunday
Additional Fount pop-up shops:
Cleveland Flea:Look for Fount at the December 8-10 and December 15-17 Holiday Fleas at 3333 Lorain Avenue in Ohio City. See www.theclevelandflea.com for details.
Holiday Market at Crocker Park:Join Fount and many other local favorites for a holiday pop-up. Located next to MAC Cosmetics and across from the Apple Store. The shop will be open from December 8-29 during Crocker Park holiday hours. See www.crockerpark.com/event/holiday-market for details and special hours.
Source : http://www.cleveland.com/style/index.ssf/2017/11/tour_fount_leather_studio_see.html