Loyal Stricklin manufactures leather goods and creates everything from coasters and wallets to dog leashes and belts.
A CHAT WITH LOYAL STRICKLIN
Tell us about what you make.
We’re mostly a manufacturer of high-end leather goods. Basically, if you can make it from leather, we probably do. We focus on high-end wallets, strap goods, accessories, purses, waxed canvas and leather bags, and are now developing some clothing items as well.
Tell us about your background. What brought you to Alabama in the first place? Are you native or a transplant?
I was born and raised in Homewood, Alabama, right outside Birmingham. My mother’s mother is from Opelika, where the business is located now, but otherwise my family is from the all over mid-east Alabama, from Talladega to Shelby to Birmingham. I studied undergraduate and graduate school at Auburn University and stayed in the area after I graduated to focus on Loyal Stricklin.
You could make your product/service anywhere. Why do you make things in Alabama?
I love Alabama and love being here. It’s a beautiful state and we’ve really found a community in our area that we feel an integral part of. We’ve met a lot of amazing people who have helped us along the way, especially when it comes to space, which would be our biggest challenge anywhere else. Here, we have beautiful historic buildings at the center of downtown that are affordable to rent. That allows us to create the exact presence that we want at a fraction of the cost in a big city, so it just lends itself to being the perfect place for us to grow our business.
What inspires you to make your product/service? Was Alabama behind any of the inspiration for your product/service?
Alabama wasn’t the inspiration for our brand, but it certainly had a big influence on our most popular product, the Aviator Mug. The Aviator Mug is a Mason jar with a leather wrap and handle, and essentially dresses up an item I’d bet you’d be able to find in almost every Southern home. I used Mason jars for drinking already, so it was just natural to wrap one in leather once when I first started out. The leather keeps heat and cold off your hands, and when mixed with the smell of coffee, creates a great aroma of leather and coffee during your morning cup. We also have our trademark logo, “Made Here Y’all,” inscribed in an outline of the state of Alabama, which we used to show our love for our home state. We put that logo prominently on a few products, such as our mugs, coasters and T-shirt, and have it as a small detail piece on many of our bags.
What do you think makes Alabama makers different?
We have an employee who just moved down from Pennsylvania. One of his first observations was how nice everyone is. I think that’s true, and one of the things that does make Alabama so different. Some people might think it’s just manners, or people being polite, but I think it’s really just the outlook of people down here. Everywhere you go, even in the bigger cities, there’s this small-town vibe that everyone knows everyone, so you should be nice to everyone you meet, say hey to passersby, and hold the door open for strangers. It’s a beautiful thing, and I’m proud to be from here because of that.
Which Alabama makers inspire you?
I’m lucky to know many Alabama makers; there’s no shortage these days. Alabama seems to be producing a lot of forward-thinking go-getters, but most notably, I’d have to mention my good friend Jake Carnley, of Great Bear Wax Company, artists Butch Anthony and RC Hagans, and Southern Accents Architectural Antiques owner Garlan Gudger. Each of these folks is doing incredible things for the state of Alabama and it’s an honor to know and to have worked alongside them.
Explore the area
Small City, BIG Impression
A Center of Arts and Culture
Over the Railroad and Through the Woods
Photos by Sarah Stricklin Sarah@loyalstricklin.com