Monday, March 28, 2011

Made in Essex, CT: Leather Man Ltd. and Eliza B.

Essex, Connecticut is one of the great New England boating spots. It is also the home of Leather Man Ltd. and Eliza B.

If you visit Essex on Saturdays, make sure you stop by their Factory Store.   This is a real factory store, as in, part of same building as their actual factory. 

At the helm
I can't say enough good things about owner Cecil Lyon, and hold him in the highest personal esteem.  (My admiration both for his company and of him are so aligned.) He is unfailingly gracious and with a superbly dry wit.   And his touch is everywhere.  Leather Man Ltd./ Eliza B. is a shining example of how a company benefits by having a hands-on owner from start to finish.

He kindly took me on a tour of his facility.  And although we have done this many times over the past (almost) three decades, each visit is just as exiting. 

The design room

What they sell is made in Essex, Connecticut

Sandal making

The construction process of the Eliza B. Allez! Flats

His famous wit in action
Stacks and stacks of embroidered ribbon

I stopped to admire his boat

The actual factory store is as every factory store should be - overflowing with one temptation after another.


A great wall of sandals

Saying hello to Benny (their Jack Russell)

Beautiful canvas totes

And as today was sock burning day, I brought my Ragg Socks that had reached the end of their life.

Factory Store Location and Hours:

55 Plains Road 
Essex, Connecticut  06426
(800) 767-6585
Saturdays, 9:00am to 1:00pm


Preppy 101 said...

What a treat. And hearing about his graciousness makes it even better. By the way, I received my skirts from LL Bean and they worked perfectly. Not too short thank goodness. I adore the colors, too. Now I think I'm going to follow the advice of your commenter and purchase the pants and have them tailored. Have a wonderful weekend. xoxo

Christina said...

I wish it would warm up enough so I could burn my socks! :)

I was almost drooling over the gorgeous stockpiles of belts and shoes! Oooo I want to go there!

David M. said...

I'm a big fan of Leatherman belts. Thanks for the report.

John said...

Interesting report. Nice photos. I ordered a belt just now. This blog is giving me good guidance about buying belts. Since the original Filene's Basement store closed a few years ago, I've been making do with belts from Jos. A. Bank. They're OK but nothing special. & so I'm glad to learn about sources for belts that are of good quality but not too expensive.

John said...

What a great place! I'm picky about belts, but I'll bet even I could find something on that rack. And I love the ceremonial sock burning.

Farrell and Lauren said...

I have more Eliza B sandals than I care to admit (I started collecting them a while ago), but they are basically the only thing I wear all summer. A trip to the factory store is definitely on my list of things to do. Now some research to find out what will keep the husband busy...

Ryan P. said...

It's reassuring to know that some companies still have true factory stores. It's just more authentic when one knows the products aren't made for discount shoppers, as products in outlet centers often are.

Raulston said...

The needlepoint's are superb and I am sure the hands on experience was an experience not to be forgotten. Thank you for the birds eye view.

There is an exceptional place in C'ville (Wiley Brothers) that fashion belts of this caliber. Although no needlepoint's can be found there, you will just have to settle for leather.

Pete said...

With rare exception, I avoid purchasing American made products (from automobiles to pencils). The quality of American made goods across the board is horrid. Your post has given me hope that a few items made in our Republic still warrant a second look.

M said...

Sock burning? This is new to me. Expired flags have gone the way of the flame here but never socks. After the endless winter we've had, including snow yesterday that blanketed the daffodils and other early bloomers, I might have to toss a parka on the fire!

Flat Rock Creek Notebook

Sue Giannotta said...

I have to thank you for the tip about the Ragg Socks, they are the bomb. They kept my feet warm all winter and that is no easy task here in Michigan.
So, do tell what did you get from Leather Man Ltd. and Eliza B?

Sartre said...

I've bought many belts from these folks and always been happy. What I appreciate most is that I can put together my own combination of ribbon/backing and have the finished product at an incredibly reasonable price and within a very short timeframe. That it comes from one of the prettiest spots in the northeast only adds to the appeal.

Patti ( said...

Great entry! Hopefully I can stop by the store one day!

Anonymous said...

Thanks so much for posting the photos - I really enjoyed seeing their operation, as I often wondered what it's like behind the scenes there. Their men's belts are the best, and I own tons of Eliza B belts, headbands, and watchbands. I practically drool when I receive their email notices for special sales because I live too far away.

Gordo said...

Your post on the key-chains before Christmas gave my sister a great idea for gifts. Thanks for showing where mine was born! Great company!

Carole said...

I like the idea of sock burning although it's still too cold here in PA to give them up. Thanks for the insider's view of Eliza B.

Beth said...

This company is fantastic! I own many pairs of their sandals and have recently fell in love with the flats as well. When I went to pick them up, I was treated to a tour of the facility and the owners even asked my design suggestions! I stopped in on Saturday with a question about a fabric color, and they brought me into the design room and showed me all of the options. While many may scoff at the prices, I think it is a small price to pay for real, American-made goods from a company that clearly cares about their customers so much! Definitely check them out!

Christina said...

When I see you meet people like this, it makes me wish you'd video blog! I'd love to listen in on the tour and conversation. :)

Alexis said...

You've got me hooked on those Allez! flats. They look terribly elegant, and knowing that they are manufactured by locals makes them worth every last penny. My corgi is proudly sporting one of the Leatherman collars with a matching leash, too. I can't say enough good things about that company.