The Leather Zone, a retail location in Sparta, New Jersey specializing in shoe repairs, handbag repair services and custom-made leather goods, has opened under the direction of owner Hratch Kechishian. His family comes from a long line of shoemakers and leather smiths and has had an extensive career in the manufacturing of leather handbags. He began working with his father in Beirut as a teenager at their family shoes & handbag factory. After developing his craft of working with leather products he decided to set out to make his mark on the world.
He traveled across Europe learning everything he could about shoe and handbag making, handbag repair services and the leathering process as well as creating uniquely designed leather bags, shoe, wallets and belts. He eventually landed in New York and attended classes at the Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT). It was here that he brought his family heritage and craft together with his love of creative new designs and he began his career in the leather handbag business.
For nearly 20 years he worked for major brands such as Coach and Vera Bradley as their Director of Engineering, overseeing pattern making, sample making and mass production development for their handbags overseas production facilities. Most recently he was traveling weekly to the headquarters of Vera Bradley based in Indiana from his home here in New Jersey. A few months ago he decided to trade in the busy travel and corporate life for his own business so that he could be closer to his family and work more directly on some of his own designs.
“I have a passion for handbags and for working with leather,” says Kechishian, “It has been my whole life. I’m so happy now to have my own shop close to my hometown and my family. I’m really enjoying getting to know the people of Sparta, they have been extremely welcoming and I look forward to being here a long time.”
Leather Zone offers repairs for any type of leather goods, specializing in shoes, riding boots as well as belts and of course handbags. He also takes custom orders for handbags. He will produce a single custom bag to your specifications. “Sometimes people have an old bag that they can’t replace, or perhaps they just want another one and can’t find it or they see a bag that they like but might be too big or too small etc,” explains Kechishian. “I can look at a picture or take a broken bag and create an entirely new bag in the color and style they want. Our customer service is top priority, I love making a beautiful item or fixing something for someone at an affordable price and seeing the happiness it brings them.”
Kechishian has plans of launching his own line of handbags and belts that will be sold out of his Sparta location within the next year to accompany his shoe repair services and custom orders. He is calling the style of his line of accessories; Sparta Vintage with a Semi-Western Vibe to it.