I flew into Charlotte, North Carolina, at the beginning of this year on my way to visit some family in Valdese. At that time, I hadn’t heard of ColsenKeane or their passion for crafting enduring, rugged leather products, nor did I know they are based in Charlotte. To my chagrin for not having found this growing company earlier, I was also delighted to be asked to review their Minimalist Standard Leather Satchel in Crazy Horse.
Saint Ambrose was right when he said “where a man’s heart is, there is his treasure also” – this is a company that loves what they create, and creates what they love. I always have an initial impression and reaction when I first view and hold a leather product. After carefully photographing the packaging (it was nicely done) on receiving the satchel, I unwrapped it like an early birthday gift.
Quite honestly, I’ve not seen another leather satchel that immediately overawed me as this one did, and still does. Think Pony Express meets Sam Elliott (Tombstone, 1993) to get a sense of the rugged individuality and good looks this bag conveys.
About Colsen Keane
I had a chance to talk at length with Scott Hofert, creator and owner of ColsonKeane, about his vision and products for the present and the future. As Scott put it, educated customers are the best customers. A self-admitted leather junkie, he’s been crafting unique leather ideas into reality for the last 8 years. While not an artist by trade, having worked in the non-profit sector for years, Scott’s passion for quality leather goods and vision for seeing niches in the leather industry that need to be filled have driven ColsenKeane to become the growing success it is today.
Reflected in his products is his love for the beefier (no pun intended) leather hides found in many of the products they produce. He understands that these types of hides retain their constitution and will last a lifetime, a guarantee he puts behind all of his products. And the way he came up with the name for his company? You’ll just have to ask Scott; he’ll welcome you into their store the next time you stop over in Charlotte.
The name of the bag is shrouded in a bit of mystery – why “Crazy Horse” Leather? Scott intimated that its origin may lie with the gentleman from whom he purchases the hides for the satchel. What is not a mystery is the construction of the bag itself: full grain cowhide measuring 3.9 mm thick held together by copper rivets and a waxed polyester thread that would be suitable for stitching sails on a main mast.
The satchel is one solid piece of hide, except for the sides, which are stitched in to help the bag keeps its shape throughout your lifetime of owning this product. The benefit of a bag that retains its shape is better protection of the contents inside versus something that may soften too much over time.
The D-rings, snap swivels, and buckles are all heavy duty pre-distressed nickel plated steel that add to the rugged look of the leather. He’ll also be the first to admit the bag is over-engineered, an intentional design element. I couldn’t see it designed any other way after having a few weeks with it. The double-stitched thread holding the sides in is the only stitching on the bag, the rest held by the copper rivets.
Need to carry a laptop up to 17″ along with your important files? This satchel will do the trick. If you want to carry accessories including your wallet, phone, a couple pens and some bank cards, you’ll want to go for the optional leather insert.
The leather insert is cleverly designed to not only minimize the interior space it uses, but will also allow you to put documents behind it. It’s an excellent conservation of space in a layout that is already generous.
The adjustable carry strap looks great when added to the bag, and adds an important element of functionality when you choose to sling the bag across your shoulder. I prefer carrying the bag cross-shoulder as it leaves my hands free to carry my morning coffee, a phone, or to stick them in my pockets on a cold day.
Let’s get this out of the way: the satchel is a beautiful, over-constructed piece of craftsmanship that is difficult to not fall in love with. This satchel has a tendency to slow me down wherever I go. I don’t mind though; people see it and want to stop and comment on its beauty, or where I got it. The longer you own and use this bag, the more unique it will become, the look tailored to the experiences of your life.
I asked Scott specifically about the copper rivets, and yes, they are extremely difficult to find. His philosophy is that they are not only beautiful and will develop a beautiful patina over time, but that he eschews shiny metal on bags that would have an otherwise rugged look. However, as copper is too soft for the buckles and d-rings, he went with a distressed nickel look that fits right in.
The straps holding the bag closed are thick and perfectly sized for the buckles and add to the rugged look of the bag. Even after only a few weeks, I’ve noticed the scratching on the leather doesn’t detract to the bag, but gives it character you won’t see anywhere else.
The Final Word
Everything about this satchel indicates love of, and pride in, your craft. With the purchase of your Minimalist Standard Leather Satchel in Crazy Horse coming in at a $695.00 retail, you’d better be serious about your love of leather and those goods crafted to last a lifetime. If you’re just looking for a serviceable bag that is nothing special, this isn’t the one for you
As if their available product line isn’t enough, you always have the option to stop by their shop in Charlotte and talk to Scott about custom designing a leather piece that reflects you and your lifestyle.
Scotch whisky, also known as uisge beatha or “water of life”, is best when aged and enjoyed for what it is: a product of craftsmen with a love for the process and product. This satchel is no different. I predict that this bag will age with you, accumulating the wealth of knowledge and experience that is your life. While I have only had possession of this bag for a few weeks, the quality and aesthetic have spoken, and that is what I heard.
Scott and his team are not only artisans, but they want to share their love of the craft and philosophy of doing what you love with others. In addition to the 200-plus product concepts Scott keeps tucked away in his notebook, he hinted at offering a multi-day “leather experience” to teach the craft and business of leather working. His idea came about as a result of area businessman coming into the store and finding themselves drawn to the lifestyle and passion everyone at ColsenKeane exhibits through their craftsmanship and eagerness to share what they do.
If you want a high-quality, thoughtfully designed satchel that will (and is guaranteed to last you a lifetime), you’ll want to start here. Educate yourself on their products through the numerous videos and articles available online, and you won’t be disappointed.