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Meet the Identity Leather Craft team

Dr Peter Laight

Dr Peter Laight

Peter has a lifelong love and passion for leather. He is continuously experimenting into the decoration of leather using colouring, digital printing and embossing.

Peter studied for a BSc (Hons) in Leather Science at Leeds University and continued on to complete a PhD into the effects of leather on foot comfort. He is also a Harvard graduate. Twenty-five years with Pittards as technical director, and later managing director of several of their group tanneries, his most notable achievement was the origination and development of their water resistant, stay-soft range of leathers.

Together with his wife Jackie he was the founder of The Identity Store in 2002.

He is our leatherdog. After several mid-life crises he is now developing indigenous tanning methods combining minimum use of natural chemicals with skins from animals that have lived well.

He says, every man and his dog are talking about traceability and sustainability these days, but it is respect and humanity for animals that really counts. “Quality leather is made from love” will be on his gravestone.

 

Jackie Laight

Jackie LaightIdentity Leather Craft
 
As a teenager, my sister and I would go to Pittards tannery leather sales in Somerset and buy bags of offcuts and make chain belts and patchwork bags. I never forgot the impression the company had on me, the beautiful feel of the leather, the smell of the tannery, the foreigness of it all …...

Many years later I went to work at Pittards as a technical administrator and in so doing met Peter who was their Technical Director at the time. Many years later again we married and in the year 2000 began our fledgling business of selling leather and digitally printing on to leather in Matlock Bath in Derbyshire. Two years later the opportunity presented itself to buy a leathercraft business in Northampton which, at the time, gave us the UK distributor rights for Tandy Leathercraft and The Leather Factory in the USA. We called our business The Identity Store, supplying leather and materials to all people who followed a passion, who were creating their own identities through personalisation or from covering different periods throughout the ages of history, people making a name for themselves through their own leather work and personal interests.

We thought we knew a lot about leather, however over all the years since, when we have attended show after show, from western and Native American, to game fairs and country shows, to re-enactment and multi period shows, to bush craft and falconry, and in meeting so many knowledgeable people, we have learnt so much more, not only about leather, all its subtle ways and intricacies, all its uses from prehistoric times up to present day, but also the craft of leather work and what is needed for anyone to make from this wonderfully robust natural material.

We have met the most individual, interesting, artistic and engaging people along the way, many who have become friends as well as customers. We work alongside a truly talented and creative team brimming with enthusiasm, knowledge and care. We are proud to be associated with the UK leather industry with whom we have close ties and to all our suppliers.

Now, in 2017, we are entering another phase, a slight re-branding to Identity Leather Craft, and renewed energy to supply all the best materials to you.

To my husband Peter, it’s been a blast! I feel proud and privileged to have been on this journey so far with you.

 

Sarah Benson

Sarah Benson

Working at The Identity Store has given me a chance to learn so much, not just about leather, but also the way people express themselves through their craft and imagination. Every day is different and brings new discoveries about what a truly amazing textile leather is.

After completing a degree in Business Studies, she went on to work with international student support in London, and then for a textile company combining her love of design and fabrics with her business degree. Sarah joined the team in 2011 after working with design company Sibona Decorative Textiles for 16 years. She has also had her own small craft business running textile workshops, and has worked on visual display for a children’s charity shop in Buxton in her spare time.

During her time at The Identity Store she has taken on a role as a tutor on the workshops teaching bag making, mask- making and book journal workshops. With her background in textiles, pattern making and visual merchandising, combined with a love of design and colour, she has worked on a variety of leather projects including rawhide sculpture. She is able to use these skills to create new templates and kits in addition to her main role responsibility for sales and marketing at The Identity Store.

 

Kate Willison

Kate Willison

For me, the most rewarding part of working at The Identity Store is assisting leathercrafters of all abilities with creating in the medium that they are so passionate about. As we send out our brown packages filled with leather and all kinds of leathercraft tools from our stock room in the beautiful Derbyshire Dales, it is a lovely thought that we are helping our customers take the next step in reaching their creative potential.

Kate is a crafter and artist living in the beautiful Derbyshire Dales. After graduating from Nottingham Trent University with a degree in Psychology and working in Human Resources, Kate joined the team at The Identity Store in 2011. With experience in a wide variety of mixed-media art and jewellery making, Kate has taught craft courses to both children and adults. Having gained qualifications from the Open College of Art, Kate is currently focussing on watercolour painting around her delightfully busy and varied part time role at The Identity Store

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David Turner

David Turner

I have had an interest in leather since I was a small lad making my first leather holster, and since then have increased my skills through the various people I have met. I have spent a lifetime making leather goods with this wonderful material. I really enjoy teaching the classes and passing on some of my knowledge and seeing people develop their own leathercraft skills.

David has had an interest in leather from a very young age, adapting a toy leather holster at the age of eight. With an artistic and practical nature he started out learning from books and from leather craftsmen where ever he could. He soon developed his skills and techniques to become a professional leather goods maker of bespoke work. He began to run classes in the 1970’s and 1980’s at both Lymington Community Centre and Guys Marsh Borstal in Shaftesbury, Dorset. A chance meeting in 2011 with Peter and Jackie at a show led to him running workshops for The Identity Store. He is a true leatherdog, and a patient and committed teacher.