J.W. Hulme Co. | Leather Bags & Luggage

Meet Tastemaker Anna Hillegass of The Foundry Home Goods

AnnaHillegass2 (1)Anna Hillegass opened up her store, The Foundry Home Goods, in Minneapolis’s hot North Loop neighborhood to immediate success, building on her interior design background and love of all things that marry the useful with the beautiful. Here, she talks with us about how style and livability aren’t mutually exclusive—and how important human connection is to good design.

Describe your shop/style.
Unfussy and approachable. I am drawn to white and clean lines, but never in a way that wouldn’t feel inviting. I have white sofas and white everything, but I never notice people feeling afraid to snuggle up and get cozy in my spaces. Everything is durable, washable, and livable, but still grown up and classic. The shop and my style are completely entwined. I live above my shop, so it felt completely natural to curate it as an extension of my home. I wanted to find a niche that was immune to trends and felt approachable and attainable to all types of people. It’s not retail—it’s a place for honest, humble human connection.

How do you decide what makes the cut to be sold in your impeccable shop?
After attending one trade show, I made an unconscious decision to just let the universe guide me to cool people making great things. I started with my network of artistic family and friends, and asking lots of questions. Staying curious and open to leads about a new source. We get a lot of great connections from clients! We joke that the shop is the new “slow shopping” movement, because we are always carefully wrapping each little object and chatting away with our customers.

You carry many handmade goods in your shop. What is important to you about buying handmade, whether local or from a co-op in Africa?
I’m really tough on things. It’s the farm girl in me. I’ve found that the simple, handcrafted objects are the ones that stand up to years of use and are also a pleasure to live with day in and day out. And if the object happens to break one day….say the kid knocks your teacup off the counter or your puppy chews up your basket, you can find comfort in the fact that these objects made from natural materials will one day break down after you throw it away. I love the cycle of handmade, natural items coming from the earth and heading back there someday after a lifetime of being used and loved by someone…connecting people to people and natural materials back to nature.

What do you love most about helping people decorate their homes?
Helping people find their “spirit fit” as my friend/stylist Karyn Starr always says. Finding ways that help people find the joy in their homes and helping them feel connected and totally in sync with the place. It’s more about distilling the best parts of them rather than just infusing what I think looks nice.

Besides buying and selling locally made goods, how do you find ways to connect to your local community?
I was inspired last year after the Terracotta Warriors came to the Minneapolis Institute of Arts. To promote this exhibit, they handed out wooden warriors that people hid all over the city, snapping photos of the tiny warriors in funny places. I would find them all over. A lot of them ended up arriving at the shop. I started putting daffodils in the shop just for fun at the beginning, because the spring felt like it would never come, but then I started to give the little guys away in these tiny terracotta pots that my mom gave me. After a few days of giving them away and seeing how happy they were making people, I ordered tons of them, and came up with the hashtag #daffodilbomb so we could track where they ended up. We are now making it a March tradition! It’s fun to give things away in a retail shop. People don’t expect it, and it really lifts the spirits in the neighborhood with our clients.

Tell us about your favorite J.W. Hulme product picks.
I’m always the one in the grocery line packing two bags worth of groceries in her purse when I forget my canvas shopping totes. I shudder at excessive packaging, and I would rather stuff my pockets and purse with my purchases rather than take a disposable bag. So the J.W. Hulme picks on the top of my list are the Morgan Satchel in the Heritage Saddle leather, the Classic Large Legacy Handbag in Brown, the Black Legacy Tote and for lighter days, the Medium Legacy handbag in the new cream or coral. I like to have my hands free for hugging friends and holding a drink!

Meet Tastemakers Jackson Schwartz and Joe Limpert of Hennepin Made

hennepin-madeWhat began as Joe Limpert’s apprenticeship with Jackson Schwartz became Hennepin Made, an artisan glass studio based in Minneapolis. They sell their pieces outright, and create collections for other retailers and designers, including Room & Board. Here, their thoughts on their craft and the growing momentum behind the maker movement.

Why glass? What is so compelling about the medium to you both?
We both have worked with many different materials, but glass is dynamic both in the process and end product. Blowing glass requires an immediacy and attention to the process because once a piece is started, you can’t stop the process until it is finished. We work as a team and there is a certain flow when making the pieces that is similar to a song or dance, everything gets in a rhythm. The material itself is so compelling for us due to its ability to activate light. You can make objects that have depth and richness while still feeling delicate.

Why is having handmade objects in your home so important? What does handmade mean to you?
Handmade objects have stories. When people come to our studio, they love to share the experience of seeing the piece of glass made which they now live with in their home. Handmade means adding uniqueness due to the slight variations that are nearly impossible to replicate each time. Handmade reflects the values of craft, quality, and an integrity to make something last a long time.

What is important to you about supporting small business or American-made brands?
American-made brands can often create a nexus of identity for communities or cities. Not only do they provide jobs, they become an expression of the culture of where they are located. There are many of examples of this right here in Minnesota: Faribault Woolen Mills, Loll Designs, Red Wing Shoes…J.W. Hulme!

Tell us a bit about how being a part of the maker movement inspires you.
We are definitely inspired by the many established as well as emerging home and lifestyle brands in Minnesota. We are equally excited about the diversity of businesses and products that have started up in in Northeast Minneapolis. Within a few blocks of our studio there is a chocolate factory, custom bike builder, coffee roasters, brewery, letterpress printer, set builder, distillery, a violin maker and many others. This builds creative energy that helps fuel us.

What else inspires you?
We both love being outdoors. Whether it’s a cabin in northern Minnesota, or in the mountains in Colorado. Biking, camping, kayaking, fishing—they all sound pretty good right now. What we do each day is very detail oriented work, so being away from studio in a vast space refreshes us.

How would you describe your style?
We strive to create objects that are timeless. We love the idea that one of our pieces could be passed from one generation to the next and still be relevant aesthetically.

Hennepin Made’s J.W. Hulme Product Picks
1. Document Briefcase in American Heritage Leather: So we can arrive in style for business meetings.
2. Continental Backpack: Perfect for the trip to the mountains or lake.
3. Weekend Satchel Carry On Bag: Great size for the weekend winter getaway to some warmer weather.
4. Money Clip Card Wallet: We use one!



Meet Tastemaker Haley Bonar

haleyHaley Bonar, who was discovered by Alan Sparhawk of Duluth–based band Low at an open-mic night years ago, has ascended to Minneapolis singer-songwriter royalty. She is at work on her fifth full-length album, Last War, which is due out this spring. Here are a few of her thoughts on style and the maker movement.

What is your style philosophy?
Looking back on my clothing decisions over the past twenty-some years, it seems that my philosophy is denim, stripes, floral patterns, black and navy blue together, and wild sock patterns. And SHOES.

Do you plan what you’ll wear onstage?
Most of the time I plan, but I usually find outfits at random on sale or at thrift shops and wear them the next time I can. That rhymes.

What inspires you?
Other people doing their thing, whether it’s owning a business, writing, dancing, directing, designing. People with passion.

How do you know when you’ve created something worth sharing?
When I like it from start to finish and want to listen to it more than ten times.

Tell us about the creative community in the Twin Cities and how you work inside of it.
I would like to work with other mediums in the creative community here more, as there are so many that are strong and self-sufficient. I am grateful to be a part of the music community here because it is inspiring and the people are real and lovely. The more musicians I encounter and work with or befriend, the more I am working inside of the community, watching and learning. I am always working toward pushing my own limits, musically, and toward being a good colleague, co-worker, and boss.

What is important to you about buying local and supporting American Made?
Supporting the local economy is very important, as well as buying clothes that are not made overseas in poor conditions. I do what I can.


Meet Tastemaker Steve Kang

STEVESteve Kang is the owner of the Twin Cities’ trend setting menswear store, BlackBlue, which has carried J.W. Hulme leather goods since the store opened in 2009.

Tell us about BlackBlue’s beginnings.
I opened BlackBlue in September of 2009, so just over four years now. The tipping point was when I started looking for a design studio space to start designing clothing. The idea was to find a space to design clothing and have a place to sell it.

How do you describe—and hope others describe—BlackBlue?
Honest. Approachable. Constantly evolving and changing. Layered. Edited. A place where pretty much anyone can shop and appreciate what’s in it.

Tell us your shop philosophy.
The philosophy has always been to share a personal lifestyle/style that is authentic and doesn’t focus on trends. Also, to offer products that are high in quality, timeless in design, and will last a very long time.

How do you decide what makes the cut for the shop?
It has to fit the mission and my aesthetic. I have to be very selective.

Why do you love J.W. Hulme and why do you carry it in BlackBlue? 

The product speaks for itself. Like most things sold at BlackBlue, J.W. Hulme’s leather goods and products only improve with age. Their product is designed to be used and you get what you pay for. I like that. Also, it is super sexy, practical, bomb proof, guaranteed for life, made right here in Saint Paul, and their staff is really nice. Great things are happening there.

Why do you support American-made products? 

The main thing that gets me going about American made products is the quality of products that are manufactured here. This is due to way higher quality control/standards and higher wages to the workers who are crafting these products. Designers here are also able to more easily manage the quality of their products due to proximity. The idea of reducing a tremendous amount of waste by producing and selling in the States is also a big thing for me.

What do you do when you’re not manning BlackBlue?
Most of my time goes into the store, but when I have time, I like to be outside and in nature. I love canoe camping and fishing. I would probably do that two months out of the year if I could.

What is your personal style philosophy?
To dress so I don’t have to “go home and change.”


American Made Giveaway


Jeanne Foels

My resolution is to pack even lighter and stretch myself to simplify. I’m planning on heading to Napa, New Orleans, and Madison in 2014 to see friends, and I want to be able to travel lightly!

Thank you all for participating. Check back next month for another American Made Giveaway!

This Year’s Resolution: Travel More

This year, instead of cutting something out with a resolution, add something in: travel more. Cross the dream trip off your list. Go off the grid for a week. Add stamps to your passport. Take a Thai cooking class—in Thailand. Or discover something new right outside your door.

Share Your 2014 Travel Resolution. Win a Bag!

Where will you go in 2014? What will you see? Tell us your travel resolutions for 2014 and we’ll help one of you get there stylishly.

Share it with us in the comments, along with your e-mail address (that will not be made public here) and enter for a chance to win one of our favorite travel tagalongs: The Correspondent bag. It’s small enough to bring on board, but large enough to carry your tablet and tourist tools.



The Prize:
The Correspondent Bag
Retail Value: $590

A winner will be announced on 1/19 via Facebook and here on the blog.

Entry Details and Rules:

  • No purchase necessary to enter / win. Void where prohibited by law.
  • Only one entry per person.
  • In the comment field below this post, please share your 2014 travel resolution.
  • MAKE SURE you leave your correct email address in the email address field ONLY. Your email will not be published on the site but we will be able to contact you if you win.
  • Entering your email on this post gives us permission to add you to our e-mail mailing list.
  • You must live in the U.S. and you must be 21 or older.
  • Enter before midnight on Saturday, January 17, 2014.
  • Winner will be selected at random and notified by email no later than January 19, 2014.

We Are Makers

We have been makers since John Willis Hulme founded J.W. Hulme Co. in St. Paul, Minnesota in 1905. Our commitment to American Made products has never been stronger, from the use of heritage leather tanneries to the artisans who cut and hand sew our travel bags, handbags, business bags and accessories.

A new generation of makers is emerging in our hometown and across the country. Beginning with the January catalog, we are proud to feature portraits of other makers and merchants in the Twin Cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul – people who share our passion for authentic, well-made goods.

Our first series features BlackBlue merchant Steve Kang; songstress Haley Bonar; Hennepin Made, a duo creating handmade modern glass lighting; The Foundry Home Goods owner Anna Hillegass and Minneapolis-based fashion designer Danielle Everine.

Steve Kang is the owner of BlackBlue, the Twin Cities’ go-to menswear store for all things “new heritage”. BlackBlue offers a highly curated collection of men’s apparel, footwear and accessories that reflects Steve’s personal style. BlackBlue, 614 Selby Ave., St. Paul, Minnesota 55102.  Tele. 651.260.5340. www.blkblu.com.

Singer songwriter Haley Bonar is a prolific Minneapolis-based musician with deep Midwestern roots. Her shows in the Twin Cities’ clubs and theaters are legendary. Haley’s much anticipated new album, Last War, is due out this spring. www.haleybonar.com.

Joe Limpert and Jackson Schwartz are the owners and makers at Hennepin Made, the Twin Cities’ preeminent contemporary glass studio crafting light fixtures and hand blown glass objects carried by design stores nationwide. They believe that handmade products have an essential place in our daily lives. Hennepin Made, 1621 E. Hennepin Ave, Suite B35, Minneapolis, Minnesota 55414. Tele. 715.220.9524.  www.hennepinmade.com.

The Foundry Home Goods owner Anna Hillegass was raised in the north woods of Minnesota and moved to New York where she worked as an interior designer. She came back to establish The Foundry Home Goods, a kitchen and home goods store in a reclaimed 1800’s storefront in Minneapolis’ warehouse district. Anna’s commitment to artisan products, good design and local makers is an inspiration. The Foundry Home Goods,  125 N. 1ST Street, Minneapolis, Minnesota 55401. Tele. 612.333.8484. www.thefoundryhomegoods.com.

Danielle Everine is a Minneapolis-based fashion designer who’s extensive travels inspire the unique prints featured in her ready-to-wear collection. Danielle gained national exposure as a contestant on Project Runway.  www.danielleeverine.com.


The Big Gift

’Tis the season for holiday spoiling. All J.W. Hulme leather products make great gifts, with leather that is tanned especially for us, which we then hand-buff and antique to a perfect finish. They’re all made here in our U.S. factory, and guaranteed for life. Certainly someone on your list deserves something extra special —you really want to wow.

Updated: Shop all of our newest holiday arrivals for 2015.  They’re finer than you could ever imagine.

For the Executive
Document Briefcase
The Document Briefcase takes care of business: it accommodates a laptop, books, files, accessories, and more. It also ups the style factor in any dress code: classic but stylish; statement-making, but not ostentatious. It might even score him a promotion.

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For the Jetsetter

Rolling Pullman
Consider this the perfect suitcase: It’s luggage you don’t have to lug. The style is peerless. But so is the functionality: a full telescoping handle, mesh compartments, zippered and accordioned pockets, removable trolley strap to tote more items—and yet, it is sized for carry-on travel. The whole package. Destination: Everywhere.

Screenshot 2013-11-06 21.48.46

For the Style Maven

Mini Excursion Tote Bag
This tote is perfect for the on-the-go woman who does it all with style. She’ll appreciate the pockets and organizational features to keep it all straight; the classic style will go with anything in her closet. Make it truly hers with a monogram. Guaranteed organized and stylish—for life.

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J.W. Hulme + Woolrich = The Perfect Match

woolrichx_blog3We’re excited to announce our limited-edition collaboration with another legendary American-made brand: Woolrich.

Known for its rugged, dependable woolen outdoor gear—plus the high standards of quality that come from 180 years of American manufacturing experience—makes them the perfect partner for J.W. Hulme. Between us, there are 288 years of rich design and construction experience!

Together, we created two instant classics: a carryall tote and a holiday stocking. They’ve captured the hardworking, artisanal spirit of both J.W. Hulme and Woolrich.

Our durable, 12-ounce olive canvas creates the foundation. That’s topped with an exclusive, direct-from-Woolrich moss green and mahogany plaid. Naturally, that paired perfectly with our oxblood Heritage leather trim. The tote is strong enough to carry it all, and stylish enough to go from day to night to weekend. The stocking is one that will definitely be hung by the chimney with care!

Shop the limited-edition collaboration now.

Five Easy Pieces: Taking the French Five Stateside

The French have always gotten credit for their je ne sais quoi—that mysterious, minimalist style that delivers maximum impact. According to the latest theories, French women prioritize quality over quantity, and allow themselves just five new pieces each season. These pieces, when added to wardrobe staples—a boatneck striped T-shirt here, black cigarette pants there—are meant to build a timeless, wearable, durable collection which becomes each woman’s seemingly effortless mode of self-expression.

Americans have our own “certain something,” too. For every Marion Cotillard, we’ve got Gwyneth Paltrow . Levi Strauss developed blue jeans for Gold Rush prospectors. Casual, mixable separates have been our fashion strong suit, so to speak, for decades.

Fat volumes of Vogue and Elle plus the proliferation of fast-fashion shops have led us on gigantic shopping sprees that feel like a big bowl of ice cream: sweet and fun, but a little lacking in substance. Well, it’s time to gear up for style and substance for our collective closets, as we present the American Five.

Stylish up-and-comers such as Imogene & Willie or Raleigh denim have joined stalwarts such as Pendleton and J.W. Hulme to bring back honest, fair, humane design and production back to the States. Lassoing in hardworking American craftsmanship, these companies have modernized traditional American style. The New American sportswear style is all about timeless, effortless, well-designed pieces that can travel anywhere and stand up against any other look…oui, even those in Paris.

Below are our picks for this fall’s American Five for both women and men…Why should the French have all the fun?

Share your your American Five wishlist in the comments!

The American Five for Women

The American Five for Men



Limited-Edition Mia Totes! New Colors are Here.

We are excited to continue to offer you our Mia (Made in America) tote. This limited-edition carry-all comes in several new colors and is great for the beach or just hauling your stuff around town. To date, we’ve made this new handbag in navy, white, orange, teal and gray using playful complimentary colors for the handles. These new totes are so unique that once they sell out, you won’t see them in our assortment again. Priced at $195 these bags are are a great value with the same amazing quality you’ve grown to love.

The Mia also includes our signature key leash, an interior pocket and solid brass hardware. Throw it over your shoulder or grab it by the handles, the Mia can accomodate your favorite summer books, magazines and toiletries for a last-minute weekend getaway. Made in America, guaranteed for life.
35790-6 Mia Tote in Blue and Gray


MIA Tote in Gray and Yellow

Mia Tote in Gray and Yellow