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Growing St. Paul Company Producing Luxury Leather Bags

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(credit: CBS) Jason DeRusha
Jason DeRusha filed his first report for WCCO-TV on April Fool's D...
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MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — All week we’re unwrapping some of our favorite gift ideas for the holidays on the WCCO This Morning show.

And Jason DeRusha’s favorite is an all-American story. He carries a bag every day made by the St. Paul company J.W. Hulme. It’s a company that’s growing in hiring.

It is an unusual sound in this country — a room full of sewing machines manufacturing an American product. Laura Smith is vice president at J.W. Hulme in St. Paul. It was founded more than 100 years ago as an awning manufacturer. Now there are nearly 50 people stamping, cutting and sewing luxury leather goods.

“It’s on several films, magazines. It’s an ‘it’ bag. We’re proud to make it here,” said Smith.

The leather is sourced from American tanneries. The design and crafting all happens in a St. Paul building. The makers movement has Hulme in a growth-spurt.

“It’s like the farm to table equivalent for food. People are really thinking about that for the goods they’re buying now. Who’s making it? What’s it made out of?” Smith said.

One of their biggest sellers is a vintage orange MIA tote. It goes for just less than $200. The mini-legacy is $390 based on an outdoor bag for ammo. Everything’s guaranteed for life.

Some of the team recognizes their stitching when the bags come back for repair.

“You’re paying a little bit more, never have to worry about a stitch or a buckle or a zipper because we’ll take care of it,” Smith said.

The rolling Pullman, made out of American heritage leather, is a show-stopper. Design and marketing has changed, but much about J.W. Hulme will always be the same. It’s all about craftsmen and women creating classics in St. Paul.

Jason’s bag is canvas, and the all-leather version of his bag goes for about $600. But they have smaller things too, like leather iPhone cases and wallets. Those things are all under $100.

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