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Kenton Sorenson & Daughter Erika Sorenson - Cambridge

Menswear & Goods, Design

Kenton Sorenson & Daughter Erika Sorenson - Cambridge

Raised in northern Minnesota and today based in Cottage Grove, Wisconsin, this classically trained barber-turned-leather artisan is a thinker.

Early in our conversation at his workshop on a cold fall morning, he was waxing poetic about haircutting when he said, “I create lines and shapes that express a contemporary universal desire.”

The same could be said of his leather craft.

On his website it’s written, “necessity is so often the mother of invention.” Kenton’s appreciation for vegetable-tanned leather – leather that is tanned using tannin and other ingredients found in vegetable matter, such as tree bark – began 36 years ago when he created a case for his hair shears. And since then, as his hobby has overtaken his profession to become his full-time career, all of Kenton’s painstakingly well-thought-out designs are measured against the same durable, functional and unadulterated aesthetic of that original piece.

This isn’t to say there’s no room for fun and games. In fact, quite literally the opposite. Kenton tells me he uses a game token from the local arcade to get that perfect shape for the corners of his products like his iPad® case.

“Oh, sure. It’s the perfect shape!”

After time traveling in Europe and going to art school in Germany, Kenton’s daughter, Erika, has begun producing a line of products for women, and she hopes to be up and running by 2013 with a full line of belts, purses, and other utilitarian items. She showed me a gladiator sandal she made a couple years ago, which she hopes to mass-produce. I couldn’t resist buying one of her clutches for my girlfriend.

Kenton Sorenson & Daughter Erika Sorenson


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A Chicago-based storyteller, keeper of a whiskey blog and shop-owner who's known for his appreciation of America.