DETROIT (BRAIN) — Bike, watch and leather goods brand Shinola has opened a leather factory in Detroit and is now making watch straps.
The factory will expand to make small leather goods and eventually handbags, the company said.
The company said currently nearly 90 percent of U.S. leather goods are imported.
"We are proud to continue our growth in Detroit and the opening of our leather factory is a very important step for us," said Steve Bock, Shinola's CEO. "The more we can manufacture at Shinola, and the more we can manufacture in Detroit, the better. Investing in our people, equipment and facilities is essential to our long-term success."
Shinola is developing the factory with Braloba, a Swiss family-owned and run business that has been making leather goods for two generations. Braloba employees are providing leadership and training to Shinola's leather workers.
Shinola also is working with Galli S.P.A., a leading Italian leather goods machine company, to design and produce a line of custom-built machines for Shinola's leather factory.
The nearly 12,000 square foot factory opened with a team of about 50 leather makers led by Paloma Vega-Perez. By year's end the number of employees will rise to about 60.
Shinola currently employs 260 people in total, with 136 people in bicycle, watch, and leather manufacturing.