Sometimes you can tell just by looking at someone’s work, at their brand, that they are a unique and talented soul. Such is certainly the case with the woman behind Heyoka Leather, Leslie Crow. When she invited me out to her farm I knew I was in for something special, but what I found just twenty minutes outside of downtown Austin was something straight out of a dream – the type of place you imagine exists but can’t fathom in reality. A place on the outskirts of society, on a plot of land where colorful houses look more like works of art. Some have even been transplanted from East Austin, in an effort to save them from being torn down. At the end of a dead end dirt road sits Leslie’s cabin, a warm enclave, every nook and cranny of which seems to foster endless creation – from the scraps of leather and turquoise stones littered across any empty table or desk space to the colorful paintings, also Leslie’s work, that adorn the walls.
Take a tour of Leslie’s home and read on to learn more about her below!
When are you happiest? Describe it in terms of the senses: what are you hearing, seeing, smelling, tasting, touching?
Hearing thunder rolling in the distance.
Seeing the sky on fire at sunset or a million stars dancing in the night.
Smelling campfire and coffee, horses and leather.
Tasting venison or chocolate.
Touching the Earth with bare feet… red clay, well worn rocks in the bottom of a cold creek, or dusty desert sand.
List the animals on the farm and their names:
Hank the horse, Tony the pig, the donkeys – Don Juan, Lucy, and Lolita, Dewey the goose, 13 chickens, Billy Jack the rooster. Rene’s dog Benny and cats- Pawnee, Twister, Espiritu, Nikki, Obi, Sylvester, and Muir plus a few wild ones that come around and two guineas that wandered up from the woods recently
If you could travel back in time or into the future, what year would you visit and why?
I would love to travel back in time to the 1600’s and visit North America before the Europeans arrived to see what this country looked like then and how people lived.
What are your top 3 most listened to albums?
Hmm it always changes but lately I’d say… Waylon Jennings Are You Ready For The Country, Hank Williams III Straight to Hell, and ZZTop Tres Hombres.
Man Myth and Magic, An Illustrated Encyclopedia of the Supernatural. Such an inspiring series of reference books for art and the imagination
What do you love most about living in Austin?
Riding horses and motorcycles year round:) especially spontaneous summer motorcycle rides through the Hill Country to some of the many hidden swimming holes
List a few places you would recommend to someone new to the city (like me) or visiting:
In Austin I’d recommend the Yellow Jacket Social Club for drinking, Feathers Vintage Boutique for shopping and Eastside Pies for the best pizza in town. Enchanted Rock is one of my favorite places to go for a daytrip or camping along one of the many beautiful rivers and just exploring the countryside. Lukenbach TX is a gem, and if you have the time, a road trip out to West Texas is a must to visit Marfa and soak in the Chinati Hot Springs after an adventurous drive down Pinto Canyon Rd.
What do you find most challenging and most rewarding about your line of work?
I love seeing the process of craftsmanship unfold step by step, from a natural hide into a finished, one of a kind heirloom. I also love being my own boss…. however, being your own boss can be challenging. It requires a lot of discipline, patience, and determination as well as long work days and a lot of faith.
Do you have a favorite piece that you’ve designed?
My favorite piece ever designed is probably either the Sequoia Bag, the Railrider, or the Saddle Tramp…. or the silver concho bag… or the Biker Mama…. I always design the bags for myself to wear so I guess that’s why I love them the most.
What are you currently working on, what’s next for Heyoka Leather?
Right now were working on our first ever handcrafted deerskin Leather Fringe Jacket and a pair of custom leather pants as well as a collection of one of a kind hand-tooled leather guitar straps and equestrian inspired accessories… all coming soon!
Describe your style in three words: Tomboy, vintage, turquoise
Knowing what you know now, what advice would you give to the younger you, when you were just getting started with Heyoka?
Stay focused, follow your own path and always run at least one step ahead of the pack. Don’t look back and don’t be intimidated by lack of money or education. Believe in yourself. Keep detailed sketchbooks and document all your original designs and ideas for posterity. The original ideas are worth more than you realize. Whatever you do don’t ever stop dreaming and the sky’s the limit.
One thing most people don’t know about you: I speak fluent spanish;)