ROSCOE — Original, unique, creative. These are key terms when it comes to Montana Made products—and Darlington Custom Leather in Roscoe checks all the boxes.
Darlington Custom Leather is owned and operated by husband-and-wife pair TJ and Val Marshall. They take custom orders online and sell premade products out of the Montana Store in Red Lodge.
The Marshalls craft their products and store materials in their Roscoe home, but last June's floods impacted Roscoe heavily. Val explained their sales took a hit—but they are back to crafting now—and are searching to expand beyond their home and space in the Red Lodge storefront.
“We have this beautiful space thanks to the Montana Store here in Red Lodge which is absolutely perfect, so I guess if we had one wish it would be to find a beautiful location maybe in Missoula and Bozeman," Val said on Thursday. "We love it here, we’re going to be here forever and ever, so hopefully we’ll be able to grow a little bit. We never want to become huge, it will always be just my husband and myself, but we’d love to share the Made in Montana brand as best we can."
Val and TJ mostly work with leather, but TJ also works with iron and wood.
“My husband TJ is a really talented artist, not only does he do pyrography which is wood burning, but he also loves forge work. So we have a fully functioning forge. He likes to find really old metal," Val said. “He does this beautiful twisting and he’s able to get purples and blues in the metal."
The product list is extensive: hats, bags, holsters, earrings—if you can dream it, the Marshalls can make it. Val said they have taken some unique requests in the past.
“Everything we do is made by hand by myself and my husband TJ. We started this business, this is our sixth year. We are a completely custom handmade leather company," Val said. "We mostly specialize in bags, holsters, and hats, but we’ve done some pretty crazy projects like dog collars and cow collars."
Production times vary depending on the product, but Val said it typically takes 18-36 hours to complete a project.
And these products aren't your typical mass-produced leather goods.
“This is the best quality leather in the world. We love Italian leather, but we buy leather from all around the world and it is just amazing. It feels great,” Val said. “Most of the time I get samples from companies that we use. And because I am such a tactical person, I feel the leather, and if it drapes well or has a great hand, then I choose it, and it gets stored in my leather lot. I have over 130 rolls right now."
And according to Val, a lot of love goes into these one-of-a-kind products.
“Nothing is duplicated, you get to choose your leather, your hardware, your lining, and it is all yours,” Val said. "When (the products) leave it’s a little bit sad because they’re beautiful and they’ve been sitting with me for a while. It’s definitely an emotional connection, and we do like to keep up with where they are, where they’re going."
As for pricing, the Marshalls aim to make their products affordable.
“One of my personal goals is I want people to be able to have the most beautiful leather, but not have to pay what you would typically pay. So I try to keep my prices really attainable,” Val said. “You can start a custom bag from anywhere as little as $190, and we have some bags that we sell upwards of $2,000, so it just depends on the leather."
Val said that many of their orders are completed online as their customers are not always local.
“Actually 99% of the people that work with us are from all over the world. Most people aren’t local, the whole process is done online. We text back and forth, it’s really fun to sit there and just kind of go wild with your creativity,” Val said. “Once it’s done, I kind of obsess, make sure everything is beautiful and perfect. And then I let the client know that it's ready, send them a picture and make sure everything is good, and off she goes. Mostly I just hope that the owner gets as much joy carrying it as I did making it. And I think there’s a really good chance of that because they picked every component."
A joy-filled experience for all parties involved—and the Marshalls hope to continue to represent the Montana-Made business culture as they grow.
“There are so many talented people in Montana, around the world, but really Montana is all about breathtaking beauty and one-of-a-kind, luxury, and just creativity. Made in Montana is the perfect avenue for artisans and for craftspeople in Montana," Val said. "Thankfully we have that cooperative to pool our resources and to let other people know that we’re here. So we’re grateful to the Made in Montana people, and we hope that more people will begin to see that originality, uniqueness, creativity, and one-of-a-kind is really where it’s at.”
To learn more about Darlington Custom Leather, please click here.
If you have open space in your business and are interested in selling Darlington Custom Leather products, please email the Marshalls at firstname.lastname@example.org.
"Support a local craftsman whose passion and whose love is something they are actually giving to you in a product that you can have forever,” Val said. "It's a labor of love."