Meet the Leonards at Ithaca Sheepskin
It’s no secret, Ithaca experiences a fair share of chilly weather. The community’s seasonally frigid climate is one of many reasons why Ithaca native Mark Leonard and his wife Jessica, a former Syracuse resident and Cornell University alum, think this community is the best spot to showcase their extremely impressive handcrafting skills.
You see, the pair design and hand produce the perfect cold weather garments and decor: warm and cozy coats, hats, and other outerwear accessories along with indoor rugs that are made using genuine sheepskin.
“Our fine furs are sourced from all over the world. Many customers seek out sheepskin products for the style, comfort, durability, and warmth,” says Jessica.
You can find the Leonard’s extensive collection of high-quality sheepskin products including hats, vest, slippers, boas, and more in the couple’s shop, Ithaca Sheepskin, located on The Commons pedestrian mall in downtown Ithaca. In fact, nearly all the items are made at the shop in a workshop in the rear of the store.
“We use a collection of rugged old industrial sewing machines, a 21-ton press, and our furrier’s blades to craft beautiful, and often one-of-a-kind garments. Since we’re working on site, this allows shoppers the opportunity to speak directly to us about our products and learn how they are made. It’s a totally unique business model, and the customers love it,” says Jessica.
In addition to offering the ideal climate to sell their products, the Leonard’s also enjoy downtown’s diverse business atmosphere.
“We enjoy the camaraderie of the other downtown shop owners. We also love that when we want a break from work, there is delicious food, coffee, and desserts within a block of our front door,” says Jessica.
When the Leonards aren’t busy creating products for their business or exploring downtown’s many other shops and dining spots, Jessica can be found sewing, crocheting, or crafting for fun. Sometimes, you may catch her working on one of her personal projects inside of the store if she thinks it has potential as a new addition to the shop’s line of products.
And, get this, Mark creates boomerangs. Jessica says they may sell the boomerangs in the store someday. Also, Mark invented a board game called Evagari, and the couple has some very tentative ideas to introduce the game by organizing a game night in their store (or outside of their shop) during the summer.
You can learn more about Mark and Jessica Leonard and Ithaca Sheepskin by visiting the shop at 134 E. State St. (The Commons) or checking out Ithaca Sheepskin’s’ website, www.IthacaSheepskin.com.