Here for the Hustle

A Spokane leather bagmaker has gained a national following

click to enlarge Here for 
the Hustle
Young Kwak
Teddi Cripps shows off her Hustle & Hide Medina satchel and wrap bracelet.

In the backyard shop at Teddi and Tyler Cripps' southeast Spokane home, the rich, earthy scent of leather permeates the air.

In the middle of the utilitarian space, a large swatch of buttery soft cognac leather is spread across a table. Winter is coming, and the holidays with it. On this October morning, Hustle & Hide's three-person team is trying to get ahead.

"We can't keep up on inventory right now," Teddi Cripps says, adding that most of their products are made to order, which means that catching up during busy seasons can be hard.

Using a box knife and a long metal ruler, her husband Tyler slices off long strips of the pliable leather that will become bag straps. Across from him, the venture's newest and only employee, Kaarin Howard, is attaching shiny brass clips to pieces of chocolate-brown leather. Three industrial sewing machines sit along the back wall, ready to stitch up Hustle & Hide's minimalist leather bags, wallets, totes, clutches, backpacks and other styles.

The trio is expecting the next few months to be the young company's best ever in its barely two years of existence. Hustle & Hide was, like many creative endeavors, started somewhat by accident. After moving back to Spokane for graduate school at Gonzaga University, Teddi had some free time and decided to try hand-stitching a leather clutch.

"I posted it on Instagram and got really good feedback, so I started an Etsy shop in the interim. It took off, and I fell in love with leather goods and handcrafted goods," she explains. "We became very passionate about the whole craft behind it."

The petite Spokanite (her husband is from Southern California) has now designed about 30 different bag styles currently offered in Hustle & Hide's online store and on Etsy. One of the most popular is a clutch-sized pouch called the "festival pack" ($90 to $140) that can be clipped around the wearer's waist like a fanny pack, either with a strap or directly to belt loops. The long strap lets the wearer also carry the pouch over the shoulder, or across the body.

"Our core is to make functional and minimalist design. There are no linings in the bags, it's just pure leather, polyester thread and solid brass hardware. None of the bags have more than 10 components," Teddi explains. "We don't believe you need a lot of extra bells and whistles for a bag to be functional and durable, so that gives us a lot of inspiration to make things that last."

Basing their operations in Spokane has been a major asset for Hustle & Hide, which sells most of its bags to customers outside of the Inland Northwest, with the majority of products heading to California and New York, Teddi says.

"The cost of living here is very inexpensive, and we're able to have a shop like this," she says. "You don't have to physically be in the place you're trying to connect with people."

Hustle & Hide has sold its bags locally at the nonprofit Terrain's summer arts market Bazaar. The company was also just accepted into the Creative Enterprise business program offered by local arts nonprofit Window Dressing, which Teddi hopes will culminate in Hustle & Hide organizing pop-up retail shops around Spokane.

"We think that good things come with hard work, and the name Hustle & Hide is a representation of what we do — we're working hard and hustling to make awesome goods for people who are going to enjoy them," she says. ♦

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About The Author

Chey Scott

Chey Scott is the Inlander's Associate Editor, overseeing and contributing to the paper's arts and culture sections, including food and events. Chey (pronounced "Shay") is a lifelong resident of the Spokane area and a graduate of Washington State University. She's been on staff at the Inlander since 2012...