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Life and Work with Kristen Harris

Today we’d like to introduce you to Kristen Harris.

Kristen, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
It wasn’t until the fall of 2018 when I realized how fast my girls (Lauren 8, Brooke 5) were going through their leggings. They obviously were not durable enough for their life on the playground. So we headed out and purchased some new denim jeans, only to find out after one day of wearing them to school, my (then) 7 year old didn’t like them! She explained to me it was because when she sat down, the waistband would pull down in the back which made her feel self-conscious.

I have worked as a licensed Esthetician since 2001 providing services such as brow shaping, lash extensions, makeup, and eyebrow microblading. Microblading is a procedure similar to a tattoo but it’s done with a very thin blade to “carve” into the skin along with pigment to create the appearance of little hairs. It’s very detailed, artistic work, which I have always been drawn to. I started Microblading in the spring of 2016, and would have never imagined just how helpful that skill would become just a few years later.

I grew up in a cowboy town and was exposed to that culture early on. Not only do I have fond memories of feeding & riding horses, but my cousin Dave is a very talented and longtime leather craftsman. Taking that exposure and combining it with my Microblading techniques, I was fairly confident I could make Lauren a custom belt myself. I carved a unicorn, hearts, stars, flowers, basically all that is girly, onto this belt. She (thankfully) loved it and getting her to wear jeans was a lot easier from that moment on. One post of the belt led to 12 belt orders in 3 days. So, here I am, and loving every minute of it.

As for the name Kooper Leather, I wanted to honor one of the great loves of my life, our family dog Cooper who we lost earlier that same year. I just switched the C to a K, for my name, Kristen.

Has it been a smooth road?
I am pretty sure we all have bumps in the road and it’s probably best to expect them. Hopefully we can see it as an opportunity to grow and learn to navigate through them gracefully. It’s amazing how things can quickly turn from a negative to a positive when we show patience, kindness, and understanding. Not always the “easiest”, but very effective.

Probably my biggest obstacle has been finding my niche. Even though not everything I make is tooled or western style, it’s certainly my favorite, and to me, a classic. But what appeals to me is not necessarily going to appeal to others. I can spend 6+ hours on just tooling one belt, only to find that the simple, un-tooled, un-stained, un-refined plant hanger that took me 5 minutes to assemble using scraps, is what gets the most attention. And that’s great too! I’ve learned a lot through the process and am grateful for everyone who has been a part of it, big or small.

So, as you know, we’re impressed with Kooper Leather – tell our readers more, for example what you’re most proud of as a company and what sets you apart from others.
I am most proud to say my work is 100% hand crafted, from start to finish. Sure, it’s a whole lot easier to go online and order pre-cut belt straps in bulk, but to know I didn’t’ cut any corners is my own little personal “win”. In a world where everything is at the click of a button, I like that I have chosen to stick with an old school method that doesn’t conform to the “quick and easy” ways of today. That’s not to say I’m the only one who uses this traditional method, but perhaps it’s harder to find nowadays.

Although I enjoy making various leather goods, my specialty & favorite is custom belt orders, especially for kiddos. They get so creative and it’s such a fun way for them to express themselves and their interests. Not to mention the confidence and pride it gives them in knowing they “designed” it themselves. Being able to re-create the excitement that my own kids felt when they received their own belts, is something I will never get tired of.

Whether it’s a drawing your kid made, your favorite sports team, or your name, it can be done! Similar to a tattoo, but without the commitment. Getting to be part of a process where each person can create something truly one of a kind, is really fun and rewarding.

Often it feels as if the media, by and large, is only focused on the obstacles faced by women, but we feel it’s important to also look for the opportunities. In your view, are there opportunities that you see that women are particularly well positioned for?
I am definitely an optimist so where one person may see an obstacle, I see opportunity. However, if an opportunity came up for a yoga instructor position, you can be sure to count me out….I’m too hyper! ☺️If we are in tune to our strengths and weaknesses, it’s more likely to recognize the right opportunity when it presents itself.

Contact Info:

  • Phone: 949-648-8416
  • Email:
  • Instagram: @kooperleather

Image Credit:
Riley Kern Studio; 1048 Irvine Ave. #486 Newport Beach, CA 92660, 949-310-0271

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