Farmers in Wales are turning their hands to alternative means to do business, and for seventh generation farmer, Hayley Hanson, that extends to transforming hides and leather from her own cattle into luxury leather goods.
Hayley Hanson runs her luxury accessories business alongside a beef farming enterprise with husband Michael in the Brecon Beacons.
In the run up to their wedding in 2011, the farming couple were looking at ways to serve their own beef at their wedding breakfast. They kept the skin of the cow they used, intending to use it for props for their wedding. However, Hayley Hanson struggled to find anywhere in the UK that could tan the hide of one of her pedigree cattle.
The cow hide in question had to be sent away to Italy, before it was made into a footstool, a handbag and a belt. The experience made Hayley Hanson realise there was a gap in the market for a company selling hides from British cattle, and the idea for her business was born.
Seven years on and Hayley Hanson’s range of luxury leather goods includes hide rugs and stools, bags, aprons, furniture and cufflinks.
The farmer and mother of three, who also designs the Hayley Hanson range, makes sure that every part of the cow is used and that there is no waste. Every piece of leather is used, with offcuts bagged up and sold to crafters, while the tiny hairs from the cow hides are given to a fly-fishing charity to use in tying flies.
While the two arms of the Hanson’s farming business operates separately, they do run in tandem. In an interview with Wales Online, Hayley Hanson said: “If the hides are selling well, then it takes the pressure off the beef side.”
As a luxury fashion business, Hayley Hanson’s mission is to encourage the world to think where it’s leather comes from, how it got into their hands, and where it will end up; to only ever use leather as a by-product of beef production or fallen stock; and to remain a sustainable source of real leather.
Hayley Hanson’s collection is available to buy online from the Hayley Hanson website
Rosa Medea is Life & Soul Magazine’s Chief @rosamedea