Interview with Docride

I’ve covered in a few earlier posts how I try to take care of my accessories closet – whether it’s bringing some color back to an old handbag or repairing torn leather on a pair of pumps, I try to make items last as long as possible.Today’s interview then, is with a lovely and very talented woman who has helped me time and time again, advising me on how to best take care of my leather goods (she has the patience of a saint too, since I can be extremely annoying). Docride, or Doc, is an amazing woman whose talents range from cowboying to restoring and customizing the most exotic of Hermes handbags – and all from her ranch in Montana! Doc not only possesses an incredible wealth of knowledge about leather goods and their care (which we’ll cover later…along with some amazing bag restoration jobs she’s done) but also has quite the fantastic backstory herself. I know that you will all enjoy meeting her!

Doc at home in Montana

Who are you? What do you do, and where do you live? 

Howdy!  Thank you for the invitation, it is a pleasure to be here. I am known by many as simply “Docride” and I am a luxury leather restorer and customizer. I have been teaching and helping other with their handbag care and restoration questions in person and on-line for about five years now. I am the founder/owner/and leather craftsman at DLC Montana Company which is located in beautiful south western Montana.

At DLC Montana we restore, rescue, detail, spa and customize high-end luxury leather handbags and accessories. I have included some before an after photo sets as everyone seem to like those sorts of happy ending stories. Additionally I have included some customized Hermes bags for your veiwing pleasure. I have been recently been doing custom hardware appliques featuring hand engraved precious metals silver and gold. There are some bags with pave diamond/sapphire hardware that are in the works also.

A Hermes Noisette Box Birkin that Doc “rescued” – the sad before photo…covered in heavy latex paint 

…and after, a beautiful restored Barenia bag!

I know you are located in a unique area and have a strong interest in horses…can you share more about that and how that intersects with your interest in Hermes?

Yes, I actually used to make my living on horseback. Here it’s called, “cowboying”. I worked with cattle and horses. Additionally I worked in the high country/back country dragging strings of mules with supplies deep in to the wilderness where there were many large wild animals such as grizzly bears, mountain lions and wolves….all very exciting stuff.

There was also a point earlier when I helped LA gang kids learn to break wild Mustang horses and then rode with them from Arizona to Montana – yup, quite the adventures I have had! I wasn’t actually a purse crazy gal as you can well imagine – however I was always crazy for great hand made leather gear. I would save my summer wages to get a beautiful pair of custom made riding boots or tack for my horses.

I know you love Hermes which is a little unusual for where you live – what got you started on the brand? What was one of the first Hermes item you ever had?

I discovered Hermes early on because I was shown how to care for new and antique saddle and harnesses by some very knowledgeable old time cowboys and master saddle and bit & spur makers. During my early years learning there were some Hermes saddles in the mix.  So I first restored an Hermes saddle when I was still a pre teen. Additionally my dear adopted grandmother had a gorgeous Kelly bag which I admired greatly. One has to admire fine craftsmanship, I certainly do.

Another Doc success story: A 1955 Kelly with tears, holes in the corners, and overall terrible condition…

…and after, holes in corner fixed, the Kelly looking much, much better! 

What do you look for in your bags? Do you look for any specific characteristics or brands? 

I would say for my first bag, I was looking for a beautiful simple designed natural saddle leather bag… I wanted something that I could use and have be an extension of myself rather than a brand stamp upon me. So I put my brand on the bags I carry if you will – I make them my own by customizing them.

I have affection for any finely made natural leather bag which could develop a patina and become a one of a kind piece of usable wearable art. I have enjoyed all natural vachetta bags and accessories by Louis Vuitton and Vache Naturelle, Barenia and Veau Porc bags by Hermes. I am also very fond of vintage  box calf leather, which is wonderful stuff and can be found not only on Hermes bags but also on wonderful vintage bags by Celine, Cartier, Gucci, Ferragamo, etc, and riding boots!

What’s your Hermes collection like today?

My Hermes collection today? I am not a collector per say, I have a number of bags I keep for a short time to work on them and send them on their way to new homes. I have a few special pieces which I use weekly if not daily. Generally at any time it’s one Birkin, one Kelly, a clutch and lots of assorted accessories. Plus some small leather goods, scarves and shawls.

Some beautiful hardware customization Doc did on her Birkin

I love that you actually “use” your bags.  Do you think they should be used, that it’s in the true spirit of the brand?

Yes I certainly use my bags and accessories. Truth be told if I am not using them I let them go. They should be allowed to do what they were made to do – be used, enjoyed and admired. If you take care of them – and I don’t mean dancing around them with white gloves – generally they will last generations. Certain leather will improve with age like fine wine. The  leathers that gain patinas such as Vache Natural, Box Calf, Chamonix,Veau Porc, etc are good examples of this.

Some folks don’t use their bags…that’s okay too. Many folks collect and simply add the items to their museum like closets…it’s kind of like trophy hunting for some. They search and hunt and do everything to capture beauty and then they like to look at it in exactly the same state as it was when first captured. What ever makes some one happy whether it be using, collecting, displaying or even hoarding, then so be it. No judgment from me – certainly not.

Some of the tools that Doc uses (I have a few of these myself!)

Can you share a few tips about leather care, caring for your bags/shoes that you’ve learned over the years?

Well, it’s hard to give a single best answer here (I am writing a book on this topic be on the lookout for it) so I will give a few pointers.

1. Never use human skin products on leather, use products for leather on leather and always do a small hidden test area when trying a product for the first time on any given item.

2. Always wait 24 hours to make sure the test area hasn’t had a strange reaction there before proceeding to treating a larger area.

3. Finished smooth bovine leathers that get water marks, blisters and scratch easily can often be protected and kept looking great with a good neutral polish. I like Tarrago or Woly for novices and Meltonian, Griffin, Lincoln, Kiwi for those that enjoy polishing and want a super high shine.

One more Doc success story: an abandoned attempted “paint job” on a Vache Naturelle Birkin…

…and after, after dye removal, filler, stitches replaced, new dye, buffing, and it goes on…!

What are some other brands that you admire and purchase?

I enjoy Louis Vuitton, Chanel, Celine, Bottega Veneta etc. It’s all about the beauty and function for me.

What are some of your other hobbies and passions? 

I have lots..but here’s a few. I enjoy cooking and baking, working on my hot rod, and handbag, jewelry and hardware designing.

How about some final bits of advice on shopping/style/budgeting that you’ve learned over the years?

1. If you can’t buy it with cash and it’s more expensive that a month of living well then you can’t afford it…yet

2. If you can liquidate items you aren’t using and pay for the item in cash, then go for it as long as you have a nest egg savings intact.

3. Preowned, gently used can be the way to go for bags to get the most bang or bag for your buck.

4. When it comes to style if you can’t wear it comfortably and without being preoccupied by it when wearing’s not going to make a stylish statement it’s going to make you look absurd.

5. When buying a very expensive item, keep in mind your actual life style not the one you have in your head…there can be a huge difference between the two.

6. Just because it’s gorgeous and a great price doesn’t mean it’s a great deal…unless it’s something you are going to use.

Finally – please share something surprising about yourself! 

Something surprising about myself?  If this thing doesn’t work out I think I’ll become a stand up comedian or a tele-psychic!

Doesn’t Doc just have the most charming sense of humor? I love how while reading through her answers, Doc’s personality and passion for beautiful leather really shines through. I also want to reiterate just how much I’ve learned from the lovely Doc over the years – and I hope this interview was helpful to some of you, as well. Thank you again Docride, for sharing some of your fantastic talent and life with us!

You Might Also Like

  • Couture Coco
    May 2, 2012 at 12:44 pm

    TRULY AMAZING! I've started reading about her work on the TPF and I'm in awe. I would be so scared to even think of doing the restoring work she does but the end results must be so satisfying! Totally agree with her love and admiration for finely crafted leather goods – it really doesn't matter if there's a brand or not.
    Look forward to her book.
    Thank you for sharing Doc's work and personality!

  • Aesthetic Alterations
    May 2, 2012 at 1:57 pm

    Docride is a very special, generous person–any Hermès lover in particular is lucky to have her around the forums. Thanks to her guidance, I've been able to care for older box and saddle-leather bags.

    Thank you, Docride, for everything! And thank you, Katherine, for featuring her work this week!

  • Joan
    May 2, 2012 at 2:01 pm

    lol why would anyone PAINT a birkin

  • Tabitha
    May 2, 2012 at 2:27 pm

    Incredible, what a woman, what a lifestyle, I think I might have dreamt this.

  • makeupandpearls
    May 2, 2012 at 4:02 pm

    LOVE LOVE LOVE. i admire the work that she does SO much and would love to have a doc fixed up birkin one day!

  • Melanie
    May 2, 2012 at 4:27 pm

    Wonderful interview and boy, what awesome work.

  • Ammu
    May 2, 2012 at 4:27 pm

    Great interview, she seems so cool!

  • Adele
    May 2, 2012 at 5:06 pm

    That woman can work wonders, although I'm shocked at how some people don't look after their bags!
    Happy Wednesday Hun xoxo

  • audrinajulia
    May 2, 2012 at 5:46 pm

    I like the way she answer all your question- with a kick! Very true!It can be a reference tip to be figure out when purchasing an item, be it expensive or cheap.It only proves that there's a person who truly longs for the beauty of the bag,and not to purchase the item to become a "status symbol." The leather restoration and care is very impressive and thanks for the info of leather cleaning materials.

    Another great interview, thumbs up!

  • Anonymous
    May 2, 2012 at 6:17 pm

    She's great. After using four or five restorers, I sent a bunch of bags to her and the results were great. She is smart and very dedicated to her craft. She treats these bags with love. Spend some time talking with her and you'll understand why these bags are so valuable.

  • Chic 'n Cheap Living
    May 2, 2012 at 7:08 pm

    Doc is awesome and makes amazing jewelry too (almost got a few pieces from here once and I'm ready to see what else she is selling!)

    Chic 'n Cheap Living

  • Belle de Ville
    May 2, 2012 at 7:16 pm

    What a wonderful life…horses and Hermes!
    Does she repair saddles too?
    Did you see the auction results for the bags at Heritage Auctions.
    I believe that one Birkin bag went over $200,000!

  • Chocolate, Cookies & Candies
    May 2, 2012 at 7:53 pm

    She's kind and gracious. Exactly how she comes across on the interview. Thanks to Docride who generously shared her knowledge, I've learned so much about restoring my own bags.

  • Chocolate, Cookies & Candies
    May 2, 2012 at 7:53 pm

    She's kind and gracious. Exactly how she comes across on the interview. Thanks to Docride who generously shared her knowledge, I've learned so much about restoring my own bags.

  • Chocolate, Cookies & Candies
    May 2, 2012 at 7:53 pm

    She's kind and gracious. Exactly how she comes across on the interview. Thanks to Docride who generously shared her knowledge, I've learned so much about restoring my own bags.

  • what.jess.wore
    May 3, 2012 at 12:54 am

    Very informative. 🙂

    Does her company have a website? I wanted to learn more.


  • Cardigan Fiend Phoebe
    May 3, 2012 at 2:04 am

    Wow that is amazing how they restored the bags! It was pleasure reading about someone with so much talent and love for what they do! Thanks for sharing the interview! xoxo, Phoebe 🙂

  • Vasu
    May 3, 2012 at 10:22 am

    Amazing post, really interesting

  • Tereza {Drastic Plastic}
    May 3, 2012 at 10:25 am

    This is really interesting. And the horse is beautiful.

  • Prêt à Porter P
    May 3, 2012 at 3:20 pm

    What a miracle worker!

  • Chic Sicily
    May 3, 2012 at 7:57 pm

    What an amazing lady…she really is a bag life saver.
    The pictures are stunning.

  • happilyfull
    May 3, 2012 at 11:36 pm

    thanks for stopping by katherine!

    and WOW!!! i was literally wow-ing out loud as i was reading this post! very informative & loved your writing!!

  • Sara Bow
    May 4, 2012 at 12:36 am

    great interview – the bags look all amazing <3


  • My 2 Pesos
    May 4, 2012 at 12:44 am

    That was amazing. 😀

  • Cindy
    May 4, 2012 at 12:48 pm

    Wow this is incredible! You can just see the amount of effort and love that goes into something like this

  • Betsy C.
    May 4, 2012 at 10:32 pm

    Wonderful interview! I've always wondered what Doc's background was and how she became such an expert in repairing Hermes goods. Thanks for sharing!

  • bluevalentine
    May 6, 2012 at 5:27 pm

    Fantastic interview, I learned so much! I am also astounded that anyone would try to paint a leather handbag…why?! How could anybody think that would be a good idea?

  • Closet Care – Bags and Shoes » Feather Factor
    October 8, 2012 at 1:21 pm

    […] fixes along the way. Over the years I’ve invested in a few tools (with the help of the lovely Doc). My favorite and most used products? Lexol wipes and baby wipes.Lexol wipes are made for leather, […]

  • Interview with Sonita » Feather Factor
    October 8, 2012 at 1:25 pm

    […] and they did all they could, but the “bowing” shape stayed put. I’d recently asked the “Doc” for advice to restore its shape and may do the treatment the Doc recommended. Lesson learned, do […]

  • Anonymous
    December 11, 2012 at 11:37 am

    Watch out with this DLC Montana company, i have bought a hermes birkin from this company on ebay listing Hermes Raisin Courchevel Birkin 30cm GHW #170941132765. The seller is selling a replica hermes birkin to me.

    We signed a contract in rocketlawyer but she refused to keep the bag .

  • Sandy from Malaysia
    February 8, 2013 at 4:02 am

    Hi Katherine,

    I am writing to you from Kuala Lumpur and I normally do not post any comments as I am very reserved. Ever since i read this interview I have been following Doc on forums where she has helped salvaged many Hermes bags (thanks Kat, for leading me to doc). I have some questions which I want to ask Doc and I was wondering if I could have Doc’s email from you for me to consult her on a vintage 1977 kelly I bought that needs some TLC and I need doc’s professional diagnosis on this. Many many thanks and happy lunar new year.

    • Katherine
      February 8, 2013 at 1:15 pm

      Hi Sandy, hello to you in Malaysia! Her email is I hope that helps and enjoy your beautiful vintage bag!

      • Anonymous
        February 11, 2013 at 1:34 am

        Hi Katherine,
        Thank you so much and I must say I enjoy your blog very much. Been a consistent follower for 18 months! 🙂

  • Jessica Pressman
    December 13, 2013 at 1:13 pm

    Hi Katherine,

    Great blog. Question: does she have a website listing her restored bags for sale?