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!
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 it..it’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!