Frequently Asked Questions about ZeeBee Leather, and the Fine Leather Goods Industry.
We hope this list of questions is helpful, but we know it's hard to cover it all - especially when it comes to custom work. Please don't hesitate to email firstname.lastname@example.org or fill out this form with any questions we can help answer!
How long will it take to get my stuff?
For custom orders, it currently takes about 15-16 weeks from the time we receive your payment to the time you receive your item(s). If you purchase an in-stock item, it'll ship the next business day.
Why are handmade leather goods so expensive?
Here at ZeeBee Leather, we never compromise on quality. Yeah, yeah, everybody says that - but we really mean it. Each piece is meticulously crafted and handmade by Zach, from the original designs to the last stitch. Wallets take an average of 8 hours to make. Belts take an average of 9 hours to make. Bags take between 25-80 hours, depending on their size. Each piece is carefully and thoughtfully designed with ergonomics and durability in mind. Form always follows function, but that's not to say that beauty isn't also very important. The best possible hides are selected for each project by weight and tanning method used (some leathers are softer than others and make a great lining, some are very water-resistant and make a great bag exterior). There will be some natural markings like small scars, but each hide is carefully inspected for natural weak spots or large imperfections or brands. While we think that these marks are beautiful and tell a story, they're inherently weaker than a clean, unmarked piece of leather. This is a more expensive way to cut leather, but it's worth the peace of mind knowing that the leather is the best it can be. Attention to detail is paramount, and painstaking effort is given to make sure each stitch is purposeful and straight. Solid brass or copper rivets are used in high-stress areas, and backstitching is used where a rivet isn't appropriate. Finally, each edge is hand-burnished for a smooth and finished appearance. We think you'll find that our prices are fair, and reflect the old world craftsmanship, attention to detail, and durability that goes into every piece.
What's wrong with machine stitching? What's so great about hand-stitching?
The truth is, sewing machines are great. They're fast, efficient, and they can crank out beautiful leather goods in a fraction of the time it takes to hand stitch. So what's the problem? Machine stitching is flawed from a durability standpoint. Let's back up.... Leather is strong. Really strong. The weak point in any leather piece is the stitching. A Lock Stitch is made with a machine, when two needles enter a hole (one from the top and one from the bottom), meet in the middle, hook the thread together, and move back out the same side they came in, onto the next hole. This makes the stitch prone to unraveling if a portion of the thread breaks, which it inevitably will. We've all been there. With natural wear and tear, saddle stitched thread will sometimes break too! The difference is that when a thread does break, it won't come unraveled because both threads pass completely through each hole, and out the opposite side. Think of it as weaving, or doubling up on the stitching. In a pinch, you can melt the loose end of the thread with a lighter, and that'll be the end of it. If you're not happy with the way it looks, send it back to us, and we'll gladly repair it for you for free.
Are you a visual person?
Speaking of thread...
What's so great about Polyester Thread?
Polyester thread is very strong, it has very little stretch to it, it's extremely durable, and won't rot like cotton or linen thread. Our thread is exclusively made by Maine Thread Co. in Lewiston, Maine, USA. We're proud that all of our products are held together with their Waxed Poly Cord (their term for thread), and we use every color they have available. Maine Thread Co. recently brought their Meadow Ring Twister back online after a long dormancy, citing "supply and demand" as the reason. Their workforce has grown over the last few years which proves that supporting American companies works!
How does your warranty work? What's your repair policy?
Our warranty is forever. If you should ever encounter a problem with materials or workmanship, we'll make it right: no questions asked, no hassle given. We'll pay shipping both ways. Normal wear and tear is not covered by the warranty, but can be repaired for an additional charge. We'll pay shipping one-way for repairs. Please email for details.
Who cares that everything is hand cut? Aren't there more efficient ways to cut leather?
There are more efficient ways to cut leather, but we don't use them. First, the least expensive way of machine cutting involves expensive dies (custom metal patterns), which then means you're married to those patterns until you want to buy new ones. That's cost-prohibitive and inefficient for our shop. We create our own designs and our own patterns, which get traced onto and cut out of leather: those patterns are always evolving. If we find the need for a design feature on a piece that might work better, we have the ability to make an adjustment to the pattern on the spot. Cutting patterns by hand also makes for a much more intimate relationship with the leather. It gives us a more tactile approach, and allows us to detect imperfections and defects in the leather, which might be missed by cutting quickly with machines. If a particular piece of leather has less give or is thicker than normal (which then affects, say, the fold of a wallet), we can adapt our approach when we hand-cut the pattern.
Why does it matter where our materials comes from?
It's important to know where your stuff comes from, and who made it. We believe in supporting our economy and finding the best possible materials. All of our leather and thread is made in the USA, and all of our hardware is either Made in USA or Made in Japan by adults earning a fair wage.
Isn't everything technically made by hand?
Well, no. Not really. Handmade actually means something is made with hands or hand tools. Once you start bringing machines into the construction of leather goods, they're no longer handmade. They're hand-crafted, but not handmade. Every ZeeBee Leather product is handmade. It might sound like semantics, but to us it's a big deal.
Do you use Full-Grain leather?
Yes. All of the leather we use is Full-Grain. It's First Quality, never split, never corrected grain. Only the best.
What is Shell Cordovan, and why is it so insanely expensive?
Shell Cordovan is a leather prized for its strength, durability, and beauty. Rather than try to explain it in our own words, we borrowed a quote straight from Horween's website:
"Genuine Shell Cordovan is the art of tanning at its finest. More than just a color, it is a very specific leather, from a particular part of a horsehide. The irregular oval shaped shells are tanned, stuffed, shaved, and then polished – a process taking at least six months. Each shell is slowly steeped in gentle vegetable liquors. The shells are genuine hot stuffed then slicked onto glass frames to dry. Each shell is hand curried and shaved by highly skilled artisans to expose the shell. Dyes are hand rubbed on for a deep aniline finish. Finally, the shells are hand glazed to achieve the rich, glossy look and feel prized by fine craftsmen."
What's involved in a custom order?
This part always ends up being really fun! It usually it starts out with the customer telling us what they want, and we take the time to answer any questions, make recommendations based on our experience, and ultimately settle on a design together. It can be as quick as a few emails, or a lengthy exchange that resembles War and Peace, but we'll make sure we get it right and make you happy.
Do you offer a rush service?
Yes. If for some reason you need your item quickly and can't endure the current wait time, we can move you to the front of the line and make your item our top priority (in most cases) for a 20% fee on top of the price of your item.
Do you repair items that aren't ZeeBee Leather products?
Yes, absolutely! Please contact us for more information.
Do you ship internationally?
Yes! However, tracking isn't possible once your package leaves the United States. Also, ZeeBee Leather is not responsible for any taxes or duties on your item in your country.
Shipping is free? Really?
Yes, really. You're investing in leather goods for life, and we respect that. Shipping is on us as a thank you.
Do you accept returns?
Due to the custom nature of ZeeBee Leather products, we do not accept returns. However, should you ever find a flaw in workmanship or materials, you're covered by our Lifetime Warranty. Your satisfaction is our number one concern.
How do I provide a belt measurement?
Please follow the diagram below.