Sole Survivor is a one of a kind leather goods store owned by Steve and Kay Rye. Steve began his career in Artisan Leatherwork in the 1960's. Kay joined him in 1979. The couple has been designing and making leather goods together in the St. Louis area since 1985. Their daughter, Annie Rye, began working with Sole Survivor in 2007 as an apprentice. She now works full time as a leather artisan at Sole Survivor.
Visitthe store in Maplewood to discover a variety of belts, bags, wallets, sandals and more all made in house! The store also offers a selection of leather jackets, and belt buckles made by quality manufacturers from around the world.
About the Artists
When I started working with leather in the mid ‘60’s, I knew that this would be my life’s work.Over the years, my work has continuously evolved. Today, my work is primarily as a designer and maker of women’s bags, I sketch the ideas and then design the pattern. Once the pattern has been made, I cut the leather into bags and finally, I sew them together. I am intrigued with the artistry of color and shape and enjoy using leather to express my visions.
Some of my bags are hand dyed. Before sewing, I apply and strategically shade the colors on the pieces of the item to be made. I use soft cotton material and/or sponges to apply the dyes. The application of color to the raw leather is a technique I often like to use.
I started my work in 1979 as a leather artisan in the Arts and Crafts tradition. My mission has always been to create goods that meet the needs of those who value individual workmanship. These goods have included items such as belts, bags, and wallets. I have spent many years honing my craft and becoming familiar with the properties and possibilities of leather. Additionally, I routinely study current and historical fashions. In my daily work, I create a variety of accessory items that I sew and lace by hand. Over the years, I have also created decorative arts and experimented with unusual techniques for shaping leather.
About the Location and Mission
While the location has changed a few times over the years, the focus of the business has not. Sole Survivor has always been dedicated to designing and making fine everyday leather goods. Items that are useful, needful and worth the investment.