Student’s love for leatherwork evolves into business | Mercer Made


What started out as a hobby nearly a decade ago has become a growing business for a Mercer University student. Luke Kolbie is the owner of Kingfisher Leatherworks, which sells fine, hand-crafted leather goods geared toward sportsmen.

Kolbie, originally from Dublin, is a senior finance major and entrepreneurship minor, and Kingfisher Leatherworks has been a Business in Residence in the Mercer Innovation Center since fall 2018. Kolbie prototypes and creates templates for each new product, and then the items are manufactured by a family of Amish craftsmen — Merle, Raymond and Joseph Schlabach — in Illinois using leather from a U.S. supplier.

Kolbie sells products such as belts, wallets, weekend bags, cartridge bags, purses and bottle totes sold online as well as at consumer trade shows and about 20 specialty retail stores across the East Coast. He also makes custom corporate gifts for real estate and insurance agencies, brokerages and other firms. 

He said the motto of Kingfisher Leatherworks is “conservation through quality.” His goal is to produce high-quality items designed around high functionality. They’re made the right way the first time, so they never have to be thrown away and can be handed down for generations.

Mercer Made is a series in which we feature notable people, businesses, products and inventions connected to Mercer University.


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