Shrader Leather The Carolinas Equestrian 01

Nestled in the mountains of Gordonsville, Virginia, Janie Shrader stands in her shop, perusing a wall of broken tack and patiently waits for inspiration to envelop her.  Janie prides herself on combining reclaimed horse tack and selected leather hides to create custom, hand-crafted, equine-inspired decorative accents such as pillows and hand bags.  She will eventually develop her unique talent into a custom masterpiece.

Shrader Leather The Carolinas Equestrian 02 The thirteen-year journey for Janie to conceive her company, Shrader Leather, LLC, was filled with challenges and self-discovery, but Janie was determined to find her place in the art community. Janie matriculated from James Madison University with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Fine Art.  From there, she managed an art gallery, taught art lessons, studied graphic design, did odd jobs, including print work and custom landscape designs until she finally asked herself, “What do you like to do?” Janie had always been drawn to leather, so in April 2015, she studied basic leather skills under the tutelage of Tim Alden of The Alden School of Leather in Rogue River, Oregon.  Janie began Shrader Leather, LLC in September of 2015.  Shrader Leather was an investment in her art, but also an investment in herself.

Shrader Leather The Carolinas Equestrian 03 Janie is fully committed to hand-making brilliant pieces of art.  Janie began making pillows to practice her sewing skills using her leather sewing machine.  By design, pillows require mostly straight lines so Janie was able to “get a feel for the thread, thread tension, material, and build confidence to try new things.”  Soon, she branched out to other products such as handbags, tote bags, zipper pouches and clutches.  When starting out, she would “buy hand bags from thrift stores to study how they are made and then take them apart to teach [herself] how to make them.”  Janie ingeniously uses her scrap materials for earrings and tassels as well.  The designs are somewhat influenced by current fashion trends, but “her creative subconscious drives her work.”  When the business first started, her studio became a “repository for all things broken—bridles, halters, blankets with holes, girths with failing elastic, etc.”  As an equestrian, she knows “all horse people accumulate broken pieces and can’t bear to throw them away.”  All these items can be recycled into a different product and given new purpose.  She marries reclaimed horse tack (bridles, bits, spurs) with decorative items and carefully chosen leather hides for her hand-crafted products.  Janie feels her work resonates with horse people since “tack and other repurposed items are instantly recognizable and often invoke fond memories, each item is a unique version of itself based on the nature and condition of the animal hides.”

Shrader Leather The Carolinas Equestrian 04 Janie credits her grandmother as her equestrian inspiration.  Her grandmother, Sarah Davis, was a hunter trainer in Bath County, Virginia, and she remembers her as “always having a Christmas tree decorated solely with horse ornaments.”  From an early age, Janie recalls “equestrian elements were part of our household décor, lifestyle, and clothing; it was lodged in my subconscious.”  Janie learned to ride as a child and remembers competing in 18” cross rails on a 17 hand OTTB at the age of 4.  She trained with her grandmother in hunters until she went to college and then dabbled in western riding. After college, she was a working student for different trainers specifically in fox-hunting and dressage; and later, “indulged in showing jumpers.”  Janie is currently taking a break from riding, but says “it is too much of who I am to give up entirely.”

Shrader Leather The Carolinas Equestrian 05 Janie lives on Oak Hill Farm in Virginia with her husband, Dr. Tim Ober, who is a veterinarian, and the “usual zoo of animals that find their way to a farm.”  They house 23 horses, some retired and in various stages of rehab, and others in training.  Janie adopted her personal horse, a Zangerscheide named ‘Z’, a few years ago.  She says “he is living the life of luxury as a pasture mate.”  Her farm is also home to ‘Penny’, a German Shepherd/Foxhound mix, who “runs the farm” as the social greeter and herder of three cats, ‘Frankie’, ‘Kitty Loco’, and ‘Tuesday’.  Janie and her husband recently had a white fawn born on the property, that “grazes in the paddocks with the horses and occasionally, walks through the ring while horses are schooling.”

Shrader Leather The Carolinas Equestrian 06 Janie Shrader truly is a “one woman show” in the areas of developing concepts, designing, and producing her art work, as well as, marketing, distributing finished items to her customers, and advertising her own work.  She sells products from her website (www.shraderleatherllc.com), at a gift shop in Spruce Meadows, and at a local store in Virginia that sells decorative interior wares.  She commits to being a vendor at local horse shows at least three times per year as well.  This allows her to “gauge what sells in various markets” and a realistic amount of time to create new products.  She enjoys the vendor life because it allows her to make connections with people and advertise her business in a “grass roots” way.  She loves hearing the question, “You make all of this yourself?” and replies, “It’s such a great source of pride for me to be able to say ‘Yes!’”

Shrader Leather The Carolinas Equestrian 07 As Shrader Leather, LLC, continues to blossom, Janie’s goal is to continue to produce high quality products that appeal to broad audiences and pieces that speak to the individual.  Janie says, “If I can be fulfilled creatively and create a brand that, over time, is instantly recognizable; a part of Americana, that would be a major success for me.”  While she finally feels inspired and able to nurture her gift, she truly cares about leaving her mark on the art community and the world.

For more info about Shrader Leather, LLC, please visit her website, www.shraderleatherllc.com.  Follow her on Facebook and Instagram as well.

Photos courtesy of Shrader Leather, LLC