Knowing Your Neighbors: Hemlocks Leatherworks

DULUTH, Minn. – A business in Duluth’s Lincoln Park Craft District makes custom built shoes and other leather goods for people across the Northland.

In this week’s Knowing Your Neighbors, we take you to Hemlocks Leatherworks.

Candace Lacosse apprenticed with shoemakers, learning how to craft her own creations.

“I love working with leather,” said Lacosse. “It’s very tactile and it’s very rugged and strong but still very beautiful.”

She opened her own business two and a half years ago.

“I wanted things that I wasn’t finding in stores and so I just kind of started making shoes for myself and bags and things like that and through social media, particularly Instagram, of people wanting to order and buy them.”

Hemlocks Leatherworks has now made hundreds of orders, and Candace has found her own unique style.

“It’s kind of taking the heart of Duluth but then, it’s like a Duluthian that’s out in the world, like walking around and experiencing other cultures and other things.”

Each pair of boots and shoes are one hundred percent leather and take her about a day and a half to make.

“So this is the upper part of it and I sew that all together and then I’m going to hand stitch the upper to the sole, you can see the corresponding holes, so that gets hand stitched,” described Lacosse.

There’s now a two month waiting list at Hemlocks for customers to get their shoes made just for them.

“I think people really get a kick out of picking their own colors and different little style alterations, and then the fit too. It’s just nice to have a custom pair that’s made for you.”

Now when she goes out, Candace sees her creations on the feet and shoulders of people all over town.

“Someone sent me a picture from Sir Ben’s, there were three of my bags lined up at the bar from three different people, so that was pretty cool,” said Lacosse.

Candace teaches shoe making classes in Grand Marais and in her store on West Superior Street in Duluth.

She’s the only one making shoes there now but says she may hire more shoemakers as her business expands.

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