As an 8-year-old, Texas ranch kid, Monty Reedy was sent to a church camp where the kids crafted leather crosses with their names stamped on them.
“That was it. I was done,” recalled Reedy, a high school State Finals bull rider and longtime team roper. “I came home and told my mom, ‘For Christmas, I want some leather tools,’ and I’ve never looked back.”
Today, Reedy operates the business—Monty Reedy Custom Leather—from his place in Mineral Wells, Texas, after setting up his original shop in Breckenridge in 1999. But really, the business was in motion by the time he was 15.
“I was still in school, but it became steady,” he said of the early demand for his work. “And I did go to college for a while, but all I did at college was stamp leather in my dorm room. I got a job stamping breast callers for a company in Oklahoma. I got paid something silly, like $8 a breast collar. So, I’d stamp 30 or 40 a day.”
Reedy now attributes that pace of work to his youth, but his commitment to the craft has never wavered. And, when he knew the Texas makers could only teach him so much, he went searching for opportunities to learn from the best in the country.
“I got ahold of a King Saddlery catalog when I was 16,” Reedy said. “And in the catalog, I’d seen what I wanted to be able to do, so when I turned 19, I just packed my stuff and drove to Wyoming because I knew that’s where the good stuff was.”
Reedy first landed in Cheyenne working for Warren Bard, who, when the work ran out, called ahead to his hometown of Sheridan to help find Reedy’s next gig. He ended up working under Don Butler next, which ultimately allowed Reedy to return home to Texas as a contracted craftsman for King Saddlery after his time with Butler. And, having learned from the best, that’s what he creates.
“My saddles, predominantly, are some of the most expensive you can buy, but people who really, really want the very best they can get their hands on, they call me. Now, I’ve got plenty of people that are just hard-working people. And I’ve got plenty of people who are very, very wealthy and, the hard-working people, if they’re going to spend that kind of money, they want to get the best they can. And that’s why they come here.”
Reedy does build more than just saddles—his purses and shaving kits have a following all their own—but he takes great pride in the building each piece by hand to ensure it serves its purpose. And, by doing it all in his home shop, with the assistance of his wife, Eryn, he can guarantee absolute quality control.
“I’ve done nothing but work my entire life to do the best I can do,” Reedy affirmed. “So, when it leaves here, it’s perfect. I want my work to speak for itself. I don’t want to have to speak for my work.”
As far as Reedy can see it, social media marketing will never play a role in his pursuit of the trade. Still, he’s about two years out on orders. Lucky for him, the work is welcomed each day.
“To this day, I get up every day excited to get out here and get something done,” Reedy said. For more information: montyreedycustomleather.com TRJ