Leatherworks in family's hands

Leatherworks in familys hands

Sheep
Denmark farmers and business owners, Brendan and Haylie Laing, with children Morgan (left), 6, Amelia, 4, and Nate, 6, recently acquired Jassi Leatherworks, which returned the business to the Laing family after it was sold about 25 years ago.

Denmark farmers and business owners, Brendan and Haylie Laing, with children Morgan (left), 6, Amelia, 4, and Nate, 6, recently acquired Jassi Leatherworks, which returned the business to the Laing family after it was sold about 25 years ago.

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Brendan Laing's parents, Kevin and Val, bought Jassi many years ago from the founder Judy Woods and Mr Laing has fond memories of helping out in the business and seeing his dad hand make the boots.

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IN April the Western Australian premium ugg boot company Jassi Leatherworks (Jassi), Denmark, changed hands as it was purchased by the Laing family for a second time from Kevin and Janice Hard.

Brendan Laing's parents, Kevin and Val, bought Jassi many years ago from the founder Judy Woods and Mr Laing has fond memories of helping out in the business and seeing his dad hand make the boots.

And the farm that Jassi resides on was part of the Laing family's original farm.

About 25 years ago they sold the business and for a long time Mr Laing and his wife Haylie had wanted to buy Jassi and the land back and when he finally did it was a sentimental moment.

"It was very special to buy back the business and the farm and have it in our family again," Mr Laing said.

"It's been an exciting time to do that, we had plans to do it for quite some time and took a little while to get there but we eventually made it happen and it's been great."

Mr Laing said the best part about having the business and farm back in the family was that his own children - twin sons Nate and Morgan, 6, and daughter Amelia, 4, could experience a childhood like the one he had.

"I've been here all my life and grew up on the farm that Jassi and the William Bay Cottages (the family's other business) are on," he said.

"We used to grow potatoes back in the day.

"I'm a carpenter by trade but since dad's death 13 years ago I decided to come back to the cottages and farm full-time and now my own family is growing up on the same farm that I grew up on."

Having just taken on Jassi in April, the family is still finding its feet with the business but has hit the ground running.

Established in 1978, Jassi is known for excellent workmanship which Mr Laing is passionate to continue.

The business sources all of its Merino sheepskins from Victoria-based Dynasty Australia, which is a wholesaler and distributor of premium Australian sheepskins with customers throughout Australia and New Zealand.

Dynasty claims to hold the largest inventory of tanned and finished sheepskins in a wide variety of specifications, colourways and material types.

Established in 1978 by Judy Woods, Jassi is renowned for producing premium ugg boots, slippers and other items from Australian Merino sheepskins and wool.

Established in 1978 by Judy Woods, Jassi is renowned for producing premium ugg boots, slippers and other items from Australian Merino sheepskins and wool.

"I like the texture of the Merino skins, they've got a soft feel and are nice and plush," Mr Laing said.

"We find that good skins are nice and dense, so we get better longevity out of the boot and we use their premium quality skins."

Sourcing local sheepskins is important to Mr Laing and underpins his passion of provenance.

"That is hugely important to us," he said.

"Coming off the back of COVID, I think everyone is looking for Australian made products more, so from a business point of view I think it's mad not to value that in your business, and we really do.

"And supporting other Australian businesses is a good thing right now."

All the products, which are not just ugg boots and slippers, but also hats, teddies, sheepskin hides, bags, belts and more, are manufactured onsite.

This not only maintains quality control, but also gives customers the opportunity to see the products being made.

"We give the customers access through our shop front to view the boots being made and people really love the fact that they can come in and actually see that process," Mr Laing said.

"I think people love to know that their products are getting made in Australia by a family business and that they can see the process."

About 90 per cent of the customers are Australian with 80pc being WA-based.

All boots are made to order and are fully customisable, with customers able to choose their style, length, colour and even order online.

Mr Laing said from start to finish it took about an hour to make one pair of boots.

Back when his parents owned and ran the business, he said there was a coffee shop attached to the business and customers would have a coffee while they waited for their boots to be made.

While there is no longer a coffee shop at the workshop, the family's William Bay Cottages has one and is just across the road.

Along with the two businesses, the Laings also run about 100 Angus breeders on their farm, which they are looking to grow to a herd of 140-150 head.

"We're rather busy these days with a few different businesses going but it's been good," he said.

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