Artisans + Crafters: Clayton & Crume

Mar 19, 2019 | Artisans

As the saying goes, necessity is the mother of invention, an adage artisan Clay Simpson takes to heart. While attending Western Kentucky University, Clay wanted to purchase a belt with the WKU logo on it, something he could proudly wear to tailgate parties and football games. He couldn’t find what he needed at the college bookstore but did find a WKU dog leash with a unique pattern displayed across it. He took the leash, cut it apart, then using the skills he’d learned from his mother, sewed it back together to create his own belt.  

College friends noticed the belt and asked if he could make one for them. Following his initial creation, Clay began ordering leather and designing more accessories for friends. After graduating, Clay and his fraternity brother, Tyler Jury, began discussing Clay’s creativity and kicked around the idea of starting their own business selling these accessories. They drew up the paperwork, put up a website, and the result was Clayton & Crume.

Eleven years after the creation of the dog leash belt prototype, the business has mushroomed and sells items for both men and women. The products are made of fine leather purchased from Horween Leather Company in Chicago. “We said that if we’re going to make products out of leather, then we’re going to do it right,” Clay says.

The men’s line includes duffle bags, messenger totes, bi-fold wallets, money clips, and dopp kits. The ladies’ line offers clutches, cosmetic bags, and crossbody totes. Home and office accessories such as mouse pads, tech sleeves, and coasters are available, and Clay and Tyler haven’t forgotten their early days of design as they offer dog collars and leashes for the family pet.

The company’s line of products continues to expand, but Clay explains they will only bring out new products after they’ve been tested and are perfect. Clayton & Crume’s accessories are available online and at craft fairs and boutiques. Clay says the best advertising for the products is by word of mouth. “When you give a guy a belt and he’s never seen this thickness of leather before or he’s never felt something like this, he’s going to wear it for a week and tell people about it,” he says.

Extra tidbit: You can find Clayton & Crume products here. Oh, and here’s a nice piece of art you can wear on your head — just in time for the Derby season.