The handmade moccasins from Lake George can now be seen with new funky colors and designs.
Itasca Leathergoods, formerly Itasca Moccasin, was purchased recently by Paul Kirkman. He is working to expand the business by opening additional retail stores in Minnesota and Wisconsin, along with selling products wholesale to boutiques and other shops.
Kirkman had been attempting to relocate to north central Minnesota from the Twin Cities for several years.
"I was looking for a company that had potential for growth," he said.
When he first thought about the moccasin business that was for sale in Lake George he wasn't sure it was the right fit.
"The more I thought about, though, the more I thought I could really do something with this," Kirkman said.
He purchased the business in early April and since then the building has been renovated and the company has been re-branded, with a new name, logo and image.
"We're working on different styles, different colors," he said of the merchandise.
The original factory store is located near the intersection of Highway 71 and Highway 4 in Lake George. A retail store opened this summer in Cross Lake to sell the signature moccasins. A fashion forward boutique in the Twin Cities is also carrying the moccasins.
The moccasins come in a wide variety of styles and 27 colors of full grain leather, suedes and high-end leather options in buffalo, elk and moose. The leather is sourced from the United States and the shoes are made from start to finish in the Lake George location using local labor.
The bestselling women's shoe has been the turquoise, olive and aqua in a cota design.
Future plans call for a full line of leather goods, including placemats, coasters, tote bags, iPad cases, belts, wallets, decorative pillows and more.
"We're taking recommendations from customers and trying to work with what they want," Kirkman said.
He has already expanded the payroll from one and a half employees to seven.
"When I jumped into this new field, I couldn't have asked for a better existing workforce," he said. "You never know, but it's been terrific."
So far he has enjoyed the creativity involved in the leatherworking business and looks forward to continuing to expand the operation.