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Leather Goods Craftsman Ted Harriss Dishes on His Favorite Things

The owner of Newburyport-based leather goods company Todder finds inspiration in tried-and-true design.


Photo by Cody O’Loughlin

You could say craftsmanship is in Ted Harriss’s blood. The son of an artist and a cobbler, he grew up learning the ropes of his great-grandfather’s hardware-manufacturing business, which his family still operates today. Harriss took his passion for making a step further in 2015 when, as a senior at Suffolk University, he founded Todder, a leather goods company where he began fashioning belts, coasters, wallets, and more. “The goal was just to make money over the summer,” he says.

The Newburyport-based business quickly became more, though. In 2016, Harriss set up an online shop, landed a booth at the South End Open Market, and forged partnerships with local stockists such as Sault New England and L.L. Bean. He credits Todder’s success to a promise that its products, crafted with leather from American tanneries, will stand the test of time. Because after all, if you can build something to last forever, you should. “I grew up with a family selling pieces of hardware that get rejected if they’re tarnished,” Harriss says. “I found out that I was capable of making [things that will last], and I love doing it.”

Ahead, Harriss shares a few more things he loves.

Courtesy photo

Public-Supply Notebooks

I use several of these at once—each for a different purpose, but all kept inside Todder leather notebook covers. One is where I plan my days, weeks, and months; another is just for ideas; and the third is where I cross off daily tasks.

Kay Bice/Flickr, Courtesy of Massachusetts Office of Travel & Tourism

Plum Island

It’s extremely close to where I live, so if I leave my house at the perfect time in the morning, I’m able to see the sunrise over the flats. In the summer I also love driving to Sandy Point State Reservation at the tip of the island.

Photo by Cody O’Loughlin

Juki Sewing Machines

This is my most-cherished piece of machinery that we use at Todder. Sewing with an industrial machine on leather is a constant challenge (one slip-up, and the product goes to the discount pile), but I would say it’s also my strongest skill.

Photo by Cody O’Loughlin

Vintage Orvis Hat

It’s a waxed-canvas waterproof hat that I stole from my dad, who bought it 20 or 30 years ago. I feel naked if I’m not wearing a hat, and this one is my favorite.

Photo by Nick Lavecchia

Ty Williams

Ty is a mixed-media artist who lives in Maine, and I really hope to collaborate with him someday. His work is simple but also incredibly unique.

ON FILE

What I’m Drinking
Every morning I get a medium iced latte or a cold brew from Plum Island Coffee Roasters—hands down Newburyport’s best café.

What I’m Eating
Any sandwich that is made with Piantedosi Baking Company’s panini bread. I also love eating out: One of my favorite spots is the Paddle Inn in Newburyport, where I’ll order crab rangoon and chicken shawarma.

What I’m Listening To
Our workshop is wicked loud, so I typically have my headphones in all day listening to music and podcasts. I love The Daily, How I Built This, and Pardon My Take.

What I’m Wearing
One of my favorite clothing brands is Filson. The quality is superior, and the products feel as if they’ll last forever.

What I’m Buying
A pair of “Baxter” boots from Rancourt & Co. They’re extremely comfortable, look so sophisticated, and they’re handcrafted in Maine. I love supporting other local companies and crafters. There is something special about wearing products made locally.