FOUNT, a fine leather products company based in Cleveland, Ohio, has recently opened a storefront in the Short North. The store brings a new twist to ‘affordable luxury’ products and offers ethically-produced items. Jackie Wachter, co-founder of FOUNT, says the company is unique because all FOUNT products are made in the United States and have a lifetime warranty. She said, “We don’t have seasons or collections. We strive to create classic, hand-made designs that will always be part of the FOUNT collection. We want to create classics that appeal to many styles and can be passed through generations.”

From a young age, Jackie knew she wanted to start her own company. She had a passion for keeping jobs in the United States and ensuring the products she created would be ethically-made. After she began dating her now-husband, Phillip, the couple started making leather items by hand. As more and more products were sold, the company grew organically and Jackie and Phillip decided to pursue FOUNT full-time. The company has now been in operation for three years. What started as a small, husband and wife team of entrepreneurs has turned into a booming design and production house. FOUNT now has thirty-six employees and is continually growing. The company only uses direct-to-consumer practices, meaning products are sold directly to customers, rather than through larger retailers. This provides a more affordable and personal experience for customers. FOUNT strives to create an experience around the bags, collaborate with other designers, and encourage a more conscious lifestyle. FOUNT is also excited to work with the refugee community. They have recently hired four refugees onto their staff, which has brought an incredible diversity to the team.

Customers continue to shower FOUNT with rave reviews. Even after selling over five-thousand totes, not a single strap has broken on any product. Customers specifically praise the strength and durability of the leather. While most handbag companies use top-coated leather, FOUNT uses a more natural, full-grain, aniline leather, which looks better with use and doesn’t age poorly. FOUNT’s leather is imported from Italy, where production laws are strict enough to ensure ethical production practices. In addition, their leather purification process is environmentally-concious and committed to keeping local water clean.

FOUNT’s move to the Short North has been incredibly successful. Columbus locals are excited about ethical production practices and the origins of their products, making Columbus a welcoming community for FOUNT to enter into. Regarding her experience in the Short North thus far, Jackie said, “Everyone has been so nice and enthusiastic about bringing us to the neighborhood. We love how friendly Columbus is…The Short North is such a great neighborhood that draws so many people to the city. It has created a place within the city where people want to hang out and spend the day.”

Jackie welcomes everyone to visit FOUNT’s brand new Short North storefront at 668 N High St. To learn more about FOUNT, visit their Short North business page here.

Phillip and Jackie Watcher photographed by Suzaran Photography

-Alexa Demyan