The exclusive brand was developed by devoted families’ teams.
Mackenzie Leather Edinburgh
Mackenzie Leather Edinburgh is a traditional leather artisan shop situated in the bustling heart of Edinburgh’s Old Town, in the makers’ haven of St. Mary’s Street in 2017, though its story begins long before then. It produces the finest quality leather bags, briefcases, belts and accessories on-site, by our skilled Craftsmen.
Established in 1990, the exclusive brand was developed by devoted families’ teams; Since 2011, it has been developed by Master Craftsman, Owner and Director, Simon Harvey Potts, and Associate Creative Director, Elena Álvarez.
Simon Harvey Potts
A keen artist as a child, Simon felt drawn to the creative world at a young age. During a visit to Spain in his late teens, he came across communities of leather artisans in Andalucía and Granada. He was impressed by their craftwork, knowledge and skill. These Spanish craftsmen generously shared of their time and expertise, and gave Simon his first tools. They showed him some basic techniques and taught him how to select the very best quality hides to work with.
He fell in love with the craft during this time, beginning to sell his crafts in local markets. He worked on leather projects, honing his skills and fuelling his passion for leather work while travelling round Spain, France and Italy.
In 2007, Simon applied to “The Prince’s Scottish Youth Business Trust”, presided by The Prince Charles, Duke of Rothesay. Still a young entrepreneur at 25 years old, his next opportunity and step up the ladder came supported by this distinguished Trust. He was granted enough money to acquire the tools needed for running his own leather workshops, which he began alongside continuing to produce and sell his own name leather goods, and a healthy number of part time hours for Mackenzie.
This gave rise to a wonderful opportunity to organise and facilitate leather workshops in different parts of the UK, teaching small groups of people the tools of the trade. Simon ran these workshops throughout the years, often teaching fully booked classes of up to 12 participants, of whom some would go on to create incredible pieces of leather craft. One individual who was particularly inspired by attending one of the weekend courses has since taken up the profession, and now works for an established company in the North East of England.
It was Simon’s friend, Tom Hirons, who introduced him to Mackenzie in 2003. Tom taught him how to make a belt, sporran and book bag before moving on to the more technical pieces. His encouragement and competent teaching nurtured an existing passion for leatherwork in Simon which enabled him to flourish in this field.
The original owners of Mackenzie were Andrew and Jill Leggatt who were at the helm of operations when Simon joined them. They navigated the business through some extremely difficult economic challenges during the financial crisis of the late 00s which forced the shop from its original home on Victoria Street. It found a new base, trading from a shop in Dundas Street with a workshop out of town.
The Leggatts’ passion for the business, and for developing their craftspeople prevailed, and the business thrived despite the external circumstances. Andrew’s encouragement and commitment to passing on his expertise fuelled Simon’s existing potential, and he flourished under Andrew’s mentorship.
Their dedication to training and encouraging Simon enabled his craftmanship skill to grow and develop. Simon’s passion for learning and working with leather was evident from the outset, and when Andrew and Jill decided to pass the business on, Simon was more than ready to steer Mackenzie through the next stage of its journey.
On the auspicious date of 11th November 2011, with encouragement from Elena, Simon proudly took over the reins of Mackenzie Leather Edinburgh, and committed to drive the business forward while honouring the heritage that Andrew, Tom had many others along the way had created.
When Simon took over, he knew that he wanted to move the business back to the Old Town, and have the workshop and shopfront together.
Simon closed the shop on Dundas Street and worked from a studio for five years, trading solely online and at events such as The Royal Highland Show. It took many years of searching to find the right premises, but finally he found the perfect space in St Mary’s Street, just off the Royal Mile.
The traditional shopfront opened to the light, spacious showroom, and the clear view through to the workshop enabled visitors to watch the craftsmen at work.
In this street Mackenzie now calls home, they are surrounded by other makers and independent traders, and have a landlady eager to encourage craftspeople and artisans to the area.
Simon has always been keen to keep the craft of tradition leather work alive by sharing his skills with a new generation. Early on in his career, he was awarded a grant by Scottish Youth Princes Trust to buy the tools he needed to run workshops for young people. He saw people develop their skills and produce incredible pieces of leather craft.
One participant, Robert Ford, was particularly inspired by the course.
Elena joined Mackenzie in 2017 as Associate Creative Director and brings a passion and drive to the company. Her love of contemporary fashion has enabled her to forge a path for Mackenzie into a more modern world. While holding firm to its traditional roots and values, her unique vision has seen it thrive in a contemporary future.
Originally from Madrid, Spain, Elena came to Edinburgh in 2003 to study English as part of her Tourism degree and stayed to further her training in the tourism industry. She worked in tourism in Scotland for many years before moving to Mackenzie on a permanent basis.
Andrew Dunn & Ignacio Fernandez
Together with Simon, close-knit duo Andrew and Ignacio are currently in charge of production and the day-to-day running of the shop. Both are skilled and experienced craftsmen who have been learning their trade through hands-on experience. They approach the work from their individual areas of skill to become the latest experts in the field of leather craftsmanship.
There are many people who have shaped Mackenzie along the journey. Each leaves their unique legacy, and we are so thankful that they are part of the brand’s heritage.