Located less than three hours from Charlotte in Asheville, NC, is Leigh Anne Hilbert’s studio and retail space, The DryGoods Shop. Leigh Anne is a seasoned leather worker and sewing extraordinaire. Her work has been featured across the country and is highly praised for it’s durability, unique yet simplistic style and timeless value.
Tell me a little bit about yourself.
I was born in Fries, Virginia, which is a small little town on the New River in Grayson County. There’s a lot of mountains but not a whole lot more. In the early 1900’s, it was a boom town that was basically around, and for, the textile mill. So I guess I have textiles in my blood. My grandmothers and great aunts were avid sewers and quilters, and though my own mother didn’t really care for that stuff herself, she was a nurse at the Hanes plant, so there was cloth work all around me. My dad was a local favorite, being a coach at the high school and very much an outdoorsman. I was mostly known as one of “Coach’s girls” and remember him in either camo, a fishing vest or polyester coaching shorts. I learned to sew when I was around 10, and soon became obsessed, making many, many horrible, sloppy things. My tendency is to jump right in and learn by doing and having some failure, I am quite good at that.
I graduated college with a fine art degree in painting and drawing, but during that time I worked in the university costume shop. I have been very lucky though, to be able to work in many jobs that I have loved, and also to travel the world quite a bit in between.
What is Overlap Sewing Studio?
After graduating college I lived in San Francisco and started Overlap Sewing Studio as my own brand. Mostly I designed costumes, focusing on dance, but also some wedding dresses and custom things mixed in there as well. When I moved to Asheville, it became my focus, as it was something I could do at home when my baby was napping. I sold at local stores, craft shows and on Etsy, which was just starting then. After a year or two, it took off, coinciding with when I was opening the Drygoods Shop. Over the last few years, my bags have been in Gwenyth Paltrow’s cookbook, sold at Williams Sonoma and as fancy take aways at Tiffanys in New York.
What is The Drygoods Shop and how does it relate to Overlap?
I lived right down the street from the old Meadows Drygoods building in West Asheville. Being a lover of old, dirty, abandoned and decrepit things, I would stare, nose to the window, at the notions, shoes, and clothing still on the shelf, left there as if someone simply walked away from it and just never came back. At one point, it was cleared out and there was a notice on the window that had the owner’s name and number. Out of curiosity I called her and kept calling her, waiting many months until she agreed to rent it to me. It was nothing ever planned, but once it was in my head, I couldn’t let it go.
This August we worked another addition, The Garden Party, who is completely renovating the retail space with a new look, new goods, and real retail hours! We are super excited for this shift, to say the least, and will be changing our name to The Drygoods Studios.
Why sewing and leather working?
I have always had my hands in something and currently it’s fabric and leather. It is a way for me to remain sane, at least as much as I get, and it’s currently providing me with an income and a daily creative life. Mostly it is about curiosity, and about trying something that I haven’t before, and doing it better and more efficiently than I did the last time.