Like many great products and companies, Leather Honey was born of a need to meet a vexing problem. In the early 1960’s, Daniel McGowen had recently taken over his father-in-law’s manufacturing company. He met with a retired chemist to see if they could come up with a leather conditioner for sole leather (most work shoes in those days were made entirely of leather) that did not contain any harmful solvents or chemicals. It took a number of years, but they eventually developed a formula that had amazing results, but was still odorless, water-repellent, and non-toxic.
Not a scientist, but still wanting to test his formula, McGowen convinced his local postman, who walked many miles a day, to allow him to apply the formula to one shoe of a brand new pairs of leather shoes, and leave the other untreated. After many letter and package deliveries, the untreated sole had to be replaced twice before the treated sole needed to be replaced. Recognizing the commercial viability of the product, McGowen began selling the conditioner to shoe manufacturers and the military for shoe care. The introduction of synthetic shoe soles in the late 1960’s and early 1970s put a stop to the short lived business.
The original formula was soon thereafter “re-discovered” by McGowen’s son Jim, who was impressed at the conditioners ability to treat and protect the harnesses and saddles for his Percheron horses. He and his wife Liz began selling the conditioner as Harness Honey to tack shops and farmers, but word began to spread that the conditioner was excellent on many other leather goods.
Recently, Jim and his son Shawn decided to rebrand the conditioner as Leather Honey, to make apparent the conditioners wider application. As word and use of the conditioner has spread, so have the positive testimonials and comments about the conditioners ability to restore, revitalize, and protect both old and new leather.
Leather Honey continues to be a family run business. Jim still oversees manufacturing, Shawn is the company president, and his sister Arielle handles marketing, operations, and customer service. All of this is done at their shop in Kearneysville, West Virginia.
Leather Honey is committed to using the best ingredients and to keeping their products safe and non-toxic. As a result of continued customer request, they recently launched their Leather Honey Cleaner, a concentrated formula used to clean leather prior to conditioning. The development of the cleaner took many years to get the formula just right, a testament of Leather Honey’s continued commitment to excellence.