Wednesday, October 4, 2023

The Leather Apron Offers American-crafted Woodwork And Home Goods For The Rugged and Refined

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NEWPORT NEWS-City Center at Oyster Point recently welcomed a new tenant.

Husband and wife team Emmanuel and Sabrina Hales have accomplished their longtime dream of owning their own business with the opening of The Leather Apron on June 1.

“We came across the opportunity when someone we knew told us that the space in City Center was available,” said Hales. “My wife and I had a discussion, and we decided to take the chance and see if a lifelong hobby could be turned into a source of revenue.”

Sabrina Hales has been employed as a pre-K early-childhood teacher within the Newport News Public Schools system for more than 15 years, while Emmanual Hales continues to build his career as a director with a national engineering firm. Their new store offers fully customizable resin and wood design services where customers are free to select the wood species, size, finish, and additional features of their pieces.

“We have a partner who has a mill in Pennsylvania that brings down workable-sized slabs and large variations of wood that are mostly regionally sourced from the northeast and central part of the country,” said Hales. “From that, we transform the pieces into tables, desks, shelving, and charcuterie boards, for example.”

Hales said that he specializes in resin work and mentioned that the technique is a popular topic on creative social media sites.

“It’s basically where you take a piece of wood that has a defect, or some sort of deterioration,” said Hale. “After cleaning the space, we fill it with a resin, which creates a ‘river look.'”

The craftsman said he learned to work with his hands at a young age and spent much of his free time helping family members who worked in the construction business.

“Generally, my summers and weekends from the time I was a teenager and until college were spent standing out on a worksite doing woodwork or home improvement projects,” said Hales.

It’s clear he doesn’t have to invest a lot of time in searching for ideas. Equipped with an artist’s focus in transforming everyday items into works of art, Hales said one of his favorite creations to date was made from what another person viewed as a nuisance.

“Years back, we built a piece out of invasive bamboo that was growing in someone’s yard,” said Hales. “We cut down a substantial amount of bamboo and created a beautiful tiki bar.”

He ended up gifting the tiki bar to a neighbor when he and his wife moved to another home. No qualms with stretching their imaginations, the couple also once created a dining room table made from reclaimed wine crates and cigar boxes.

“We like to refer to ourselves as being a ‘Pottery Barn’ for those who like refined and rugged goods,” said Hales. “We carry really heavy, high-quality goods that can be heirloomed because the materials they’re made from can last for many generations.”

Hales also recently built a patio and outdoor cooking area for his family’s home.

“I’m a longtime Gozney outdoor oven owner and love it,” said Hales. “We recently worked out a distribution deal to become their Mid-Atlantic distributor. He said that the outdoor ovens are based out of Europe and have been available for sale in the United States for the past few years.”

Hales also has a distribution contract with Smithey Ironware, which is based out of South Carolina.

“They make a very high-end cast iron and carbon steel cookware,” said Hales. He said he’s committed to delivering quality interpretations of classic styles and daring new concepts with his store’s custom-crafted goods and services.

The Leather Apron is located at 707 Mariner’s Row, Suite 104 across from Mr. Boil Cajun-style seafood restaurant within City Center at Oyster Point. Hours of operation are 11am to 7pm Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday; and 11am to 8pm Friday and Saturday. The store is closed Sunday and Monday. For more information on The Leather Apron, call 757-504-7160, or visit its website and Facebook page.

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