She works behind a table in a well-lit corner of the Northwest Pony Express guns and guitars store on one of the main drags in Coeur D’Alene, Idaho. Her tools of the leather trade lie around – pieces of leather, guns, holsters in various stages of completion.
Leah Kemner started making leather crafts when she was 15 as a 4-H project, and when she graduated from high school, she told her mom, “I am done with school!” Her mom found out that the local community college offered a degree in saddle making, to which Leah said, “I can DO that!” She graduated from one of the last classes in saddle making in 2004, and actually makes very few saddles. Instead, she has found a niche in holster and rifle sling creation.
How did I get to be a holster maker? I’ve been making belts and rifle slings for Joe, who owns Northwest Pony Express, for a couple of years. I met a guy, through him, that came to me and asked me to make a belt for him and then, asked me to make a holster for him. So I said, “Well, I can make a saddle, so I don’t know why I couldn’t make a holster!”
So I built him a couple of holsters and said, “Hey, I like this!” He got me into shooting and I like that, too.
I own three horses and I do a lot of trail riding. I shoot, a little competitive shooting. The guys are going to take me out this weekend and we’ll do some shotgun shooting for the first time. I go hiking and bike riding, but mostly I go horseback riding.