Land to Market Supply Chain Integrity Coordinator, Karin Brothers, shares her story from roots in Zambia to founding Lagom Leather in the U.S.
I’m excited to share my story with you, from my roots in Zambia, Sweden and England, to moving across the pond and crafting regeneratively sourced leather goods in the United States. Join me as I reflect on the path that led me to where I am today — Supply Chain Integrity Coordinator at Land to Market.
I have had the privilege of calling Zambia, Sweden, England, and now, the United States home. Each place has uniquely impacted my journey in regenerative agriculture and still feeds into the essence of my leather business and my work with Land to Market today. My first introduction to regenerative agriculture was through Allan Savory’s Ted Talk. Counter to the narrative I was being fed during university in Cornwall, UK that humans were ultimately terrible for the planet, I was captivated by the notion that humans, through intentional and holistic management, could work with nature to create regenerative outcomes. Allan Savory’s history and work in Zimbabwe also struck a personal chord, reminding me of my youngest days living on a tomato farm in Zambia. I spent evenings excitedly talking to my dad, who was just as stoked as I was on this, about what he wished he had known during his farming years and how he would implement the Savory Institute’s teachings if he were given another chance.
During university, I met an American (my now husband) and after four years of long distance, I packed my bags to move across the pond. While leaving England was a bittersweet adventure, the move to the States brought incredible new challenges and opportunities, sparking significant personal and professional growth. Adapting to the American way of life brought about some amusing culture shocks, from learning to drive on the wrong side of the road in my husband’s huge manual, diesel, 5.9 Cummins, 8-foot bed truck in the middle of my first PNW winter to changing my vocabulary from trousers to pants (even though that still means underwear to me) and learning to say the month rather than date first so that people wouldn't give me a confused stare every time I said something they weren’t used to. English and American are truly two different languages! I still miss the comforts of home, like good chocolate and the British accent that feels like a warm embrace.
I made it to the States just three weeks shy of COVID which added to the adventure and difficulty of the move. My first few months were lonely and unstructured, as I waited for my Greencard to allow me to work in the States. However, the time I had gave me the chance to explore what I wanted to do with my career and simultaneously sparked a spirit of creativity and entrepreneurship in me that I didn’t know existed. My husband had some scrap bits of leather and basic leather tools lying around. With a new puppy on the scene, I decided to make her a leather collar. That first project hooked me and soon I was totally immersed in YouTube videos and endless trial and error, learning the art of leather-working. That first collar led to a leash (which I still use to this day), a notebook cover, a wallet, a laptop case, a bag, and basically whatever I could think of. My first job when I got my Greencard was at a local leather store where I continued to hone my skills. By this point, friends and family were asking to buy things from me and it got to the point where I wanted to put my mark on my craft and start offering it to a wider audience. That’s where the idea of Lagom Leather was born.
As the idea of Lagom Leather began, I knew I wanted my products to tell a story. I struggled with adding another brand to the market that was just selling products without meaning or positive impact on the world. At the same time, I was searching for a career that used my master's degree in Environmental Science. I kept being drawn back to the work of the Savory Institute and their Land to Market program, which brought regeneratively sourced products to market. Looking back it seems obvious, but I had a light bulb moment where I realized that if there was regeneratively sourced meat popping up in the marketplace, surely there must be some way to get my hand on regeneratively sourced leather. That’s what started my journey with Land to Market - I reached out on a whim and was connected directly with a farm to source leather. At that moment, I decided that Lagom Leather’s mission was to give customers a better option to buy products that, not only are durable and stand the test of time but also that are sourced from farmers managing their land to achieve regenerative outcomes. Through my products, I wanted to tell this story and give a voice to the land. With its durability and rich patina, leather is the perfect medium with which to tell this story. Lagom, a Swedish term, embodies balance and simplicity. It reflects our commitment to crafting timeless, functional goods while restoring our balance with nature.
Through the years, Lagom Leather has given me a passion for helping other brands bring products that tell a story and have a regenerative rather than destructive impact on the marketplace. This led me to join the Land to Market team, where I now serve as the Supply Chain Integrity Coordinator. My role feeds that initial spark to help brands bring better products to consumers by being part of creating the necessary supply chains to bring those products to market. It is fulfilling to get to work globally across several industries including meat, leather, wool and dairy. It is a joy to see more and more products verified regenerative by Land to Market.
My most recent move landed me in Durango, Colorado, next door to Gleason Bison Ranch in Hesperus, where I now source beautiful Land to Market verified bison leather. Gleason Bison is a holistically managed ranch by Sarah Gleason and is monitored using Savory Institute’s Ecological Outcome Verification and is experiencing regenerative outcomes on the land. I’m excited to share that these bison leather products will be available in local stores in Durango in the coming months. It feels profoundly special to be sourcing my leather locally, hand-making all my products locally, and offering them to the local community.
Thank you for taking this journey with me. Whether you’re a fellow artisan, a brand, or someone curious about beginning your journey in regenerative agriculture, I hope my story inspires you to bring your dream, or that little niggle you feel, to life.