I love finding companies like HookNHide. Small batch, artisan based products that are as much about the story as they are the item. HookNHide is a Charleston company headed by Tom Mauldin, an artist and a fisherman. He wanted to create something that married the two, and hit it out of the park. HookNHide offers six different buckles: the Redfish (pictured), Bull Dolphin, Rainbow Trout, Mako Shark, Sailfish, & Tarpon, each with a lifelike feel made out of a special blend metal that gets better with age. The ‘hide’ part is the straps, offered in Classic, Horween leather, and in Rustic leather.
My first impression is how sound the buckle feels. It is substantial, but not heavy. The detailing gives the buckle a lifelike feel, and the metal blend gives it a nice patina that I expect will enhance over time. The buckle is a little on the larger size, but not in a bad way. The narrow strap keeps it from looking like a tool belt. Let’s not forget the utilitarian use: the tails can be used as a bottle opener…pretty good when you are in a pinch.
That’s enough from me. Tom was nice enough to give us some details on his company, and his products:
What is the history of HookNHide? I started HookNhide 9 years ago through a passion for the arts and the outdoors. I took the skills of lost wax investment casting and created the fish that I loved to catch on the saltwater flats, creeks, and rivers.
Where are the buckles made? The buckles are designed in Charleston, SC. They are molded, hand casted, and polished in Mexico. The metal is called “tumbaga,” mined out of the mountains of Mexico. It is a blend of silver, gold, and brass, a careful formulation of these metals consisting of 60% brass to give the buckle strength and integrity which patinas handsomely over time. It is an 8-stage process, which takes 3 days in handcrafting. We offer a lifetime warranty on every buckle.
What is your history in the buckle/metalworks industry? I was a fine art major at Hampden-Sydney College in Farmville, VA. I acquired the skills in mixed medium design at an early age and refined those skills at H-SC and after college. I had been given a belt buckle years ago that reminded me of the fact that I loved functional design and apparel. From that idea, the creative processes that allowed me to develop a bottle-opening buckle that served as a functional piece of art. Also, I had owned a pair of flip-flops that opened bottles years ago and I did not like the idea of using the sole of my sandal to open a bottle. I have been designing and crafting these buckles for over 9 years in the patterns of the fish that I love to catch. Our goal is to diversify our designs into the artistic world so that we can reach those who love wildlife and other outdoor activities.
What are the best things about being in this business? By far the most empowering and inspiring aspects about being in this business are working in a field that I am passionate about; expressing my passion for the outdoors through functional art. Running your own business and the friendships you form along the way are incredibly rewarding. The universe responds to every step along the way when you step out on your own, face your fears, and develop your own path.
HookNHide buckles are available at a couple retailers in Charleston, as well as on their website.