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Photo By Brian Tietz

Two Faced Leather is “bougie on a budget,” says Brian Hilla with a laugh.

Hilla takes used luxury goods and gives them a second life. He’ll take a designer duffel bag and make it into a fanny pack, or turn a purse into baby shoes. “It’s taking something that would be in a landfill and deconstructing it,” he says.

He spent his career working for designer handbag companies, specializing in repairs. But right after COVID-19 hit, he and his husband decided to finally make the move to Florida that they had long fantasized about. They were in their dream locale; Hilla just needed to figure out what to do with himself.

He had once reconstituted an old Louis Vuitton bag for a friend’s wife back in his native New Jersey, restyling it with new zippers, pockets and a new strap. It went from something that wasn’t getting much use anymore into one of her favorite accessories. “It was a great feeling; I was able to take a sentimental piece and make it into something new,” Hilla says.

For Two Faced Leather, he started by going to auctions and buying up pieces of luggage for leather he could use in new products. He’d cut and stitch in his home workshop. He’s careful to reuse as much as possible, even zippers, so nothing goes to waste. (And for legal purposes, he makes it clear in his branding that he’s not affiliated with the original manufacturers.)

Hilla started selling online, but had a hard time finding traction. Then he came across Franklin Shops in downtown Fort Myers, a quirky emporium that features a variety of vendors. He got space inside, and he’s had steady demand ever since. The price tag is typically far less than what the products originally sold for. Hence, “bougie on a budget.” twofacedleather.com

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