Copper River Bags in Lincoln: Making “Made in America” cool

A “Made in the U.S.A.” label is enjoying a renaissance, from a new line of Under Armor apparel called Arris Project to a new Adidas “speedfactory” near Atlanta. The Trump White House also is giving “Made in America” a nudge.

In our region, Copper River Bag Co. has been making high-quality leather bags since 2010, first in Nevada City and now in downtown Lincoln. The up-and-coming business fulfills the dream of an enterprising husband-and-wife team, Marlon Jefferson and Beth Brown.

From its new “Studio 424” by Copper River Bags showroom at the historic Lincoln Brands Feed building, at 424 Lincoln Blvd., Suite 201, customers can examine the leather bags. They also can see the bags being stitched and assembled in the back. “It’s a full experience, like an old cobbler shop,” said Beth.

Business is booming. From humble beginnings, Copper River Bags now grace the cover of fashion magazines, such as Vogue and GQ. A robust online store generates sales.

We first spotted the bags and bought one at the showroom near our home in  Nevada City. We fell in love with the product and the concept — built around an Americana lifestyle. (Think Ralph Lauren). We have carried that laptop bag all over — including all the way to Tokyo where we worked while on vacation. We also have written about Copper River Bags in our magazine in our annual “These are a few of our favorite things” holiday feature.

“A bag represents who you are,” said Beth. “We want to create something you can love that will last a lifetime.”

Beth’s husband Marlon had an idea to make a smart-looking, leather carrying case for his iPad. It proved popular, and the business just kept growing. The lineup now includes camera bags, laptop bags, cotton duck bags, accessories for carrying iPads and iPhones, wallets, wallets for passports, and new products such as stylish leather backpacks and briefcases.

Marlon, a retired firefighter from Santa Monica, is an avid fly fisherman. The couple named their business after the Copper River in Alaska, renowned for its fly fishing. He comes up with the designs for the bags and accessories, which even include a handy wool-and-leather fly fishing pouch.

Old-world craftsmanship

All of the bags are “made in America” one piece at a time, by hand, and craft time is usually within 5-7 days. The concept: “Back when the old-world craftsmen, trappers, miners and makers designed and crafted bags to last a lifetime, to endure all climates, that is what we want to emulate.” The business has four workers and is gearing up to expand with a sales staff.

It also is focusing on a corporate program where a businesses’ logo is engraved on a bag to “provide a lasting impression for corporate customers and clients.” Customers range from New Beauty magazine to the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers.

For Beth, the business has come full circle. As it turns out, the Lincoln Feed Building  is owned by a Nevada City couple that Beth has known since childhood. “The location to the Roseville, Rocklin and Sacramento area is perfect, just like the building,” she said.

Downtown Lincoln is experiencing a renaissance, as we have reported in our magazine. Beermann’s Beerwerks has reopened, with hand-crafted beers and a brewpub menu. Lincoln Boulevard is benefitting from streetscape improvements, including curbs and sidewalks, street lights and public artwork.

Dennis Mortensen of Mortensen SignWorks and Murals created a mural that reflects downtown Lincoln’s tagline: “Downtown Lincoln, discover the charm.” The 80 foot-by-16 foot mural is Mortensen’s largest installation to date. Mortensen has recently worked extensively with food store chain, Trader Joe’s, designing and developing themes for painted decor and signage throughout the United States.

(Photo: Copper River Bags)

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