Metro Times: When did you first get interested in leatherwork?
Lyle Hayman: I've been doing leatherwork for about seven or eight years now. I'm 36 now; when I was a kid, about 12 years old, there used to be a leather shop about a mile from my house. I would be one of those always-ambitious art kids. I would always ride my bike up there. It's funny 'cause the owner of the shop always used to say, "Kid, you're too young." So I'd always go into the store and just dream about doing it. Then years later, the store shut down. I had always wanted to get into it but it was hard to find suppliers. Back then there wasn't the Internet. I did everything I could to get into it.
MT: Are you self-taught? How did you teach yourself to do such intricate work?
Hayman: People have been doing this kind of stuff for hundreds of years. It's not a new artistry. There are so many books out there written in the '40s that you find at garage sales. You can pick people's brains. Then there's trial and error.
MT: How much leather did you ruin when you first got started?
Hayman: Oh, probably several cow's worth. It's funny because I look back on my first pieces now, and how crappy they look, but they were so cool back then.
MT: How much do your bags run?
Hayman: That's a hard question, I guess entry-level bags start at around $285. It depends on the kind of leather people want — some are expensive, and others aren't. I use a lot of cow and buffalo too. They have more personality. I don't like using anything cheaper. These bags are built to last. I use good quality leather, stuff people need for motorcycle riding. It's made to withstand time and wear and tear. I'll never send out a piece of shit bag. If someone buys a bag from me, I want it to last 50 years or more. Maybe it's a guy thing — most guys are into buying one thing that lasts forever.
MT: Where does your brand name come from?
Hayman: It got it from the Hank Williams song, "Lost Highway." I love that old country music. The message of the song is cool, someone on a lost highway of sin. It's sort of synonymous with the bags and traveling. I like making bags for the more rough kind of people.
Some of Hayman's items are available at Saffron, 308 W. 4th St., Royal Oak; 248-541-8000; facebook.com/saffrongirl; follow Lost Highway on Instagram @losthighwaybrand.