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Paul Scheiter Masterfully Combines His Love for the Outdoors with His Work

by Liz Childers

Paul Scheiter, the owner of Hedgehog Leatherworks, is an outdoorsman. I knew that before I talked to him, but it became startlingly evident in our interview. His work and his love for the outdoors are so intertwined that they cannot be separated. Check out his interview for proof, and then scan through his website to see his craft.

Tell me a little bit about you and Hedgehog Leatherworks… why did you start the company?
Hedgehog Leatherworks is the company I started in 2005 with the goal of delivering the world’s best leather knife sheaths. Our products are all handmade in St. Louis, Missouri, are designed and tested to withstand extremely hard use, and are backed by a 25 year warranty. So, on the surface we make super high quality outdoor gear. However, the true purpose of Hedgehog Leatherworks is to accomplish a much deeper mission, which is my quest to reconnect people with nature. I believe the fast paced era we live in makes it difficult to slow down and appreciate life, especially in the form of a minimalist experience in the woods. Some of my best memories are of times spent in the wilderness becoming so engrossed in my surroundings that I had totally forgotten about “the real world” back in the city. Those are the times I have been most in touch with “something greater” and generally appreciative to be alive. Now my goal is to inspire people to search for their own moments like that, and Hedgehog Leatherworks is the tool I am using to do it. Many of the people who buy our products write in talking about the “kid on Christmas” experience they have when opening the box. Seeing the fine attention to detail, feeling the natural materials, and smelling the timeless aroma of leather seems to awaken something deep in people. One of my favorite emails was from a customer who got the sheath on a Thursday and just had to go use it right then and there. He called in sick for Friday, loaded up the dog in his Jeep, and spent the whole weekend in the woods. Those are the times I say to myself “mission accomplished.”

Why do you feel that survival skills are important?
I think that survival skills are important on many different levels. While I am totally an advocate for being “overkill prepared” for emergency scenarios, I think that survival skills have much more to teach us than just staying alive when times are bad. To me, survival skills can also bring a deep sense of inner confidence and a spiritual connection to the wild that is not often attained. When I am practicing the skills I strive to be a part of the land and to follow my instincts, rather than to approach it with a “conquer everything” mentality. I am always observing and asking myself questions about this tree, or that rock and pretty soon I realize how much about the outdoors I don’t know, and how much there is to learn. In a sense it is frustrating because it can’t all be absorbed in one lifetime, but yet again, that is also the beauty of it: that we can only scratch the surface of something so grand.

How did you get involved in wilderness activities?
I have always had an innate fascination with the wilderness. When I was very young my uncle would take me adventuring through the back hills of Missouri. Those experiences always stuck with me, and as I grew up I kept looking for ways to keep those adventures going. Learning wilderness survival skills was a natural progression of my desire to spend time outside.

How do your products aid someone’s outdoor experience and what makes them unique?
A high quality knife is the core tool of the survivalist, but it most often comes with a synthetic sheath that is poorly designed, uncomfortable to carry, and is easily broken. Hedgehog Leatherworks sheaths are handcrafted from scratch, formed to fit the knife perfectly, and are made to last a lifetime. They facilitate easy and fast access to the knife while keeping it protected from damage when not in use. One of my favorite things about our sheaths is that they are so comfortable you forget you are wearing them. They have become the top choice of many of our active duty soldiers, wilderness survival instructors, and especially folks who appreciate good old American craftsmanship.