Buckaroo Buys: Sierra Nevada Leather
- October 9, 2019
- Savanna Simmons
I forever look for opportunities to meet people and get to know who they are. I rode in an Art of the Cowgirl Clinic hosted by Tammy Pate and Lee Smith in Montana this summer, which was attended by so many interesting women, and I failed to visit with them to the extent I had hoped. I discovered that one woman, Sierra Hunewill-Brown, makes stunning leather good that I have admired for some time. In an attempt to get to know her better, and share her wonderful work with you, I reached out to her with a few questions. So here’s what Sierra (pictured below) has to say about her journey thus far:
I grew up in a small town near the Sierra Nevada Mountains in Nevada called Wellington. I went to college at Baylor University in Texas, and now I am an active duty officer in the Air Force while also working with my husband on the Dana Ranch in MT.
My family has been involved with horses and cows since the 1860s. My grandparents ran a pack station, and my cousins/aunts/uncles all ran cows, which sparked my love for the industry at a very young age. I grew up riding horses, and working for my family who now run a guest ranch and cows in Bridgeport, CA (Hunewill Ranch).
My cousin Jon is a very talented saddle maker and leather worker, and I was always fascinated by his work. My cousin Blair is also quite the rawhide braider and buckaroo gear collector, which always drew my attention. I was also blessed with a great mentor, Sallie, who was always willing to share her talents with repairing and building beautiful pieces of gear.
I think really what sparked my interest in leather working was being around the high quality of gear that my family members invested in and thinking how special it was that their saddles, chinks, armitas, bits, headstalls, etc. were so finely made that they could be passed on for generations and continue to work well for both the riders and the horses.
My mom gifted a few tools to me that my grandpa had acquired a long time ago, which I used to build my first belt that I gifted to my boyfriend at the time. He is now my husband and still wears that belt years later. He loves that ugly thing.
I built my first set of chinks a few years ago in my college apartment, and hand stitched them because I didn’t have a sewing machine. They were pretty rough looking, but they did the job, and from then on I was hooked. I started building hobbles, headstalls, and sewing patches on hats and selling them until I earned enough money to buy a Cobra sewing machine.
Now I enjoy making any kind of gear with a focus mainly on working tack that can be put to the test and last a long time. Chinks and armitas are by far my favorite thing to make. I’ll be doing a collaboration with my good friend, Kailey Klein at Magpie West Leather Co, for some Art of the Cowgirl goodies here soon. I’m really excited for that.
I love the people that the ranching industry has introduced me to, and I hope to continue to add something special to that by creating pieces of gear that people love and can count on to last through countless days of hard work.
Shop Sierra’s gear at www.sierranevadaleather.com.
About Savanna Simmons
I'm Savanna Simmons and I live north of Lusk, Wyoming, on the Four Three Ranch with my husband Boe and our sons, Brindle and Roan. I grew up evolving my horsemanship with clinicians like Ray Hunt, Joe Wolter, and Jack Brainard, but not within a...