Odin Clack, founder of Odin Leather Goods, has a cool, inviting presence that makes you feel comfortable even if you're standing in his garage in 90 degree Texas heat. He also has a revolver in the front pocket of his apron. He pulls it out halfway and smiles boyishly.
“Maybe don’t put this in the article,” he says.
I say we’ll see.
It’s Monday morning and we're in Odin’s garage-turned-workshop where Odin Leather Goods was born a little more than four years ago. Since its inception the brand has gone from hobby to full-time side project, keeping Odin busy in his workshop until late into the night. Which isn’t a problem for him. “When it gets cool at night, when the wind is blowing, even if it’s raining, there’s no place I’d rather be than my workshop,” he tells me. He gestures to the space around us which is packed with machines and products and piles of old baseball gloves from his recent inspiration: baseball gloves transformed into wallets. “The Sandlot Edition.” He hands me one to inspect. It’s very cool. For a second I wonder if he’d notice if I took one. Then I remember that Odin is packing.
“I have six guns in this garage alone,” he says, sliding the revolver back into his pocket. I tell him I noticed the rifle in the corner when I came in. He squints at it and then corrects himself: “Seven guns. There are seven guns in this garage.” Which really isn’t too surprising. Not only is Odin a born-and-raised Texan (“You put me in another state and I’ll brag about Texas all day long.”). He’s also an incessant tinkerer. Leather is just the latest in a long line of Odin’s hands-on projects that have included Harley Davidson motorcycles, jiu jitsue, and, of course, guns.
“It’s like this. If I see someone doing something cool, building cars or whatever, I ask myself, What’s the difference between them and me? And the answer is usually not that they’re smart or that I’m dumb. The answer is just that they went after something. So I figure if I can go after it too. What’s stopping me from trying to figure something out?”
And most nights that’s exactly where you’ll find Odin: in his workshop at 1am, sipping George Dickle whisky, figuring things out. “The things I learn are not new techniques,” he says. “They’re age old. There’s just not a lot of new stuff happening when it comes to leather. These are the same things people have been doing for hundreds of years. Like this thing here.” He holds up a wooden tool in the shape of the letter F, used to cut long, straight strips of leather. “This is just something some old guy figured out a thousand years ago. Now I’m figuring it out too.”
And figure it out he has. In just four years Odin has not only gone from novice leather worker to respected craftsman, he’s also become a recognizable personality in the industry with over 16k followers on Instagram. “I was at Ikea with my wife the other day and this guy was like, ‘Hey! You’re that leather guy!’ It’s probably happened eight or nine times by now. I was like, Why would someone recognize me of all people? Then I realized: it’s got to be the beard.”
True to his personality, Odin’s beard is piece of craftsmanship in itself. “There’s this idea that you just let your beard grow and there it is. But no. I take care of my beard. I use good products. I’ve had facial hair since I was 14 years old, and I’ve only gone clean shaven three or four times in my life. The last time was six or seven years ago. It lasted two weeks and then I was like, ‘I’ve got to grow this back.’”
I asked Odin if he’s committed to having a big beard for the long haul. He admitted that he’s occasionally thought about cutting it off. “But I once heard a tip that if you’re thinking about cutting off your beard, consider how many months you’ve been growing your current beard and that’s how many days you have to wait before you can go through with it. That’s saved me a couple times. Your beard goes through stages right? You get split ends. This or that goes wrong. It just acts the way it wants to act. I don’t know any epic beards that are epic every single day. Some days they’re just a disaster. On those days you’re filled with doubt and want to get rid of it. But if you’ll just stick with it, I promise the epicness will return.”
Whether it’s beards, bikes, leather or guns, Odin Clack is a true craftsman, devoted to his work, his business and his family. He sits in his workshop late into the night, making products that will last a lifetime. They all carry his signature “Odin” seal. And, of course, they’re all “Made in Texas.”
Odin's Beard Oil of Choice: Winter No. 1
Beard Wisdom: “In the summer time, balms work really well. Pools and chlorine dry your beard out. Balms stay in your beard and give it a little shine. So, in the summertime, balm it up.”