The Story

Leather is in our blood. Our name and craft have been entwined for some time. From the deep roots to present day branches, below you’ll see how…

History 1884 - 2006
Heistercamp 2006 - Present
1884 - 2006



Gustavus A. Heistercamp

A baby is born in the small Belgian town of Oostvleteren (rolls right off the tongue…). He’s called Gustavus A. Heistercamp and will become a master craftsman. He fashioned and restored fine shoes made of – you guessed it – leather!


A sixteen-year-old boy arrives on English shores with nothing but a sixpence in his pocket, leaving the First World War to rage behind him. His name is Camille and he’s Gustavus’ seventh child of eight. He begins an apprenticeship for Shillaker’s – Belt manufacturers and one of the first manufacturers of handbags in England.

Belgian Cavalry

Camille returns to Belgium for a year’s National service. There’s no escaping leather even then, as he finds himself in the saddlery section of the Belgian cavalry!


Camille became a director at Shillaker’s, which had expanded and developed considerably and was employing 120 staff at the time.

Third Generation

Camille’s son David returns from his two-year National service in the Coldstream guards and becomes a director of Shillaker’s at age 21. He would spend three decades there, learning from his father before developing the craft further himself, becoming the third generation with leather-infused blood!

Cox the Saddler Ltd

David leaves Shillaker’s, taking some of his staff with him. He buys Cox the saddler Ltd with his wife Joan, where they work together until retirement.

Fourth Generation

David and Joan’s son, Nigel started working at the shop, later becoming a director. He built the leather and luggage repairs side of the business considerably.

Aries Leather

David and Joan retire. Cox the Saddler Ltd is sold. Nigel, with three generations of experience at his back and his supportive wife, Alaine at his side, decides to keep the repairs business and to start up on their own. They called themselves Aries Leather and as well as repairing leather goods, they also began making and selling leather Belts – the saplings of Heistercamp today…


Adventure called and Nigel and Alaine answered, deciding to begin a new life with their three children in the Devonian countryside! However, the business didn’t go with them immediately, which meant long commutes for Nigel, who stayed back in Bucks for four days a week! It wasn’t too long before the tedious back and forth trips took their toll and the workshop followed Nigel and Alaine to Devon. This was achieved largely through help from David, as well as Alaine’s Father Eric. Once the move was completed, they were trading under the name Repairs Direct.

Heistercamp Partnership LLP

As far as leather goods repairs were concerned, Repairs Direct had grown into one of the country’s top dogs, if not, the alpha dog. However, Nigel and Alaine yearned to create rather than repair and so, in preparation for this, they registered a new company with the name of Heistercamp Partnership LLP… The following year saw the sale of Repairs Direct and the beginning of a new adventure, which would go on to encompass the fifth generation of Heistercamp’s into leathery goodness…
2006 - Present



Early Years

So, with the sale of Repairs Direct (detailed in the pre-Heistercamp history) Heistercamp Partnership LLP could be born into the world! Nigel and Alaine are the forth generation of Heistercamp’s to align themselves with leather, Nigel by heritage, Alaine by marriage. Back then, the focus was on bags made from canvas and leather, as well as making the first of the bespoke leather belts, some of which you’ll still see today…

Guitar Straps

A fateful conversation with passionate musicians helped shape how Heistercamp would evolve. The guys working on the Heistercamp website at the time asked Nigel and Alaine whether they’d thought about making guitar straps before… the seed was planted and would later grow to become a dominate part of the Heistercamp brand.

Fifth Generation

The full-time and permanent addition of James, the first of the fifth generation of Heistercamps. He’d been assisting by way of photography and website aid for a while already. Once he’d jumped in fully, he added designing (both in regards to marketing and products) as well as crafting belts and wallets to his existing responsibilities.

Four Partners, One Family

The second son, Craig, joins the business full time. His main focus is crafting the guitar straps, however, he is soon roped into modelling the products as well because he can’t claim James’ skill with a camera… having said that, Craig is probably the most talented of the four. Did I mention that he writes most of the content…? Hello! 2015 also saw the four members of Heistercamp become equal partners in the business

The Big Move

Nigel and Alaine decide that a change of scenery is in order. Not a drastic change, mind you, more just an enhanced view of Dartmoor actually, which they found up the road in Hatherleigh! The workshop needs to move with them and the winter seemed like the best time to do this… to move into a wooden box without insulation or a heat source… Just as the Christmas rush began as well...

Present day

The four of us work in a now-insulated workshop, which even has a log burner and the undeserved luxury of a couple of windows for natural light! We are surrounded by epic Devonian countryside, with Dartmoor dominating our southern horizon. Our Location and way of life remains a key source of inspiration for what we do. Our motivation is sometimes fuelled by the work of the fifth Heistercamp, Nina – her chosen craft being in pastry, which means that she likes to bring us sweet treats from time to time!