Mitchell Leather was started by Jerry Mitchell in 1968. Jerry and his parents, Leo and Betty, escaped from communist Romania in 1964 and lived in Italy before coming to the United States one year later. They were sent to Milwaukee, Wisconsin because Jerry's father Leo was in the leather business and Milwaukee was the leather capital of the US. Jerry was an engineer who worked on hydraulics and automation before starting in the leather manufacturing business. He began by designing handbags from scratch and making them by hand. As time went on he acquired and customized machines that could be used in his factory. Soon he had 40 employees and was making over 1000 bags per week. Mitchell has sold to stores ranging from Neiman Marcus to many small shops and boutiques around the country.
Over the years Jerry focused more and more of his energy on his briefcase design. He became obsessed with making a briefcase that would do more than just look good sitting on a shelf. He wanted his briefcases to last for decades and be able to survive the stresses of carrying a heavy daily load. Jerry engineered two groundbreaking patents to that end. Each addressed a critical stress point on the bag where breakage would eventually occur. The first was the Mitchell "Modular Handle With Integrated Frame" which made the handle-to-bag joint virtually indestructible. The second innovation was the Mitchell "Strap Holder with Resistive Pouch" which did the same thing for the strap-to-gusset connection. By 1992 both of these patents were incorporated into every briefcase Mitchell made. In subsequent years there were further refinements and improvements. The result was a briefcase that would survive for decades without the need for any repair. Today, in 2009, we have some of the early bags that sometimes need a minor repair (which we usually do free of charge) but it's not the leather or the stitching that breaks. It's the brass hardware. Yes, the handle and strap holder are so well designed that the metal hardware wears out before the soft leather parts. Jerry was always very proud of this.
Jerry continued to work in the factory until Alzheimers/dementia disease began to significantly affect him in 2006. He was able to spend time in the retail store in 2007 and 2008. Jerry Mitchell passed away on March 1, 2009. Jerry's son David has continued where his father left off.