Belts have been around in one form or another since the bronze age. For the most part these belts were for utilitarian purposes until the 18th century. At this time they were enlisted by the military as a functional piece as well as a decorative piece. Belts didn’t really become widely used until the beginning of the 20th century due to dramatically lowering trousers to the waist lines. Once again utilitarian, and let the fashion statements begin! Belts today serve the same purpose they have for centuries but we use them for all kinds of statements. To project a portion of a person’s personality and beliefs as well as simply adding an elegant or flamboyant flair. Wiley Brothers has a decent range of beautifully made belts that exemplify simplicity and elegance not to mention holding your britches in place!
16 Years ago my brother and I started Wiley Brothers to meet a need and a demand – the need was for an honestly made and high quality product and the demand was for a hoof pick belt. It was a transitional time for both of us – Peter was freshly graduated with a degree in international business and I was looking for my third and hopefully successful entrepreneurial endeavor. We sourced the leather, the brass and found some excellent craftsmen in Maine to make the belts. Within a few months we had two belts to offer stores and friends. The signature was and still is the brass hoof pick on a dark brown leather strap and the second was the ubiquitous #12 solid brass buckle also on a dark brown leather strap. With two samples and a price list I went off to make my first sale and found success at Eljos in Charlottesville. Miles Thurston, the owner, really did like the belt but was also helping us out and placed an order for 60 pieces! He and his son Trent are amongst our most loyal customers and 16 years later are still carrying our belts!
During the intervening years Wiley Brothers has struggled to stay afloat and on two occasions nearly went down for the count. If it wasn’t for the support of friends too numerous to count, loyal and patient stores and a good bit of luck Wiley Brothers would have been a part of that 80% small business failure rate. We are now not only afloat but boast a full line of belts for men, women and children. There are 16 buckles and ten colors of leather from which to choose and the majority of our buckles are now cast locally in both brass and white bronze. While we will continue to be predominantly a belt company, we will be offering other strap related products such as key fobs, braces, cartridge belts and possibly dog collars and leashes.
The last 16 years have been some of the scariest and most exhilarating of my life. I have never found anything that has come close to the experiences associated with being an entrepreneur. It is a high wire act during which you dare not look down but with that comes the joy and relief of learning and knowing the power of perseverance. We produce, by hand and on these shores, an exceptionally high quality and beautiful product. Many thanks to all of you for helping us survive these past years and for supporting our future endeavors.
Marcus T Wiley
Co-Founder and Owner