Couple creates leather jewelry, tailor-made products


Not everyone can successfully integrate marriage and business, but Bob and Patty Frakes are breaking the status quo with their leather goods company Frakes Designs. Patty is a descendant of the Travis family and a day legal assistant for the Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeal. Bob retired from the Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics and now oversees their business operations, which include creating jewelry, key chains, and custom projects with leather.

Bob’s interest in this art form began at a young age, and he now has over 30 years of professional experience in leather goods.

“When I was a kid, not far from our house was a Tandy leather goods store,” said Bob. “I kind of became friends with the owner at the time, and started fiddling around.”

He did not develop his interests much until adulthood, when the woodcut of another family member provided great inspiration. Her brother gave her a box of tools, which included everything needed to get started.

“When Bob picked it up and started working, he stuck with it,” Patty explained.

Attracted to Western models, Bob began making smaller crafts for personal use, including belts and wallets. Three decades later, he has broadened his skills and can do projects of all sizes: from earrings and bracelets to gun cases and guitar bags.

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After 48 years of marriage, the duo understand each other’s strengths and weaknesses.

“Bob and I laugh about it a lot because we’re both strong personalities,” Patty said. “But for now, I’m the student and he’s the teacher. He is a real leather craftsman. He knows what leather can do.

Although Bob worked alone at first, a special project three years ago required Patty’s help. Since then, she has provided product ideas and economic knowledge.

“My role is mainly to design, finish and assemble parts. … I am what you call product control, ”Patty said with a laugh.

Before becoming a school counselor, their daughter Jennifer was a basketball coach in Rush Springs, Oklahoma. She wanted a unique way to remind players of their motto: “You get what you give. Patty and Bob rose to the challenge by creating unique bracelets for each player and coach.

“It was our first foray into jewelry, and everyone loved them so much,” said Patty. “Up to this point, Bob was only doing special projects.”

Word quickly spread and the Frakes quickly had many requests for accessories, key chains and more.

“The people in the small town of Jenni all wanted (our parts),” she said. “And that’s how our business started for us: just being able to create. “

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The popularity prompted them to use new equipment and expand their base by partnering with boutiques, attending events, and establishing an online presence through craft groups.

“One of the most interesting things for me was seeing this creative process evolve,” said Patty. “In the beginning, everything was hand cut, hand shaped, hand sewn and hand finished. As with most things in life, technology is now playing a bigger role. “

Demonstrating their ideas is easier than ever with the addition of a 3D printer and laser engraver.

“We can now create quickly so that most people can afford a custom part. But even with all the technology, every part is still hand finished for a beautiful end result, ”she said.

Custom orders also provided the Frakes with the opportunity to learn more about Native American culture, particularly Potawatomi.

“It’s really cool to get acquainted again with all of these symbols and what they mean – symbols that I’ve seen a lot throughout my life but never really understood,” Patty said. .

Although their business is helping Patty connect with her Nishnabe heritage, she said it was also a way to return the support she received.

“My three children and I all benefited from the scholarship program and were able to complete our studies. … I really appreciate everything the Tribe does, ”she said.

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Looking to the future

As a paralegal, most working days involve a tremendous amount of reading and writing, but Patty’s professional career doesn’t allow for much creativity. Frakes Designs offers a means of expression.

“It’s nice to escape from reading the law,” she said. “I appreciate this part of my life even more, especially the older I get. “

The company also has Patty who is thinking about retirement.

“It would be a lot easier to retire if I hated my job, but I love my job. But now I love the design elements to create something really pretty and meaningful, ”she said.

For now, the Frakes continue to improve their home studio and experiment with new techniques. They plan to set up booths to market their products statewide and increase sales through a website and Facebook page.

“I can’t wait to be in public,” Patty said. “We are both vaccinated and ready to go. “

Potawatomi Gifts features some of Frakes Designs’ items in store and online at Learn more by liking them on Facebook @frakesdesigns.

Examples of their work.

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