Artist Alexa Allen is a Renaissance Woman
Meet the Boulder-based furniture designer and leather artist
Artist Alexa Allen opens the door to her North Boulder studio, her tumble of curls pulled back into a wild ponytail, and dives right into her bio: born and raised in Boulder, art history degree from Scripps College, grad school at California College of Arts, with a focus on furniture design, and eight years creating custom cabinetry (what she calls her “real” education) revealed what would become for her a recurring theme: The process will lead you to where you need to be.
Coming home to Boulder in 2009, with a family in tow, was a bit of a culture shock after living in the Bay area, says Allen, who simultaneously faced the challenge of figuring out what was next.
A foray into wool felting (“didn’t quite feel like enough for me”) led to a grand vision of designing children’s furniture, “just as IKEA came out with its own, much more affordable line,” chuckles Allen.
But finally, she found her medium—leather. “Leatherwork is something that I have always found really appealing; leather is just kind of a magical material,” she explains.
She took classes and worked on a few projects, but it was a gig for Boulder-based jeweler Todd Reed, creating a men’s leather line, that launched her. “All of a sudden, I was back in my world of ‘Here’s the challenge, here’s the project, figure it out.’”
That work helped build her brand and gave her the boost she needed to start her own line in 2015. She made the art festival rounds and built a respectable following with custom wallets, belts, and bags.
When the pandemic delivered a punch in the gut, she responded in her trademark scrappy style, pivoting back to her roots— interiors. “Nobody was buying anything,” she says, “I needed a different outlet.”
The result? Gorgeous, custom leather bowls, drawer and cabinet pulls, leather-wrapped mirrors, chairs, and more now are drawing attention from hotels, designers, and homeowners.
And just like that, she’s back where she’s meant to be. “That’s the part I just love,” she says, “I’ve found my strength—that’s what excites me.””