By LISA PERKINS
TRAVERSE CITY — Michael Henke keeps it local. The owner of Fridrich Furs uses locally trapped pelts in his custom-made garments.
"I work with local trappers, many of the pelts come from Leelanau County," said Henke, a third-generation master furrier who has owned his shop in the Grand Traverse Commons for just over a year.
Growing up in the fur business, Henke said learning his craft was simply part of his daily chores.
"I grew up around it, my father grew up on a fox farm, it is all he has ever done," he said.
Henke, 54, achieved master furrier status by working alongside his father, owner of Firs by Fritz in Swartz Creek, and apprenticing under several other furriers.
"I love what I do, it is such a creative process," he said.
From concept to delivery Henke consults with his customers, taking measurements, making patterns and doing fittings before the actual assembly begins.
Henke said it takes about eight months to complete a one-of-a-kind coat. He also makes vests, mittens, pillows, hats and more.
He prefers to work with what he calls "vocal" furs, like coyote, but loves the challenge of creating pieces he considers works of art, integrating pelts from head to tail.
"If you have an idea, I'm happy to work with you to make it happen," he said.
Henke said using Grandma's fur to create a new fashionable piece is a large part of his business. He also takes dated coats from the '80s and restyles them to look more current.
"The value of the fur is in wearing it, not have it hanging in your closet."
Fridrich Furs is located at 800 Cottageview Drive, Suite 35C in Traverse City. For more information, call 421-1738.