LAPat

Where is the money in leatherwork?

82 posts in this topic

Word of mouth is everything. Once you have a strong buzz about your product you can build off that. Never compromise your quality or artistic talents and stay true to yourself. Specialize in one thing and know it like gospel. Branch out and try new things in order to learn how to do the one thing you specialize in even better. Be kind and honest In Your dealings and know your customers.

Be innovative and tell your customers who you are and where you came from. I have a full time career and make a very decent living however with that said my hobby in leather working has turned into a beautiful part time business that almost equals my full time career. If I retired today and put even more time into it I would probably surpass my full time career. It becomes difficult at times with all the managing orders and shipments, finding new material and coming up with new ideas. Maintaining a presence on social media and posting pictures. The turnaround times become longer and longer. This hurts and helps at the same time. Hurts because as stated above the walmart generation has killed the craftsman or artist. Very few people appreciate bespoke work. It helps because those who know and do respect the craft understand how good you must be if your wait times are lengthy.

Joe

SNPRStrap.com

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Hehe interesting thing happened today! I stopped by a minute market in a little strip mall today. Strip mall has a small shoe repair shop in it and I decided to introduce myself to the owner and see if he could point me in the right direction for supplies and contacts. Went in and introduced myself and told him that I have a bad addiction to Leatherwork and did he know a local 12 step group! Anyway when I mentioned I do leather work, he looked at me like I was a smokin hot 18 year old virgin!!! He's so busy in his shop with the shoes that he has given up on any custom leather work and has to turn people away every week! He offered to pass out my business cards and to hook me up with a leather supplier! I haven't been at the leather working thing for very long and I'm a little worried that my skills might not be good enough. I'm going to take him a few of my done items and see what he thinks.... wish me luck!

Edited by Saxnn

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Great thread with a lot of helpful advice.  It is an old thread and is interesting to follow some of the links and see where these artisans are now.

Absolute respect for this forum and this thread.

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Man this thread was a great read. Thanks to all of you that contributed your time and experiences.

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Thank you to everyone that contributed to this thread.  I am new to this and love it, I was trying to figure out how to make it a 100% go.  EVERYONE'S points of view and insights have helped me to see what will need to be done to make it work.

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On 9/26/2011 at 10:00 PM, belliott said:

A friend of mine has a very successful saddle business. He employs his brother and has a few guys that drift in and work part time as well. He builds custom saddles. The majority of saddles that leave his shop are award or trophy saddles for rodeos,barrell racing and roping competitions. His brother builds 3 of the troghy saddles a week. The owner works on the custom saddles when he is not answering the phone, ordering materials, dealing with sales reps or dealing with crazy customers.

I think there will always be a market for what I call "cowboy art" products. Saddles,purses,walletts,chaps,rope bags and etc. I always believe this is the most competitive market along with the biker industry. I am working on my own niche as we speak. I'm not ready to reveal what it is and you will see why in a moment.

I think purses and boots are a good market. I think alot of crafts-folk over produce their goods. I say build a purse and make it a perfect 1 of a kind or maybe a run of 10. Try to build a product that can be appreciated for what it is, a piece of art. I believe in this age of the internet, where you can learn anything in forums or Youtube, items get copied. If you start producing a popular line of purses at craft shows or for ebay, within a month someone will be producing your design or using your marketing ideas.

I say keep production runs small and build your name. Produce an item and move on to the next design, keep innovating and building quality products. Stay out of debt, be frugal and the money will come.

Your advice is the best, several of your conclusions I had already assumed, that are now confirmed.

Thanks!

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18 minutes ago, Lthrz said:

Your advice is the best, several of your conclusions I had already assumed, that are now confirmed.

Thanks!

Very wise words here indeed but the poster of these words has only made this one comment since they joined this community and hasn't visited this community since 2013; not what I would consider to be a source for quality information or support.  We get out of our business what we put into it; if we don't invest ourselves then we will not see a return.  There are several of us who make a set line of items and have done so for quite some time and found success with them.  The trick is to learn what does work and replace what doesn't with a new (limited initial quantity) item until you fill out your line to where you want it.  I have found that those who are constantly trying to provide limited runs on items that sell through at a steady pace end up closing up shop because their satisfied customers recommend new ones who want the same thing only to find that it is no longer available so they go elsewhere.  Leather is not a "make it and they will buy it" type of operation, it has to be accepted in design, quality, and price by the consumer or else it is just another wallet (or whatever it is that you are making).  Uniqueness doesn't come from constantly changing what you make, it comes from how well you design what you make and how original it is.  Being copied is actually a sign of success so when you see it happening you just have to change your product listing information to reflect that yours is the original and that those copies out there are not to the same standards or craftsmanship as what you make (and, for the most part, it would be very true).  

Be unique by being original but don't spend too much time on trying to create new designs just to stay fresh; it will take up all of your time that should be spent on making your products.

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