We’re always thrilled when we have new faces at the Maker’s Market. Adding to the roster of talented leathercraftsmen (and women) at our little Maker community is Leilane and Russel of Leather.PH (they’re a bit camera shy, so we’ll let their work speak for itself).
What do you make? How did you get into it?
Leather.PH is all about creating handmade leather products: no sewing machines, just a pair of needles, thread, and a lot of time. Our common passion for real leather products, and the disappointment with faux leather products that don’t last that long, drove us to create our own leather products. We shared our first creations online and people liked them and started ordering custom made products. We then decided to become more serious with the craft and the business that’s why we put up Leather.PH.
Are you a full-time crafter? If not, what is your day job?
Leila and I have full-time jobs: I work as the Digital Marketing Manager for Western Australia’s top commercial kitchen equipment retailer, and Leila is busy running our condo rental business. Our production time for Leather.PH orders is after office hours and weekends, making our production lead time is between 1 to 2 weeks from payment to shipping.
What motivates you in pursuing this business?
Our overall goal with Leather.PH is to share the appreciation of handmade real leather and make it affordable enough for people to have their own high quality leather products. We want to use Leather.PH to educate the buyers and encourage them to invest on real leather that lasts a long time, rather than buy the cheaper or less durable faux/fake/leather products.
What are some of the challenges of maintaining a craft business?
In our experience so far, the biggest challenge is meeting the demands of production. Luckily, we have already trained other people to help us produce the handmade leather products. This leaves us with more time to focus on designing and marketing the products.
What’s a new skill–craft or business–that you’d like to learn?
There are still a lot of skills in leathercrafting that Leila and I want to learn, but for now, we want to focus on making a scalable production process that will ensure excellent quality in every product we produce.
What’s your most recent craft business milestone?
We have recently secured a regular, high volume order from a big pharmaceutical distributions company for our leather products. We are proud that they like our products but even more humbled that such a big company trust in our craft to represent them to their clients.
What is your favorite lesson in your experience of your business?
Our biggest lesson, so far, is “It’s better to have more than enough raw materials, than to not have enough.” You will never know when a big order comes in for a specific leather stock, so we stock more than enough for the current demand. This saves us a lot of headache when an unforseen demand/order comes knocking on our doorstep.
What craft business advice can you share with other aspiring entrepreneurs?
Make sure you are making the best product that you can. Focus on quality first, volume later. As your reputation for producing quality products grows, so will the orders. Be patient, invest on quality.
Um, if you were a craft tool, what would you be? And why?
If we were leather making tools, we would be cutting knives. The cutting knife is versatile, a necessity to shape the leather products and should always be sharpened to be very effective. That last concept reflects are unceasing quest to improve our skills and our business, and to always be ready for any new challenge that comes our way.
What can we expect to see from you guys at the upcoming Maker’s Market?
Our participation in the upcoming Maker’s Market event will mainly be focused on education: we want to educate ourselves with how the craft industry goes and also to educate people on the value of handmade leather products. We will be showcasing our work samples of small leather products, such as gadget cases, and also big leather products like bags and porfolios. Our aim is not to sell a lot, on the spot, but to have informative discussions with potential customers about what are the right products for them,and hopefully get their orders during the Bazaar.
Where else can we find your work?
Our work is currently available on our website, www.leather.ph, where people can also place their orders and get in touch with us for custom made products. For the latest projects we completed or are working on, people can follow us in instagram @leather.ph.