How to Start a Handmade Leather Goods Business

by Shanika Chapman; Updated September 26, 2017
Purses on shelves indoors

If you would love nothing more than to work for yourself, turn your craft into a part-time of full-time profession by starting a handmade leather goods business. To compete with larger outfits, develop a niche and focus your efforts on providing quality goods that are appropriately priced for your expected client base. Always start with a business plan, even if informal.

Items you will need

  • Leather
  • Industrial sewing machine
  • Leather needles
  • Stamping tools
  • Cutters
  • Measuring tools
  • Labels
  • Patterns
  • Tracing film
  • Modeling tools
  • Website
Step 1

Find your niche. In order to compete, you’ll need to identify your market, viable products to design and what you can expect to charge for your handmade goods. Start with your hobbies. If you are a pet owner or lover, consider starting a business making leather pet products. Another viable market is history enthusiasts who enjoy reenacting medieval battles. Civil War reenactors, looking for realistic leather pouches or other goods, are another potential market. Or make discreet leather pouches that can be worn under clothing for travelers.

Step 2

Determine what you can expect to charge for your products by studying sellers or companies that sell similar goods. Review completed listings on eBay to learn what niche leather products sell for. Visit Etsy or Amazon to view individual sellers and their price list. Visit related online forums, local organizations or clubs to gain insight on product ideas or ways to improve existing products. For example, with Medieval wear, durability and weight may be your biggest selling point. If designing costume apparel such as cuffed leather gloves, sheaths or belts, quality and authenticity is important. Consider personalizing your goods. Create a budget to ensure that you don’t invest more in procuring your materials than you can afford. If a product isn’t likely to reel in profit, scratch it.

Step 3

Find a leather supplier and procure the necessary supplies and equipment, such as an industrial sewing machine, leather needles, patterns, additional fabrics, sewing equipment, buttons and tassels, accessories, stamping tools, cutters, measuring tools, tracing film and modeling tools.

Step 4

Create signature labels for your products that include your business name and logo and care instructions, if applicable.

Step 5

Promote your work. Wear your handmade bags, belts and wallets to promote your items. When someone asks you where you got your gear, hand them your business card. Host leather parties for professional men and women to sell your personalized leather briefcases or wallets. Take your niche leather products to your target clientele, such as via craft shows, Medieval fairs, dog shows or events, local events, fairs and festivals. Start a website or sell your products on eBay or Etsy. Write articles online about leather care, maintenance and restoration or articles related to the industry you will target and then link back to your store.

Tips

  • Find useful ways to reuse leftover scraps, such as making patchwork goods, labels or small items.

    Always take high quality images of your handmade products.

    When starting your website, at a minimum, learn basic hypertext markup language and search engine optimization. HTML and SEO will help you ensure that your site is designed how you want it with relevant keywords that will help customers find your site. If your budget allows, consider hiring a web designer to help you design your site. Find enthusiast designers at a local community college that would likely do it for cheap. Or put an ad on Craiglist.

About the Author

Shanika Chapman has been writing business-related articles since 2009. She holds a Bachelor of Science in social science from the University of Maryland University College. Chapman also served for four years in the Air Force and has run a successful business since 2008.

Photo Credits

  • Jupiterimages/Photos.com/Getty Images
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