This one here is about setting up a leather business – infinite possibilities in this domain. I particularly love leather products due to their longevity. There is a leather belt I bought in 2013 and is still in exceptional shape today. I recall listening to a certain successful businesswoman several years ago. She was emphasizing the importance of buying high-quality stuff than buying several low-quality stuff. She highlighted how that it seems expensive to buy that top quality handbag but in the long run buying several low-quality ones will cost more. This is mainly because low-quality products do not last long and you end buying new ones several times over. That really made an impression on me to always buy top quality items, one of them being leather products.
The number of possible approaches is so high. To begin with, leather has different types – genuine leather, bonded leather, full-grain, top-grain, and split-grain leather being the most common. Those differences already tell you that there is so much you can choose to focus on. Then we have differences stemming from the animal from which the leather fabric was extracted. Crocodile leather is considered to be the most expensive leather in the world. At the very least you can just focus on sourcing and selling leather material but there is more.
The most exciting approach is to manufacture leather products. Often handcrafted products are usually a hit amongst consumers. There is no limit as to what you can produce; belts, shoes, wallets, handbags, and bags are some of the common ones. I personally know someone whose sole source of income is making leather belts, wallets, cardholders, shoes. His production scale is not big enough to supply in bulk – that is one approach. You can go beyond to manufacture on a much bigger scale such that you become a bulk supplier. That will require more than just some small pieces of handheld equipment
The amazing thing about leather is that the things that can be fabricated from it are infinite. You will find leather on car seats, on couches, jackets, and so forth; limitless. Overall, we looking at footwear, accessories, bags, clothing, upholstery, and handcrafts just to mention a few.
You will need a wide array of handheld and also mechanized machinery where possible. Some of such machinery and related accessories are specialized stitching wheels, stamps, threads, dyes, stencils, edge bevellers, specialized knives, groovers, mallets, skivers, slabs, cutting boards, shears, scissors, rotary cutters, stitching awls, chisels, and needles, amongst others. Some of these pieces of equipment can be make-shifts from the tools you already have. The great thing about a leather business is that it can be done wholly from home which eliminates many possible overheads.
You can start this business solo; most people into leather businesses do so. As the business steadily grows I notice most of them take on apprentices to help out whilst also learning. It is good that in this business you get to make high-value products but with zero or minimal human resources costs.
Money will be needed to source the necessary working equipment and to source the leather fabric. Prices of a leather fabric vary depending on type and source too. On average, a metre of leather fabric can cost anything from US$1 to US$3. Some can sell as per kilogram – an average of US$5 per kilogram; prices vary immensely.
The market for leather products is an interesting one. It is somehow not apparent and will mostly need you to interact with people up close to get clients. Digital marketing now works well too in making that much-needed interaction. Bear in mind that you must make mainstream products and also have room for bespoke leather products. I would especially encourage you to put together all the necessary components to make customized or personalized leather products.
Generally, the market for personalized products is ever-growing. Tapping into it with leather products is a smart niching strategy. Where possible you can enter working agreements with established outlets so that they showcase your leather products. From what I have observed, as with most businesses, your starting point when it comes to the target market is your social circle or sphere of influence.
Important Things To Consider
We do get it that leather is somewhat high end but do not let that delude you into over-charging. I have spoken to a couple of people doing leather businesses and they tell you that pricing is important. You also have to work wholeheartedly on marketing your products. All the leather purchases I have made in my life were purely because of exceptional marketing.
This is obviously common knowledge but let me briefly talk about it. Leather has different types so price accordingly. Simply because the term ‘leather’ is in the mix does not mean you should reap people off. Most of the products people make and sell are made from bonded leather. Bonded leather is miles away from genuine leather and the pricing must be different. Taking advantage of people’s lack of knowledge of these dynamics might catch up with you one day.
This is basically you can cost-effectively start on a small scale i.e. home-based. If the business performs quite well you can scale to an industrial level. Regardless, you can still make significant amounts of money just by operating on a home-based scale.