Hobby-turned-business for a North Wales entrepreneur producing high-quality hand-made leather products.

Based in North Wales, Handcrafted Leather was launched by Mike Reid in 2019. The business, which started as a hobby, specialises in producing hand-made leather products, made sustainably and using traditional skills and techniques. The Welsh Government’s Business Wales service was brought on board to support Mike on his start-up journey through workshops and 1-2-1 advisory support.

Successfully started following workshop attendance and advisory support

  • 1 job created
  • Start-up loan secured

Introduction to business

Mike Reid launched Handcrafted Leather in 2019 in Flintshire to offer sustainably produced, hand-made leather products, using traditional skills and techniques. Located in a workshop, built from repurposed and recycled timber, Handcrafted Leather was born out of Mike’s passion for handcrafting and his 5-year experience of learning the traditional craft of leatherworking.

Why did you decide to set up your own business?

Having been brought up on John Wayne and Spaghetti Westerns, seeing those gun rigs or axe and knife sheaths, some with detailed carving and embossing, has always inspired me and called to my sense of creativity. I just couldn’t justify spending so much money on them! So, I started dabbling with making my own bits here and there. Then I would be asked to make something for a friend, or to repair a piece, and it’s just peaked and troughed on and off for a few years.

Last year, my family and I attended a festival, where I met craftsmen and women from all over the UK, and I loved it. I was drawn by their courage and passion to share their work and their knowledge, always very modestly and humbly. They inspired me to devote more time to something I truly enjoy and love, the thing that’s been missing, but without knowing what it was.

I went home in Hawarden after that weekend, buzzing with ideas. I’d decided: when I grow up, I want to be a leather craftsman.

What challenges did you face?

I guess the most daunting part of taking an idea and turning it into a business was the realisation of being self-employed. Speaking about it to people makes it more real, gives it life. I’ve not yet gone full-time, I have a 3-month notice with my employers, but I’ve held this off tactically to see through the quiet months at the start of 2020.

Having a poor credit score certainly hindered me approaching some start-up loan companies, even more so when it’s just a computer or a voice on the phone that decides. Meeting the Business Wales team in Wrexham, having a chat and a coffee made all the difference and gave me the hope I needed to pursue the idea.

Business Wales support

Mike got in touch with Business Wales as he wanted to turn his hobby of producing leather products into a viable business. Having worked with leather for the past few years, making things for himself and for friends, he had the experience but lacked the business skills to make it a reality.

After attending a start-up workshop covering all the basic and practical skills of becoming an entrepreneur, Mike got the confidence to take the plunge and received further advisory support, including advice on his business plan, financial projections, sourcing finance, tax and business administration.

Outcomes

  • successfully started following workshop attendance and advisory support
  • 1 job created
  • start-up loan secured

My adviser Lee Stephens was fantastic! He was able to help and advise me at every step, even with laying out the business plan in a professional way, on a computer! I can make many things out of all sorts of materials, but put me in front of a computer, and I’m baffled! 

He was always friendly during our meetings, encouraging and honest. You couldn’t find a more helpful adviser. 

Future plans and ambitions

With the fantastic help I’ve had, I have now successfully received the start-up loan, and I am building up my inventory of lifetime tools and materials, as well as investing in invaluable further training in both leather craft and having a more professional online presence. My newly camped website will be live hopefully mid-January, with the possibility of using other online stores, too. 

If you want to read more success stories of how Business Wales has helped other people like you to start or grow their businesses, visit https://businesswales.gov.wales/case-studies or follow @_businesswales / @_busnescymru on Twitter.

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