From Hobby To Hustle: Selling Leather Goods

You’ve been leather crafting for quite a while and you have amassed the skills needed to take it to the next level. You decide that it is time to sell your projects and have some return of investment, maybe some profit–definitely profit off your creations. It’s a good time to start a side hustle and turn your hobby into a business. With COVID-19 still keeping industries to a standstill, it’ll be great if you can make extra income from something you’re already doing well.

Can you make money selling leather goods? Yes. There’s money to be made in selling leather goods. However, pricing, marketing and positioning, plus exercising due diligence in setting it up can make or break your side hustle. As with everything, this business takes time, patience and effort.

In this article, I will talk about what can make your leather goods profitable, figuring out the costing of the business, and what are the myths that you need to look out for when starting your leather business. Starting a business sounds intimidating, especially if you’re just starting to plan your first foray into making leather goods to sell, but with a good plan, you can make it work.

What Will Make Your Side Hustle Profitable

While there are different interests and markets that could determine certain leather items’ profitability, overall it will still boil down to how you position your business or side hustle and your determination in marketing your items properly. Yes, some goods might outsell others, but here are a few things to keep in mind if you want your leather goods business to make decent money.

An Answer To A Problem

Your business should answer the question “what problem do I solve?”. This is called determining your value proposition or what value does your business give to your customer. Make it as specific as you can and take the time to do some research on forecasting so you’ll know the problem that your customer wants to be solved beforehand. Take time to know your competitors, too, so you can set yourself apart from them.

Selling To The Right Customer

This answers the question, “Who will buy my leather goods?”. This is your target market and goes hand in hand with your value proposition. For leather crafting, most of the time, especially as a side hustle, it’s a “custom-oriented” business and not retail. You can use surveys or directly ask potential customers to figure out your target Target Market. 

Both value proposition and target market are what you call brand positioning. You can write your idea down for a clear view of how you will position your leather goods business in the market. An example would be, “my business provides professionals with durable leather wallets that are small enough to fit cards and some cash, but thin enough to fit into dress pants or chinos”.

Exercise Due Diligence

This is where you plan the steps into creating your business. Consider it as a map towards your goal of being profitable. A rock-solid plan is always good but you can just start out with a simple starter plan that can do wonders. Think of your costs, the price you want to sell your goods and the legal aspects of starting your business. It may be cliche, but it still holds true: “failing to plan is planning to fail”.

Legalities Involved In Your Hustle

Legal requirements and costs may vary based on your location and the nature, size or scale of the business. For an internet-based side hustle, you may want to start with registering a business name and tax requirements. You may also want to consider licenses and permits and other safety and sanitation requirements, especially if you are planning to open a physical store. Eventually, as your business grows, you may also want to get business insurance. 

Figuring Out Costs And Pricing Of Your Leather Goods

One of the most important factors when it comes to selling your leather goods is the price. This determines how much you can earn. It covers the cost of making the leather goods and also the profit you are going to make. Figuring it out can be tricky, but it can be planned out properly. 

Costs To Start And Operate

There are three main kinds of cost that you have to figure out for production. The first one is called direct materials. This will vary according to the tools, equipment and materials that you will need to use for your product. This will include the packaging cost.. Next is direct labor. This is the amount that you will charge for your service. Contrary to what some believe, this is not the profit. This is how much you will charge for the time and effort you spend making the product. Take your skill and experience into account but do not shortchange yourself. Lastly, you also have to account for overhead costs or the payment for utilities and costs that are fixed like rent, electricity, web hosting fees and post boosts in social media.

You will also have to consider shipping and handling fees, as well as storage. If you can store inventory in your house, then it would lessen the cost, but also think of expanding your storage options if possible. Taxes and other legal fees will also have to be incorporated to the total cost of the product.

Pricing And Profit For Your Leather Goods

Your price should cover the cost of the product plus profit. This ensures that you can sustain your business and continue to expand. For starters, do some research on how your competitors price theirs to have a feel of the market. You also have to know your product and brand positioning. 

You wouldn’t want to price way above or below your class. Remember that customers won’t mind paying for something that solves their needs and is of good quality. For starters, try keeping your crafts simple to keep the costs low and have better profit.

You also have to price your product for profit. To do that, find the Wholesale price and the Retail price. For the wholesale price, add the cost of direct materials and direct labor and multiply it by two. To get the retail price, double the number you will get from computing for the wholesale price. So if you have a leather satchel that costs, for example, $15 and your labor cost is $12, your wholesale price would be $54 while your retail price would be $108.

Where To Sell Your Leather Goods

While nothing beats having a pop-up store in a bazaar or mall, technology has made selling products easier and less costly. You can even do it at home. Web hosting sites, like SquareSpace, offer a convenient way to build  your own website so you can offer your wares to your customers. There’s Etsy, an E-commerce site that specializes in letting sellers showcase their handcrafted goods. Amazon is also a good way to sell. 

Social Media pages like Facebook and Instagram either have sections where you can directly sell or funnel traffic to your web page or E-commerce site to encourage sales. 

YouTube is another way to sell your goods. Making videos and funneling or leading your viewers to your site is a great way to, not only monetize your channel, but also get sales. You can even use affiliate marketing as a strategy and get influencers to market your products for you.

Myths About Starting A Leather Goods Business

A good number of leather crafters hesitate in selling their projects because they either overthink the business side of the hobby or they have questions that hound them. They worry about certain myths and misconceptions about pursuing their goal of earning from leather crafting. Learn some of these myths and why it should not hinder you from starting your business.

Needing Big Capital

You will only need a big amount of starter money if you are planning to go into manufacturing leather goods on a mass scale. Most leather goods businesses begin at home so you can start with what you have. As long as you keep costs low by not spending on unnecessary costs, like new equipment you already have, and remembering to price for profit, you can parlay any decent amount of money you have into a starting capital for your business.

Hurting The Environment

Genuine vegetable-tanned leather does away with the chemicals used to treat and make faux leather which could also harm the environment. It has its share of ethical issues, but as long as you limit your wastage in making your products, and make quality goods that are truly functional and benefit customers greatly, then you are, at least doing your part in making sure nothing goes to waste.

Being Successful By Just Winging It

Trying to wing a business is dangerous. Don’t just set up shop and post on Etsy or Facebook right away. Do your research. Look at the competition, Exercise due diligence in making sure you have the right position and price to have a sustainable business that’s just not breaking even, but making profit. 

Failing to plan may frustrate you when things don’t turn out the way you think they would and, even worse, may lead you to quit on your business.


Starting a leather goods business is a great way to earn money, especially with COVID-19 still at large. Be precise in positioning your brand to your customers. Add value and serve your market well by answering their needs. Keep your costs low and remember to price for profit. Be creative in selling your leather products and use social media strategies like funneling viewers to your website. Start with what you have but be responsible enough not to waste any more than you need to use. Have the confidence to make a plan and execute it. You’ve worked hard to become a skilled leather crafter. It’s time to expand and turn your hobby into a business.

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