If you want to turn your leather crafting hobby into a business, you are ready for the next step, which is planning your business. Now, it is more than registering your leather business with the state. When you are starting a business that is new to you, it is best to do as much research as possible so that it will turn out to be successful.
How do you start a leather business? Begin with a business plan where you take note of the costs, target market, pricing, and profit. Then, register your business for taxes, get the permits and licenses, and insurance needed. Lastly, create a website and learn how to reach customers.
Knowing the important factors of starting a leather business is important. In this article, I will talk about how you can begin your leather business plan, register for permits and licenses, and obtain insurance. I will also talk about the principles that you need to take note of to be successful in your chosen business. Lastly, I will also discuss whether a leather business is a perfect fit for you.
Begin Your Leather Business Plan
Having a clear plan is critical when starting any business. It helps you map out specifics such as the cost of starting the business, how you can make a profit, and how much you should charge your customers. In this step, you will discover the unknowns, and it is also where you will decide which leather business is profitable and what you want to pursue.
Know the Costs Involving Starting a Leather Business
You can start a leather business with a small capital, depending on your focus. It will be a cheap start if you plan to sell pre-crafted items online from your home. You would need to use the money to build up your stock. Handbags, purses, gloves, and other small leather items are some of the things that you can purchase wholesale.
Now, it may cost you a bit more if you want to make these leather materials yourself. You would need to consider the cost of the equipment you will be using. This equipment will be industrial sewing machines, leather needles, cutting tools, and patterns.
You would also need some sort of form to reach your customers. Creating your website or access to retail options are some of the ways that you can sell your items. You can post them through eBay, Poshmark, and other social media channels.
Aside from online, you can also run your business in a storefront. However, you need to factor in the costs for rent, utilities, and business insurance. This would raise the overhead cost to start your leather business in a physical location. Depending on your store’s location, you can reach more customers than starting your business at home.
If you don’t want to create or re-sell leather products, you can also offer services and repairs. This will again come with additional costs for the equipment that you will use. At this point, you also need to consider the ongoing expenses that you would have in the future. This includes materials and finished resale products, rent, utilities, internet, and phone.
Know Your Target Market
Once you have set your mind to a particular leather business, you have to determine your target market. Your customer would consist of people who have purchased leather items before. Though leather products may be popular, some people may shy away from the use of animal products.
Other customers may appreciate the durability, rugged, refined quality of leather products. Leather can also be reasonably priced where goods, as well as services, may have a luxurious price to it. Let’s say you customize a bag for someone, and it will have a higher price tag than the regular leather bags in department stores.
One Time Start-Up Cost for Your Leather Business
There are a couple of one-time startup costs that you need to consider when starting your leather business. These are office equipment, photoshoot equipment, stamp and maker’s mark, business cards, website and domain fees, listing fees, and advertisement.
Office Equipment — Your Basic Home Office
Now, chances are you already have a computer, printer, and the basic home office equipment, so you don’t need to spend money here. You would need a way to get online, create a website and list for your leather products. Though it may be tempting to get a new one, it is still best to use the current one that you have.
Old models will do as well, given that they are working perfectly fine. Now, if you don’t have office equipment, what you can do is borrow a friend’s computer instead. This would ensure that you can keep your overhead cost low. If you don’t have any choice, it is best to buy the cheapest computer and printer that you can find in the market.
Photoshoot Equipment for Quality Pictures
Next, you would need to have some photoshoot equipment. When it comes to selling your leather products online, quality photos are the key. Customers need to see a good representation of whatever products that you have to offer. To achieve quality pictures, you would need to have a quality camera and good studio lighting.
This equipment doesn’t come cheap, so if you have an iPhone 7 or better, you can use this instead. All you need to do is find bright natural lighting for the best outcome possible for your pictures. You also have an option to borrow a camera from family members or friends when available. It will also be a great asset if you have a photographer friend that can take the photos for you.
Stamps and Maker’s Marks for Your Signature
Another significant investment that you should consider to have is stamps and maker’s marks. It is a great way to ‘sign’ your leather products with your brand logo. Maker’s mark is usually made with a heated branding iron. It will emboss the image of your logo on the leather products that you are selling. There’s a wide array of options when it comes to these devices.
You can get a soldering iron route starting at $25, while higher quality machines can reach up to $800. If you opt to choose logo stamps, it would cost you about $40.
Spread the Word Through Business Cards
Business cards are a great way to spread the word about your leather business. With a business card, you can make it easy for people to contact you through email or phone. You can give your business cards to people you meet along the way, and with every order you send. Joining craft fairs and networking events are also great places to distribute your business cards.
The basic business card will only cost you about $20 to $50. Now, this can turn out to be a recurring monthly cost, so you need to include this in your initial budget.
Website Domain, Hosting Fees, and Listing Fees
Usually, a website domain would cost about $10 or more, and you should expect to renew this every year. When it comes to website hosting, there are other fees that come with it, and expect to pay it monthly. If you plan to list your products through Shopify, the fee would be $29 a month, whereas Squarespace would cost you $30 a month.
Now, if you choose to list your products through Etsy, they don’t have hosting fees, but they do have listing fees. They charge $0.20 per product that you list on their website.
This would apply to social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest. It would also include your print ads. Though this is optional, it is good to think about it at the start of your business. A lot of businesses allow huge advertising budgets because it can result in good organic traffic on your website. When this is done properly, social media ads can boost your web traffic and sales.
All About the Money
Charging Customers and Knowing Your Profit
The price that you would charge your customers would depend on what you are selling and offering. Make sure that you research your competition and see where your price points will fall. When selling high-end leather bags, it can range up to five figures, wherein leather glove repair ranges from $10 to $20.
You need to make sure that your prices are just right, not too low and not too high. You can expect your leather business to make $30,000 to $40,000 annually with the proper pricing. You can expect to earn more if your overhead costs are low.
Making Your Leather Business Profitable
To make sure that your leather business is profitable, you can offer leather-related products. These products include leather cleaning, conditioner, or care oils and solutions. When the customer likes it, they will continue to buy it even if they don’t buy your leather goods. Those accomplished leatherworkers can offer specialty designs, and custom builds.
You can offer these products at a premium price and can be an additional source of revenue. It may not be the primary moneymaker, but it can add profit to your leather business.
Naming Your Leather Business
Choosing the perfect name for your leather business can be challenging, but it is the most important part of starting a business. There are available websites where you can brainstorm to get the leather business name that you want. If you are planning to start your business as a sole proprietorship, it is best to name your business other than your name.
To register your business name, you need to research the name that you are aiming for through the state’s business records, federal and state trademark records, social media platforms, and web domain availability. Make sure to secure your domain name before anyone else does.
Registering for Your Leather Business Taxes
There are different state and federal taxes that you need to go through before opening your leather business. Apply for an EIN to register for taxes which is an easy process and free of charge. You can acquire the EIN through the IRS website via fax or mail.
Now, depending on your business structure, there are different options on how you would be taxed. These options are sole proprietorship, partnership, limited liability company (LLC), and corporation. Business entities such as LLC or corporation protect you from being held liable in the event your business is sued.
You have to take note that there are specific taxes that might apply to your business. You should have a proper understanding and perform proper research on this step.
Open Your Business Bank Account
It is crucial to separate your personal business assets for your personal asset protection. Having a separate business account will also make your accounting and tax filing easier. You should also get a business credit card separate from your personal credit card, which can help build your company’s credit history. It can be useful to raise money and investment later on.
When setting your business accounting, you should record various expenses and sources of income. It is critical for understanding the financial performance of your leather business. With proper accounting, you will get accurate and detailed accounts that can simplify your annual tax filing.
Get the Necessary Permits and Licenses
Without the proper permits and licenses, it can lead to hefty fines and may cause your leather business to shut down. There are particular state permits and licenses that you need to get before operating your business. Most businesses require sales tax on the goods or services that you offer. Make sure to check your town, city, or county clerk’s office for the license and permits that you need to get. You can also get assistance from local associations.
Certificate of Occupancy for Your Physical Store
Acquiring a certificate of occupancy (CO) is excellent for those who have a storefront. In order to qualify to get a CO, you need to confirm that all building codes, zoning laws, and government regulations are met.
When you are leasing a location, it is the landlord’s responsibility to obtain the CO for you. You would need to confirm if your landlord has or can obtain a valid CO. Now, if you would be doing major renovations on your physical location, a new CO would need to be issued. Most storefronts are usually renovated before opening, and I would recommend including language in your lease agreement.
The lease payments will not commence until you get the new valid CO. When you plan to purchase or build your own location, you will be responsible for obtaining the valid CO from your local government authority. As mentioned above, you need to review all the building codes and zoning requirements to obtain a CO.
The Important Business Insurance
Business insurance will ensure that your leather business will operate safely and lawfully. It protects your company’s financial wellbeing in case of a covered loss. There are several types of insurance policies that you have to consider. Different types of business come with different risks. If you are unsure of what insurance to get, it is best to get general liability insurance.
General liability insurance is the most common coverage for small businesses. This type of insurance policy will protect the business from the financial burden of any claims that may arise. These claims are bodily injury, personal injury, or property damage. The cost of general liability insurance ranges from $300 to $1,000 per year.
Another insurance that you should consider is Workers’ Compensation Insurance. This is great if you are planning to have employees at your leather business. It is also mandated by the state to carry the Workers’ Compensation Coverage. This insurance provides financial assistance for injured employees, minimizes the risk of employee lawsuits, and provides reimbursement for medical and rehabilitation expenses.
The Workers’ Compensation Insurance also serves as a replacement wage for your employees and provides death benefits as well. Caring for your employees is another factor that you need to consider when you are starting your leather business.
All About Your Leather Business Brand
Your brand is what your company stands for and how the public perceives your business. A strong brand will help your business stand out. To do this, you should get an appealing logo and learn how to promote your leather business in the market effectively. Creating an online presence through social media and websites is one of the most effective ways to make your brand known.
Spreading your business online will allow you to reach customers around the world. It will also help your name and reputation grow. You can gain membership to leather guilds and organizations to create a beneficial connection for your business. To help show your products and abilities, you can join crafting conventions and tradeshows.
When building a successful leather business, reputation is the key. You need to be prompt with your work or shipments. Maintaining a professional and courteous attitude towards your vendors and customers can help you gain an excellent reputation in the market.
You should always offer the best design and products possible to your customers. Avoid being complacent and also strive to go beyond your customer’s expectations. Customers tend to shy away from stagnation because they will tend to be bored with the same design and products.
Creating Your Leather Business Website
Creating your leather business website is one of the crucial steps that you need to consider when starting a leather business. Some may think it may be out of their reach, but you don’t need to have experience when building a website. With all of the technological advancements today, it is easier to create your own site. Following a couple of tutorials here and there would really help you create the business website that you want.
Delaying your website may not be a great idea. You have to remember that all legitimate businesses have websites, no matter what the size or industry of a business. Facebook, Instagram, or other social media channels are not a replacement for business websites.
There are a lot of website builder tools that you can take advantage of, so there’s no need to hire a web developer. You can create your own and have a leather business website that you can be proud of. All you need is a tad bit of creativity, and you will get the website that you need for your business.
The entire process is not a pain and will take about two to three hours to finish.
Principles To Follow for a Successful Leather Business
Continuous Learning is the Key
Refining your craft until you think you can do no better is the key to a successful leather business. There’s always room for improvement and new knowledge. Mastering a craft never ends, so you should refine your work as much as possible. It is best to go a little beyond what you think is good enough. When you think you reached the best that you can do, show your work to other people. This is where you can start your own leather business.
Improve one Aspect at a Time
Make sure that you focus on one aspect at a time. Don’t go looking for ten different ways to improve your craft. These aspects can be sewing, gluing, cutting, or can be just one detail like how to improve the details on a product. Make sure to choose one component and really focus on it.
Tell yourself that everything needs to be good and focus on a few products. Be the best at whatever products you focus on. Remember that not all companies start out offering everything. They usually offer products that are honed and refined. It would be best if you didn’t have to offer a huge catalog of items right away.
Make sure to get a reputation for one or a few things first, focus on that, and then branch out. With this in mind, it will help you get better and well known in the leather business industry.
Love What You Do
I know you have heard of the saying, “if you love what you do, no need to work a day in your life.” Now, most successful leather business owners didn’t go through trained leather school. They usually refine their skills through research and practice until they produce something that they can be proud of.
The key to having a successful leather business is trial and error until you reach perfection. Passion is also the main contributor to success. When you love what you do, you will take it seriously and will be successful eventually.
Leather Business: Is It Right For You?
Leather business is a specialty business where you offer customers leather products and services. Knowledge in leather crafting, sewing, and repairs is needed. Communication is critical and having retail sales experience or retail marketing is preferable, which can be great bonus tools to possess.
Typical Leather Business Day
Now, a leather business usually consists of taking and processing customer’s orders. You will also spend time creating leather products for your customers if you plan not to go the re-sellers route. You will also spend some time interacting with leather distributors and wholesalers.
Marketing and advertising efforts will have to be continuously updated. It will also help you push to a larger audience. Remember, it is critical to keep customers coming back to buy your leather products. You will also spend some time attracting new customers as well.
Skills for a Successful Leather Business
Understanding the customer base and customer’s needs is also a skill that you need to have a successful leather business. It would be best if you strived to stay aware of chaining fashion style and you should adapt to it accordingly. If you are a student with a fashion niche, leather is the perfect business for you. You can create wearable leather products such as shoes, gloves, jackets, etc.
Communication is the key when you want to expand your customer base. It will also help you in the marketing and promoting of your business. As mentioned above, developing relationships with wholesalers and distributors is also needed.
It would help if you also stayed aware of sewing and crafting techniques that can evolve over time. Make sure you continue to add fresh ideas and designs into the business. If you think you can handle all of the things that are mentioned above, the leather business is the right one for you.
With COVID-19, there has been an increase in unemployment, and it is the best time to start your own business. Proper research is important when it comes to starting any business type, especially during these trying times. Starting a business is no joke, and it is important to take note of all of the factors that you need to consider. A proper business plan, passion, and determination are what you need to become successful in the leather business. Good luck!