Business Name: Bourbon Leather Works Website: N/A Established: 2020 Questions answered by: Rejean Sawchuk
Can you please fully explain your business or product line?
My business and product line consists of custom-made leather goods. I make the designs, and the client chooses what images they want to be carved on it, what colour, and even stitching colours. I currently specialize mostly in wallets, but I’ve been slowly venturing into handbags. I also have plans to add quite a few more items in the near future, so that’s something to keep an eye out for!
With the Winnipeg local maker community continuing to grow, what is the most important thing you’d like potential customers of your company to know?
Well first and foremost, QUALITY!!! Without that, I’d have nothing. I would never sell something that I personally wouldn’t use or be proud to show off. If I finish making a piece, and I’m not quite happy with it, well, I’ll start it all over until I feel it’s done just right!
Every item I sell is, in a way, an extension of myself. I put my heart and soul into creating these items. Secondly, I enjoy creating a good relationship between myself and my clients. I try to make the buying experience personal to each individual. I find that brings more of a bond to the items I get to make for you. I guess what I’m trying to say is, if something means a little more to you, you’re more likely to cherish and take care of that thing in the future.
Also, when buying one of my handmade goods, you’re getting something that’s made three times, four times, maybe even FIVE times better then what you’ll find in a department store or even designer store. I know that’s a bold statement to make, but it’s true. When you buy one of my items, it’s full grain leather through & through and it will last a lifetime.
What inspired you to start your business?
Well, I’ve always been a very hands on individual. Whether it’s working on cars, doing woodworking or even welding…I love working with my hands. I’ve also always been interested in leather craft from a reasonably young age, but it wasn’t until late 2019 that I got my first leather craft starter kit. And that was it, I was hooked.
I quickly ventured into making a few wallets, and I had some friends offer to buy them off me. Well, naturally I thought “this is great!” so I continued to make a few things to sell here and there. That’s when I decided to pull the trigger and turn my hobby into a business. Since mid-2020, it’s been a lot fun meeting new people and getting to help create some of their visions. I hope to continue this business for a long time into the future.
What was the biggest struggle you’ve had to overcome?
Honestly, the pandemic has brought many struggles to the table. From having difficulties getting inventory supplies in, to maintaining sales has certainly been tricky. Also, depression and anxiety; those are a couple things that are hard to work past sometimes, but when it starts to get a bit overwhelming, I just take a quick day off from crafting to collect my bearings. Then, my mind is back in the game and we’re good to go.
In this day and age, we often forget to take those quick moments for ourselves just to decompress and relax for a moment. I think many of us have gotten used to the go go go mentality and we should start taking more time for ourselves.
What has been your biggest success as a maker?
You know, I never give this much thought, like ever!!! But in reality, I think my biggest success as a maker would have to be getting to start my own business. Getting to turn my passion and hobby into an income. That’s pretty awesome, if I may say so. Also, getting a few sales from out of province is always cool. Knowing that I have stuff I’ve made across parts of Canada is pretty neat!
Do you have any advice that you would pass on to someone hoping to start up their own business or product line?
DONT QUIT!! You’ll always come across a few moments that will test you. Maybe it’s a creative block, or maybe it’s people telling you it’s a waste of time to pursue. It’s not! It’s never a waste of time pursuing something you enjoy and love. What is a waste of time, is quitting, or even listening to those negative people. Keep pushing forward, and don’t look back, unless it’s to see how far you’ve gotten!!