My partner Jill and I run Popov Leather from our home workshop in Nelson, BC, Canada. We started with just ourselves working between day jobs during the night and weekends. Since 2013 we’ve quit our day jobs and have grown to 6 full time employees.
Popov Leather makes handmade leather goods from full grain USA leather. Our designs are without logos or branding as we firmly believe in letting the work speak for itself. Almost all our business is through word-of-mouth advertising.
I wanted to make a minimalist wallet for my pocket. I couldn’t find what I wanted in stores so I taught myself how to make my own. Tools and material is quite expensive in leatherworking, so I opened an Etsy store in an effort to break even. I would sell my design and pay for new tools and rolls of leather.
Eventually this snowballed into what we are today.
I attribute a lot of our success to the following:
I have a lot of experience with HTML, basically grew up with web design. We were on Etsy for a year before launching a Shopify store. When we did make the jump, I purchased the Retina theme and customized it to my liking.
I taught myself how to use a camera and did all the photography myself. Good photography is paramount in addition to having a good design.
We are currently using the Portland theme by Out of the Sandbox. I hired a designer to add customization options and optimize speed for SEO.
We use a few, but I will mention my most important ones:
The biggest challenge at the moment is having Shopify handle currencies. A single Shopify store can only handle one currency. So if a customer comes to our website they will be charged in USD regardless of what country they are shopping from.
So we address this by having two shopify stores: one for our USA customers and one for our Canadian customers.
I experimented with those currency changing apps, but all they do is mask the price with local currency. When customers get their credit card statements they send us angry emails asking why we charged a different price.
The worst part of having two shopify storefronts is having to manage multiple inventories and product listings, updating theme design, etc. Very frustrating and I wish it could be all under one storefront.
The best advice I can give anyone is to find something you’re passionate about (yes it’s cliche, but true). Not something you can make money from. One follows the other and you’ll love doing every minute of it.
Leather goods handmade in B.C, Canada