Lately I’ve been obsessed with all things leather. Black jackets over lace dresses, a denim top and synthetic leather jeans – a whole new world of possibilities are out there with made-to-last durables. As travellers we all need a trusty, durable wallet that is able to withstand the harsh elements we may encounter. A solid leather piece can provide excellent protection for cash and documents. Whilst it may prove difficult to source for leathers of high quality, fine texture and minimal odours, it’s good to keep in mind that as a rule of thumb, quality leather goes through much longer and complex processes than low-grade ones. Look no further for premium leather:
Who: Ryan Popoff
What: Handmade leather wallets crafted in British Columbia, Canada.
Your Perks: Enjoy 20% off entire order when you quote “VIKTORIA” at checkout!
Shipping: International; free shipping for orders >$75 to USA and Canada
“Our personalized leather wallets are guaranteed for life and backed by a satisfaction guarantee. Nothing leaves our studio unless we know you’ll love it.”
Based in British Columbia, Canada, Popov Leather is a small leather fabrication studio dedicated to 100% hand-made goods, inspired by contemporary aesthetics and functional, minimalist design. Popov’s leathers are sourced from Horween (USA) whose timeless vegetable-tanning process, a technique which hasn’t been updated in a hundred years, has been exclusively supplying leather for NFL footballs. All of Popov’s products are sewn by hand with imported Tiger thread, and nothing leaves their studio unless the owners know you’ll love it. True enough (as our conversation below reveals, on top of positive online reviews), the company’s reputation and customer rapport is enhanced through a conscientious system of brand credibility – they all love shopping with Popov Leather.
5 QUESTIONS WITH RYAN POPOFF @ POPOV LEATHER
VJ: Why ETSY?
When I first started leatherwork as a hobby, I used Etsy to validate my work. Etsy is great because they focus on bringing customers to their site while the sellers can focus on their crafts. I focused on my work, learning as much as I could about the trade and each sale pushed me further and further. It took a long time to get to where we are today. I quit my day job in November and I’m currently building a new home and workshop to support the business. Without the support I had from Etsy in the early days of learning leatherwork, I don’t think I could have ever gotten to where I am now today.
VJ: How did you come up this idea for a business. Is this an interest/hobby?
I worked as a night auditor at my university for two years, in the nights on my days off I would stay up very late (to not ruin my sleep pattern) and leatherwork was a hobby I could do in my home. I spent many late nights, on my days off, trying to hone my skills and develop patterns for wallets, etc. At work I could watch YouTube videos and read leatherworking forums during my breaks, so it worked out nicely.
I wanted something I could do with my hands; most of my life has been spent in front of a computer or in an office-setting. I really hated it. You get no satisfaction from spreadsheets – making a wallet, mailing it and getting a kind review from a customer is so fulfilling. I run this business 12-14 hours every day and I never feel like I’m really working.
VJ: What are some of the biggest challenges in setting up a business on Etsy
I think the hardest part is realizing what’s important. A lot of people will tell you that having 100s of products on Etsy will get you sales; this isn’t true. Up until this year we had about 12 items for sale and did just fine. You have to figure out how to grab a shopper’s attention in a sea of other makers’ products.
VJ: How did you overcome these challenges.
To get recognized on Etsy, the two biggest factors are: relevance and photography. Understand how Etsy’s relevance system works by researching titles, tags, and SEO. There are a lot of great articles in the Etsy forums as well as on their blog and in the Etsy seller’s handbook. After you figure that out, work on your photos every single day. What makes a good photo stand out? What do your competitors do? In our case, we saw that a lot of sellers used a plain white background to showcase their products, so we did the opposite and used a burlap textured background. We stood out and I think that helped a lot.
After that, customer service is a huge. I try to answer all my emails within minutes of getting them. Customers love that. We really try to go out of our way to make sure everyone is happy with their product. We offer satisfaction as well as lifetime guarantees on all our products. Handmade products really allow you to quality control your goods, so we’re confident that we can stand by these guarantees.
Finally, hard work and having a tough skin. Jill and I are at this pretty much all our waking hours. You have to be prepared for long hours as well as handling tough feedback from customers. There are times where you can’t please everyone, don’t take it personally. Learn from that experience so you can equip your business to handle or prevent that same situation in the future.
VJ: We’ll like to know more about the person behind Popov Leather! Tell us more about yourself 🙂
I graduated in 2012 with a BFA in Fine Arts from the University of Victoria – shortly after that I worked at the University and discovered this hobby that turned into my business. I recently moved to Nelson, British Columbia with my partner Jill to build a home and workshop. I hope to learn how to Kayak soon!
Watch other Popov Leather reviews on YouTube:
Feeling as inspired as I am from all these entrepreneurial stories? Stay tuned for more Etsy features and discount codes from notable Etsy stores.