A little over a year ago I found myself sitting trying to figure out what to do with myself. I had recently severed ties with my old employer and was looking for not just a new career, but an entire philosophical shift. I've never really minded the 9-5, but I was suffering from major burnout, disappointment, and severe disenfranchisement. Given the recent pay cut we were tight on funds and we had several birthdays around the corner. I went and dug out my leather working stuff and started banging away.
I suppose working creatively with your hands has some therapeutic value and I settled in to do a few projects. Aside from birthday work, I took on the long procrastinated project of building a holster for my revolver. This is a picture of the "dragon" I tooled on a patch for the holster. It's modeled after a picture I took of our schnauzer Rubee. I posted a pic of the holster on Facebook and it got quite a bit of attention. Between that experience and some encouragement from family I embarked on a new journey.
You can see from the table in the picture its seen a few stitching jobs. I have been doing leatherwork since I was 11, a tad over 30 years. I did some projects at scout camp with my dad and would show them off around the camp. It's still a fond memory of time spent with my late father who was proud of my work as a scout.
Starting a business is no picnic. I liken starting up a craft based business to trying to build a warehouse, but you don't have any bricks. You have to go find some clay and make them yourself. I quickly found out how much I didn't know about leather and how much skill I would need to build to be even remotely successful. I've had that lesson several times since then and I try and keep in perspective how important it is to get humbled.
What a journey it's been, definitely exciting and liberating to have the freedom of entrepreneurship. On the flip side, there is always the threat of ultimate destruction that weighs you down when there are bills to pay. I've never worked so hard for so little, but I've also never done anything so rewarding. If I had it to do over again I would still make the same decision. If I had to give advice about starting your own craft based business, I would say run away, don't do it unless you are prepared for a long struggle. It would have been much easier had I already built a customer base and skillset before embarking on such an ill-advised quest.
At the end of the day, we all have the choice of how to navigate our walk through life and how to create meaningful experience for ourselves and those around us. I'm haunted by the thought of when down the road I am out of time and having remorse over having wasted the hours of my life on things that didn't matter, and were quickly forgotten. I like knowing that at least a few pieces of leather art that I've built may very well outlive me and be proof of my existence on this planet.