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Meet Jerry Lee of Story Leather

Today we’d like to introduce you to Jerry Lee.

Jerry, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
Story Leather started out of a personal need when I was in the market looking for a laptop bag. When nothing on the market met my aesthetic and financial requirements, I decide to find a factory to create a bespoke piece. With the bespoke concept brewing and the Apple iPhone being the hottest gadget around the world, Story Leather was founded to create bespoke leather goods for the smartphone.

The business started out as a side-hustle by myself, where I worked full-time as a business and technology consultant in the day. At night, I’d apply my knowledge/experience in business and technology to bootstrapping and launching Story Leather. With everything bootstrapped, I was literally running a call center (picking up and answering calls myself of course) and warehousing my goods inside one of my client’s server room – obviously with client’s consent. 🙂

Riding on the wave of Apple’s success with the iPhone and iPads, we were able to build a strong following for our iPhone and iPad leather cases. When I say strong, I mean loyal customers who would come back every 1 or 2 years when they upgrade their iPhones. What and how we distinguish ourselves from the other phone accessory maker is our custom-made-to-order, or bespoke, model, in that we create one case at a time base on customer’s specifications and preference for leather color/texture, Although bespoke goods tend to have a higher price point, and product wait-time, but when customers finally receive their personalized good, they truly come to the realization and appreciate the craftsmanship of their own creation.

Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
Bootstrapping a start-up is very very challenging, especially when you are doing it on your own. When you are devoting all of your life/time to keep the business going, it is mentally and physically draining.

The biggest challenge by far is when I had to make the decision to quit my full-time job, and run Story Leather as my full-time gig. When you decide to cut the stable income from the day-time job, and rely on the new business to feed the family, this was a very tough and stress decision, as now you are really in “survival mode”, whereas in the past, the money made from Story Leather was simply extra cash on top of a monthly paycheck.

Making the transition was tough, but making the change was necessary, as that was the only way I can reclaim a work/life balance and stay sane to keep the business going. When you bootstrap your own business, the biggest struggle would be how fast can you grow the business and stay afloat and ahead of the competition, this is what continues to keep me up at night, but I guess this should be on the mind of every startup entrepreneur. As an entrepreneur, I feel the biggest struggle has been stretching myself too thin, so my word of advice is to re-invest all of your earnings as early as possible in building up a team to help you grow the business.

Please tell us about Story Leather.
Story Leather specializes in custom made to order leather goods. We pride ourselves on our craftsmanship and how efficiently we can turn around bespoke goods. It is our specialization in small leather goods that really sets us apart from the competition. We are really known as “the leather company that makes very unique iPhone leather cases”.

Visit our website, and you can begin custom designing a wallet, a phone case, or a keychain, by picking from your choice of over 100 different leather colors/textures, personalize with a name, and size it perfectly to your requirements. It is with this precision that wide variety of choices that really make us unique and truly a bespoke leather goods production house.

One of our proudest moment is when we got boutique orders from one of the top luxury brands in the world (sorry but I cannot disclose their name). It wasn’t so much the profit that we were excited about, but it was more of the validation that we got from this luxury brand, and that the quality of our goods can compete with the best in the world! It was an amazing moment for us. We knew we delivered well, when the luxury client introduced us to other brands in their industry.

Do you look back particularly fondly on any memories from childhood?
Growing up in a household where my dad and uncles ran a successful International business together. It was always interesting to see people from all over the country visit the family business. The experience early-on gave me a worldly and diversified view, and really ingrained in me how BIG the world is out there.

With a family history of entrepreneurship, it was always expected that we would eventually start our own business, but I am fortunate enough to start a business in an industry that I am passionate about. To this date, I feel Story Leather is technology company first and leather goods business second, but to everyone else, we are just a leather goods company.


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