Today we’d like to introduce you to Steven Soria.
Hi Steven, can you start by introducing yourself? We’d love to learn more about how you got to where you are today.
My story really starts with my grandfather and his brother who apprenticed at a saddlery shop in Santa Barbara, California after returning from WWII. Before long, they set up their own saddlery and leather-repair shop. My Great Uncle Fred was the artisan and was renowned for hand-tooling Western saddles while my Grandfather Bernard was more of the businessman. I like to think I combine their two talents. My father inherited the shop and he and my mother, Alinda, ran it together pretty much right out of high school. My sisters and I grew up in the shop. My parents were 70’s arts n’ crafts hippies so, from a young age, I was always participating in some kind of “hand-making” activity.
As a youth, I was very interested in mechanics and spent most of my high school years in auto-shop restoring a 1969 Chevy pickup. We all figured I’d end up a mechanic, but when my grandfather offered to co-pay my tuition if I wanted to try college, I decided to give it a shot. I tried art classes at Santa Barbara City College and suddenly, I found my thing. It became incredibly clear what I wanted to do, so I devoted myself to art school and received a degree in Sculpture. After college, I returned to Santa Barbara working a variety of day jobs while focusing on my art, showing work in Los Angeles, and also helping out my parents’ luggage store. Modernizing my parent’s leather repair shop really solidified my interest in business. Art-making is, among other things, a constant search for answers to questions. This interest in problem-solving dovetails nicely with my interest in business. So here I am, in my hometown of Santa Barbara, respecting my heritage, pursuing my passion, asking questions and finding answers through design. I’ve opened a workshop and am now celebrating over ten years in business.
We all face challenges, but looking back would you describe it as a relatively smooth road?
The most challenging aspect of business is the ever-changing landscape of commerce and technology. Just when you think you’ve got a good system going, it’s always outdated and time to upgrade. The days of simple transactions are over and payment terminals come in all flavors and colors. Now we use smarter marketing tools to find new customers and engage with new ones, however this requires always learning new tools. In short, keeping up with the new technology whether it’s online accounting tools, commerce tools and the tool that bridges those together… WE are challenged to work “ON” our business, while working “IN” our business. You must be nimble enough to wear many hats, dive deeper into the handcraft of leatherwork, honing and mastering new skills, but also keeping your head on the ground-level and overseeing your profit metrics.
Alright, so let’s switch gears a bit and talk business. What should we know about your work?
I am a trained sculptor working in product development. My specialty is ideation, vision boarding, pencil sketching, and inspiration directions for leather carry goods. I can build one-of-a-kind pieces without a pattern… that’s what I am known for. Basically, I drink lots of caffeine and listen to good music, then as fast I can, I bust out cool objects for creative brand directors to develop. I make SH%T HAPPEN.
How do you think about luck?
Ha! This question is funny. I believe there is no GOOD LUCK or BAD LUCK – that is just superstitious thinking. Life is a series of random occurrences. I like to hear about people processing the things that happen to them into positive decisions and taking credit for those choices as they achieve their goals. Making good decisions with what we are dealt in life is all we can do. Learning to react, or NOT react, to the life’s crazy curve balls is a skill set. Being a good person is a skill set. Giving back in your community is a learned skill set. All these things we do can help us have what people call better “LUCK”. But I believe you reap what you sow.
- Wallets $104
- Tote Bag $245-365
- Custom Items $300 minimum
- Made to measure belt $95
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Website: www.makesmith.com
- Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/makesmith/
- Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Make-Smith-Leather-Co/153100334753887
- Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCL3u3LlQWeiSCYHrB-RshEg
- Other: http://pinterest.com/makesmith/
Black and white heritage photo of Steve T. Soria, Steven D. Soria Jr., and Bernard G. Soria, photo by Nancy Neil All other photos: Will House Creative (Stacey & Richard)