Monday, August 11, 2014

Store Spotlight: J&B Custom Leather on Etsy + A Discount!

I am so excited to be sharing this extra special Store Spotlight today. The B in J&B Custom Leather happens to be a very dear friend of mine who I worked with at summer camp as a riding instructor more years ago than I am willing to admit. We have both come a long way since the days when we dressed in matching outfits and threw water balloons at each other on horseback, but I still have mildly embarrassing photographic evidence that it happened. :)

But now we are (semi) grown up gals, with a WEDDING on the way for Miss Bridget this fall, as well as a booming new business in J&B Custom Leather. Between a part-time job, wedding planning, and collar making, I was thrilled I was able to pin her down to discuss her business and truly amazing handmade products!

In the winter of 2013, Bridget and her soon-to-be hubby packed up and moved to Kentucky, where his parents are located. Like so many people, they were faced down with a tricky job market, and after a month of searching to no avail, Bridget's future mother–in-law, a well-known face in the Quarter Horse industry, offered to teach Bridget leatherworking and bring her on as part of the family business, Horsewares Custom Chaps.

Horsewares mainly deals in chaps, though they also dabble in other leather items such as belts, ottomans, and throw pillows. Since winter months are slow for riding gear, Bridget's mother-in-law had tried her hand at making Western-inspired dog collars, but they had not sold as well in stores as she had hoped. She offered Bridget the opportunity to market them on her own with the promise that she could keep the profits of anything she sold. It was then that Bridget's knack for entrepreneurship emerged--she threw her energy into growing Horseware's Facebook Fan Base and set up an Etsy shop featuring the collars. Soon after, the collars began to sell, and she received a message asking if she accepted custom orders.

Bridget realized she had a unique product that was not really available elsewhere on the market--high quality, wholly custom handmade leather collars at a price point that was palatable. (Many of the designs are under $50). She began doing custom work and contacting friends (myself included) to market her product even further--I am proud to say I was one of J&B Custom Leather's first official custom customers!!

Holly's first J&B Custom Leather Collar
Since those early days, the Etsy site and corresponding Facebook and Instagram have taken off, with collars being sent to Italy, France, the UK, and Australia, and outfitting pampered pooches from Chihuahuas to Great Danes (they have even made one for a cat!). Still, the personalizing process remains much the same: after going through the photos on Facebook, Etsy, or Instagram, a customer contacts Bridget via direct message and lets her know what they are interested in having on their collar. For my initial collar, I knew I wanted pink but was pretty lost beyond that kicking off point, and she was very patient with me, texting me options for conchos (the name for the silver hearts pictured above) and rhinestones until we settled on a design.
Modelling her collar on Valentine's Day!
Since those early days they have branched off and offer turquoise look stones, tooled leathers, and even hand stamped name plates (courtesy of Trevor, Bridget's uber-talented fiance and the other half of J&B). Bridget says her absolute favorite thing to do is to create a brand new custom design with the customer, so the sky is truly the limit in terms of creativity.
Some of the new collar designs with turquoise stones and hand stamped name plates.
MLB collars make great gifts for the baseball lover (and great accessories for Bark In the Park events!)
In terms of emerging trends, Bridget has noticed very high demand for the copper conchos, and has even had several customers request having bullet casings put on their collars (truly something for any taste!). A typical custom collar order takes about 2-3 weeks to ship out, and ranges in price from $30-$75, depending on materials selected (real silver buckles and conchos can be purchased) and detail (borders, nameplates, etc). A custom matching leash can also be added to your order for an additional fee.

Just a handful of gorgeous custom collars. Image via J&B Custom Leather on Instagram.
Hand stamped name plates. Image via J&B Custom Leather on Instagram.
Zeus, Bridget's pup and official brand mascot! Image via J&B Custom Leather on Instagram.
So I could get a real feel of the J&B Custom Leather collar process, Bridget and Trevor were kind enough to offer Holly a custom collar in exchange for this post (I swear, that pooch has all the luck!). I was very excited by some of the new leather colors that they had posted on their Facebook page, particularly in the purple family, since not only does Holly look excellent in purple, but the plum leather matched perfectly with my favorite purse (and you know how we feel about matching)!

The leather offerings. Different leathers may be paired together to create collars with borders
(like the ones pictured above)
Since I love pairing bright turquoise jewelry with my plum leather bag, I was drawn to that color combination for Holly's new collar. I wanted to keep the width to 3/4", so I couldn't add a border or large conchos, but we more than made up for it with turquoise and bling! I also decided to add a hand stamped name plate, with simply "Holly" since "Holly Golightly" has a large amount of characters for her teeny little neck!! At the end of our conversation, Bridget let me know the timeline for when she would begin work on the collar, during which time I was welcome to make any changes or additions. During this time she was kind enough to send me photos and links to a number of buckles for the collar so I could make it 100% custom and to my exact vision!
The beautiful collar came packaged with love and exactly how I imagined it.
Holly modeling the finished design. 
Even without our personal friendship, I would have been drawn to J&B Custom Leather collars for their handmade quality and reasonable price point. I am a sucker for custom items for Holly but even I can't quite justify a purchase over $100 on something custom for my pup! Bridget and Trevor are a dream to work with and do everything to make sure you are comfortable with your final design and are getting exactly what you want (I even requested a hole be made so the collar could be a very specific length, and they were happy to oblige!). They will also help the design-confused like myself to make the best and most beautiful product, suggesting elements that have worked in the past and letting you know if something clashes or can't be made in the size you are looking for.

So the next time you are in the market for a collar, I highly recommend checking out J&B Custom Leather. Not only are you sure to get a high quality, handmade, completely custom piece for a fraction of what you would pay elsewhere, but you will be supporting a small business backed by two very big hearts. And as an added bonus, J&B Custom Leather is offering readers of Little Holly's Big World a 10% discount on their Etsy shop with code LITTLEHOLLYBIGWORLD. So get shopping and support small business! Your pup will thank you :)

Until Next Time, Darlings!

1 comment:

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