Boston-based Corter Leather is the creative outlet for Eric Heins. The do-it-all craftsman is the man behind the leather, cloth, and accessory company that has grown from a hobby to a full-blown business. Well Spent recently contacted Heins and found out about new product, running a one-man business, and selling to consumers directly. Check out some select passages from the interview below, or read the complete article here.
[via Well Spent]
Well Spent: Tell us about the new collection. What makes it different from previous efforts?
Eric Heins: There really had never been a solid direction for Corter, I was just a kid making wallets in a college dorm and enjoying the ride as it grew organically. I’ve spent the past few years learning the craft and the business, and I felt it was time to put everything I’ve learned into one cohesive body of work. It’s not a completely new collection – there are still old favorites, and my vision hasn’t changed one bit. It’s just a cleaner, more polished line now. No white noise, no crazy trendy stuff, no superfluous bullshit. I worked a lot on the behind-the-scenes stuff like the construction methods and details, to lower production time and meet demand without raising prices. This ended up raising the quality beyond my wildest imagination, and allowed me to up my output by over 500%. Anyone can make an expensive wallet or belt – it takes a lot of work to keep prices accessible to a broad audience while keeping the paychecks rolling in.
What are your thoughts on the growing debate between the customer-direct online retail model and the traditional wholesale retail model? Do you think it’s possible for a brand to utilize both?
I don’t think wholesale retail is dead, it’s just not in control anymore. It’s a fallen gatekeeper. I think a lot of brand owners will transition into seeing wholesale retail as tool rather than something they live and die by. It almost feels like we’re phasing out the electoral college. It gives more control to the people that create and buy products and less control to the middleman who’s biggest interest is monetary. I think it’s very possible to use both, and there are many ways to do it that minimize traditional business risk. You can build a brand through direct sales to prove a concept, then roll into wholesale retail with way less hesitation from wholesale buyers. You can test new products with small production runs, which may cost more to produce but make more profit in direct sales as opposed to traditional retail so you don’t loose as much capital if they don’t sell. I like it because I can design without thinking about the bottom line. If it costs too much to produce for wholesale retail it doesn’t get shelved. I just sell it direct, and it still gets produced.
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