This past week, with the beginning of fall upon us, we toured the studio of one of our local craftsmen: Tyler, owner and craftsman of Simpleton Leather Goods. We’re proud to carry locally handcrafted goods in our shop, because we believe in the quality of their products and in supporting local artists. And, as we form a business relationship, we love seeing the friendship that grows out of it, from artist to consumer.
Tyler’s handmade leather goods are the perfect accessory this fall, whether it’s a pair of braces over your favorite flannel shirt, a journal to take note of the beauty in changing seasons, or a belt to accessorize your new raw denim jeans. Simpleton Leather Goods is a true reflection of Tyler: honest, hard-working, hopeful. Read on for a glimpse into his studio and more about the man behind the leather.
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SG: So how did you get into working with leather?
TC: I gained a slight interest in working with leather after making a leather bound journal as a small source of income in a time of unemployment. After making the first one there seemed to be enough interest in the idea that I began to make more. The ideas blossomed from there as I was able to create new products as my skill level increased. Momentum grew as my interest in learning more about this old craft elevated daily. Before I knew it I was trying to build a small business around this hobby I discovered.
SG: How did you come up with the name for Simpleton Leather Goods?
TC: Simpleton came from an impersonation revolving around a stuck up sophisticate type that some of my friends and I would act out in an attempt to humor ourselves. We would refer to using such terms as ‘trousers’ instead of pants and talk with a pompous tone using a slight mix of an English accent all the while referring to the common man as a ‘simpleton’. It was satire of course since we would consider ourselves to be simple people. And that is where the ideas fueling Simpleton Leather Goods began. I wanted to make a quality product that a sophisticated man would appreciate but bring it to the attention of the common man and appeal to his desire for functionality. It seems so silly to think back and see that is where the name came from. Who would have known?
SG: What should we know about Simpleton?
TC: That’s hard to say. The idea of Simpleton has been around for less than a year so there is still a lot of vision and development to be done. There are a lot of variables to take into account in developing a business, even a small business. There are things that I’m having to figure out with Simpleton that I really had never thought of in other ventures. But my aim is to bring a genuine and honest approach to what I’m doing while providing quality for whoever is interested in supporting the Simpleton name. It’s great though, I get to build Simpleton around whatever business model I choose. It makes me really excited for the future of Simpleton because there is so much unknown but a lot of potential.
SG: Who is the Simpleton man (your ideal customer)?
TC: The Simpleton man is generally going to be the simple man. The man that desires a practical, functional and quality product. I imagine him being a hybrid between a connoisseur of underground music, a craftsman, a gentleman, having a dash of sophisticated taste and living a life of joy observing the details along the journey of life. He may be a jack of all trades but is grounded in what he knows and where he intends on going. A John Wayne kinda guy.
SG: So besides making beautiful handcrafted leather goods, how do you spend your time?
TC: I spend a lot of time with my wife outside of working on things with Simpleton. She gets me and does a lot to support and inspire me. I really like to create so other than that I keep my free time filled with some kind of project. I work with wood when I can and enjoy hangouts with friends on porches or around a fire.
SG: Favorite local hangouts and places to find inspiration?
TC: I don’t do a lot of consistent public hangouts. When I get away from my house I’ll see friends and do my best to be in an environment that is conducive for good conversation. My wife is a baker at Cuppies & Joe so I spend a lot of time using up their internet and sipping their coffee. Or if I’m with the guys I’ll go to McNellie’s pub and smoke pipes on the third floor. I seem to find a lot of inspiration in the people I’m with. I’m blessed to know a lot of creative people.
SG: Anything else we should know?
TC: I’ve been very word of mouth or grass roots in my approach to getting business but I will soon be up with the times with a website. I have a few things on Etsy (SimpletonGoods.etsy.com) and I’m working on getting my social network accounts started so I will be able to share products and updates with the masses on a regular basis. Like I said I’m just getting a start but things will be running smoothly soon! Thanks for all the support so far.