Our Approach To Scale Our Leather Goods Business Beyond $1.2M/Year [Update]

Published: September 14th, 2023
Jason Angelini
American Bench Craft
from Wilmington, MA, USA
started January 2014
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Hello again! Remind us who you are and what business you started.

My name is Jason Angelini, and I am a co-founder of American Bench Craft which is a veteran-owned leather goods company based out of Wilmington, MA. American Bench Craft was founded in 2014 by my brother Chris and me with the mission to manufacture top-quality leather products that are designed to withstand the rigors of everyday use.

We combine unique designs, sturdy, high-quality materials, and reliable American craftsmanship to offer leather products that truly stand the test of time. All of our products are handcrafted using full-grain leather and solid brass hardware.

We are NOT artisanal craftsmen. Our products are simple, rugged, and built for working men and women. Our core products are our belts, sheaths, and wallets. Our target market is blue-collar tradesmen who are using and abusing our products every day on the job site.



Tell us about what you’ve been up to. Has the business been growing?

With the new year came a LOT of new changes for our company. We kicked off the new year with the goal of switching from BigCommerce to Shopify and creating, designing, and launching a new website by the end of March.

We initially considered outsourcing this project because we knew it was going to be a huge undertaking. However, we quickly realized that wasn’t in the cards for us. We were quoted close to one hundred thousand dollars for the migration, and new website and given a timeline of 6 months.

This is when we decided we were going to try and tackle this ourselves. We had an internal team of three that undertook this project: one employee managed all the technical backends of creating the website while working closely with a developer, another employee managed all of our graphic design/artwork, and the final employee managed all photography efforts (white background and lifestyle photography).

It seems like every company is having issues hiring so when we find someone who is talented, we do everything to retain them.

We entirely scrapped our old website and started from scratch. We honed in on our brand, our message, and the aesthetic we found to fit best with our products and our customers. This team of 3 pretty much dedicated their entire time to working on this website and managed to hit the deadline of launching the website the first week of April!

Now that we had a spanking new website that was aesthetically pleasing and MUCH more user-friendly, we started tackling efforts to drive more traffic to our website. We started in May, giving us a bit of a grace period to figure out any kinks or glitches with our new website. A member of our team delved into the Facebook Ad world and it already seems to be paying off.

We primarily are running ads only on our belts since they are our best seller and we have the best profit margin and can work with that. We joined an online community called AdMission so we could learn everything we could about social media advertising.

It is an expensive community to be a part of but it is paying off. On top of that, we continued to push out reels on Instagram and Facebook to drive some more organic traffic to our site. One of our best-performing reels has 22.4 million views.

We also have taken a new approach when it comes to email marketing and creative content in general. Rather than sending out a newsletter every day with sale after sale after sale, we try to send out a creative, personable newsletter or one promoting a new product and as of right now, we have seen great success with this!

One thing we learned about our customer base is how excited they get for new product releases. Those newsletters are always our best performers. With that being said, we have been focusing on building out our product line. In just the past few months, we have launched almost 10+ new products and have big plans in the future for expanding our belt line!


Old BigCommerce Website. Long, wordy product titles, inconsistent white background photos…


New Shopify Website. Less wordy titles, cleaner looking, and more user-friendly.

What have been your biggest challenges in the last year?

It’s been awesome seeing our growth in just the past few months! It feels good to know that our hard work is paying off. However, with growth, there is always potential for more error.

One thing we are struggling with is scaling the company while also keeping our stringent quality control. As we’ve scaled, I’ve learned that even simple processes are prone to quality control issues and you can’t underestimate the importance of stringent quality control processes.

Human error is unavoidable and rather than trying to avoid it, we try to focus on being able to identify it quickly and reliably to minimize waste and ensure every product we send out the door meets our standards.

As mentioned above, scaling has been a huge challenge for us, especially when hiring new employees. We have had a listing on Indeed for a position in shipping/manufacturing and out of the 30 interviews we have scheduled with people (with confirmation) we have gotten probably 20 no-shows.

It seems like every company is having issues hiring so when we find someone who is talented, we do everything to retain them.



What have been your biggest lessons learned in the last year?

One of the biggest lessons we’ve learned is maintaining our focus on D2C. In the past, we’ve chased one shiny object after another without even considering its long-term benefits or consequences.

We tried to hit too many home runs and grand slams and didn’t focus on the low-hanging fruit right in front of us. It might not be as exciting but it is more attainable and this year the focus is on our website. We have set realistic goals for our website revenue and we have a plan to hit these milestones.

We also know this journey is not going to be the easiest because we are learning everything in-house and starting with the basics of Facebook advertising, Google advertising, content creation, marketing, branding, etc. Every day we are learning and improving our skills and the forums eCommerce Fuel and AdMission are shortening the learning curve.

We also made efforts to keep our core team lean and mean, making sure we all work together and are constantly communicating and on the same page. There’s no room for slacking off.

Lastly, we have never had luck with outsourcing work. We have learned the best way to succeed has been to bring as much in-house as possible. No one knows your brand as well as you and the people who are around it every day. It doesn’t make for the quickest or easiest outcome, however, the quality is unmatched.


What’s in the plans for the upcoming year, and the next 5 years?

This year so far has been eye-opening for us in terms of potential with D2C and local press/advertising. We are thinking small scaling again and attending local trade shows and fairs to increase our brand awareness in New England.

We stopped doing these events because the ROI wasn’t enough but now that we have a bigger team, we can have employees attend and help build our local presence.

Long term, we have toggled with the idea of setting up a storefront where customers can come and browse and shop in person. We also think it could be cool to have a small work area set up in the storefront so people can see first-hand how their products are being made. While having a larger section out back for our big orders (website, wholesale, corporate, etc..)


What’s the best thing you read in the last year?

Building a Story Brand By Donald Miller and Hey Whipple Squeeze This by Luke Sullivan. Both these books have helped us hone in on our brand and clarify our marketing (still a work in progress). As mentioned above, joining the forums eCommerce Fuel and AdMission has made the learning process much easier and accelerated our success.

Advice for other entrepreneurs who might be struggling to grow their business?

Don’t chase the next shiny object. The better you get at business, the more opportunities come your way and it is so tempting to pursue those opportunities because it is new and exciting. Warren Buffett has a great quote about this: "The difference between successful people and really successful people is that really successful people say no to almost everything." - I would be lying if I said we have mastered this skill set but it is a work in progress.

The other advice would be to never stop learning about every aspect of business. With the internet, YouTube, and books, you have an endless amount of knowledge right at your fingertips. You just have to not fall into the trap of learning everything but never putting it into practice.

Are you looking to hire for certain positions right now?

Yes. We are looking to hire a blogger/manufacturing.

Where can we go to learn more?