FOUNT Leather Goods started when Jackie made Phillip a cellphone case and wallet in their apartment as a gift. They both loved leather because it was classic and timeless, and it spoke to them of adventure. Jackie is from Cleveland, Ohio, and Phillip grew up in from VA. With an education in fashion design, Jackie was no stranger to creating handmade goods, but for Phillip who studied video editing, it was an exciting new adventure. When they first got started, most of production was a lot of trial and error. Most of the advice we got in the earliest days came from an elderly couple in town who worked with leather,” explains Phillip. “They helped us learn which tools we needed to get started and suggested helpful guides and books…”
“We quickly started making things we wanted to buy," says Jackie. They were inspired by vintage clothing and American heritage brands to make bags that were not just functional but also classic in design. "We started making products by trial-and-error, usually with about 10 prototypes before we finalize a design we really like," Phillip says. In those first days they didn't have an industrial sewing machine, so all of the stitching was hand-sewn. Phillip and Jackie started selling their bags and wallets at their local Cleveland Flea Market and they were instantly popular.
After several months of working on FOUNT and their growing collection of products, Jackie and Phillip were able to move their operation out of their apartment and into their own studio. "With the move came a lot of new opportunities," Jackie explains, "we were able to hire people to help us produce the products and sharing a warehouse with a local furniture company opened the door to explore furniture design." FOUNT Leather is most importantly about being able to produce quality, small-batch goods that ethically support local craftspeople.
Having a separate studio to design and work in has also allowed them to start inviting people behind-the-scenes to see how their goods are made. They recently held an Open House that invited local customers to explore their space and meet with them as they celebrated their First Birthday. “We love to invite our customers and local fans in to get a look at how and where we work,” says Phillip, “It adds to the experience for them and we get to know more about our customer and what they want from FOUNT.”
For now, Jackie and Phillip are celebrating their successful first year anniversary planning. “We just keep thinking about where we’d like to go next,” they say. Producing quality handmade goods has always been their first priority alongside their other, supporting a group of talented and knowledgable craftspeople. “we are thinking about expanding our borders and starting a project in a country without many opportunities for work, or teaming up with a local charity that provides a stable and nurturing life group for women at risk,” Jack explains. “For us, this brand is about making products we love and believe in, and we want our brand to mean the same to the people supporting it and those we employ.”