“I never planned this. When my wife got ill, I realised I wouldn’t be able to get a job that involved me being away from home throughout the day. I had an interest in leather craft and I’m blessed that has become something I can make a living from.”Steve Spurloch, owner, Feud Country Leather
Many successful businesses are the result of a long-held dream coming to pass. Years and years of hard graft in pursuit of an ambition. And some are born of circumstances that you never could imagine until they arrive and you find a way to adapt.
It’s safe to say that Steve Spurlock falls into the second category. The former U.S. Marine, retired police officer, ex-private investigator, and current preacher founded Feud Country Leather not because of a longstanding dream, but rather because of necessity that arose due to some unfortunate circumstances. Back in 2018, he and his wife found themselves in a situation which required a creative solution.
“My wife suffers from diabetes. In the last few years, her health has deteriorated, and she needs to do a lot of dialysis and clinic visits. I knew that when I was looking for the next step, I couldn’t take a job that required me to be out of the house for very long”, explains Steve from his home in south-eastern Kentucky.
A New Direction
While Steve’s career contained plenty of variety, leather craft had never been much more than a casual interest. But with his positive outlook and determination, he took up a new hobby that soon blossomed into a popular local business.
“When I started out, it was just about learning a new skill. I have an interest in cars and motorcycles and through the upholstery and internal fabrication side of that, my interest in the leather craft started,” said Steve, “my father was an electrician and plumber too, so I always had the urge to work with my hands.”
Going from learning a new skill to a successful business is a big leap, so how did Steve go about turning his hobby into a revenue stream?
“I started making a few wallets and belts, took some photos, posted them on Facebook and some of my family asked if I would make some for them. I did and from there, the word of mouth got out. People started messaging me on social media asking me to make things for them.”
With Steve’s hobby gaining traction, he needed to make the step up to become a formal business and that’s when he leaned into the storied history of the Tug Fork area.
“I called it Feud Country Leather because this area is associated with the famous Hatfield-McCoy Feud and in recognition of the fantastic blue collar tradition we have in the community.”
The name of the business seemed to resonate with people as the orders continued to flow in at pace. With the demand growing, Steve realied he needed a better way of allowing his customers to pay in a secure and hassle-free way.
“People would post checks to pay for the products I was making, but I knew that wasn’t ideal for everyone,” Steve told us as he begun to see the volume of orders increase.
“I have longstanding personal relationships with some of the local US Bank employees and that personal affiliation has positively affected not only my business, but my banking experience so I asked what solutions they might have available for me. They told me about talech Mobile. I had used a couple of digital payment tools before, but some of the fees were just too high and they were difficult to use.”
But beyond the costs, Steve found a variety of other benefits that came with using talech’s mobile point of sale solution.
“I have my products listed in the catalog and when I need to build an invoice, I just select the product, load it to the invoice and send it to the customer’s email address. They just click a link and they can pay online.”
Using portable mobile POS technology also made payment acceptance substantially easier when Steve was away from his workshop.
“When I’m on the road at a fair or a show, I have the talech Mobile app and the Bluetooth card reader and taking payments is simple. Even if I’m in the open air and away from WiFi, using cellular data, it has worked perfectly and I’ve had no issues whatsoever, completely seamless. At night-time, it automatically reconciles with my U.S. Bank checking account and it’s all there. I get the read out, I see the transactions, the total. It’s so easy and reliable. I love it.”Steve Spurloch
Made to Order
As so many of Steve’s products involve customization, getting paid in advance of starting a project helps him avoid wasted time, effort and resources.
“It wasn’t so bad when the person was called John Smith or something. I might be able to sell that wallet to someone else called John Smith, but if the name was Steve Spurlock, I might be struggling! Invoicing allows me to get paid quickly so I can work with confidence.”
And the improvements aren’t just felt on Steve’s side, with many of his customers enjoying the ease of completing payments quickly and securely.
“My customers tell me they love it because it’s easy for them. They click the link on the invoice and they can pay there and then. They don’t need to worry about writing checks or coming out to my workshop to give me cash. And because talech is part of U.S. Bank, they know they can trust it.”
As businesses around the world faced a variety of challenges presented by the pandemic, Feud Country Leather was able to continue with minimal disruption.
“I’ve been very lucky. There hasn’t been a major impact on business. There have been times when our supply chains have been tight and we’ve had to wait for materials, but most of my products are custom made and take a few weeks to complete, so my customers know the process takes time anyway. When there have been extra delays on top of that, my customers have always been very understanding.”
Keep on Growing
With his business laying down solid roots, it’s natural that Steve has been thinking about what the future might hold for Feud Country Leather. Firstly, he has expanded his product range.
“We recently launched the ‘School Swag’ range and that has been really popular. I’ve started making products in the school colors and with the school names. We’ve bracelets, belts, keychains and around prom season especially, the orders were through the roof.”
After that, the plans are substantially more ambitious, but as you might expect from someone with Steve’s outlook, it’s down the list of his priorities.
“My wife’s health comes first and I won’t be taking on any big projects until we feel that is moving in the right direction. Then there’s my ministry. If I’m happy that I have the time to give those things enough of my attention, then I would love to open up a workshop at the house here so people can swing by, have a coffee and a chat. I hope I can do that next year. I’d also love to have a retail store downtown and employ a few people, but it all depends.”
While Steve’s story reminds us that life is rarely straightforward and our best laid plans are always open to unexpected changes, you get the sense with his determination and positivity, he will craft Feud Country Leather into a strong local business for many years to come.
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