7 min 27 sec

Craftsman Creates $350,000 Hustle from Handcrafted Leather Products

A leather craftsman starts a successful, multiple six-figure side hustle after being inspired by the tannery he works at for his day job.
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What It's About

After receiving custom requests from friends and family, a leather craftsman launches his own line of leather products.

Business Model
Skills Required
Leather Working & Design
Profit Potential

Words of Wisdom

Since creating leather products require materials and specialized tools, there were some substantial start up costs involved in getting their new business off the ground.

One area they were able to save money was in marketing—they put in very little marketing efforts initially, relying instead on word of mouth. They were also able to use their connections in the leather business which is one of the benefits of starting a side hustle that is complementary to your day job.

Fun Fact

Phil and Dan decided to name all their wallets after Chicago gangsters. Each year or so they add a new wallet style and a new accessory.

Six years in, they have eight wallet styles with names like “Bugs Moran” and “Fat Herbie,” "Johnny the Fox," "Louis 'Little New York,'” and "Tony the Ant" plus belts, key cases, passport holders and their own line of leather care products.

Notes from Chris

Episode 95

It's more common to start a side hustle that isn't directly related to what you do in your day job, but occasionally there comes along a shining exception to the rule. Today's story is a perfect example of how someone was able to use the skills they acquired at their day job to create a complementary side hustle that expands on those skills.

Their first year in business as Ashland Leather Co., business partners Phil and Dan had around 50 visitors per day to their website and just over $50,000 in sales. Now around six years later, they consistently have over 500 visitors a day with a conversion rate of 1.5% for about $350,000 worth of merchandise sold annually.

As much as they both love the extra income, they also love that they get an opportunity to create something that they are truly passionate about. And not just that—it's something that people are actually excited to buy.

As you're going about your day, consider two things:

1. How you could create a side hustle based on something you're passionate about that is also something that other people will want

2. Your workplace, what kind of work you do, and if there's a way it could lead to a complementary side hustle and financial freedom


  • Ashland Leather Co.: Learn more about Phil and his awesome leather products
  • Shopify: Phil used Shopify to create his website, and they're one of our partners. They're offering a 21-day trial and exclusive discount for all Side Hustle School listeners!
  • Big Cartel: This company makes it easy to build a unique online store and run a creative business
  • Massdrop: A company that cultivates communities where people with common interests can learn together, and more importantly buy together

  • Hospital Database Programmer Outsources His Skills: How a hospital employee utilizes skills that he learned from work to help others work with and process complex computer programs and information earning over $100/hour
  • Real Estate Consultant Fills Apartments with Original Artwork: How a woman in Seattle who works as a real estate project manager during the day started a side hustle that literally appeared in front of her. After making $12,000 from that first year-long hustle, now she’s building it into a mid-sized business that she hopes will replace her day job income
  • SEO 101: If you're looking to launch your own online presence, here's a Beginner's Guide to SEO
Inspiration is good; inspiration combined with action is better. Now get back to work!

Yours in the revolution,

Chris Guillebeau



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Create your online store with Shopify using an exclusive discount for Side Hustle School listeners. For a limited time, get a free 21-day trial and a 10% discount for a whole year.

Many Side Hustle School listeners are building sites using Shopify's easy-to-learn platform. Try it free today!

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Quote of the Day
"Create something that you love and make it the highest quality you can. And then double the price you think that you should charge."
—Phil Kalas #SideHustleSchool

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To infinity and beyond,

Chris Guillebeau