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This month, we sat down with Roy Lee, founder of Rugged Lot, a hand-crafted leather goods company based out of Toronto. Read on to find out more about this inspiring entrepreneurial venture!
What is your background? (professional, educational, etc)
I went to school for Psychology and a minor in Business Administration at York University. Currently, I’m working at Deloitte and on the side have created a handcrafted leather company called Rugged Lot from personal interest in leather goods.
What is Rugged Lot?
Rugged Lot is my outlet for creative design. Since I was younger, I went through different phases of interest ranging from Raw Denim to Leather, which has led me to creating my own products. I have a passion for quality and items that are built to last a lifetime. I try and bring these ideals to the table when I create products for Rugged Lot by being simple and minimal with my designs.
How did you get started with handmade leather making?
I always enjoyed creating things, from making Lego creations as a kid to wood work in middle school. I wanted to get involved with this and leather had a relatively low start-up cost and didn’t need much workspace. It started as a hobby, and I played around with different designs and made things for friends, where I was able to receive a lot of great feedback. From there I started to build items for Craft Pop-Ups and launched my business initially through Etsy and now ruggedlot.com
What has been the ‘proudest’ or ‘coolest’ thing that’s happened for Rugged Lot?
I guess what’s really fulfilling is to see orders come in from all over the world. What’s even more exciting is to see people actively using and posting photos of their leather goods changing over the course of their lifetime which is one of the most exciting parts of Rugged Lot’s products.
Where do you see this going?
I want to build out a larger marketing presence for Rugged Lot and begin to reach out to local shops in Toronto for retail. Eventually I would love to work full-time on design and production of my products and see Rugged Lot boom further.
How do you build your products? Where did you learn the techniques?
All of Rugged Lot’s Leather is built by hand! I hand cut, stitch, and burnish everything and love how not all pieces are identical for that level of authenticity. I read a lot of books, forums, and have learned from my own personal trial and error to perfect my current technique.
How do you balance Rugged Lot with your regular career?
I find that setting goals and timelines keeps me in check with ensuring I have a balance.
Where do you source your materials?
The majority of leather is from the US and European tanneries, and the majority of my hardware is from Japan.
Where can people find your items?
Through my e-commerce site, ruggedlot.com!
What’s next for Rugged Lot?
I want to work with influencers in both Canada and the US, and am currently working on new designs and products!
Are you interested in collaboration? Where can people reach you?
I’m always open to working with creative people! Just hit me up.