Gents, as you know our love of New England runs deep – we are born and raised and will never leave. When we find a new local brand its our goal to grab some additional info, talk w/ them, meet the driving force behind the brand, test, try, wear the product, get down into the nitty gritty!
Todder is no exception to our rule – a local brand, hustling to build out a leather goods brand, handcrafting belts, leather wrap bracelets, wallets, dog collars and the like. We stumbled across Todder on Instagram, and were immediately impressed w/ this new brands products, attitude, spirit and drive. I was even more blown away when we found out Todder’s owner/founder/creator Ted was a college student, just a young kid…
I mean at 22 I wasn’t yet sure what to do w/ my life, but Ted has grasped that entrepreneurial spirit by the horns (something we did later in life, in our 30’s) and is letting it rip.
Part of our discussions were obviously around the product, a belt he sent me to try out (I haven’t stopped wearing it) the new wallets that were about to launch, the quality American sourced leather… But our focus was really on Ted’s story as a super young entrepreneur realizing a dream while balancing college and life as an adult.
The below is a blurb from our convo right from the source, right from the horses mouth if you will. Ted lets us, and any potential college, or younger for that matter entrepreneur know about his story, the future, what its like to balance business vs. school. This kids going place gents – and I am pumped to have a Todder belt wrapped around my waist.
Let it rip Ted:
So pretty much my story is that I have been leather crafting for about the last 8 or so years of my life. But it was more just a hobby and didn’t really think much about its business opportunities. Like every other Entrepreneur student in college we were all trying to think of the big thing or killer app. Sadly I spent most of my time in college doing this. So then by the end of last spring semester (spring 2015) I started thinking about how I could just do a shit ton of craft shows and sell my belts rather than getting a summer job. But that is not really the way it worked out. Rather than just trying to make some cash for the summer I decided to start professionally building a company that me and some of my family would be able to take on full time after my graduation. So after three months of full time work and three months of working 1-2 days a week we were ready to get Todder rolling (even though we never really had an official start date.) Looking back there were quite a few things we could of done like chipping away at social media so that by the time we had launched we already would have had a strong presence.
Another thing is we wish we would have started doing craft shows right away. Not only would this have helped the cash flow but it really would have helped us see what people liked and did not like from our product line. Having this information in the beginning could have possibly led us to change our products or focus on bringing different products to our company.
One suggestion for college students who do want to have their own business is start thinking of what they want to do ASAP or just play around with some various industries that you may want to go into and write some business plans. The reason why is you will have access get help and pick the brains of every single professor at your school. This was something that I did very well and by creating strong relationships they are still willing to help me since my graduation. This was key in helping guide myself and Todder into the future.
The last thing that will hopefully help people is something that I always like to tell myself while working in the shop, and I think its something that applies especially to single person start ups that lack a team. Its that frustration is money. If you get mad at a mistake you get pissed and discouraged and lose valuable time which means your losing money. Resilience is key in a start up and you have to remember that you are your own worst critic.
One thing we really get involved in is working with other companies in the area. I’ve heard that out West in places like Seattle all the people with small leather shops get to together have beers and shoot the shit. I would really love to have that kind of community out here on the East Coast. Really can’t stress this enough, just hanging out with people in the same industry having our own small little think tanks would be awesome. We also want to help other companies or start ups in what ever ways possible. For instance if you take a look through our website, other than the template, we did every single thing you can see ourselves from product photos to you name it. Not saying its perfect for some people but it could be the start you need to help lift you off the ground.
As for the future of Todder, if its got leather on it we want to make it.
Ted throws out some awesome entrepreneurial points, stick w/ it, make mistakes, but learn from them, ask for help, and power through.
Congrats on launching your own business, we are huge fans are routing for ya. And truly, we wear a Todder belt every day!
Life As A Gent