Turning the love for leather into a leather goods company – Phil Kalas of Ashland Leather

INTERVIEW VIDEO (Length – 01:06:08)


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Phil Kalas of Ashland Leather shares how his love and passion for leather pushed him towards starting a business that sells handmade leather wallets for men and other fine leather goods.

People & Resources Mentioned in the Episode

Book: Blink by Malcolm Gladwell

What You’ll Learn

Interview with Phil Kalas of Ashland Leather

01:33Inspiration for the business
05:50The leather industry
10:01The market
25:54Team and Staff
29:11Competitive market
33:32Price point
37:12Marketing and branding
47:10Warehousing and fulfillment
55:31Mistakes made, lessons learned
59:17Rapid fire round

Rapid Fire

In this segment, the guest will answer a few questions quickly in one or two sentences.

Phil Kalas of Ashland Leather

  1. Book recommendation that you would make to entrepreneurs or business professionals (Response: Blink by Malcolm Gladwell)
  2. An innovative product or idea and the current eCommerce, retail, or tech landscape that you feel excited about (Response: ASKET)
  3. A business or productivity tip that you would recommend (Response: Youtube, Shopify)
  4. A startup or business and eCommerce retailer tech that you think is currently doing great things (Response: ASKET)
  5. A peer entrepreneur or business person whom you look up to or someone who inspired you (Response: Skip Horween: Owner of Horween Leather Company)
  6. Best business advice you ever received (Response: To know exactly what your mission, vision, and values are and to think of them as your philosophy.)

Interview Transcript

Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: Hey, there are entrepreneurs. My name is Sushant and welcome to Trep Talks.

This is the show where I interviewed successful e-commerce entrepreneurs, business executives, and thought leaders, and ask them questions about their business. And also dive deep into some of the strategies and tactics that they have used to start grow their businesses. And today I’m really excited to welcome Phil Calles to the show.

Phil is the co-founder of Ashland Leather Company. Ashland creates and sell handcrafted premium mens leather products that are guaranteed for a lifetime. And all of the wallets and leathers are made using old world techniques and designed to with age. And today I’m ask Phil a few, few questions about preneur, some of strategies, tactics that he has used to start and grow his business.

So thank you so much for joining me today at Trip. 

Phil Kalas of Ashland Leather: Thanks Han. It’s a pleasure. I actually was checking out some episodes before we got to meet each other here today. And, uh, it’s just a real pleasure and it’s sort of an honor to be included in the list of people that you’ve already interviewed. There’s a lot of special people doing really great things, so I, I’m pleased to be here.

Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: Yeah, thank you so much. Thank you so much for your time. And, uh, it’s always inspiring for me to speak with entrepreneurs who have gone through, you know, who share their special stories and gone through a lot of challenges and trials, tribulations, and come out successful on the other end. So I’m, I’m really interested about you and your business.

Um, what motivated you to get into the leather 

Phil Kalas of Ashland Leather: business? Sort of a happy accident really. I was working, long story short, I was a musician. I’ve got a bass guitar behind me, which is my first passion. I was going to music school for a bit and. I ended up having to switch majors, uh, and move to Chicago. So I moved to Chicago.

I was looking for a job, and I grew up here in Chicago. One of my family, or I call him a family friend. Now suppose it was a friend of mine from high school. His family has a business that is a leather tannery here in the city that has been an operation continuously since 1905. And I was looking for a job and, uh, they sort of offered me a summer gig.

And that summer gig turned into, uh, almost 15 years of working in a leather tannery. I, I fell in love with the material, uh, to such an extent that I started making stuff on the side. So in 2011, I, after working at the Tannery for about five years, I started making, uh, some leather goods on my couch at. And now 11 years after that, uh, , that’s turned into sort of a real business here where we have, you know, we sell thousands of wallets a year.

We have 10 employees, and making a lot of wallets is what we’re known for. But we also make belts and watch traps and other small, other goods. That’s 

Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: very interesting. I mean, so you basically started out as an apprentice and learned the craft and really built it into a business. 

Phil Kalas of Ashland Leather: Um, yeah. The, the, the leather thing is interesting and I, I think it’s very important for me to talk about leather because when I first started working at that leather tannery, I didn’t know that there was more than one type of leather.

And you might not either, you know, most people I speak with don’t know that leather is more than one thing, and it’s more than brown. You can make leather for all different functions in all different colors and textures. They have different, uh, feels, different smells. So it’s such a wide range of. Of different things you can do with the skin of an animal.

And I found it all completely fascinating and it was that ignorance that wanted me. Um, it was the ignorance of that that made me want to share it with more people to have the same joy that I felt for them to feel too. So, I’m sorry, I different. No, no, 

Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: no. And is there a difference between, Which animal the leather is coming from.

And are you using leather from like different animals? And what is the, what the peculiar, you know, is one better for likes shoes versus you knows? 

Phil Kalas of Ashland Leather: I think that’s a really good question, and the answer is yes. Each, each animal has inherent characteristics. So for example, uh, the belts that we make, you cannot make a belt out of a lizard skin by itself.

You would have to add some other thicker material or stronger material to the back of a lizard skin to make it durable enough to, and thick enough to hold up your pants in a, in a pleasant way. Uh, a a lot of leather, most people believe that leather is made from cows, uh, that a good amount. Of leather that you find in the world is actually bovine.

And more specifically, it’s steer hides. And the steer hides are the animal, excuse me, the steers are the animal that are raised for food. So for your hamburger, your steak and the hide is the byproduct of that. Now, most of those animals tend to be pretty big and plump, and they tend to have thicker hides.

So an example of a belt, you might want a thicker jumbo steer hide to use for an online single layer belt. And they do tend to be a, a pretty tough, but other animals like equine, animals like horses tend to have a more abrasion resistant, uh, skin. That’s just an, a quick example, an easy other example.

Perhaps the first thing that most people would notice would be the visual characteristics. Like for example, on a lizard, you would notice the texture of that skin would be much different than a BAU vine or equine animal, or goat or what have you. 

Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: and how does this, uh, the whole leather industry in north work.

So a big part of leather, of course, you know, as said, you know, these animals are cultivated for their right and you know, that they’re, that’s a complete other business. And, and I’m assuming that the skin that is left as a byproduct of that, that is then used in the leather industry to build like, uh, shoes and, and all these different kinda products.

And you basically, there are like distributors who process that leather, create that into a usable format that you, you, and, and then just use it to build these products, or is it like a different process? 

Phil Kalas of Ashland Leather: Yeah, we’re going deep. Shant this. Great. I’m, I’m, I’m, I’m very interested. Oh yeah. This is, I find this completely fascinating.

So if you think about Chicago, there was a famous book, uh, written about the stockyards here and sort of the mistreatment of humans, uh, , maybe we won’t go down that path too far, but the city in Chicago here is sort of the junction of where all the railroads were in the industrial revolution. So the ranchers would bring their animals to the city to market to sell them and, and slaughter them.

And subsequently to that, there was a tannery industry here in Chicago that was rather large because of that byproduct of the hide and leather companies in general are all about byproducts. So you’re not just using the skin of the animal to create something everlasting and durable and beautiful, but they also will cook down things like the bones and use those oils to nourish leather as well.

So it’s all, it’s all about byproduct. And actually, you know, the hot topic of the day is sort of going green and being environmentally friendly. I think this was sort of like the original version of that. Um, but in Chicago, the, the sad story is there is one tannery left out of hundreds. There used to be hundreds of Tanners here in Chicago.

And the last one last is the one that I had worked for. Their name is Hing Leather Company. Again. They’ve been there since 1905. They make special stuff, which is why they’re still there. They make something a little bit more unique. Their claim to fame. Uh, just as a quick example is NFL football, leather.

Every football that you see was made here in Chicago more precise. Every football that you see, the material was made here in Chicago, and then they make those NFL footballs in Ohio. Um, but the industry of leather tanning in the United States has sort of fallen, uh, in . There’s just not a lot of it happening.

It it’s become a very industrialized world and a lot of the tanning has gone overseas. Um, China, India, south America, all over the place. There’s, there’s tanneries all over the world and some of them are doing really great stuff. Some of them not so much. Um, but in America it’s, it’s sort of a, it’s sort of a relic at this point.

Um, which again is to me is a testament to the materials that I choose to use being very special. So football leather is a very difficult leather to make because it has the feel of that pebble, that texture. But it also is sticky, uh, which people might not know until they feel a ball. The tannery actually has a special formulation that they’ve been using since the forties, I believe, where they tan this tack into the leather to make it sticky.

That and the color and those three things are very hard for other places to do. So they’re sort of a specialty tannery. It’s like a blip on the radar of the world of leather. The things that they’re also well known for is footwear, um, which, which you had mentioned in the world. I believe most of the leather.

Is used in footwear. Um, there’s also a lot of upholstery, um, car interiors, um, sofas for example. And then there’s little guys like me making wallets and watch traps. So it’s a, it’s a pretty big world of leather, but there’s, there’s only a handful of people in the United States, which is kind of sad. So 

Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: the business of leather that, that you are doing basically wallets and products, and to me it seems like you’re only building products for men.

And I would be interested know why. You know, that decision also is, it, is the business of really, uh, more niche business now, is it kinda like a dying industry and only people who are interested in, you know, buying this specialized leather products will buy it because now there are more artificial products.

And then there’s also the topic of, you know, being more. Vegan and, you know, cruelty-free and all these different things where, you know, more of an activism around not wearing leather and these kinda of things. What’s, what’s going on in the market around like all these, is this like a growing industry list, a dying industry, and how do you, 

Phil Kalas of Ashland Leather: it’s a, where do you’s a really interesting question and I’m now , I’m now old enough to realize that there’s some cyclicality, um, or cyclical nature to the footwear industry and, and fashion in general.

It’s, it’s a little bit of alar larger, uh, sine wave, but we do see upticks and down ticks in the desire for finer leather footwear, for example. Right now you’re sort of in a moment where, uh, we’re coming off of a, of a peak from sneakers, a little bit more of like a athletic footwear type of thing. Um, A lot of people are very interested in that, and I think it’s, I think it’s cool.

So there’s nothing, there’s like no competition. Uh, as far as people in the leather world, there is a big interest in, we’re talking about sustainability. There’s a pretty large interest of people and I suppose it’s still pretty much a niche of people that are interested in keeping their product for many years now.

There’s a pretty big trend over the last couple decades of, of this fashion that may might last a couple months. Uh, there’s a specific community that people can check out. Coil called Goodyear Walt. Which is a particular type of crafting method for a footwear maker to attach a soul to. And this method allows that soul to be replaced.

So if you choose a leather for the upper part of the shoe that’s of a higher quality that can be maintained and not fall apart, you’re able to resold that leather and wear that shoe or boot or what have you for many, many years. In fact, I get many customers that come to me because they see, I use the leather that their grandfather’s shoe was made that they are now wearing.

So these are, these are heirloom quality pieces that tend to be handed down, uh, from generation. So from a, from a market industry, uh, from a, like a larger perspective, I think the leather world. I think that the demand is still there and there are now new entrants. So we’re talking about vegan leather, which is a little bit of a pet peeve.

It’s not leather. Uh, it’s, there’s people making, um, leather substitutes out of things like pineapple and apple or organic materials. There’s also a lot of it that’s a little bit less friendly to the world that tends to be made out of petroleum products. So you see a lot of things that are marketed as, as vegan leather that are mostly like plastic, um, which is, it’s not necessarily the best thing for the earth.

And I think you will see that wave go up farther. I think there will be a demand for things like that. And then I think people will see that my pineapple leather shoes aren’t really lasting that long. You know, they break after X amount of time. We haven’t seen this cycle play out yet, but I think they’ll find that that material may not be as, um, everlasting as, as like a nice piece of leather from the tannery that I work with.

And then I think we’ll see it swing back in the other direction. Like I said, I’m an old guy now, , I’m, uh, I suppose in the grand scheme of think I’m not that old, but I’ve been around in this industry long enough to see these cycles come and go and it’s, it’s pretty fascinating. So every time I get freaked out about something like that, I, I just realize that, you know, this is just part of a cycle.

And I think a lot of people watching this that are in another industry might wanna keep that in mind too. It’s really easy to have that shiny object syndrome that you’re maybe hitting on right now, and it’s hitting hard and you’re, and you’re doing great. You’re selling a lot of stuff. You need to start thinking a little bit farther out.

You know, what does this look like 10 years from now? Are people gonna be interested in, I don’t know why I’m picking up pineapple, but are people gonna be interested in pineapple XYZ product in, in a few years? And how can you, how can you strategically position your small business to combat that risk?

And those are the types of things that I, again, again, my age has helped me, uh, start to think a little bit more about, sorry, 

Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: when you say pineapple product, is that like, um, fake leather are you talking about? 

Phil Kalas of Ashland Leather: Yeah. There, there’s um, there are things being marketed as vegan leather that are made out of fruit skins, is my understanding.

You know, I should mention one more quick thing. If we’re talking about leather , I’ll be selfish here. There’s also some interesting technology happening where people are tanning leather with fallen olive leaves. So instead of harvesting trees, which is a traditional tanning methods to use the tree barks of.

Trees to tan leather. They’re now using just the fallen byproduct of the olive industry, and they’re using the tannins from those leaves to tan leather. There’s new things happening all the time that we don’t even think about right now, that that might be the new thing next year. Again, like that, that’s a word of caution to a lot of people.

I think it’s, it’s important to like keep your mind open to, to new ideas. So do you 

Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: consider your business to be more of a leather business or more of a handcraft business? Are all your, all your products are made by hand? 

Phil Kalas of Ashland Leather: Yes, we, well made by hand in our industry is, uh, there’s a little bit more precision required to speak about that.

Some of our competitors, which we are, I’m happy to have have them. I think anybody making, uh, leather goods is a good person. Uh, , I, I’m, I admire them. We use machines and we use hand stitching. So there is a little bit of confusion because sewing something on a machine I consider to be handcrafting. Um, other leather crafters.

Think if you have any sort of machinery that’s not a hand tool like a, a knife or like a stitching needle, that that would be the only way to be purely handcrafted thing. In reality, it’s actually much more difficult to understand how to get a machine to get a nice clean stitch. So it’s actually harder to do.

Um, but I consider it handcrafted. I mean, we have people making. I call them unique treasures every day. So most things that we do are unique. One-off pieces that can only be made by hand, in my opinion. You need to have somebody with the experience to know what thickness of the poop, I lost camera, sorry,

You need somebody with the experience to know how different thicknesses will work for different pattern pieces, for different wallet styles, for example. So there, there’s a lot of knowledge required and, and we have a very talented team of people. So I, I consider it hand handcrafted. Some people in, in our world might not consider it a pure handcrafted thing.

Uh, and you had also asked a really good question about our market. We were talking, you were saying, I noticed most of your stuff is for men. Not necessarily, but the funny story is we noticed the same thing at the tannery, um, in, in the city here is most of the products tend to have gone towards men’s footwear.

NFL football is a pretty masculine, sort of rugged thing. So when we started the company, we actually originally thought that there was half the world that wasn’t being served by seeing this leather. So we originally started making women’s bags, and that was a really large failure for us because we did not understand, and we still don’t understand what women want.

Uh, so, which is a theme in my, in my life. Um, but, but we, we learned from that a bit and, uh, started making products that we liked. And it turned out that us having a passion for the material itself was almost enough. Like we’ve built a pretty large company at this point or large in our minds. Of just sharing the passion for that specific material.

And again, we were talking about YouTube. It’s that YouTube is a really great outlet for me to share, you know, all these special things. Um, so we are doing some women’s product now, which are not specifically for women and it’s gender sort of a loaded term, uh, in the world right now. We, we have a lot of, uh, we have a lot of women that tend to have more of a masculine style that like our products very much.

But we also are trying to make, we’re trying to branch out to satisfy the desires of a little bit more of a feminine vibe. So we, we just released a product as a zipper. Um, so it’s like a little zipper card holder that a woman might throw into their purse. I actually use it in my pocket, so, It’s either like a European style wallet or like a Japanese style wallet or American woman type of cardholder thing.

But honestly, like it, anybody can use anything. There’s really like no gender to it. Um, but it’s more of like the needs of somebody that puts a wallet in a bag. We’re, we’re trying to think of it a little bit more that way. Uh, but we are trying to branch out to, to cover more interests, uh, for more genders because we do have a lot of men.

I think it’s like 97% of our audience is men. And many of them come to me asking about gifts for their wives. Like they want to share the material with their wives. So we’re trying, trying to go that way a little bit more. And I guess with this kinda product, 

Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: it’s probably easy to test out new products.

You basically, you can create like a one off kinda a thing or you know, few items and you can it in the, and what kind feedback you’re getting. If it’s selling out quickly, you can create more. But because you’re creating, it’s not like machine production, uh, kinda a thing. How do you, um, plan out your inventory?

Like do you, let’s say if you’re creating immense wallet or do you create like hundred and then just, you know, wait for it to sell out before creating the same one again. How do you plan your product inventory? 

Phil Kalas of Ashland Leather: Shan, you are hitting my, uh, weak, my weakness. Okay. , which is, which is great. Something we, we, we didn’t, uh, we didn’t really anticipate the level of of success, uh, that we have achieved.

And like I had mentioned, most of what we have done is have just created products that we like and we’re trying to share the materials so we have a pretty wide amount of colors and textures and leathers and styles. And it can be, A large challenge to keep all of those things in stock. And we also, in addition to having what we call our stock items, we do something called private stock.

So to put it simply, um, if you’re a car brand, maybe like, um, Toyota, you have your, your Toyota Civic in three colors and you have your. Toyota Prius in three colors. And those are your stock items. You keep those, you try to have ’em all the time. We have the same type of thing, but Toyota might also want to do crazy awesome unique treasures as I call them.

Maybe they’re gonna make one of ones of like a special sparkle finish with, you know, extraordinary tires and like an extra row seats, I don’t know, make it, I don’t know much about cars, but they’re making something unique and they might sell that, uh, just as a special event. And that’s what we do too. We call them private stock.

Like I said, there’s so many leathers that, that are more than just brown. And I have special access to the tannery, which is right next door to my workshop. And we’re friendly with them. They like to share their experiments with me for different colors, looks, feels, textures, and all that. So it’s a great opportunity for me to just be a total nerd for the leather and then share that nerdy with other people.

And the best part is, is they support us. So I can put up at one of these unique pieces. We actually don’t charge more for it. And then, you know, it allows us to take their money and turn it into more cool stuff. So you’re talking about feedback, YouTube and specific in combination with our web store has created an incredible feedback loop.

It’s instant I can put up a product after we get off this phone call and know within 15 minutes whether or not something I should do it again. And on top of that, these YouTube videos are evergreen, so people will come across a video. From two years ago, and I said, that happens every day. I will receive messages.

Hey, what about this thing? Can you do that again? It’s constantly sharing that passion, uh, for the material 24 7, and people are coming across it, and it allows me to, to share that passion with, with more people. It’s, it’s exceptional. So I, I forget what your question was, but I hope I answered it, . So, 

Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: uh, in terms of creating, like, because this is kinda like a craft, you know, are you the main, uh, builder of these products or do you have like, that are helping you in creating this and you are the main kinda like running the business?


Phil Kalas of Ashland Leather: yeah, that’s, that’s a good question. So as we’ve grown over time, it, it evolved from my business partners garage and my couch. Into a, a full workshop. So there are are 10 team members of Ashland and everybody makes stuff that’s sort of, we have it actually written down in our documents that everybody’s gotta have some sort of making.

Um, whether it’s me making a video, I actually will make, like I said, I was cutting a wall this morning. Um, I will make wallets and things too. The sad truth for me is that everybody else is better than me, so I’d much rather have my customer get the best possible thing. And we have, I’m the only one that’s basically full-time marketing and, and getting the word out.

Um, so there’s nine other people that are making stuff all day every day, and they’re very, very, very good. Um, so, but written into our, I call an employee handbook and written in there, there’s a specific language that now and forever. Everybody that works here, we’ll make stuff that’s part of who we are.

So whether you’re, nobody’s just gonna sit in the corner office all day, everybody has to get a hand on, on what we actually do. So I will cut, I will sew, I’ll stamp, I’ll finish. I like, I like it. Uh, I just run out of time. . So we do have a team of people, uh, which did evolve from me and my business partner doing most everything.

I should give him more credit. He did most of the, most of the labor. Um, but nowadays, like, I don’t, I wish I could do more, but I don’t get my hands in as, as much as I’d like. And when 

Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: you hire your, uh, your staff is, is there like, are you actually. Training them to build these products or, well, I, I assume it’s probably like an ongoing process.

Like nobody knows everything, so they’re probably learning that they go from each other. But are you, like, how do you recruit for people who create leather products? Because I’m assuming not everybody is inclined to, you know, be there seven hours every single day and creating leather products. You know, how do you find people who are, you know, first of all have a talent for building this kinda product and you know, they do it day, 

Phil Kalas of Ashland Leather: you’re my weaknesses again, it’s very difficult.

Uh, and having said that, we don’t actively, we’ve never actually had to actively recruit, um, people. But we do know people. Um, uh, my brother actually works with me. Um, my business partner’s daughter works with us. So it’s sort of been just from our network of, of people and the, the truth, if anybody’s trying to start a small other goods company like us, the truth is that you can do this without going to school.

Um, you just need to practice a lot and, and keep improving. So we actually sometimes will find products that we made years ago that are not nearly the same quality that we are getting now. Um, but it’s, it’s because we are practicing and trying new techniques all the time. Um, so when you talk about training, it is a constant training and we do, we share, we call it best practices.

So we share best practices with each other in on. Workshop machines and cutting and stamping every day. We’re just communicating with each other. Oh, this thing happened today. And it, it’s, uh, important for us to do that because we’re using such a wide variety of materials that are all a little bit different, that they all have their little quirks to, and they might have different quirks depending on what, what product you’re making.

So ing. So some people are more knowledgeable about certain things, but other people are more knowledgeable about others. And it’s helpful for us to, to do that sort of feedback loop like we were just talking about internally as well. And we’ve seen a very large improvement in the quality of our product, just from talking to each other and sharing, uh, hey, today we’re gonna, we’re all gonna look at this particular design together on this particular leather.

Let’s make it together and, and talk about it. Maybe you have a tip that I wasn’t thinking about. Maybe I have a tip that you weren’t thinking about. So that’s really all it comes down to with this sort of handcraft world, uh, which I call handcrafted. Most of those issues actually tend to be on the sewing machine.

There’s a lot of little tricks that I think, again, uh, people that are competitive, uh, with me in this small world, which I don’t see them as better, I see them as friends. Mm-hmm. , they would say that what we’re doing is not hand sewing, but, uh, it’s very much, uh, a very high level of skill required and knowledge required to, to work with this stuff.


Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: about competition, I mean, leather products and, you know, finding leather wallets and belts and so forth. There’s like so many, uh, you know, so many products out there, you know, on Amazon, et you know, you know, there’s all different kind price points, all different kinds of quality and colors and so forth.

Brand. How do you, um, How do you stand out in a crowded marketplace? Do you think it’s a crowded marketplace or is it really about, you know, somebody comes to your website that, you know, you have a unique style and, and personality and, and you know, way of creating the product and you know, they would, anybody who wide with your brand is going to buy from you?

Like how do you, how do you attract someone to buy from you rather than, you know, a different brand who may creating like similar, uh, kind quality, so forth? 

Phil Kalas of Ashland Leather: Yeah, a good question too. So I think it depends on the perspective that you have about marketing. So for us, we’re not necessarily, to use a very easy, simple to understand example.

We’re not targeting an SEO keyword of leather wallet. We’re targeting something much farther down, much, uh, longer tail than that. We’re, we’re targeting h leather wallet made in Chicago, or maybe it’s a specific leather tange type. There’s a famous one that’s called Shell Corbin that we’re known for now, and that’s what we’ve targeted.

We don’t really go for, you know, we’re not a, we’re not a massive appeal, um, by whether we like it or not. So I, I think of it a little bit more drilled down and even drilled down. There’s a pretty big world, so there’s a lot of people that are interested in what we’re doing, but there’s also a lot of people doing some other things.

So to answer your question is how do we stand out? We think that we make a better product and we stand behind it. So we’ll guarantee that product. And what does that mean? So if you buy something from me, I take that very seriously cuz now we have a special relationship together and I want that relationship to last longer than our lives.

Like that wallet needs to last forever. Hmm. Because we guarantee it. So when you come to me and say, Hey, you know, I had an issue, like maybe a stitch popped out, or, you know, maybe the, I actually never seen the leather rip, but maybe something happens, it’s my guarantee to repair that wallet or replace it.

So you send it back to me. If I can’t fix it, I’ll just send you a new one so that, that helps stand out. But I think the biggest thing is, is our whole philosophy is sharing leather. So we have such a wide range of great looks and colors of just really special material. So I, it’s, it then becomes a problem of explaining.

That special quality of the leather to people. And again, it comes back to YouTube a bit, but I think once people go down this rabbit hole of leather, they will come across me and they’ll come across me talking on a video like this about the material. And it goes pretty far . It gets pretty dorky. Um, but that’s, that’s where we stand out.

I think it’s, again, the philosophy that we have as a company is to share leather. That’s one of our pillars. And I think that’s what helps us stand out is, is me talking on camera, trying to start up another podcast with a, the owner of the tannery. Um, things like that, of, of creating a little bit of a knowledge base because it’s such a confusing subject matter because there’s no dictionary for it, there, there’s no alphabet for it.

I see leather as a language and it’s difficult to understand language. So I’m, I see it as my way just to, to try to teach people. The language of the leather to understand what they’re looking at and what makes it special, um, and what makes it not special. Um, in terms 

Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: of the price point, do you think, uh, you would, would you consider your products, um, more premium?

Um, for, for like equal, you know, similar kind of brands, you know, handmade kind of leather wallet products and so forth and, and, um, or, or, or not? Is it, like, does the, the, you know, the price point that these kind products would go for in general? 

Phil Kalas of Ashland Leather: That’s a really good question. It also, again, depends on that perspective.

So if you’re looking at the market for small leather goods and you’re comparing me to somebody like Louis Vu, Or even coach, we’re cheap compared to those guys. Compared to other people that are sort of a little bit more niche down with the smaller brand, uh, name, we’re right on the money. Now. Having said that, I mentioned a special leather called Shell Orbin, and I’ll try to explain just very briefly that show Corbin Leathers very expensive.

So most of the wallets we make, I’ll, I’ll just pick. Our most popular style is a traditional bifold that if I ask 99% of men, they draw me a wallet. This is the wallet style you would draw. It looks like a bifold. It has three cardholders on each side and a bill slot in the back. That’s our best seller by a lot.

And we make a really nice wallet that’s $125 out of a leather. That’s, uh, called Dublin. Wouldn’t that word won’t mean much to most people, but it’s a really nice leather . So that hundred $25 is a lot. And in our world, doing a handcrafted premium material, that’s a pretty good deal. So there’s people that sell that same type of product.

You know, 1 50, 1 60, you know, you go to Lou Vuitton, uh, coach or something, it might be like three 400. And then the Shell Corbin wallet that we sell in the same style is more than double the price that Shell Corbin Wallet can go between. If it’s all Shell Corin inside and out, we’re going up to close to $400.

And $400 is a tough pill for a lot of people. That’s a. Uh, now having said that, the reason why is the material itself is 10 times the cost per square foot is how we purchase it. So you’re talking about a leather that’s a hundred dollars a square foot. So at the end of the day, that $400 wall is actually costs.

I don’t think people realize how much money it ist just material, uh, to get, to get that wallet made. So we don’t, nobody’s getting extra rich on charging that higher price point. It’s just that’s how much it costs. So that, that’s sort of the philosophy where we’ve worked, is we’re gonna make you the best possible thing.

And these days it’s difficult to have people, uh, that want, that wanna work, you know, want to do good work. So we pay ’em more and then you get a better product in the end. Um, we sort of put the price tag on the end. That’s, that’s how we, we look at it. We’re gonna do the best we can. To make the best product we can.

And then, like I said, put the price in the end. So simply answering your question, it depends on your perspective. If you’re comparing us with large fashion names, we’re cheap. If you’re comparing us with the rest of the world, we’re sort of right on the money. I’d still say we’re like a little high compared to others, but I think the value prop is, is better.

Okay. Um, a little bit, uh, 

Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: about marketing and branding. Um, you did mention, you know, uh, your, uh, video and, and explaining the product so forth. Uh, can you share about, you know, the different channels that you’re currently using for customer acquisition, which channels work really well for you? And once you have those customers, what kinda things do you do to continue engaging them, them back for more and.

Phil Kalas of Ashland Leather: Yeah. Um, I keep mentioning YouTube and I’ll have to start with that again. I, I find the community on YouTube. I’ve seen some negative gross communities before, but the people that we’ve connected with have incredible people. So I would say YouTube, number one, it helps us, uh, visually show, uh, it’s, it’s sort of the best substitute for seeing it in person.

Uh, and I, I find it to be a great place to be. So YouTube is great. We also do a nice job with email. We connect to customers, not just with email newsletters, which I will send out weekly. We use a platform called Clavio, which you probably are familiar with. They seem to be the standard these days, and we integrate that with Shopify, and I find that to be very pleasant to use, and I, I recommend it additionally at the bottom of our email template.

There is a contact me directly form with a picture of my brother that says, Hey, you know, we’re a small business. We wanna help you out. If you have any questions at all, just let us know and just reply the email. We do a lot of direct communication, one to one emails. Also, we also have Instagram, which I find to be less interesting.

We, I just don’t think we have the ability to perform while there we’re, we’re sort of not that, uh, short form, at least, I guess I’m projecting my own desires, under there. Like, I like a longer form, like, let me really get into this and tell you exactly what’s going on, because I want you to know, I want you to appreciate this thing as much as I, as much as I do on a ten second clip on Instagram.

I mean, we’ve done it and people, we engage with people there. We have tens of thousands of people on Instagram, but I don’t find it to be as pleasant as YouTube. Uh, I’ve fully avoided TikTok. Um, I don’t know, like I’ve, a lot of people suggest it. We don’t use it. Then I’m gonna drop a interesting one here that I’ve abandoned, um, for lack of time.

But something I found really powerful was a tool called Bon Juro. Have you ever heard of Bon Juro? Uh, Bon Juro? No. Okay. It’s a, it’s a direct one to one video, personalized video that gets delivered via email and you can set up a trigger. So what I used to do was every time an order would come in, I would get on my phone and make a personalized thank you video for a customer.

In fact, what I would do, I would look at their tracking information, I’d say, Hey, look, I saw you ordered this product. Thank you so much for supporting us. It’s gonna be delivered tomorrow. Let me know what you think. Happy to help you if you have any questions. And it was really great. Uh, I would do like little 32nd clips, but I was spending , I was spending all weekend, uh, doing thank you videos, and I kept falling.

Like months and months behind. So I had to abandon that, but, but I really recommend a tool like Bon Jo or, or perhaps a competitor of theirs to, to engage directly like that with video. People were blown away that I actually would talk to them. , which is the other thing that we try to do, is we understand, or I understand, that the world these days is, is moved online for better or for worse.

Again, I’m old enough to remember a day where we’d go to the store . So, and you would’ve a relationship with your pharmacist, for example. I want people to have that relationship with us. I want them to know that we’re real people behind this web store, . And I think that’s something that gets lost a lot. So I spend a lot of my efforts on, on getting real people in front of my customers.


Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: really interesting. You know, I’ve, um, previously I’ve heard, um, brands. Standing out personalized notes with the order. But of course, creating videos one step further of, you know, personalization. Um, and of course, you know, that that extra mile does in terms of ing and, and, um, 

Phil Kalas of Ashland Leather: it wasn’t scalable for me.

I found spending my weekend doing a live stream on YouTube. Yeah. I mean, I, I was just able to reach more people that way. I mean, 1,030 second clips, uh, every week or whatever, more than that is just, it’s not achievable. We do, we do the personal, I, I will sign every packing list that we, everything we ship.

I still do that if I’m in this shop. But you’re, it’s, I, I, if people watching or listening to this, wanna take anything away, My dad, uh, taking anything away from this conversation is my dad is a salesperson and I grew up watching my dad develop relationships. And Dad, if you see this, uh, thank you. I don’t think I’ve told you this before, dad, but he sells medical equipment and he would spend all day on the phone and it, it kind of stunk as a kid cuz you know, you wanna spend time with your dad.

But what I learned from that is connection with people is sales. You don’t sell without, you don’t buy a product, you buy the the person. And I’ve taken that to from my dad. I think that’s something I would try to pass on to everybody listening is that connection to real people is this isn’t just a name on the, on the internet.

Real people out there and, uh, try to picture that person instead of just a text on the screen. I guess. Um, 

Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: one way to make it scalable and I don’t know, maybe this product probably most likely doesn’t. Using like some sort of artificial intelligence, deep technology where, you know, you basically teach it and it creates that work life video for 

Phil Kalas of Ashland Leather: you.

I wouldn’t be, I would not be, honestly, I wouldn’t be against that as long as nobody could tell and they thought it was me. Hey, if it feels good, it is good. is how I feel. You know what, anything, 

Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: anything that is unique and different that any brand could do sticks and, but usually what happens is when, you know, when a trend starts, then everybody is starting to hop onto it and then it kinda becomes like the norm and then it’s like everybody is either you, you know, becomes a table stake and everybody’s doing it, so, so yeah, if you’re the leader and if you adopt doing something different, which is unique and the customer’s eye in APositive way, then I think, uh, it can definitely.

Um, have a positive impact on the 

Phil Kalas of Ashland Leather: business. Are we there yet with the tech? I don’t think we’re there yet, right? Uh, no, no, we’re close. I would do it if Adobe sent me the, uh, deep fake, uh, app, I would, I would consider it. I think, I think 

Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: right now it’s probably more, um, custom work. You know, you’ll have to hire someone to create maybe a program on that or something like that, um, to do that.

But, um, are you channel for just pure website? Do you also sell through ETS or eBay, Amazon, any 

Phil Kalas of Ashland Leather: of the marketplaces We have. Our web store is essentially all of it. We do have a shop on et. Which we don’t have much product up there. I put that up as an experiment a few years ago with very limited things.

We do have a leather conditioner, uh, that, that is very nice product that we sell on our store, but we also sell it on Amazon. But more or less everything is direct. No, we started selling mostly wholesale. So in 2011, e-commerce wasn’t what it is today. So we were working with retailers. In fact, our first customer was a, a really interesting store in Japan.

Our first order, like from overseas and like a very discerning customer was a, a retail store. Uh, so we were wholesaling product back then. And we have sort of not purposefully shied away from wholesale, but we’ve become busy enough with our direct sales. We sort of had to, to turn that down in terms of, and there’s ways to do that.

You can offer. You just raise the price on ’em, or you’ve raised the lead time, you say like, look, we wanna work with you, but like, it’s gonna be more money and take way longer. So, sorry. But it’s like kind of a way of saying no without being jerk about it, cuz uh, it’s just the way it is. Like I have a responsibility to take care of, of our team as best I can.

Um, I think of the stakeholders of our, our employees as number one. Um, so everything we can do to provide, uh, funds to, to them. I, I think about, but that ends up being, turns out especially now, is direct sales. So we have a web store, we have a workshop that’s not necessarily laid out for, for selling in person.

However, we do have a people come by by appointment, which is really fun to be able to talk to people in person. But we’re not like a retail store. Um, but we welcome people in. Okay. Um, in 

Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: terms of your warehousing and fulfillment, are you, um, I’m assuming like this kinda product doesn’t require a, you know, a huge space to warehouse, but, um, in terms of fulfillment, like are you shipping only within US right now?

And if you, are you working with, like, are you, do you charge the customers for shipping fees or is that a complimentary thing? Do you offer free returns? Can you share a little bit about, you know, post experience? 

Phil Kalas of Ashland Leather: Yeah, we, you kind of nailed. One of our strategic advantages is we have a lot of packages for our orders that are under one pound.

So if it’s a product that’s very expensive, we’ll ship it, uh, UPS ground and anything over $150 is free domestic shipping. So United States we. Don’t have large product. Uh, so it’s cheaper to ship less expensive stuff with first class mail. And it’s also like you point out less expensive to warehouse. Now warehouse is sort of like grandiose word for what we have.

We’re a small workshop. It’s a couple, I think it’s like 2000 square feet, and we manage to have all our production in there. I have like a little photo studio, video studio, and we keep all our inventory it. We’re kind of getting close to maxing it out, but, um, luckily you can store a lot of wallets in a small space.

So we do that all in house. We ship in house. We don’t have any fulfillment or third party logistics type. Everything that we sell through our website is, uh, again, uh, free shipping, over $150. We will ship internationally. And we have a lot of people that are interested in what we’re doing. Uh, very thankfully.

Uh, People in Japan and Korea, uk, Singapore is a big one, um, all over the world. Um, and we’re like, I, I think about that a lot. It’s very flattering, but we do have, we charge all, all international shipping. It, it’s actually kind of risky to ship internationally. Um, it sucks for the customer and it sucks for us.

I just don’t see a better way around it. But we charge a flat rate for international and we ship everything with u ups expedited in international. That’s something we had switched to during the pandemic or the early stages of the pandemic because s p s was cheaper back then. It was literally taking months for people to get their stuff and it created a problem for, for our business.

It’s just like, we can’t do that anymore. So we just switched everything to up. Which has been great, but it sucks for the customers. I think the import fees, they, they have like a special service fee on UPS International that hurts the customer, which I don’t like. So there’s no good solution for international, so people do pay for it.

We’ve worked with some distributors, um, in before, um, I’d be open to that again, but you know, most of what we do, I think it’s 90% is domestic US and we, we do all that ourselves through Shopify and we printed our labels through Shopify. Cool. Cool. Any, I mean, the question that 

Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: I’m interested myself also, um, with any leather product like this, or even like leather shoes and stuff, do you have any, like, you know, being in the leather industry for such a long time, like what are one or big things.

Preserve the leather, like, you know, leather care kind of a thing. Is it, is it really about using some leather care product or is it like, you know, doing something else?

Phil Kalas of Ashland Leather: Tough question. It sort of depends on what you’re starting with. Um, it might sound a little cliche, but not all other is created equally, so it’s kind of hard to improve something that is just gonna break. Um, there are, there are just leathers that have less things tanned inside of them, which makes them less durable and less strong.

Uh, it also reduces the cost to put less in it. So I think the number one thing is, again, these days, it’s incredible the amount of resources that we have with the internet is you can do a lot of great research. You, you’ll probably come across somebody like myself that has a lot of good information. I have people on Reddit, there’s a subreddit called Goodyear Walt.

They have great information on footwear. , and these are total nerds, like people that are really knowledgeable on a very specific thing. I would start by finding a reputable brand with the style that you find visually appealing. And then start from there. And, and you can even ask them, Hey, what do you guys think of this?

Is this, is this a good one? So start with a good material. Start with a good maker, uh, in the footwear world that you can also make it poorly . And then, uh, after that, let’s say, let’s say you have the perfect, like a really good material and a really good build. Maintenance is also a bit of a contentious world, but think of leather, like you think of your hands or your hair.

That’s how, that’s how it’s the same thing, organic material. So I actually might be able to tell my, my hair’s a little bit wet right now. So I took a shower, I washed my hair with, with. And when you wash your hair with soap, it pulls out all those oils and fats. They’re actually nourishing your hair. Maybe it doesn’t look great , but it’s nourishing those fibers.

And the same thing happens in the leather. So if you have a dirty leather shoe, you can wash it off with soap and water. Now the caution there is that you need to condition it in the same way you condition your hair, where you might lotion your hands after you wash it. I notice, especially in the winter when it’s a little bit drier, uh, I live in Chicago where we get pretty dry cold winters.

My hands get a little bit chapped if I wash them with soap. So lotion on my skin helps prevent that chapped look and feel. This is the same thing on the leather, so condition’s important. Now, having said that, you can over condition and it will fill up the fibers of the leather in the same way that a sponge gets saturated with water.

You can saturate the leather with so much conditioner that just starts to look like conditioner. Just gross. It will look really cloudy. So you gotta kind of start small and you can always add more. But that’s what I would say in terms of maintenance, uh, to, to increase the longevity, wash ’em, and put a little conditioner on there.

That’s helpful. And then if you want a nice look, there are other products that are less about the conditioning function and more about the luster function. So a, a shoe polish that has more wax in it. I always advise a neutral color polish. Even if you’re using a black leather shoe, use a neutral polish that has more wax in it will get you a brighter look.

Less wax, more oil will get you a more of a dull look. Mm-hmm. . Um, but, but that’s, that’s as simple as that. And then a horsehair brush, I like a lot of people use, uh, soft cloth. You can use like a diaper or something like that and just buffet. It tends to give it a nice, uh, sheen. And usually, and the biggest thing is if you have, if you start with.

Like analogies a lot. If you can’t tell, it’s kind of like a cook. You go to a steakhouse, you don’t necessarily want to buy a really fancy steak and have ’em cover it with sauce. Like you kind of just want the chef to like do nothing, do as little as possible because that natural steak, the meat was, maybe it’s like wago beef or something, some fancy kind of meat.

You don’t want ’em to mess with it because it’s special as is. It’s kind of like that with the leather, you can, you can sort of overdo it. So general rule of thumb, if you start with a good material, less is more. You probably don’t need to do much more than just brush it often, most often. And that’s what I do.

I’ll, I’ll wipe down my, my booth with even just like a little bit of water and, and then just brush ’em, no soap. Um, so again, start with a good material first. Um, it’s the most important. Cool. 

Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: Uh, in every entrepreneur’s journey, there’s always lessons learned, failures. Um, uh, mistakes made. Can you share maybe in your own, you know, history of running the business, any mistakes or failures or learned?

What did you learn from it and what other 

Phil Kalas of Ashland Leather: entrepreneurs learn from it?

We touched on it briefly that I started making a product for a market that I didn’t understand, which was women’s bags. Um, that was the biggest mistake. Luckily for us, we pivoted quickly. I mean, it wasn’t even intentional. We just got an order. But I think the biggest piece of advice I would give. Is to think about the philosophy of what you’re doing.

And I get, I get people emailing me, um, young entrepreneurs, people in college will message me and say, Hey, I notice you’re doing pretty well. Do you have any suggestions? And the thing I always suggest is start with the philosophy. Like, what are you doing? Like, what is it it that you stand for? And I think if you answer those questions in a concise way, and you have a market that demands that you have a business, but for us, I have, I have so many interests, uh, music, leather crafting, I like a lot of stuff.

And I could pull those all into the umbrella of Ashlyn Leather Company and do all sorts of crazy products. But we found that, uh, when we start to get. Other paths that are not core to what we do, we tend to struggle and it tends to take away from what we’re already doing. So an example of this moment at Ashland, we’re so busy we can’t keep up the demand.

If I start talking about like, I’ve really loved to have a a leather guitar strap. If I ask my team to start developing a leather guitar strap, we would just disappoint more of our existing customers and exciting me. But just for our business, it doesn’t necessarily make much, much sense. And then your counterpoint to that might be, well, why don’t you just hire more people?

So that’s also sort of core to our business is we’ve found, with the exception of the last two months, that we’ve grown organically all the way to now. So over the last two months, I’ve experimenting with Google Ads. They work for me. They might just be retargeting for me, but I’m using Google Shopping ads through a, an app in Shopify.

Um, but we’ve grown organically and, and I have a philosophy of treating our employees right, and what scares me to death is the notion of having to release employees because I can’t afford to pay them. So I’ve been very reluctant, reluctant to expand beyond where we’re, I, I kind of like to get just to the point of uncomfortable or, or like extended amount of discomfort before we employ more people because I, I don’t wanna have to let people go.

So, , that’s, I mean, again, that’s like my philosophy that’s been imparted into the business. But the bottom line here is you need to, you need to know who you are and what you’re doing. And that’s very critical to, to any company. And it’s kind of a tough, could be a tough question to ask, but I, I think that’s the most important thing.


Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: So now we’re gonna rapid round and this segment I’m gonna ask questions. And one, 

Phil Kalas of Ashland Leather: it’s, if you can’t,

let’s do it. I’m, I’m ready. We’ll try, we’ll 

Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: try. Uh, one book recommendation for entrepreneurs that are business professionals. 

Phil Kalas of Ashland Leather: There’s a book by Malcolm Gladwell called Blink that I very much like, we make products that have natural character and every one of them is a little bit different. So everything we ship will have something wrong with it, and it’s up to me to make that determination of whether or not we want to ship that product.

So what I do is I, I look at it very quickly and if, if it doesn. It’s sort of like my experience and using my intuition to impart a judgment on a thing. And that’s sort of what the book Blink does. Or at least it, it illuminated that notion to me. So I recommend Blink. 

Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: What do you do with the products that don’t pass your test?

Like do you throw them or do you sell them at a cost? 

Phil Kalas of Ashland Leather: Yeah, we, uh, actually that was what I was working on today. I, we do something called an irregular sale, and we have a, a section on our website called Sale. Mm-hmm . And every now and then when we accumulate enough irregular items, I’ll put them up at a discount and they start at 20% off.

And sometimes, um, we’ll even have products that we try out, so I’ll sell those for like half off. That depends on the quality of like where they’re at. But all this stuff, it’s like good material. So it’s still usable, but we. You know, have no their home for it. So discount ’em. An innovative 

Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: product or idea in the current e-commerce three or tech landscape that you feel excited about.


Phil Kalas of Ashland Leather: an innovative company product or idea product. Um, I’m wearing a, um, shirt right now from a company called ast, A S K E T. They’re a Swedish company that I think they’re relatively like new sort of startup, and their notion is to create very, uh, high level of in depth detail on their sourcing for all the materials that they’re using.

Mm. I I like the shirt a lot. I’m, you know, I’m wearing it. They also make, not just like small, medium, large, but they’ll do like short, regular, and long lengths for each of those sizes. And I actually had an experience with them recently where I bought some pants or some shorts and they, they kind of ripped.

Uh, and then I messaged them and they had an incredible customer service that sent me another pair. So I’m kind of a fan now. . So Ask, ask. It’s doing some interesting stuff outta Sweden. Awesome 

Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: product.

Phil Kalas of Ashland Leather: I, I really like YouTube . This is like the 10th time I brought it up here. Okay. Um, so I won’t expand on that, but I’ve had, um, friends of ours that are small business owners that aren’t on Shopify, and I push Shopify on them frequently. Uh, I find that to be an incredible tool, uh, 

Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: a startup or business and eCommerce retailer tech that you think is currently doing great things.

Phil Kalas of Ashland Leather: I would go to ask it again. Um, just, just the, what they’re doing at Ascot is new and different and I find everything I do, I want to be new and different. I, I just get in my music taste, for example. Like I, if I’ve heard it before, I just can’t do it. So I get really excited by people trying new stuff. So ask, it would be my answer for that too.

Cool. A 

Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: peer entrepreneur or business person whom you look up to or someone who inspires you? 

Phil Kalas of Ashland Leather: The owner for the tannery that I u used to work for, I really admire and he has taught me, it’s interesting is he’s a family business also and he succeeded there now five generations. And I think the key to their success is not only are they making a nice product, but.

The man himself. Uh, skip Hoing is, uh, just so kind and has taught me that you can have a successful business by not being cutthroat like you might see in a movie or , something like that. But you can instead be successful by providing value for other people and just being kind and considerate. So I’d say skip pouring.

Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: Definitely. And final question, best business advice you ever received or you would give to other entrepreneurs? 

Phil Kalas of Ashland Leather: Uh, I’m have to like rehash my philosophy chat again. I think it’s very important for, it’s important enough to say it again, that Ashland and leather company, we’re all about sharing leather with the world.

So us as a simple example, is taking something that simple of an idea and using it as our mission. Philosophy of the company has turned us into a place now with 10 employees, and we’re selling many thousands of things, uh, every year. And we’re satisfying that philosophy every day, making YouTube videos speaking with you here today.

Um, that would be the core to what we do and are key to our success. And I, I would suggest everybody to know exactly what it is that your mission, vision, values, those sort of hokey things you learn in business school. Know what those are, but I just think of it as like your philosophy. Like what do you stand for?

What do you, what are you doing? And I think that’s key. 

Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: Awesome. Uh, those were all the questions that I had today. Um, really, really appreciate your time today. Um, if someone wants to go and buy your product letter products, where can they go and purchase that? 

Phil Kalas of Ashland Leather: Well, it’s been a pleasure and uh, maybe we can chat for a minute after this.

I’d get like to talk to you for a sec. It’s been a real pleasure being here and, uh, you can find us@ashlynleather.com, but even more directly than that, if you wanna reach me was mentioning before there’s real person behind that website. So you can reach me@philashlandleather.com, so P h i l a H L a nd l e a t h e r.com.


Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: Well, thank you so much, Phil. Um, thank you again for sharing your story, for sharing your, uh, entrepreneurial business story and, you know, the strategies and tactic and especially, uh, a lot of details on the leather industry and products and you know, how to take care of your leather. So yeah, your today really, really appreciate you joining me.

Phil Kalas of Ashland Leather: Absolutely. It’s been a pleasure.

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