If you have ever thought about creating a custom leather order, you probably began to sweat profusely.  Considering how often a fast food restaurant can get my $12 order incorrect from a menu of "consistent" food items, leather can be daunting.  Trust me, I feel just as nervous (and perhaps more so) than you.  

On a worst-case scenario, the item simply doesn't work, fit, or is destroyed in the shipping process (although not fitting is the only scenario that has ever happened at Beargrass -- knock on wood!).  This is typically the full-refund scenario.  The buyer may be out a few dollars in shipping and some wasted time sending emails, but not a bulk of the costs.  The person making the item is losing the cost of materials and time (as well as possible negative feedback).  So there is a lot of pressure to get an order correct.  I go through small stages of grief with each order leaving the shop, and I check my email constantly as I wait for positive feedback from the buyer.

Here are some custom ordering tips (hint -- all of the tips involve communication):

1)  Be clear as to what you want:

 *  Include exact sizes and numbers

*   Send links to pictures of similar items  (if you are an Etsy user, we almost always check your favorites list to get a better sense of your style)

*  If using the product to hold specific objects, send us a picture of the objects

2)  Prioritize

*  Let us know what is most important (because we hand stitch, our products must remain fairly simple, so adding items can be tricky)

3)  Agree on a plan before the project begins

*  A custom order almost always involves a new order for raw materials.  Beargrass Leather stocks about 20 different leather hides at a time.  So most custom orders will need a new hide. 

*  The specific hide and hardware account for 25-40% of the overall costs.  Time makes up the remaining costs

*  Beargrass Leather will then give you a bid on the cost before buying any leather -- a bid is not a contract. 

*  If you don't agree with the project at this point, this is an appropriate point to say, "No thanks!"

4)  Continue to Communicate

*  Once the project begins, the communication process should continue.  While alterations and changes can be tricky (or not possible or costly), it doesn't hurt to ask.  

*  Again, the clearer and more open the communication, the more likely that you will open the box at your doorstep and love what is inside.


In the end, communication is the key to your custom leather order.  We hope that you will choose Beargrass Leather for your custom request.  But these tips will work for any custom leather order that you may make.

Leather messenger bag on the workbench. 

Leather messenger bag on the workbench. 

Here is a custom notepad for a great customer.  It required a lot of precise elements and sharing of design sketches.