Leatherpunk turns 20, takes a look back at the early years

Leatherpunk.com is turning 20 years old this year (2022). So how did Leatherpunk get started and what's kept me here so long? Grab a chair and I'll give you the condensed version.

In the late 1990s I was a local magician. Yes, I pulled rabbits out of hats (actually, doves from sleeves). In the Spring of 2002 I pulled the plug on the show and was looking for something new. On the way home from a trip to Missouri, the Leatherpunk idea was conceived based on a chance visit to a store in Springfield selling what I thought looked like cheap (and overpriced) punk style leather gear. So I got to work investing in tools and supplies, and taught myself the leather basics using trial and error (no YouTube instructional videos back then). By December, 2002 the website was live and ready for business...sorta.

Having a place to operate even a small leather business was a problem in the beginning. The work was done in the bedroom of my apartment, but that made me a very noisy neighbor. I briefly used a buddy's garage, then my parent's garage, but these proved unsuitable for leather work (no heating/air conditioning and really dusty). Despite the fact that the website was doing super well, I was in a tough place with this business homelessness. It was during this period I contemplated quitting.

By the Summer of 2004 the uncertainty had waned. I moved things into a small but climate controlled 10'x10' unit which I occupied until purchasing my first property in 2012. The new property afforded Leatherpunk seemingly endless square footage compared to the original unit. This allowed me to expand both my work area and grow my abilities with leather. It's only in these last few years that I now consider myself a true professional leather person. Perhaps it could've been accomplished sooner, but I grew it all organically, starting with one leather hide and a handful of tools...and one declined bank loan application. That was twenty years ago.

Today, I look back fondly at those years and the many people I've met because of Leatherpunk. I can even remember some of my first customers' names, those brave people who, for better or worse, took a chance.

Here's three photos(the oldest I could find as it relates to LP), taken with actual 35mm film(digital cameras weren't too great back then). Starting from the top: The building and birthplace of Leatherpunk, where I leased a 10'x10' unit. Middle photo and lower photo were taken from inside the shop.

Leatherpunk in 2004

An interesting fact: The original LP website was built by Georgina Falzarano. She was a close friend to Michael Stipe of R.E.M. and she was a lyrical inspiration to their hit song Stand.

The real reason I've stayed in this business all these years is because of my remarkable customers. I want to thank all of them first and foremost, and I also want to thank all those who have encouraged me over the years. There's so much more I could talk about, but I'll stop here. I hope to be working in this business for at least another 20 years!

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