Behind our brand

Kelly, Carol & Mary Beth of Feather Leather Designs

People ask me all the time, what inspired the creation of Feather Leather Designs? It’s an easy answer, really. Just look at the title of our blog and our brand statement. But I’m happy to elaborate.

For as long as I can remember, I was always dreaming up a new business idea. I would develop the plan in my head. I would name it and visualize its look and feel. I’d share the ideas with family and friends. For something that required bricks and mortar, I would go as far as looking for locations and meeting with real estate agents. The closest I ever got to following my entrepreneurial spirit was making snowmen out of Christmas trees after college and personalizing them with décor for family and friends. But I never truly moved anything forward. Mostly because it was too risky and, let’s be honest, I was afraid to fail.

So, to actually own a real business, in partnership with two of the most important women in my life, is quite simply a dream come true.

It started last fall while shopping with my mom, Carol, and my sister, Kelly. I purchased my first pair of leather earrings. My mom and sister both passed, because they were too expensive. Meanwhile, I fell in love. I started to look into how I could make them on my own. I read and researched. I ordered supplies. I planned to make a set for my sister for her birthday and for my mom, who is allergic to nickel and cannot wear heavy earrings (her oldest daughter may have pulled on an earring as a baby and split her mom’s lobe nearly in half).

Instead of presenting them with earrings, I asked my mom and sister to come over for coffee on a Monday night and presented them with a plan. Four days later, on Nov. 30, 2018, Kelly’s actual birthday, we launched our partnership, Feather Leather Designs. In two months, we have established our brand and created more than 1,000 earrings with more in development. We have a growing social presence and an online store. We forged new partnerships and conducted a real photo shoot. And we held our first, but definitely not last, pop-up shop. Wow. It’s funny what happens when you’re inspired.

But what was it that inspired all of this? Well certainly, the product itself. We believe that every woman should be able to say yes to purchasing something that is life-changing. We wanted to provide women of all ages with a lightweight, stylish and affordable leather earring. We are inspired by the feedback from our customers. Women who have said they couldn’t wear earrings until now. Moms who view our earrings as a protective measure for their young daughters. Others who share how much more confident they feel when they wear their FLDs (yes, we lovingly refer to our product as an acronym now!).

Simply put, our brand is inspired by life. It's driven by the people and events that surround us, by life’s biggest moments and the everyday minutia. It stands for taking risks and stepping outside of your comfort zone (like wearing a large earring instead of small!). It’s about chasing dreams and believing that anything is possible. Because let’s face it, life is too short. So rather than lying in bed dreaming about “What if...,” I said “Why not?”. And thankfully, my mom and sister (and our families!) were with me.

I was inspired yet again this week, when the three of us presented Feather Leather Designs to the Promotional Production class at Cleveland State, taught by my good friend, Dr. Beth Thomas. Her senior class is partnering with FLD, as we will serve as the “client” for their capstone project. These students knocked our FLDs off with their enthusiasm, knowledge and ideas. They agreed that a brand like ours needs a blog. I cringed a bit at the idea, and said that likely wouldn’t happen...

I published my first blog, “Cheers for Chuck,” on May 4, 2016, shortly after my dad was diagnosed with stage IV lung cancer. It was a way for me to keep our family and friends updated, and it was the primary way I processed my feelings – the sadness and fear, the hope and appreciation. The blog ended just five months later, on Oct. 8, when I posted the final tributes Kelly and I shared at his funeral. While people encouraged me to continue to write, I never thought I’d blog again. It was as painful as it was therapeutic. I didn’t miss it, I just missed my dad.

Yet, I haven’t been able to stop thinking about the idea tossed out by the CSU class - about how good the actual process of sharing what’s on my mind made me feel and how it helped me to relate to others in ways I never thought possible. But I questioned what we’d write about and how often we had to write. I wondered if anyone would even care about what we had to say. But rather than lying in bed thinking about it, I got started. And here we are.

So, the topics and frequency are a bit uncertain at this point. I’m okay with that, I hope you are too. I’ll certainly ask my mom and sister to contribute, but if they don’t, that’s okay too. Perhaps you’ll read about earrings and fashion, a funny or stressful parenting moment, or a story shared from a valued customer. Perhaps you’ll hear from us next week, or next month. We shall see.

As a Type A person who needs to have it all planned out, I’m becoming increasingly comfortable with the unknown and not having all the answers. The only thing I can guarantee our readers is that our blog will be authentic and, like our brand, inspired by life.

As always, thank you for sharing the FLD love.

Until next time,

Mary Beth with Feather Leather Designs