The wonderfully crafted small business magazine Cake & Whiskey recently did a feature on my workshop with a full interview. I just finished reading through the rest of the magazine – it’s full of great stories of artisan entrepreneurs workin’ hard to build their businesses. Go check them out and sign up for a copy here, I just did. I have included a few short questions and answers from the interview below, but go on and check out the magazine for the full feature.
Give us a walking-word-tour of your work space. Do you think it resembles that of a craftsman a century ago?
There is a lot to be said for keeping a simple, clean and efficient workspace. When I started out, I was horrible at putting tools away and being organized. Over time I have developed a few organizational skills that are key for keeping a good workflow going. My workshop has parts that are fairly typical of any leather workshop from 200 years ago. I have a solid workbench, a lot of basic hand tools used for cutting, carving, grooving, stitching, punching, pounding, stretching, clamping and much much more. I set this all up in front of a nice wide window so I can work in natural light for most of my day…I love it. A few advancements in the shop include a shipping station where I can easily sort and package up orders, a dyeing station, drying station, and lots and lots of shelving space for all kinds of little pieces I never knew I would need.
In your line of work, where do you feel you have the most purpose? What are you most passionate about creating?
You know – I particularly enjoy creating tutorials for my blog and fellow readers. I love teaching the art of leather craft and my particular angle on it. It is an immense field full of a lifetime of learning. I feel like those new to leather are just so stunned at all the knowledge to be gained that they don’t know where to start. So – I make very simple and practical tutorials to get people up and running with very detailed photos of each process. If I had more time I would create 1 a week. I also love designing new goods for the shop. It is a long and fun creative process that can really be a good mind bender when trying to figure out the practicality of putting an idea onto paper and making it work in real life.
You said in another interview that ‘you should always follow your passions.’ How have you found the magic of turning your passion into profit?
I think the magic of turning a passion into profit begins with believing in yourself, your idea, and not letting anything or anyone dissuade you or make you feel that it isn’t worth it. It really isn’t magic at all, I think the reality is that if you really want your passion to also work as a means for income…you are in for a lot of long hard work. During the startup process of my business and continuing today I spend a lot – almost all – of my free time – invested in my business. Unlike any other generic job…this actually doesn’t bother me one bit. Even on my days off I find myself back in the workshop tinkering with a new idea or making a gift for a friend. That’s where the passion comes in, nothing feels like work anymore.
What’s most important to you about Mr. Lentz?
Well, I would like my leather goods to make an impact on people and restructure how they carry their life. My goods are designed and meant to be minimalistic, thus allowing people to think about what they actually need to carry versus what they currently stuff into their wallets or bags. I enjoy the minimal ethic to a large degree, I think we could all benefit from pairing down our lives into simpler living and lifestyles. I think this is especially important as our society grows more complex and busy. Also – I would love for my blog to help inspire more people to make things with their hands. I can’t imagine how many incredible artists are out there just waiting to discover themselves, if only they would put down that smartphone or tablet and make something useful with their own bare hands.