What started as a self-taught leather project has now flourished into a small business for local couple Casey and Jen Ray.
After learning how to make a journal cover for himself, Casey began to test his creativity and teach himself to make other leather goods. As family and friends began bombarding him with requests, Casey and Jen realized that they could turn his newfound hobby into something bigger.
“The whole process has been very humbling, because as our friends and connections throughout the Owensboro community found out we do leather work, they would ask if we could make them a holster or a bag or a wallet,” Jen said. “So slowly but surely, we’d been producing things, and then we decided we were actually ready to do this.”
Casey says that he and Jen are always coming up with new things, but currently their business Desperado Leather Goods sells holsters, belts, various other everyday carry items, wallets, coasters and keychains. They also take commissions for custom needs.
To gain more attention and to attract more sales, the Rays committed to selling their products at the holiday markets at Preservation Station and the Farmers’ Market. Soon, they realized they would need more workspace to give their new business room to grow even more.
“What started as just using a little corner of his office turned into using the whole spare bedroom, and now it’s scaled where it has taken over the entire bottom floor of our house,” Jen said. “We are so lucky and we’re so blown away by it all. Realizing that this has gotten to the point that people want our stuff and that they support us enough for us to have a workshop in our basement is nuts.”
As he learns new patterns and techniques, Casey teaches them to Jen so that they can tackle incoming orders together. Everything they do, they do as a team.
“It’s what we do to hang out together a lot of the time,” Casey said. “We lock ourselves in the workshop and we’ll just listen to music, hang out, and work on things. We enjoy that a lot.”
The Rays have big dreams surrounding Desperado Leather Goods, as they both hope to get their business to the point where it can fully sustain them and, as Jen says, to do what they love while breaking the “norm” of the 9-5.
“We both definitely want to expand it. We both work jobs outside of our business, so this currently takes up a lot of our free time,” Casey said. “Instead, we’d like to eventually get it to the point that this is what supports us.”
For more information on their business or to place an order, visit their Facebook page here.