How an EMT is Building His Own Leather Brand

Just 38 miles northwest of Charlotte, North Carolina sits the town of Lincolnton, were a Father, EMT, and part time Firefighter is building his dream. Little River Customs is a leather custom shop best known for their hats with the custom leather patches. I have followed Little River Customs on Instagram for quite some time now. I am very thankful that Dereck, the Creator and Owner of Little River Customs took the time for an interview so we could learn more about his leather work and shop.
Q: I noticed in your Instagram profile that you mention being a Father, EMT, part time Firefighter, and Little River Customs. With all that you have going on, what inspires you to keep going with everything?
A: What keeps me going with everything, is I truly enjoy all of these jobs. After starting Little River knives, now Little River Customs, I realized I now had an outlet to create items and turn them into a business. A business that in the near future I plan to take full time. Once I am able to take it full time, I will then have more time at home with my family. This is what drives me to grow and expand Little River Customs.
Q: When did you start operating under Little River Customs?
A: The business originally started under the name Little River Knives back in 2016. As the business grew the name needed to change. I had thought about changing the name for some time. In early 2019 I completely re-branded the business and changed the name to Little River Customs. The name change was pretty much a necessity by then, and better reflects everything I make here.
Q: What do you enjoy most working with leather and making blades?
A: What I enjoy the most, is being able to take someones idea and turn it into a reality. Whether that is an idea for a blade or creating a personal item with the leather. I would also add that the smile these items put on the customers face is truly great.
Q: When did you start working with blades and leather?
A: The original idea behind the business started in the beginning of 2016, as I was looking for a fathers day gift. I started by buying a pre-shaped, unfinished blade. Learned a little about heat treating the steel and placing a handle on that blade. After completing that project, it left me wanting more. I then began researching and learning more about making my own blades. By the end of 2016 I was taking steel and turning it into finished blades of my own design. During that time I realized that I needed to learn about leather work so that I could provide a quality sheath for the blades. That opened up an entirely new area to learn and grow. I spent most of 2017 learning more and refining my skills. By 2018 I was ready to start pushing the business and growing it. In late 2018 leather work started taking over more and more of the business, and now in 2019 I’ve had to put the blades on hold. I will be revisiting them and making more of them in the future. But for now leather is the primary focus.
Q: What other products do you carry outside of the hats and the knives?
A: I have only scratched the surface on what I can and will be able to make. The main items I make at the moment are the leather patch hats, using the Richardson brand hats. And engraved tumblers primarily using the Big Frig Coolers brand of tumblers. The blades will definitely be revisited in the future and become a more standard item. Leather key-chains are also something that I’ve made a good bit of and will continue to make. Leather wallets, belts, Firefighter radio straps, and leather name plates, are some of the other items I’ve made. After I’m able to take the business full time, you will most likely see all of these items readily available for order. With some being stocked and ready to ship.
Q: What are you most proud of so far with Little River?
A: I would say I am most proud of the people I’ve worked with and the smiles I’ve brought to there faces.
Q: So far, what has been your greatest challenge?
A: The absolute biggest challenge that I’ve faced and continue to face is juggling two other jobs, the Little River Customs business, and time with family.
Q: If someone who does not know you or Little River asks you what they should know about LR, How would you respond?
A: Every item made by Little River Customs is made in house right here in North Carolina. We make a number of different items and strive for satisfaction and quality.
Q: How do you handle wholesales orders, timelines, and minimum orders?
A: I find that the wholesale orders are the easiest to deal with. Usually only having one or two designs and a set number to make, it is faster and more efficient to complete then individual orders. Timelines for completing those is usually set by me at the time of order, there has only been a few times that I’ve become backed up and need to push the timelines out. As for minimum orders I’ve tried to keep those as low as I can.
Q: What is your minimum order for a custom hat?
A: Minimum orders for an individual can be a single item. Wholesale items do have minimum orders. For hats the minimum is twelve. For tumblers the minimum is ten.
Find out what Dereck has in stock and how you can get your custom work done at Little River Customs. Will be getting some product from Little River Customs in the next few months myself. You can also check out Little River Customs on Instagram.
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Published by Bryan Montgomery

Marketing is My Game | Golf is My Passion | Family is My Life I enjoy reading and writing when I am not doing any of my other many activities of life. This is my outlet to talk about the game I care for so much, golf has been with me since I was a young child. And yet I continue to learn new things everyday. Hopefully I can entertain and bring some of my passion for the game for others. - Bryan -

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