Artist, designer and craftswoman Lucia Gerbino started off making leather goods for herself. Eight years later and she’s designing bracelets, belts and wristbands for the likes of “Dexter” star Michael C. Hall and “The Voice” finalist Vicci Martinez with her company, Lucky Dog Leather.
She shared the secrets of her success with Lesbian.com.
What do you do and why?
We specialize in high quality leather bracelets, wristbands and belts. We have several collections with a wide variety of styles and every item is made to order for a perfect fit. We make it all in our Los Angeles workshop.
What did you do before you started your company?
I had another company where my business partner and I made custom mosaic furniture and installations from tile, wood, slate, stone and glass. That was fun, but it was a lot of hard physical work.
How did you come up with the idea for your company?
It started off as one of those crazy coincidences. I had closed the furniture business and was not really sure of my next venture. I was looking into making some leather bracelets and cuffs for myself, just for fun. I mentioned it to a friend who just happened to work at a place with a leather shop. From there, pieces started falling into place as if it was always meant to be.
What’s the single most important piece of advice you received when first starting your company? What would you tell a young entrepreneur in turn?
I was never much for taking advice when I was starting out. I would advise someone to pace themselves. Don’t try to grow too fast or push too hard. Work your butt off, but give yourself enough time to learn what you need for each level of business that you reach. The challenges change as you grow and you will need different skills and resources. Also, do it for the love of whatever you are doing. As the saying goes, “follow your bliss.”
What aspect of business ownership came as the biggest surprise to you?
The biggest surprise was that success can be your downfall. Dealing with a rapidly growing company actually takes out a lot of small companies. You think the trajectory will keep going up forever, you might over invest, grow too quickly, underestimate the growing overhead that comes with growing sales. There is a learning curve to managing more sales and payroll, inventory and so on.
What do you find most rewarding about owning your own business?
The most rewarding part of my business is knowing that I MADE THIS. From each bracelet design all the way up to years worth of loyal customers, I made it happen. Not without lots of help and support, of course, but there is a lot of pride in having built something of which I am proud.
Where do you see yourself and your company in five years?
Personally, I plan on growing my skills in jewelry making and design. I am beginning to dabble in working with silver and other metals. I think I will keep growing in the direction of jewelry design. I am sure I will incorporate my new skills into my Lucky Dog Leather designs as well.