Help a Startup Leather Crafter

I have started a leather craft and shoemaking business and I need your help with the cost of machinery and materials to make this dream a reality.

I started my journey four years ago when apprenticing with shoemaker Sara McIntosh in the Ravenswood neighborhood of Chicago. I helped her fulfill orders and organize her workroom in exchange for instruction on how to make shoes and other leather accessories.  She was a great help to me, and she has since gone on to launch the Chicago School of Shoemaking and Leather Arts, where I was one of the first pupils. 

While working part-time as a bartender, I’ve made shoes and leather goods for friends and clients—taking custom orders and working out of my apartment in San Francisco.  I have been trying to do enough leatherwork to make ends meet, and I started an Etsy page for the bags, dog collars, dog leashes, and leather cuff bracelets that I make by hand.  Feel free to take a look at my Etsy page for James Dorsey Handcrafted.

To really get my business off the ground, I ask for your help acquiring machines andtools that can boost my rate of production. I currently sew every stitch by hand or with my over-taxed, 30-year-old Singer sewing machine. I feel that I’ve been able to do some great work, and I will continue to do much hand-sewing for my future projects.

But I need to upgrade my sewing machine to one that is more efficient, and I need to get a specialty walking-foot sewing machine capable of sewing leather and thick fabric.  The everyday workshop machine that I'm looking at costs $500. The specialty walking-foot machine that I am looking at costs $1,500.  With these two machines, I will be able to expand my product line, speed up my manufacturing, and add shoes back to my line-up.

I have been making due with beginner leather tools and inexpensive leathers to start my Etsy page, and now I would like to improve the tools and materials for my shop.  The average cost of materials like leather hides is  $125-$250 each, thread ($40-$60 each), and specialty tools (leather punches, irons, needles, and other) that total over $1000.   

I have seen many of the campaigns on GoFundMe and other crowd-funding sites raise more than the campaign goal, and it makes me wonder:  What happens to the extra money?  If I am fortunate enough to receive any extra funds over the goal they will go to city and state fees for registering my business, and savings for a deposit on a rental industrial space for small businesses like mine.

Any amount that you can give to help me get things rolling at the shop is greatly appreciated.   And thank you for taking the time out of your day to read this and consider helping out a struggling artist!


James Dorsey


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James Dorsey 
San Francisco, CA
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