Stay-at-home mom Emily Jones was folding her infant son’s clothes when a business idea popped in her head. As her kids grew out of baby clothes she wanted to preserve the memories associated with each clothing item. Then the idea came to her. Why not carry those memories with you, as part of your daily life?
Rooted Leather is Jones’ local business that lines pre-owned fabrics into leather handbags. Customers send in pieces of fabric and Jones uses the materials as interior liners for the bags.
Jones’ brother sparked her initial interest in entrepreneurship after he started a successful carpentry business with a partner on Instagram. “I was watching them build their business and build a following and create beautiful products and I thought — I could do something like that,” explains Jones. “It was important that I didn’t feel like I was reinventing or taking someone else’s idea. I’m proud of the original idea behind Rooted Leather.”
The Rooted Leather process is straightforward: Customers send in a fabric with sentimental meaning for them, and Jones transforms it. She’s received fabrics ranging from dance leotards, to baby blankets, military uniforms, jeans, quilts, hats and ties. “I do not take it lightly that people trust me with their fabric to make those bags,” said Jones.
Each bag liner is unique; some fabrics aren’t large enough to line the entire bag or the material is difficult to sew. “If I’m not really confident, I will not take scissors to it,” Jones said. Jones has two rules— nothing knitted and she will not cut apart a whole wedding dress. “There’s a lot of interaction between me and my customers— I want them to feel involved in the process,” said Jones. “I want customers to receive their item and have it feel like a warm, big hug from the person who wore the fabric.”
Although Rooted Leather is family oriented, Jones says it’s not what might be called a “family business”. Jones’ family helps out from time to time. Her mother helps with the front end and back end of the business.
Jones is currently considering ideas for expansion and doing limited edition bags and she wants to begin to personalize other leather items, not just for women. She plans to add a men’s line to include wallets and overnight bags. She also plans on participating in two local art shows this summer— Art on the Mall at the University of Toledo and Sylvania’s Maple & Main Art and Music Festival.
As her business continues to grow, Jones sees Toledo as a great opportunity for her to network and promote Rooted Leather. “Toledo has a really great art scene. There’s a lot of inspiration here,” Jones said. “What I have is a cool idea and I hope to continue to expand and grow what I’m doing.”
Facebook: Rooted Leather