Leather Beast's 1st Year - How Did It Go?

It's December 12th and we are about 2 weeks away from closing out the year.

Everyone is super busy getting ready for the holidays.

You might be trying to wrap up some projects that you have going on at work, and doing last minute holiday gift shopping AND trying to bake all of those cookies for that silly cookie exchange meetup that you're kicking yourself for agreeing to. (hopefully this isn't you)

Or maybe you're not stressing at all, and instead starting to reflect back on 2017, on everything that happened and on everything that was supposed to happen that didn't happen.

The end of the year is the perfect time for this kind of self reflection and I wanted to share the details of this past year and the 1st year of Leather Beast with you.

I love transparency. 

Whenever i'm let into someone else's world and they're being totally transparent it makes me like i'm in a safe space and they're being really real with me.

I like safe spaces.

And this 1st year review isn't just about me.

It's about you too!

So if you're a subscriber, follower, lurker, or whatever you're doing online, you weirdo, you're involved and officially invited to the reflection party!

So lets dive into the facts.

Leather Beast in the Beginning

Leather Beast launched on March 21st with zero subscribers and no one had a clue what they were about to get hit with.

Including myself.

 

What was the idea? What made you want to start this website and community?

The idea came out of my love of learning how to do and make things, especially old things.

I love traditional methods.

I wouldn’t say i’m an old soul but I truly think if it weren’t for sexism, lack of hygiene and various other obvious problems that people were faced with in the olden times, I’d be so happy living hundreds of years ago. 

The other part of the idea behind starting Leather Beast was that I would spend so many hours researching and looking for answers to my own leatherworking questions.

Many times I found them after a while but many times I did not.

After I thought about it, I realized that I could come at the leatherworking problems and issues that people were having with a different perspective.

I knew that I could add to the information and improve upon what is available as far as a resource.

So when I started building the website I thought,

"I want this to be a top resource for anyone who wants to learn about traditional leatherwork and specifically learn the traditional artisan methods that I’ve learned from a master European leatherworker who worked in the luxury market for years."

The information on the specific methods and techniques that I had learned was lacking.

 

How has Leather Beast changed from day 1 to now?

Leather Beast has changed soo much as most things inevitably do from the moment that you begin.

In the first days, I was kind of shooting in the dark as to what topics I should write about, what videos I should make and what I should demonstrate.

But little by little the community started talking and telling me and guiding me to the things that they wanted to learn and talk about.

That was when things really took off.

Now I get messages on a weekly basis from members asking me specific leatherworking questions, responding to my requests for feedback, commenting and asking questions in my free workshops and sometimes I get really kind emails saying things like,

"good job, you’ve been a great resource and keep up the good work."

These are my favorite emails because when i’m having a down day where I feel like something isn’t working right, I go back to these emails reread them and have a new positive burst of energy.
 

Specific things

I had been thinking about starting a website like this for a little while. It was just sitting there as an idea in the back of my mind.

In Jan 2017 I started building the site.

Fresh from holiday vacation, I was like, "lets do this thing."

It took me 2 months to get the website to a place that I felt ok about.

It wasn’t perfect, but nothing ever is and that was ok.

On March 21st I launched Leather Beast.

So the site has been up and running for about 9 months.

 

Leather Beast Blog

When I first started in March, April and May, I was blogging very irregularly and then in June I got my butt in gear and and started blogging once per week every month.

Staying on this schedule has helped to attract more people to the site and helped me get ranked in Google results which has been awesome.

I really never thought that would happen.

 

Leather Tamers Private Facebook Group

I started the Leather Tamers private Facebook group on March 21st kicking off the group with a video of me pushing publish on the website and launching it officially.

I barely knew how to use Facebook when I first created this group, so learning how to run a group in a way that is helpful and meaningful was something that I learned along the way and am still learning!

Since then the group has grown to over 300 enthusiastic members who ask questions, answer questions and are just some of the best people I could ask for to be in the group.

There are definitely some super active members that are so helpful when I don’t have a chance to jump in and answer questions. 

I can always count on these members to step up and giving their advice.

This is something that just happened organically and I’m so happy that it did.

In the group I post articles from the blog, interviews with leather designers, and videos and member post current projects and ask for advice and constructive feedback.

The group is different from the page in that, there is more of a 2 way conversation going and so we can get more depth with what people are working on and what they need help with.

Leather Beast Facebook Page

I didn’t start really using the Facebook page to share articles and videos until July.

Since then the page has grown to about 600 followers.

Here, I post articles, do livestreams, share announcements and give love to other designers.  

It’s also been a great way for me to attract more people into the Leather Tamers private Facebook group since it's a public page which gets more reach.

 

Men to Women Ratio on Facebook

47% women, 52% men in the Leather Tamers (pretty even I'd say!)

46%women, 54% men on the Leather Beast Facebook page

 

Global Reach on Facebook

We currently have members from 13 different countries: US, UK, Canada, South Africa, Australia, Netherlands, Malaysia, Spain, Philippines, Belgium, India, Pakistan and Germany

Leather Beast Youtube Channel

I started the channel at the end of March and have since posted 12 videos and have received over 2500 views!

This is an area that i’d like to improve upon by creating more videos and spending more time growing in 2018.

 

Leather Beast Instagram

The Instagram page was started back in January and this was how I was getting the word out that i’d be launching the site soon.

And for the first few months through April I was posting photos from my favorite leather designers and tagging their work.

I really liked doing this and celebrating all of the talented folks that are out there.

This is definitely something that I want to bring back in 2018.

In May, June and July, I started getting more confident about sharing some of the behind the Scenes photos of my workshop and my work.

As of today we’re at 3828 followers and counting!

Leather Beast Subscribers

We have a total of 312 subscribers to all that good weekly email goodness and free content!

I like to think that people are getting a ton of value out of the content and free workshops so I continue to only send the most valuable information to these guys.

But there is always room for improvement so I want to work on improving our content in 2018 as well.

 

Total Social Network

In 9 months from a big fat ZERO to 5,130.

Side Hustle

In November, I introduced my 2nd passion, which is how to start and run side businesses and expressed my love of creating your own path and extra cash so you can live the way you want to live.

I know that this group is full of talented people who are not selling their work yet, so I wanted to help those who were apprehensive about getting started.

This is another area that I really want to focus on in 2018.

Helping people start their side hustle really excites me because there is sooo much opportunity there! 

 

Free Workshop Trainings

I started doing these free workshop trainings back in September and did a total of 5 over the last 4 months.

These workshops were on various topics like how to pricing your products, the benefits of linen thread and my framework for making any basic traditional leathergood.

 

3 Courses Launched

It's been a busy year.

In 9 months, I’ve launched 3 courses. 

Mastering Traditional Leatherworking Basics

Saddlestitching 101

From Hobby to Side Hustle

Future Ideas..

In the comments below, let me know if any of these ideas sound good to you and if you have any ideas or things that you’d like us to focus on.

 

  • Improve my content. Go deeper with blog topics and tutorials and give some great content. This might mean decreasing the amount of blog posts that I create, but I think its a good trade off to improve the overall quality.

 

  • Expressing the artisianal side of things more. Talking more about my experience and what lessons I learned from a master leatherworker.

 

  • More free workshop trainings. I’d like to do these at least monthly. I love the live aspect of them and I love hosting them and having the live interaction with everyone that attends.

 

  • More focus on helping people achieve their goals of starting their side hustle. I’m super excited about this one because there is so much opportunity and I want to help you get there and be a part of that.

 

  • Posting more of my favorite leather designers on Instagram in 2018 and doing interviews. And maybe getting experts to share tips and advice. Who is your favorite leather designer that you’d like me to do an interview with?

 

So thats a wrap! Thanks for a great 1st year!

I'd love to hear from you. Click below to take the survey.

Wishing you the happiest of holidays,

Mary