Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Melissa Winkler, founder of Dad Hands, located in Denman Island, Canada.

What's your business, and who are your customers?

I am a leather worker, focusing on smaller and tooled pieces. My customers are from all over the world, some spanning as far as Sweden, Ireland, the UK, and the USA, which still feels so wild to me. I create one of a kind pieces that stray away from traditional Sheridan (western style) leather tooling, and focus more on bold tattoo inspired pieces. I draw inspiration from all over the place, from bright, bold pop art, to outlaw biker/western movies, which are often playing in the background as I work.

I've spent the bulk of my life as a metal fabricator/welder, with focus in the fine arts field. In 2020 I left that career and the city of Vancouver to be with my family. It took me about a year, but I realized at the beginning of 2021 that I wanted to relaunch the leather company I had started five years prior but had abandoned to work for others. It has been endlessly satisfying to be able to create and market my own pieces this past year. The support I have seen from friends and fans has been very humbling. Growing up I was always fascinated with the western saddles we used on our horses, knowing the amount of time and work that went into building those pieces has just made me appreciate them so much more.

Tell us about yourself

I originally got started in leather work by accident. I had been conversing with a friend about wanting to get into forging knives, they suggested I look into working with leather as well, so I could provide the whole package. I was lucky enough to find someone selling off their business and I made the leap.

Unfortunately with the rising costs of rents in Vancouver, and the extremely demanding day job I had, I eventually set the dream aside and sold most of my tools. I truly didn't think this was something I would be able to pick back up and eventually pursue full time. I find motivation in wanting to create a healthy and happy life for myself. I live very remotely on a small hobby farm with my parents. To be able to work from home, doing something I love to do has always been a huge dream, and I am hoping as time goes on, it will be a sustainable reality.

What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?

I think one of my biggest accomplishments as a business owner has been breaking away from the pressures of working for others to branch out on my own. It's scary, there's no doubt about it, but with the encouragement of friends, family and other makers, it feels more and more possible.

What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?

One of the hardest things I face as a business owner has to be working around myself and my own neurodivergent challenges. I struggle with ADHD and often have a hard time catching myself before I completely derail something I'm working on. I am in the process of finding support and education as to how to work around this.

What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?

1. Love what you do. This is the big one. If you're proud of your work, and it shows your own unique individuality, the sales will follow.

2. Become part of the community of other people in your field. Don't breed competition that doesn't need to exist. Nothing builds a business stronger that having a community of colleagues to lean on for advice, or just to give each other the encouragement we all need to keep going day to day.

3. Start things out organized. This is one I wish I had spent a little more time on. Log everything, expenses, sales, etc. Build budgets, and stick to them.

Where can people find you and your business?

https://www.dadhands.ca

https://www.instagram.com/dad.hands/

https://tictok.com/dadhands

https://www.facebook.com/dad.hands


If you like what you've read here and have your own story as a solopreneur that you'd like to share, then email community@subkit.com; we'd love to feature your journey on these pages.

Feel inspired to start, run or grow your own subscription business? Check out subkit.com and learn how you can turn "one day" into day one.