Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in handcrafted leather goods but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Ryan Popoff, owner of Popov Leather, located in Nelson, Canada.

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

We make handcrafted leather goods the way they used to. Everything we make is cut from full-grain leather, sewn by hand, and all made right here in our workshop. We're a direct-to-consumer brand and sell exclusively through our website.

Tell us about yourself

This business was originally a hobby. After I graduated from art school, I needed something to fill the artistic void in my life. I spent my evenings hunched over my dining room table, watching leatherwork YouTube videos trying to make myself the perfect wallet. I wanted a wallet that was free of branding, well made, and aesthetically minimalist.

After a month or two, I was happy with my efforts and succeeded in making my cardholder wallet.

Gillian (now my wife and business partner) convinced me to put that wallet on Etsy to see if anyone else would buy it.. and people did!

Sales kept coming in and I used that money to buy more leather, better tools, and expand our lineup of goods. Eventually, there came a fork in the road where I had to decide: do I want to keep this business a hobby or take it to the next level?

Fast forward to today, where Popov Leather employs 18 people and has grown to $3M in sales in 2021. The challenge of efficiently and profitably manufacturing high-quality leather goods while scaling our business motivates me every day.

What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?

Building our brand through word of mouth. I take immense pride in how we treat our customers; our customer service has and continues to be paramount to the growth of Popov Leather. I can say that our average review score from almost 7,000 reviews is 4.9. Customers tell their friends about us or come back for gifts - our return customer rate is 23% - pretty amazing for a brand selling heirloom goods with lifetime guarantees.

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

To never take things personally. Learn to embrace negative feedback and find a learning opportunity.

All those 1-star reviews that you will inevitably get as a business owner are all learning opportunities. We often get customers "for life" from these types of reviews. We do everything in our power to make it right with them and then ensure that their negative experience doesn't happen to anyone else.

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

1. Treat your customer how you'd expect to be treated. Maybe even better than that.

2. Learn from your mistakes and negative customer experiences. Customers will give you nasty reviews, spin those around and learn from them. Wow the customer and you'll have them for life.

3. Focus on delivering an excellent product you're passionate about. If the passion isn't there and you're just chasing money, you will fail.

Where can people find you and your business?

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

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