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When Chuck Allen first started hand sewing leather bags in his basement, he never thought it would allow him to quit his office job. Today, his art is much more than a pastime, it’s a full-time business and growing brand: Earth and Hide.
Allen’s handcrafted leather and pottery products help people carry the things they use every day — whether it’s a laptop or sketchbook, a water bottle or mug of homebrewed coffee. But for Allen, it’s about more than the product.
He also hosts workshops to inspire creativity in others, sharing the cathartic release leathercrafting and pottery brought him. Bold’s apps have helped him get there.
Allen wasn’t always an artisan. He first trained as a graphic designer but ended up joining the Marines where he worked as a combat cameraman. After leaving the Armed Forces, he worked as a video producer in the Washington, D.C. metro area before he moved to Canada with his family. He found work doing construction but eventually ended up in an office. Once behind the desk, he missed working with his hands, so he started sewing and sculpting at home in the evening. The name Earth and Hide is inspired by the materials he uses to craft his products: clay and leather.
He realized his handcrafted products had potential at his first local market. A woman visited his table with her daughter, and they couldn’t decide which bag they wanted so they bought all three. His very first sale after officially being open for 30 minutes was over $750. Though he continued to find success in markets around Manitoba, he knew he had to take his business online to grow and gain a presence. While he could craft leather and pottery like a pro, he knew he would need help creating an eCommerce store.
When Allen set up shop at a local market, customers could pick up and handle the products, seeing the different rivets, stitching, and materials that made each bag unique. He was able to make recommendations, answer questions, and suggest additional products that might interest the customer. If he was going to sell his goods online, he wanted it to emulate this in-person experience as closely as possible. Shopify allowed him to create a professional web presence and legitimize his business online, but it didn’t offer all of the customization and personalization features he needed. This is where Bold apps came in.
He created a simple cross-sell with Bold Upsell, so that when a customer added an item to their cart, it would politely recommend additional products — like bear oil conditioner they needed to take care of their new hand-made leather bag. The result was an experience closer to the in-person interactions Allen had built his business on.
Next, he installed the Bold Product Options app, which displayed beautiful photography in an intuitive user interface, allowing shoppers to choose the color and type of leather they wanted. This helped Allen show customers all of the different options he had available, just like if they were browsing his table at a local market. He also was able to create an automated signup page for his workshops, which improved the experience for customers while increasing the number of online registrations.
"Apps like Product Options and Upsell help translate the in-person experience to online, giving that polite reminder, “if you like that, this might go well with it."
Allen’s sales increased ten-fold in two months after relaunching his site with Bold apps. Not only did he see a jump in the value of each order, thanks to shoppers accepting cross-sells for leather oil, but the customer response was overwhelmingly positive. He had successfully moved his brick-and-mortar business into the eCommerce sphere, without losing the timeless, rugged simplicity that was essential to his brand. With Bold at his side, Allen feels like the future looks brighter than ever.
"If there’s anything you need your website to do, chances are there’s a Bold app to help get you there."