We caught up with Erich from Fontenelle Supply Co. to learn more about their quality leather goods and flagship store in the Historic East Village.
Why We Love Fontelle Supply Co.
The trio at Fontenelle Supply Co. were drawn to the idea that a quality product performs better with age. They invested time into studying traditional leather working techniques from old boy scout manuals and youtube videos, and the business followed suit.
They reached out to Creative DSM to let us know about the private label program they are growing, right here in Des Moines, which creates elevated gifts and merchandise for your brand. In the past, they have worked with clients to create branded notebook covers, leather coasters, key chains, business card holders, and other corporate gifts. We took a look and got obsessed.
Read on for Our Local Business Love Feature Interview of Fontenelle Supply Co.’s Erich Bockman.
Give us some background on WHO you guys are, WHAT you do, and WHY you do it.
Adam, Asher, I (Erich) started Fontenelle Supply Co. in the summer of 2013. The whole idea of the company was sort of born out of out of a need. We were drawn to the idea that a quality product can not only stand the test of time but also look and perform better with age. We spent a lot of time learning traditional leather working techniques from old boy scout manuals and youtube videos. We started making leather wallets and belts for ourselves and our friends and were really impressed with how durable they turned out. The whole project sort of took on it’s own philosophy which is, if you invest in quality goods, they can last 10 times longer than the cheaper alternative.
In the winter of 2016 we opened our brick and mortar retail space in Des Moines’ East Village. It’s a full service menswear store with a fully operational workshop in the back. We manufacture all of the leather goods, candles, and screen printed tees and bandanas right here in the shop. All of the other brands we carry, anything from bags, to boots, to jackets, share the same mentality that we have, buy quality and it will last a lifetime.
What is your favorite product or service that you provide?
We love doing custom leather work. In the past few years, our customers have pushed us to try things that we normally wouldn’t have thought of. Everything from motorcycle bags, custom journal covers, knife sheaths, and everything in between.
We also love collaborating with other midwest businesses. We offer wholesale and private label products to our clients and customers. In the past, we have made branded leather wrapped flasks for distilleries/breweries, totes for local boutiques, and notebook covers for bigger corporate clients. It’s great knowing that we can produce a quality product and that our customers will put it to good use.
What is your favorite part of being a part of the Des Moines community?
We weren’t really sure what the reaction would be once we opened the retail store. It’s a little bit niche, but Des Moines has been overwhelmingly supportive. We just filled the space with products that we knew and trusted and that resonated with a lot of our customers.
How far does your business service?
We locally serve Des Moines but all of our products are available on our website and can be shipped worldwide.
What inspired you to start this business?
We wanted to work with our hands. It’s tough for any of us to sit around for too long. We have all worked at some pretty cool places, but we took a risk and wanted to see how far we could get on our own.
What’s the best way for customers to see more of your businesses services/products?
Best advice for business in Des Moines
I think that, above all else, you have to be passionate about what you are doing. It’s not easy running a small business and burning out can happen frequently. If you genuinely care about what you do, your customers and clients will take notice and stick with you.
Interested in getting your business featured in our Local Business Love?
We’re all about creating a community of like-minded entrepreneurs right here in Iowa. Let’s get to know each other.
Fill out your application on our Local Business Love page, or contact us via email. If you’re interested in getting listed in our small business resource sheet, just fill out the information below. Cheers to a community of collaboration here in Des Moines, Iowa!