Today we talked with Moriah from MJ Custom leather.
I loooove Moriah’s work. It’s unique, usable, quality items that aren’t just pretty. These bags are made for real women who have stuff to do! They have western style and flair, but aren’t all fashion and no function and I am all about it!
I also love Moriah’s positive attitude and the huge smile she accessorizes with! So here is our interview with Moriah.
1. Tell me about yourself! Did you grow up in the Western Industry? Where are you now and what do you do outside of your business?
Yes ma’am I did grow up in the western industry! I grew up in a farming/ business owning family. My parents own a hot sauce factory in Arizona(we grow and process our own habaneros). As well as a mainly corn/soybean farm where my dad grew up in east of Pierre South Dakota(I spent every summer since I was 13 in Pierre either working for a ranch down the road or mostly for my dad on the farm). Growing my dad taught me everything about working on a farm and to this day I am so grateful he taught me how to be independent, resourceful and how to work hard with my hands. I grew up in 4H showing livestock and was on the back of a mule or a horse as much as possible growing up. Into high school I was involved in FFA which really made me grasp my passion for agriculture! I graduated from the University of Arizona May of 2016 with a degree in Crop Production(during my college career I was very active in collegiate clubs, all centering around agriculture such as Young Farmers and Ranchers, Collegiate Farm Bureau, Collegiate 4H, Collegiate Cattle Growers and because of these and my past in FFA I was so blessed to be able to attend a ton of events and conferences all over the US!).
With that degree I got a job as an agronomist in a small town not far from our farm in South Dakota I worked there for 6 months before realizing that job was not fulfilling for me, and in my free time in South Dakota I really started to grow my social media presence online for my business. And with that I moved back to my home state of Arizona in November of 2016 and started up my leather business just in time for the holiday rush! I have been doing this “Full time” since November of 2016, I also help with my parents business but my business is my main focus. At this moment I just got done having my first booth at the NFR in Las Vegas which was a whirlwind! And I am gearing up for 2019!! I am still involved in 4H as a volunteer in my county, I am still active in Young Farmers and Ranchers, and I go back to South Dakota with my dad when needed to help on the farm.
2. Tell me about your craft! When and/or how did you become passionate about it? When did you decide to pursue it as a business?
When I was younger my dad got a wild hair to start doing his own leather goods, nothing fancy or intricate but we would make dog collars, tack and things like that. We always had the tools and the sewing machine around to do leather work but I would only mess around with it from time to time when I needed to make something. In the spring of 2016 I knew I was getting my first dog (an Australian shepherd named Cutter) and I really wanted to make him a dog collar! I’ve always had an obsession with high quality leather goods but in college I couldnt really afford all the things I wanted… And with that I slowly started to mess around with more goods, making things like dog collars, keychains, check book covers and simple clutches. Eventually I had a friend ask me to make her a purse! I wish I could lay the first purse I made next to the purses I make today, such a difference two years make!! While I was living in South Dakota I would experiment more with leather goods and eventually found I had a knack for building things! My brain loves a good challenge of new designs and it really lights my fire to build new things! I eventually found that people liked my designs enough to pay for them and with that I started to pursue more designs and more purchase more materials to work with! I am 100% self taught through trial and error, and any questions or issues I have I always turn to google and YouTube to help me out.
3. What’s the best part about being a female entrepreneur? Any advice for girls out their wanting to start their own business?
I would say the best part of being a female entrepreneur is the pride you get from running your own business. I am very independent and always have been so it’s a great feeling knowing I built this on my own from the ground up. There are a ton of bonuses from running your own business, like being able to make your own schedule, but don’t kid yourself I work more now than I used to as a 8-5 agronomist lol! But the difference is the passion and fire I feel from creating new products, meeting my amazing customers, and finding new ways to grow my business.
My advise to other women wanting to start their own business… Just get started!! Keep your feet moving at whatever pace you feel comfortable with and step by step start growing. You can start as small as you need and keep going from there, Google and YouTube are your best friend… Trust me! Endless resources for free!! My first sewing machine was a 1940 something singer I found online and got it shipped to my door in South Dakota for $300 shipped… That little machine has paid for itself over and over again and I still use it today! You don’t need to go all out from the start to grow.. Do what you can and keep them feet moving is my advice.
4. What’s the most difficult part about your business?
The most difficult part of my business is managing the parts of it that aren’t my strong suit. But with help and advise from other business owners I am slowly learning that is is 100% okay to delegate and seek help for the things that are not your zone of genius. So now I delegate my accounting to an accountant I trust! And I ask for help when I need it with other aspects of my business.
5. What do you love most about the western lifestyle? How has your passion for the western lifestyle influenced your trade?
The people!! Oh how I love the people in this industry. Most people in this industry have a heart of gold and are so kind and willing to lend a hand or a good laugh in any aspect you need help with. I love every aspect of the western lifestyle and no matter where I go in life I know that this industry will be a massive part of my life and I am so greatful for that.
My passion for the western lifestyle has influenced my trade greatly, my goal is to provide women(and some men) of the western industry with goods that are not only gorgeous to look at, but have the integrity to last a very long time no matter how they treat the goods! I have so much pride and respect for the western lifestyle and hope someday I can live out my dream of building my business while farming/ranching and some day raising a family in this amazing lifestyle I am so grateful to be apart of.
6. Whats your personal “life philosophy”?
Find something you are passionate about, keep them feet moving, and be a good person in the process!
If you would like to get in touch with Moriah you can find her on Instagram @mjcustomleather