After a decade selling her wares online, a local leather goods maker has joined the West Broad Street retail scene with her first brick-and-mortar storefront.
Awl Snap opened at 2015 W. Broad St. in October. The company, founded by Erin McRoberts in 2008, makes handmade leather bags, backpacks, wallets and more.
McRoberts said the idea for the business started when she wanted a certain type of bag that she couldn’t find for sale, so she got some leather and made it herself.
“I started wearing it and people were like, ‘I love your bag, where’d you get it?’ And when I said I made it, they were like, ‘Oh I’d buy one,’” McRoberts said.
She started making leather goods on the side, selling them online and on Etsy until about 2013, when she decided to quit her job in marketing and run Awl Snap full time.
“It’s all self-funded. I never took any bank loans or anything. It was this really slow organic growth from working out of my house to various studio spaces in Manchester and Scott’s Addition,” McRoberts said.
Eventually, she decided to open a space where people could come and see Awl Snap’s stuff in person.
“I wanted a place to have a retail showroom … I figured I’ll take the leap and see what kind of traffic we can bring in,” she said.
She signed a lease and moved into the 800-square-foot Broad Street space early this year. For the first few months, it was a production workshop, where she and two part-time workers made everything by hand, before opening to the public. Nick Davis Photography also has an office in the back of the space.
All of Awl Snap’s leather is from food industry byproducts and is sourced mostly from the U.S., South America and Germany, McRoberts said. Products range in size from key chains to tote bags.
“I would say my weekender backpack has been really popular. It’s a pretty utilitarian, unisex design. The beer koozies have been a big hit as well,” McRoberts said.
McRoberts said the bulk of Awl Snap’s business continues to come from e-commerce. The company also does custom orders.
Awl Snap won’t be the new kid on the block for long. A couple doors down, Bad Axe Throwing is preparing to open at 2035 W. Broad St. early next year.