Stars of our TV advert: David, The Strap Tailor
In this series of Member Spotlights, you’ll meet the people who feature in our new TV advert.
David Richards is Founder of The Strap Tailor.
👋🏼 Hello David! Tell us about your business.
I run a small independent business making bespoke watch straps.
As The Strap Tailor, I make leather straps for customers all over the world using the finest leathers sourced from only the best tanneries.
What motivated you to start this business?
My grandfather always loved watches. He used to service them and always had parts lying around. I was intrigued by how they worked. My mother and I both get this love of watches from my grandfather. I got the bug from a young age and started collecting watches – I still do!
People always told me that if you can make your work something you’re passionate about, then it never really feels like work. I started The Strap Tailor officially at the end of 2018 so here I am, following my passion. And hopefully my grandfather would be proud.
Absolutely he would. How do you fit in your work as The Strap Tailor with your other job?
It’s not hard to fit work around a day job when you’re passionate about what you do. That’s what I’d say to anyone who wants to start their own business: if you’re not passionate about it, then you won’t be motivated to work long nights and over the weekend. You have to love what you do.
Luckily I love this. Every email, every customer, everything I make. That’s what makes it plausible. I’ve worked more hours in the last two years than I have in the whole of the rest of my career – but it’s been worth it!
Do you have any other tips for people thinking about starting their own small business?
Yes, ideally you need to have an understanding family because unless you hit a golden nugget and make millions overnight, you’ll need to put in a lot of hard work.
Also it’s important to not stress too much. When you first build your brand, you’re trying to please every single customer because they’re so important to your growth. But you also need to spot the customers who cause you a lot of stress and will never be repeat customers. You don’t need those. Focus on the relationships that matter the most.
Would you like to make The Strap Tailor your main job one day?
Yes! Running The Strap Tailor full time is my dream.
How did you hear about Tide? Why did you choose us?
I found out about Tide from an ad I saw on a trip into London. I chose you because I liked your approach and communication style.
Thanks, we’re blushing!
These days I approach businesses that make my life easier. That’s exactly what Tide has done from the moment I signed up to the present day.
The app is so important but companies often overlook this. Nothing would be more infuriating than a poor experience in an app that you need to use every day of your working life. Tide’s app is so easy to use and also integrates with Quickbooks, which I use. Overnight, this made my accounting work infinitely easier. Now all I do is upload my receipts once or twice a week and the details are already there. It’s dreamy.
We’re delighted you’re happy with what we do. In the world of watch-making, whose work do you most admire?
It has to be A. Lange & Sohne. They make the most remarkable watches and have the most unique heritage. I love their passion for detail – and that’s what I want to be known for.
Your supplies must be important – where do you get them from?
I get my supplies from all over the world. That’s the amazing thing about leatherwork – finding the leathers is hugely satisfying and it’s what distinguishes one strap business from the next.
Finding a leather that is just the right shade of brown, the right smell, the right finish etc… that’s the hunt. Making things that are unique and that will age well over time is all part of what informs the unique buying experience.
What’s your favourite aspect of the work you do as The Strap Tailor?
Without doubt, it’s talking to my customers. Most of my products are bespoke so it means I get to work with individual customers on their ideal strap and turn an image or idea into a physical item.
When you get an email from a customer to tell you how delighted they are, it’s so gratifying. I’ve made friends through my business just through building these relationships. It’s not just a monetary relationship. I doubt you get that selling socks…?
Maybe if you make bespoke socks…? Who are your typical customers?
I have customers in all corners of the world and from many walks of life, which I find amazing.
Generally, my customers are mad-keen horologists – they all have a deep-rooted passion for their watch collections and everything that goes with that. Some customers are so enthusiastic – it isn’t uncommon for them to order say ten straps at once for their collection!
The watch-collecting community is very sociable. We often meet in London to talk about watches and I’ve made some amazing friends in the process.
I get orders for many special occasions: weddings, anniversaries, birthdays, company events… That’s what makes it all so fun – finding the materials to make the perfect strap and seeing the customer’s joy when it delivers on their expectations.
You’ve truly found your niche. Who would be your dream customer?
A. Lange & Sohne, the watch-makers I mentioned earlier. To make a few straps for one or two of their watches would be an absolute dream for me. Their work is just sublime and for them to want to work with The Strap Tailor would be incredible.
What’s one thing you wish customers knew about watches and leatherworking?
That quality takes time. Most customers come to me because they want a luxury leather strap and they understand that quality doesn’t happen overnight.
The straps I sell are hand-made, not churned out of a factory. I think big corporations like Amazon have ruined e-commerce for small businesses. These internet giants have created unreasonable expectations for customers about when they can expect an item to arrive.
How has your business been affected by the coronavirus crisis?
Luckily it wasn’t negatively affected – if anything I thrived. Customers had more disposable income and more spare time. They spent time on Instagram, looking at watches and thinking about what they wanted next.
Thanks to e-commerce flourishing this year, I’ve benefitted. Mind you, getting supplies and delivery times have got slower – and this seems to be the new normal for some time yet.
Have you had to delay or change any plans this year?
If anything, I’ve accelerated plans. I have more orders and I’ve gained the confidence and inspiration to grow into 2021.
Do you have a business mentor or someone who helps you with your business?
No, not really. I’d like one though… Are you offering?? 😉
We’d like to! Creating a mentoring scheme is on our to-do list. Do you use any websites to get business advice?
Most of the advice I look for online is to do with e-commerce. Many years ago, I was a web developer and I still have a passion for it so I’m always trying to improve my online presence and create a better experience for my customers.
How are you feeling about your business’s prospects for the next year?
I’m excited! I have grand plans for my business and I’m filled with hope for 2021. E-commerce continues to grow and my business grows with it. Also the demand for watches and accessories continues to grow with younger generations – and that’s an exciting opportunity for me.
And finally, if Tide had unlimited time and money, how could we better support you?
Could you help us better understand our cash flow in the app? It would be helpful to see where we’re spending, projections on growth etc.
Also why not build the community of your members? One thing many of us lack is interaction with others. Many small business owners are a business of one person so there are no water-cooler chats, quick coffees, morning huddles or social lunches. It’s just us and the four walls we call our workshop or office. Tide could host a space where I could hotdesk a day or two a week to meet other business owners and network. That would be amazing.
Great ideas – and watch this space because we’re already working on a few of these things.
Thanks for talking to us, David! Lots of luck for 2021 – we look forward to following your progress. 💙
Connect with The Strap Tailor
Watch our TV ad
Here’s our new TV advert, featuring David, Owen, Lucy, Miriam and Caroline:
Have your say
What do you think of our advert? We’re always keen to hear from you – get in touch with us on LinkedIn, Instagram, Facebook or Twitter.
Photos by Rupert Mason, Sidekick Studios London