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Exploring Life & Business with Aaron & Erin Buckley of River City Leather

Today we’d like to introduce you to Aaron & Erin Buckley. Them and their team share their story with us below:

River City Leather, a family-owned shop in Gallipolis, Ohio, creates hand-made leather goods with a lifetime guarantee in their small town that sits along the Ohio River. Aaron found leather work as a hobby while recovering from a motorcycle accident–but it quickly became more than that. After he made Erin a leather purse for her birthday, they found an overwhelming interest from their friends and community, and soon after, RCL was founded in 2011. Starting in a spare bedroom, then a shed, a small studio, a garage workshop, a retail store with a workshop, and they now work from a 5,000-square-foot manufacturing facility. With all the growth over the 11 years in business, they’ve never lost sight of their love for leather. They now have several manufacturing clients from all over North America. Their RCL products continue to have a beautiful timeless design, rooted in practicality and made to last. 

Alright, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall, and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
The last ten years have been fairly smooth. The biggest struggle has been starting a business from scratch, creating our own infrastructure, and staying focused. Part of the fun of having your own businesses being able to do whatever you want! However, that can create challenges for creative people like us. Throughout the years, we’ve spread our focus on expanding, manufacturing leather goods for other companies and three different retail locations. 

This year we really analyzed the last decade and came up with a new strategy. Expanding River City Manufacturing Co. and taking RCL completely online is our goal! 

Thanks for sharing that. So, maybe next you can tell us a bit more about your business?
We design, cut, sew and produce small batches of all our RCL goods in our workshop in Gallipolis, OH, USA! We are probably most known for our Standard Totes and Poke bags. Although we specialize in leather bags, we also make wallets, leather accessories, and belts! 

The thing that sets us apart is our lifetime guarantee and our ability to make custom bags – whether it’s ordering one of our existing bags in a different color or making a bag from scratch! 

We have a lot of love for our customers! Some of the bags we offer came out of customer requests to alter other bags we made. 

Our business started in 2011 by making bags to order. Customers could choose from Aaron’s RCL designs or design their own bag! We had color swatches, and customers were able to choose their own palette. After we opened our first store, we continued to offer that service of ordering custom bags but also curated collections that were readily available. 

Our brand is made in Gallipolis, OH, USA, and owned and operated by us, the Aaron and Erin Buckley, and our staff of twelve. All RCL goods come with a lifetime warranty. 

Other offerings include private label production in small and large batches. Our manufacturing company can make anything form small parts to custom lines of leather, nylon, or vinyl products. Sampling, tech packs, and design work are at the top of other services we offer. 

If we knew you growing up, how would we have described you?
I, Erin Buckley, grew up in Gallipolis, OH. As a kid, I would say I was loud, strong-willed, and creative! Art was aways an interest through my life, and I went to college for Fashion Merchandising. 

Aaron grew up in Hughesville, PA. As a kid, he rode BMX, loved to travel, and got into photography at 16. He liked to build things out of whatever he had lying around, which shows in his resourcefulness in our business. He went to college for photography. 

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