We had the good fortune of connecting with Brittany Reed and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Brittany, we’d love to hear more about how you thought about starting your own business?
After attending school at FIT and suffering through an internship, I knew I wanted to seek work outside of the typical fashion industry. I had so many issues with how things were done in NYC. From the way employees/interns were treated, to the sheer amount of waste created, I knew I wanted something more. I moved to Philly after school and worked with small business owners, to try to get a feel for what owning my own business would look like. I found an apprenticeship, where I learned to leatherwork over a 5 month period, and after that I was hooked. I knew I wanted to work with leather for my career, but I wasn’t sure what I was going to make. I have always been passionate about items made locally that were built to last. I started by looking at local craft shows, Etsy, and all over the internet, for locally made, interesting bags, and all I found were the same boring boxy tote bag in black and tan. I wanted to create a functional product as an alternative to the big designer brands who don’t care about the environment or their employees.

Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
What sets me apart from others in the leather working field is my dedication to functionality. As a women in a city, always running around, I want my bags to help make women’s s lives easier. Each bag has multiple ways to wear it, easy access to pockets and organization, and expandable features so you can fill your bag as much or as little as you want. I am also deeply dedicated to creating a product that is beautiful. There are a lot of leather workers in this country, but many of them don’t push themselves to make interesting or beautiful designs. This is something that I hope sets me apart, and makes people feel even more unique and stylish while wearing my bags. Owning a business is never easy. I was lucky that when I got started, I had an angel investor that helped me pay my salary for the first two years i was in business. I also had a business partner. Both left around the same time, and it was incredibly difficult to go from having financial support, and the support of a partner, to no help at all. I have moved my business multiple times, from a small town to a big city, and from a retail store to a studio space because of COVID. I think the hard times make the great times that much sweeter, and I wouldn’t trade them for anything. The biggest lesson I have learned is that asking for help doesn’t make you weak or unable to do things on your own. I hired my first employee this year after 3 years of working by myself, and its the best decision I ever made. She is taking on all the sewing, so I can get back to running the company, creating new bags, and being the creative helm of the company. What I want the world to know about my brand is that I work hard to create bags that will be both beautiful and stylish for years to come. I am creating bags that mirror the quality of brands like Hermes, and although my bags don’t cost $10,000+, the quality is still there. More broadly, I want people to understand that buying from big designer brands might bring you an elevated status amongst your peers, but it in-riches white male billionaires even more. The fashion industry has a huge problem with sustainability and human welfare, and the only way to change that is to support companies who put activism and environmentalism first in their businesses, not shareholders and CEOs salaries.

If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
I live in Philadelphia, but my sister Shannon lives in Santa Monica so I spend a lot of time in California when I can. Lets start with Philly, just in case you might be visiting sometime soon! I love Philadelphia because I can get to New York, DC and the beach in two hours or less. Day 1 in Philly I would spend in Old City and Queens Village. Old City is the historical district in Philly, but also features tons of great restaurants and shops. For shopping, check out Queens Village. Fourth street was historically the heart of fabric row, and those shops have been replaced with amazing small, mostly female owned boutiques that carry super unique items, mostly made by small business owners like myself. You should also check out Middle Child Sandwiches for some seriously amazing breakfast/lunch. Day 2 I would spend in Fishtown. We have some of the best food in the country here in Philly, and one of my favorite restaurants is located in that neighborhood. I am a huge fan of Mediterranean food and if you are too, you have to check out Suraya in Fishtown. When you walk inside, you feel like you are in Southern California, and the food is incredible. Fishtown is the younger, more “hip” area of Philly, think Williamsburg a couple of years ago. There are lots of bars to check out, all along the main road. If you’re in LA (which most of you are, lol) and you haven’t made in over to Santa Monica, you are missing out. When I am visiting, my sister and I always head to Solstice Canyon in Malibu for a 5 mile hike. After that, we stop at Reel Inn for amazing fresh fish. The restaurant is old school and the prices are insanely fair. We love EAK Ramen for lunch and walking around in Venice to check out some of the shops. I am super into thrifting and we also love to heading to Long Beach Flea market for home decor and other treasures!

The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
I love this message so much. It takes so many people to make a business work. In my case, my mom probably deserves the most credit and recognition. My mom was known as the craft mom in grade school. She had a whole shelf of crafts in the basement, and encouraged my creativity from day one. When I couldn’t find my dream Prom dress, she helped me make one. She is trained in Photography, and the two of us do all of the photo work behind my brand. She helps me move the business when I need to move, before covid she spent days and evenings at my store helping me with my events, and she has gone above and beyond to help me make this business work. I also want to shout out my boyfriend Mike, who has supported this venture since day one as well. And last but not least, the female entrepreneurs I have met along the way, who have helped me gain perspective, introduced me to new ways of thinking, and who have supported me by sharing my page. A couple of those people include Kat Sliclen, (Stone Cooper), Heather Holiday (Rooted Soles), Sabina Sister and Avery Goldman. Without all of these people, and more, I would have likely become discouraged and struggled to go on many times in the past 5 years.

Website: https://www.tesoro.design/

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/tesoroleather/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/tesoroleather

Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UfG14z7ezZg&t=7s

Other: https://www.pinterest.com/tesorodesign/

Image Credits
Sabina Sister Photography, Filia Photos, ADP Collective

Nominate Someone: ShoutoutLA is built on recommendations and shoutouts from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you or someone you know deserves recognition please let us know here.