How to start a leather belt business - everything you need
First, we will start small. With basic tools and no fancy equipments.
As we progress and start making profit, we can move forward and start buying big machines to increase the speed of production.
Steps to follow - making the belts then branding, setting up packing materials, little of marketing and hopefully get some orders & sales.
Making the belts - here we start.
Leather for belt.
Attaining the best quality(full grain or minimum 2.5 - 2.9 mm thick leather) veg tan butt leather at the lowest price can decide the success or failure of this business.
What type of leather used for leather belt - veg tan full grain leather is the obvious first choice. It is widely available in almost all markets, too.
Full grain leather is best for the “best quality leather belt”. But you have to charge a premium price for it. So if you want to keep the price of the product low, use m mm leather.
We can colour it as we wish. Thickness is not too low or high. Easily manageable for a beginner.
Wooden Strap cutter.
This is one of the tools you cannot avoid. We can use a very long measuring scale to cut leather, but when we try to scale the production it becomes very difficult very fast.
Steel scale will slip, belt width will be uneven, and it is not easy to cut and hold the scale at the same time.
Strap cutter is therefore a very essential tool to start a leather belt business.
Long steel measuring scale
Even if you have a strap cutter, you still require a large measuring scale. This is required because to cut the first straight cut on the leather, we cannot use a strap cutter.
A wooden measuring scale cannot be used because a sharp knife will chip the side of the wood, and it will lose its straightness.
Edge Beveler / edge Skiving tool.
This tool is essential to create a nice finish look on the both sides of leather belt.
Only one of the different size beveler is required. But you have to find the best size by trying different options.
U shaped end cutter. A minimum of one end cutting tool is required to cut the end part of belt.
It gives the belt a professionally made look, and it is not easy to achieve this sharp cut using a knife.
Colour & brush.
The most common leather belt colours are brown and black.
You can achieve this using commonly available brown leather dye, and black leather dye.
This might be the lowest priced item in this list. This is just a wool sponge like thing used as a leather dye tool.
Used after finishing the work of belt making. Gives a very nice, polished look to the belt.
Most common belt buckle types are zink alloy, nickel, aluminium, steel, carbon fibre, titanium, brass etc.
You can buy these from wholesales who sell at very cheap price with minium order quantity or 50 or more.
Thread, needle & stitching pony.
These are tools that every leather craft person should have.
To make a leather belt, you need waxed thread of appropriate colour, 2 needles & stitching pony(optional).
Awl & stitch hole punching tool.
Awl is always a handy tool for leather craft. Awl along with stitch punching tool is needed to stitch the buckle
and holder of leather belt.
Logo punching tool.
If you have a custom brand logo, you can punch it on the tail area of the belt. This is usually done with a leather hammer or a clicker press.
This is a very handy tool to mark the points to punch holes. Especially for buckle area.
At the buckle area of belt, leather strap need to be folded. It makes that area really thick and stiff.
To avoid too thick buckle holder, skiving the area that need to be folded is necessary. This can be achieved using a skiving tool.
3 packing for online sales.
Brown cardboard box.
This can serve as the outermost package or second package inside the packing cover.
These can be bought as big square cards and cut and made into boxes of desired shape.
This is used to create the cool looking sliding box that belts come inside. You can add just simple branding on top of the white box.
Or design a whole box in any colour you like and print it. Just take one of them and fold to make a box on the go.
Plastic packing cover(optional).
This is the outermost plastic cover of the packing. This is waterproof & you can add branding on this cover too.
Or just send items inside the brown cardboard box mentioned above.
Online platforms - There is no limit to both wholesale and retail online stores now. Create an account and display your products in top platforms.
Offline platforms - contacting offline stores is another option. Profit margin will take a cut, but selling through online store is a good option too.
Own store - online/offline - in the long run, creating own brand and store is very important unless you are solely focusing on wholesale.
Going forward - increasing production.
As a rule of thumb, the business itself should pay for machines & tools. Meaning sales and cashflow should be there.
So after business starts generating money, we can start buying heavy machines.
Some machines to buy for mass production of genuine leather belts are as follows.
Semi automated strap cutting machine.
Strap cutting machines that can cut many straps at a time are not only a time saver, these can create perfectly cut straps.
You can increase the production speed by 10-fold by using this machine along with others mentioned below.
Belt hole punching machines (with template dies)- clicker press.
These are a hole punching machine for a belt with a template/die. You just have to place the upper part (where we put the buckle) in this machine and press it with the template/die you want to use.
More automated, meaning even faster machines, are used in some manufacturing units.
Industrial stitching machine.
These are heavy-duty stitching machines used to stitch shoes, bags, upholstery etc. Adding one of this leather stitching machine to the manufacturing unit will make the belt manufacturing business really fast.