We have amazing customers who sell great products, and we love to tell their stories about their business and how they use ShipStation. Today’s customer story comes from Loyal Stricklin.
Michael Stricklin, Owner
How did you first get familiar with leather working?
I originally started working with leather while in Architecture School at Auburn University. I loved everything about design school except for one thing: I was never able to see my designs fully realized and completed. It didn’t help that my designs were often lofty and too impractical, so I wanted a way to step back and simplify my thinking and restructure my design skills. My ideas turned to making something from metal and wood, but with little money, and no place to work, I was forced to think a bit harder. Leatherwork turned out to be relatively easy to start out in, needing only a few tools and a hide of leather. I had $500 in the bank, so I spent it all on what I needed and got to work. I spent a year and a half making smaller projects here and there, selling a couple items a month online and to friends, but it wasn’t until I finished undergrad that I had time to finally get serious about my craft. I was on my own financially, so I spent the entire summer working 8-10 hours a day working, barely making ends meet. That fall I finally found my design style, started working under the name Loyal Stricklin, and created the Original Aviator Mug. Shortly after the holidays, I moved into a new studio, began hiring employees and here we are today, 3 studios and 5 employees later, living out my dream in Opelika, AL.
All your products—from belts to flasks to Aviator Mugs—reflect an elegant simplicity. Who’s been the primary driving force of Loyal Stricklin’s design?
While studying architecture, I always wanted to make the coolest building. It had to be interesting, unique, and different, which was an absolute failure for me by the time my thesis role around. There was just no substance to my work. Nothing was routed well. It’s like trying to put lipstick on a pig. You mean well, but that doesn’t mean it’s going to be beautiful. By the time grad school rolled around, which was the same time I launched Loyal Stricklin, I was determined to do exactly that: create with an elegant simplicity. No bells, no whistles, just pure, simple, necessary design. My architectural work informed my product design, and vice version. I did my best design work in school ever that year, and I came to understand design from a different point of view, that sweeping, grand gestures just aren’t necessary to create something timeless, lasting, and beautiful. Instead, I design based off of functionality, with a few curves here and there to give it a slight edge. I try to make things in as few pieces as possible, and really focus on the details. I’ve always loved how things connect to each other, how one material meets another, so I focus largely on those connections in my design. Everything has already been done, so really, the questions I’m trying to answer are how do I make the best possible version of the items I’m trying to make?
You’re about to be dropped in the woods for 2 weeks and can only take 3 Loyal Stricklin products with you. What do you bring?
I take our daypack for sure. You need to be able to collect and gather useful things from the world around you, plus with the waxed canvas, it’s essential waterproof, so I can keep things dry that I may need to, like tinder, small piece of firewood, or hold it over my head to keep somewhat dry. Hopefully that’s filled with survival gear. Next thing is the mug for sure. I can use it for drinking water of course, and can boil water in it over a fire to sterilize it, as well as use it as a shovel if I absolutely need to. We sell knives by a friend of ours every once in a while, so I’d definitely want one of those, but if I can’t take that, then the flask full of whiskey. We both know I’ll need it after being alone two weeks!
How has ShipStation helped you with your business?
Shipstation has totally transformed shipping for us. I couldn’t run my business without it! I remember waiting in line at the post office and hating every second of it. That was back when I was hand writing labels. How horrible! I then would enter them into usps.com manually, and that would take about 2 hours to do 30 orders. These days, it’s integrated into our website, so orders just load in automatically, we hit our presets and the labels and packing slips go to two different printers and we’re done. It’s absolutely essential to our shipping department.
What’s your favorite ShipStation feature?
I have a few favorite features, actually. The first is that I can set up presets. It makes it incredibly easy to batch (my second favorite feature) the orders based on product type so it better streamlines our packing to only one box / product type at a time. My most recent favorite feature is that I can set up printers to automatically connect based on whether it’s a label or a packing slip, so packing slips print on normal paper, and our labels are sent to our label printer (which also saves serious $$ over labels for a regular printer). Simply put, I love ShipStation and couldn’t run my business without it.
Want to be featured in our customer spotlight? Let us know!