Updated: Mar 16, 2020
Situated along Venice Beach’s iconic Abbot Kinney Boulevard, Will Leather Goods has become an emblem of the entrepreneurial spirit that has made Silicon Beach home to over 500 tech startup companies, including Snapchat and Google. The brain child of Will Adler, an actor turned entrepreneur who first moved to Los Angeles from his native Detroit in the late 1970’s, Will Leather Goods has arguably become one of the most successful family-operated businesses in the area.
Founded on the premise that customers will always value a personal touch, the company focuses on creating leather goods of superior quality without the luxury markup. As is the case with many successful companies, Will Leather Goods traces its roots to humble origins – Will, along with his wife, Sandy, began selling handcrafted belts on the iconic Venice Boardwalk nearly four decades ago. Since then, the company has greatly expanded and today employs over 250 people worldwide.
With store locations scattered throughout the country, Will Leather Goods is one of the last bastions of family-run businesses in the United States. Since the store’s founding in 1981, Mr. Adler and his wife have travelled the world in search of the finest materials and has created partnerships with artisans across Italy, Mexico, West Africa and the American Midwest.
And with the company’s flagship store based in Los Angeles’ Venice neighborhood, the company remains committed to strengthening global partnerships, while simultaneously ensuring it maintains its local, personal feel. In a community known for its edgy, Bohemian character and interest in all things entrepreneurial, Will Leather Goods has profited from delivering unique, one-of-a-kind things. Whether its women’s wallets, men’s briefcases, or even furniture, the store will personalize goods to customer’s needs to ensure the customer is at heart in everything they do.
“The company’s key to success has been the originality of the products we offer, along with our lifetime satisfaction guarantee,” says a senior company executive. “Whether it’s a rivet or a zipper or a stitch, we take care of our customers, no questions asked. “We also offer thank you cards to people, invite them to special events and offer free coffee at our store. Bottom line: We like customers to feel at home.”
But great customer service is just one part of The Will Leather Goods Experience. The company also focuses on giving back to the community. Through programs like the Give Will Initiative, the company invests 2% of all purchases to help kids across America with a goal to donate 100,000 backpacks by the year 2025. And having already donated over 10,000 backpacks, the company is poised to fulfill its goal.
As for things the company looks for in employees, Paul Puccio, a long-time consultant to the owner, asserted: “Individuality; I like all staff members to have their own thing going, because I believe that they as individuals can add to a good thing.
And it’s not just Will that recognizes the value of having a diverse workforce. All across Silicon Beach companies ranging from startups to tech giants, are slowly coming to terms with the fact diversity represents more than a marketing gimmick, it represents real value to customers in the form of innovation and a willingness to venture beyond the veil of conformity and the status quo.
Only time will tell what the future holds in store for Will Adler and the behemoth he’s created but one thing is certain: By combining a man’s love for his craft, along with a desire to give back to one’s community, Will Leather Goods will continue to be a shining example of just what can be achieved in today’s entrepreneurial ecosystem through sheer luck, persistence and acts of selfless devotion.
Tony Ferrari, Dartmouth Business Review.