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Level 5

Going Indie: A Fashion Designer Bags Her 9-to-5 to Handcraft Leather Goods


Jess Murray was sick of tailoring overpriced denim jeans in a warehouse, so she quit her job to start her own line of handcrafted leather goods. Now Jess creates gorgeous bags, belts and even some denim apparel -- that’s affordable, of course!





Sometimes great businesses start with a revelation: “Why work for someone else when I can do this exact same job on my own terms!” The bold entrepreneurs we’ll meet in our Going Indie series quit their salaried positions and started their own independent ventures -- in the very field they decided to leave.


Name: Jess Murray

Business: Aegis Handcraft

Founded: 2013

Location: San Francisco, CA


The revelation: Jess recalls, “The original idea developed from a not-so-great work experience. I had just graduated with a degree in fashion design from the Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising in San Francisco. I got a couple gigs working in the industry, but something just kept eating away at me. I was working as a denim tailor in a place that, while promoting American-made goods, sold items that were way too expensive. Customers never really knew where the products were being made or who was actually making them.”


“I came home one day and said to my then-boyfriend: ‘I can't do this anymore — I want to make my own stuff.’ I really felt that the only way for me to stay in the industry that I loved was to find my own path and not continue to do business the way things have been done for years and years.”





The new venture: “When I first started Aegis Handcraft, I went to a few business workshops where they asked questions like, ‘How scalable is your business idea?’ and ‘How much money can you make?’ While I'm constantly considering these big questions, I have confidence in my business because what I wanted to achieve was to do things my way. More often than not, I might be taking the most tedious or difficult road, but at least I'm the one calling the shots. Now, I’m able to make and sell a product in a way that makes sense to me.”


Read more about Jess’ work: "This Is More Than My Business, It's Who I Am." Jess Murray Shares Her Small Business Story



Now it's your turn (1).jpg

Did you leave a salaried position to start your own thing? What were the scariest and the best parts of “Going Indie” for you?


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