Welcome to the latest column on Oko! Magazine titled ‘Business in the spotlight’.| Here we take a more in-depth look into Czechia’s many great small businesses owned by extraordinary entrepreneurs. We take a closer look into how they started, how they learned their trade, what kind of goods or services they have on offer and more importantly, inform you about where you can find these amazing people! This week we meet with Jakub from Eggobag, a small custom leathergood shop in Prague 3.
Please introduce yourself (your name, where you are from, your age, and career path, etc..)
My name is Jakub Jarolím, I come form Příbram and I´m 34 years old. My craftsman path begun ten years ago after I graduated from University of West Bohemia, where I studied anthropology.
Please introduce us to your business and co-workers (How long have you been open, what do you do, where do you do it, maybe the names of some colleagues.)
We have been on the market for ten years already. Our field is leather goods such as bags, belts, wallets etc. We do have our own collection but our specialty is custom to order products. Currently we are team of six people, here in the workshop, including me, and there in the sales team.
Tell us a little more about what/who inspires you in your work?
Our source of inspiration is mostly our customers, because we work for them, but also the long tradition of working with leather. Just imagine that this is the material that people worked with, 200 thousand years ago and then used it for the same purposes.
Where did you learn to do what you do?
I’ve learned it by myself. I started as an amateur but I fell in love with leathercraft so I’ve decided to start my own official business. I was working very hard on my skills by studying different materials. In the beginning it was some old books but then I used a lot of online content, of course. I have also tried to get some knowledge and skills from old masters of the craft by taking part in their own workshops.
What is your most unique/signature item/service you provide to your customers?
Perfect custommer service and superior quality is priority number one. We try to make sure, that our customers get exactly what they want and we try to make it as good as we can. I would say, that the unique thing is, that we make everything by hand most of the people, who buy our products are surprised, that the things they buy are made very next door. But if the question was about signature service, I would say it is customised work.
What were the challenges you faced when setting up your business?
Definitely budget. I have started with nothing but my hands. In my situation ten years ago, there was nobody who would provide me a loan to get some professional equipment. So I was forced to improvise and save every penny. After couple of years I was finally able to open a showroom and workshop with professional equipment and tools.
How have you cooped with the challenges brought on by the global pandemic? Any major changes to your business model? Or other radical changes to your daily life as a business owner?
First wave was very difficult for us. Our sells fell from average numbers to zero in just few days, during the quarantine. But we’ve changed our production program from leather goods to face mask and face shield extremely quickly. We provided these masks and shields to medical workers and seniors for free. We realize that we have really awesome and amazing customer base because lot of these people helped us for example with distribution of these shields and masks and some of them even support us financially. That was a very useful lesson which thought us, how important is to be very flexible. Also question of logistic was important. Our customers love to come see our showroom with workshop next door and talk to us about their wishes, but during pandemic times online communication was very important. We are still dealing with that, but everyone is getting used to new situation.
What are your current plans for your business in terms of growth and changes?
Our long term, aim number one is to keep highest level of quality and service. That’s the most important thing for us and I do not want to grow at expense of quality. If we want to grow we need to rise our capacity and that could be a risky business. But at short term, perspective we definitely want to have is better sales in Slovakia and also there is a question of big markets like Germany or Poland.
Where can people find you on the internet? do you have a website/e-shop, Facebook or Instagram?
Any further information you would like to share with our readers?
We are all looking forward to see you in our workshop once it’s open again 😊