We had the good fortune of connecting with Hunter Harkins and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Hunter, how has your perspective on work-life balance evolved over time?
Work-life balance is a funny one when you have your own thing going. You never really clock out and call it done; yet I’m never wishing for it to be over either. For myself personally, I split my time between my part time hours as a Telecom Director and Willow Craft Goods. The Telecom Director hours are set, while Willow Craft is fit in certain days of the week and wherever else possible.
I like to think that I’m very conscious of my time and where it’s spent. Work is important, but relationships are far more important. As it’s said in Fight Club “This Is Your Life, And It’s Ending One Minute At A Time.”
That phrase can be just as much motivation to stop procrastinating and start doing what you have always talked about doing, or on the contrary; to press pause, zoom out and enjoy the big picture.
When starting your own business, all you hear and read about is the “the grind”. Working all hours of the day and night to make things happen for yourself. I have certainly put in more hours than I even realize and get that perspective. However, we just welcomed our first child November 2021, so the question of work-life balance has taken on a whole new meaning. My Wife and I will never get this time with our son back. I’d rather take a bit longer to build a business and enjoy life then getting tunnel vision and possibly letting all the small things pass me by.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
Willow Craft Goods is a leather goods business. We make unique wallets and small goods that are quite striking in their appearance and construction. A lot of our customers say that we create art in leather and I love hearing that.
“Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication” is a phrase I use often in the description of our goods and is something we keep close to us while in the design and prototyping stage.
I always say that I want our designs to be recognized before the logo is seen. I think we’ve achieved that thus far and I’m really proud of it.
I’ve been in the IT profession since 2015 which wasn’t always my dream and still isn’t. It’s been a wonderful opportunity through the years, but has also left me starved for creativity and wanting to work with my hands on something tangible and real. I’m sure that’s something so many people can relate to. Over the years, and with a dissatisfaction of the available wallets on the market – Willow Craft Goods began to come to fruition.
Getting where we are today if I’m completely honest has been quite a bit harder than I ever expected and we still have a long way to go. We launched March of 2020 right before Covid hit the US hard and that certainly made starting a new business rougher than we were expecting. Regardless, it has only been 2 years since the launch and I’m so happy with the progress we have made.
Taking some time and looking back at where we started is as much inspiration as anything could be.
When doing your own thing; It’s easy to want things to happen fast. They simply don’t. Working through the struggles of building a brand takes time and so much patience. I learned early on to focus on the long term rather than the short term.
It’s also so easy to compare yourself with other people and/or businesses at face value. Everyone seems to be killing it from the outside looking in. You have to remind yourself that they’ve worked through just as many if not more difficulties than you in building their business.
Having a business to call your own is special and rewarding in and of itself. But that’s just it. It’s yours and it’s going to grow and evolve under your own set of unique circumstances.
At Willow Craft Goods, we have always taken a lot of pride in our signature design language and the finishing steps we take on each and every wallet. A smooth combination of form and function is at the heart of every design we put together and I believe the end users always get the feeling that they are really holding onto something special.
Keep an eye on us! We are just getting started and we’d love share the experience with you!
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
This is a tough one! Let’s just start with saying my ideal best time ever would be hours of coffee shops, sitting out at the lake under some shade with an Iced Americano and lot’s of mountain biking. I’m not a crowd person by any stretch.
With that being said, there is so much to do around here. Each day would have to start with some coffee at our local coffee shop on the square in Decatur. After that, you’ve got Six Flags, the Zoo, House of Blues, Shows at the American Airlines Center, Bass Hall, Trinity River Walk, Omni Theater, Northshore Walking and Biking Trails…the list could go on.
I’m not a shopper by an means, but a day could certainly be spent at one of the many malls, or Downtown areas from Grapevine, to Southlake.
I’ll choose the outdoor and nature options over anything else any day though – hopefully that best friend would too!
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
Family support has always been such a huge inspiration in continuing to move forward, taking risks, and just staying the course. My Wife Brytani has been huge in her support for me in starting the business, growing the business and continuing to encourage me throughout the ups and downs of it all.
Outside of family, I’d really have to say that the encouragement from our social media accounts and customers has continued to be such a blessing. I’m in touch with a number of customers that have followed us from the start and we have certainly created some friendships along the way.
From the consumer standpoint – don’t ever underestimate the power of a few words or a quick email expressing your joy for something you purchased from us or anyone else.