From a self-taught hobby to fully-realized craftsmanship, Dustin Loftis has turned his passion for art and western lifestyle into a tangible living. Owner of Dusty Hide Leather Company, Dustin has specialized in creating one-of-a-kind custom leather goods for the past 10 years. Listen in as Jeremy sits down with Dustin to learn about his start in tooling leather, custom upholstery, teaching, horseback riding, and more.
Eric Girouard 0:00
This is Bucket Talk weekly podcast where people who work in the trades and construction that aren't just trying to survive but have the ambition and desire to thrive. The opportunity to trade and construction is absolutely ridiculous right now. So if you're hungry, it's time to eat. We discuss what it takes to rise from the bottom to the top with people who are well on their way and roll up their sleeves every single day.
Jeremy Perkins 0:28
This is Jeremy and Eric with bucket talk powered by BRUNT. Today we have Dusty Loftus of Dusty Hide Leather Company. But before we kick that off, Eric, what's been going on?
Eric Girouard 0:38
All right. All right. So we just came off a crazy Black Friday, Cyber Monday for all things, brunt. For those of you that don't know, it's the only time of the year that we ever actually discount our product. We have a hard time staying in stock as it is. And we did $10 off and a free blacked out beanie with any boot purchase as well as a limited edition black Mehran which is a very sexy looking boot. And folks are very excited about that. And so it was crazy, crazy. Five days of madness messages, customers calls website, the whole shebang. I was wild. It was fun. And I was up in New Hampshire for the Thanksgiving break. So man and it from the little log cabin up in the middle of the woods. What about you, Jared?
Jeremy Perkins 1:20
Yeah, well, so my limited edition Black Marin came in there absolutely fire. But besides that, I actually had a few guys from the bronc crew come up to my house and we got a water problem when it comes to our pasture. So we have two pastures that water kind of comes off the hill and goes through it kind of muddies up the pasture so we wanted to dry it out a little bit. So us being the people that we are we ended up renting an excavator did a little tractor work grading work ditches everything new fence, and it was just a weekend of absolute mayhem. But my two pastures in question are now dry. So I'm pretty happy about it. We've got to recede in the spring. But other than that, you know, everybody at the barn seems pretty happy and they're diverting water properly, we actually had to trench between two pastures so we put up another fence so that the horses don't hurt themselves in between. So definitely interesting. My son is loving it because he's throwing rocks in the ditches now and getting all muddy. So we got to deal with that. But other than that, it's it's definitely working to design.
Eric Girouard 2:24
Nice, nice. All right, let's dig in with Dusty.
Jeremy Perkins 2:29
Today we're here with Dustin Loftus of dusty hide Leather Company. Dustin, how are you?
Dustin Loftis 2:35
I'm doing great. How are y'all?
Jeremy Perkins 2:37
Good. Good. So you do custom leather work? Correct? Yeah, yeah. How'd you get started? You can go as far back as you want. Tell us exactly. You know how you got into it what you do on a day to day. Okay,
Dustin Loftis 2:51
I'll shoot I'd say it'd be going on getting close to 10 years and and now started about 2012. So January, will be 10 years, since I kind of started messing around with it. I've had a background in art, I've done art my whole life, I'd always kind of search for something that I could incorporate art with to make a living. And we all know that's pretty difficult to do. So yeah. Not a lot of people can do it. And I tried different things like I even look, tattoo work and stuff and realize that it'd be pretty tough to do an apprenticeship for about two years not get paid. So that was kind of out of the question at the time. And I rodeoed that's, you know, a little bit of my background was I was a rodeo cowboy. I rode bulls had a lot of friends that did rodeo. And so the Western scene was kind of my deal. And a buddy of mine was tooling a belt in the kitchen one day, and I mean, I'd never mess with the work at all. So I had no idea what he was doing. And he explained to me what he had going on. And that seemed he was tracing a pattern onto the leather. And I was like, You gotta be kidding me. I'm like, so if I draw something, you can put it on leather. And he was like, yeah, pretty much. And so I paid him to make me a belt. And he let me draw the pattern for it. And I mean, I had no idea how to draw Western floral pattern at the time, but I drew some out, kind of Googled some stuff. And then, you know, figured out kind of where I wanted to go with it. I knew a few things. And I was good at art. So I drew a pattern out gave it to him, and he put it on the belt when I got it in the mail a few months later, man, I thought it was the coolest thing ever. And I was just like this is I don't know, some kind of clicked when I got that belt. And so for that Christmas, I actually at the time I told my mom I wanted a Tandy Leather starter kit and got that and just kind of started messing around with it and had a couple buddies of mine that wanted a belt and stuff and so made a couple belts for him. And you know, a lot of the stuff I was doing was a little bit different because I could do artwork really well. So if people wanted things incorporated, like, you know, a brand or a picture, I mean, I think the first belt I did had anchors and skulls and pistols All kinds of stuff on it, I was able to do that stuff, but I couldn't do the Western floral yet and just kind of got started messing with that and started getting some more orders coming in and stuff. And, you know, really started diving into it and learning how to draw the stuff that I was wanting to do the Western floral stuff and read books watched a ton of videos, really. I mean, essentially, I learned how to tool leather off of YouTube. And so it was kind of funny because I was by myself, I've always pretty much done it on my own. For the first few years, I didn't have any sort of instruction with it until I took a class one time, it was a weekend long meal. And but heck, I was already good three, four years into it. By that point, I mean, really just kind of self taught. And then I filled up sketchbook after sketchbook just drawing pattern, trying to figure it out is my main goal. I mean, when I started it, I told myself, I was like, I want to have my own style, I want to you know, I want my stuff to be able to be picked out from everybody else. And I told myself, you know, I want to be one of the best, if not the best down the road. You know, like, I mean, that's my goal. You know, it's hard to say, like, who's the best? Because it's our, I mean, our best. But yeah, as long as I'm doing the highest quality work that I can do, and it's Tom always trying to push myself and stuff. And you know, just, I mean, it's worked out pretty good. I'm nowhere near the best in my opinion. But I mean, there's always someone out there that's better than you that you look up to and stuff. But that was my goal from the beginning is I wanted my stuff to be able to be set apart from the crowd. And just I wanted to be known for doing really, really good work. So that's how my soul workout. But yeah, getting there slowly.
Jeremy Perkins 6:42
So for the young entrepreneurs out there, how did you start selling your product in the early days? Did you go to like swap meets rodeos credit, you know, fares? Or did you just do like an Etsy page or something like
Dustin Loftis 6:53
that? No, I don't even think I've been to a show where I've really sold myself I went to one show maybe two years ago, where I brought a set of spur straps. And that was it. I've never done shows, I've never really wanted to do a show, I enjoy doing the really custom stuff, more so than just building a lot of bulk items that I can go take to a show and sell. So I mean, if I do do the shows, I feel like it'd be more of like, a display for and then take orders or something. But yeah, when I first got started, I mean, like I said, it was a lot of friends, you know, family stuff, just kind of building for people that I knew. And you know, at that point in time, stuff was really cheap, you know, so it was making like a lot of money or anything, but it was nice to get a couple bucks here and there. I did it for a couple years before I really tried to make money with it. Yeah. And so I mean, I really, it was all kind of done through social media, I had a couple friends that were pretty big with social media with a clothing company that they were doing. And so that when I first got started, and I was first kind of like okay, I really want to try to make some money with this, me and him kind of partnered up and did a couple giveaways and things like that. And he had a pretty big following. And so when he kind of added my name on his posts and said, We're doing a giveaway, and you know, stuff like that I gained quite a bit of followers at the time, it grew pretty fast. And from that point, it's just continued to grow. And I've never really had a need to go to a show. I've been pretty happy. We're content with the orders and the work that I've been able to get.
Jeremy Perkins 8:25
And now you're moving more towards the automotive field, right? Yeah, kinda.
Dustin Loftis 8:30
I mean, that's what I'm trying to push for is to get into custom car interiors, and truck interiors and stuff like that. I just kind of fell into it. I had a customer that it's kind of a funny story, people asked me to do stuff, and I just didn't like the idea of it because there's too many too much logistics stuff to figure out as far as I get. Whether they shipped me a console, or I get a console and give it to him. I didn't want to do it to where it was just a sleeve that slipped on. I told myself I was gonna do it. I was gonna make it look like it was like meant to be there. Yeah. And not just something that you know, you can buy off the internet and like, whatever slip on your console cover type deal. I'd had people ask me and I was just like, oh, no, I don't do them. You know. I'm taking orders for and this one really good customer of mine. He's like, I got a Bernie new pickup I got he's like, I'm gonna send it to you. He's like, I want you to just, you know, do whatever you want with it. But he's like, I don't need it. I'm not gonna rush for it. I think he just bought a brand new one and had it sent to me. And so I was like, alright, well, whenever I get freed up and get caught up, I'll I'll check it out. So when I started messing with the console and figuring out how to do some upholstery stuff with it, and decided that it was something I would be able to do. I called my buddy and I was like, Hey, I got your console out. I'm ready to you know, start putting together a pattern for it and stuff. And he was like, Man, he's like that truck actually burnt down. He's his big dragon caught on fire and burned burned to the ground. He had a whole new pickup truck that he had just gotten. He was like, well, he's like you keep that console and just do whatever you want with it. He's like, I don't need it anymore. So I was like, Well, okay, I've already started on it. So I just ended up being just kind of a little project that I was doing on the side and made a pretty fancy, I didn't have a customer in mind for it or anything, I made a couple videos of it and kind of put the word out there to try to generate some interest in it. And then it blew up, I was really surprised at how much interest I got, and put it up for auction on eBay. And I think that one ended up selling for somewhere around 1400 bucks.
Eric Girouard 10:43
Dustin Loftis 10:44
So I was like, well, like maybe there is a, you know,
Jeremy Perkins 10:48
you're 100% Right? I know you're in the business. So like, it's now obvious and apparent to you. But like being a mechanic when Ford came out with the king ranches and, and they had like the full custom tan saddle interior. I mean, it was a country truck. And then to add something custom to the interior. I mean, man, it was just make it pop.
Dustin Loftis 11:09
Oh, yeah. I mean, you better make sure you like your pickup, and you want to keep it around for a while. You know, but yeah, I was pretty excited about the interest that I got. And the in product. I mean, everybody that saw it, like when they come into my shop and look at it, or some everybody was just like, holy smokes, like you got to figure out a way to start building these. And so I was like, well, shoot, I don't know, I was like, I still didn't know how I would go about it. Like with like I said, the logistics of shipping consoles back and forth was a lot. No having to deal like making people go without their consoles. weeks at a time. You know, it was something I was like that people probably wouldn't want to do that. I was like, the other hard part is that every consoles, different makes and models and the sizes are different and
Jeremy Perkins 11:54
chargers now in the consoles, everything.
Dustin Loftis 11:57
Yeah. And so it was really difficult. So I was like, Man, if I sit here and I try to knit, take everything, and make custom quotes for each console individually, like, it's gonna be a nightmare for me trying to figure all that out every time someone wants to get a different console made. And so I basically had some people just, you know, I talked to a lot of friends of mine, and they were like, just come up with a set price for him and, you know, charge flat across the board. And then if they want extra stuff like, you know, then you go from there. And like, well, that might work. I'll try that out. And so I just kind of put it out there. And I enjoy making higher end stuff. But a lot of people are like, Oh, that's too expensive. But I'm looking for the guy that have those. Those you know, really nice King ranches. I've always enjoyed making higher end items. It's basically kind of a specific market that I'm trying to get to you and manage since done really well. I've been able to make some really cool stuff for some really awesome people
Jeremy Perkins 12:54
not to get into like the day to day operations of your business if you don't want to share. But would you go down to the junkyard and pull consoles and then have some on hand or have some new inventory on hand or it's on your console and send it to me and then I upholster it and send it back to you? Well, right
Dustin Loftis 13:11
now that's what it is basically, you know, they can either buy a new console and ship it to me and I'll redo that and send it to them that way they don't have to go without one right. But that's if they want to spend extra money to do that. Otherwise, I'm trying to set it up to where you know that when they shipped me their console from the time I get it to the time I'm done with it, it's just a few weeks so you know it's all within a short timeframe, but I've gone down to the junkyard and I've tried to pick apart some consoles and stuff before the first time I did it was mainly for a project that customers console would come in and it was an older console and when you pull them apart sometimes it clips and stuff on old ones real brittle and so I was like trying to scramble and find a piece to replace the one that couple clips get broken on the molar Chuck's they just discontinued them and don't make them anymore. So you kind of got to get creative where you find them. But when I was doing that, I was like well, that could be an option but then you know the local junkyards around here wanted you to buy the entire console and seat and everything he said. I was like, Well, I'm not doing that. I just want the lid. But that's one thing I do have a plan for the future because like I haven't done any shows and never really wanted to but ever since I got into this, it was something that I was like man, I would like to take a handful of these to show even still like more of a display like having for sale but but just people that it's an option because I mean to me nowadays, there's a lot of guys doing other work and you go to some of these shows and there's 10 different other booths set up and it's kind of hard for people to to differentiate the you know, what's different from this guy's work to this guy's work, you know, but if I brought something like this to a show, I feel like they would definitely be like okay, catch some eyes a lot more. and help you stand out a little bit and hopefully do really well, because it's fairly new. I mean, people have been getting it done for a while, but to do a really nice quality job on them and really focused on the upholstery work and stuff, as well. I feel like that's some that, you know, a lot of people can appreciate, and would be a good day I actually had a guy. When I first kind of came out with it, he was wanting me to get in on his SEMA truck show bill that he was doing and things fell through with him, he wasn't able to get any other work done on it, even though he actually had the truck end up at the SEMA show. But since then, I've gotten a couple jobs to do some, like, show rebuild vehicles, like some classic cars and stuff that I'm pretty excited about. I'm working on right now doing some seats in the console and stuff for a guy.
Jeremy Perkins 15:47
Usually we asked this, you know, where do you picture your career going versus where it is now? Are you kind of branching into more like full costume automotive interior? Or is there a higher level you want to be at?
Dustin Loftis 15:59
Well, I mean, that's not off the table. Right now. That's, that's kind of the vision that I'm having, you know, I would like to build an addition off in my shop, to where someone could put their vehicle in and leave it with me for a couple of weeks. And I'm, you know, I'm able to really go to town on the interior. And to me, getting into that crowd and everything with the the passion that I have for, you know, fixing up vehicles and stuff, I think it's a really good fit for me, I mean, I'm never gonna stop doing the things that I got started with, you know, the belts, and different items like that, because I do enjoy doing those. And I definitely want to keep that as part of my business. Even if I just do a couple of them a year or something for me, that's, that'd be really cool to kind of get to that point where you know, my shops big enough, like they can literally pull their car up, leave it with me, and then come back and get it a couple weeks later and have it be completely redone.
Jeremy Perkins 16:56
It's crazy that you talk about this, because like I've done factory upholstery, like somebody has a seat tear, and then you're putting a new cushion cover over it or whatever. So you started off in leather and your hand doing all this leather stuff. But there's a fair amount of stitching to correct. Oh, yeah, yeah. So So how'd you pick up that when you're doing seats and seat covers? I mean, that's just, there's a lot of stitching involved with that.
Dustin Loftis 17:22
Yeah, the leather stuff I'm doing right now is more like I have to pull some stitches apart and then resell it and stuff. But I've learned how to do some upholstery style stitching, and you know, the different types of stitches that they do when you're building seats and everything. But the stuff I'm doing now for the consoles, especially unless someone's having me completely repulsor everything and like add different leathers and stuff, I don't typically have to pull them completely apart. I have done one where I completely replace the centerpiece of it with a piece of tooled leather. Yeah. And I mean it really, really slick. And I really liked that I'm going to do some more like that most of it's just stitching, cover basically on top of what's already there. And but making it follow the same lines, and follow the stitches and everything and be the same color stitching and all that stuff's all kind of part of it. But I've made bags and different things like that, that utilize the same types of stitches that upholstery work does. Yeah, so I was familiar with that stuff a little bit before. And so when I'm tearing, like those seats that I have, right now, I have to basically completely tear apart the main seam and open it up to where I'm able to stitch the covers on that I'm doing and then after re stitch that, but but I know how to do it. Like I said, I learned how to do leather work off of YouTube. And you know, that was a pretty eye opening thing that I was like, Man, you really can't find out how to do damn near anything.
Eric Girouard 18:45
So question we got for you. So we always like to ask, you know, now where you are in your career, what would you tell a younger person looking to get into kind of your trade in your craft,
Dustin Loftis 18:56
I would tell a younger person, you know, to put in the work a lot more work than you're thinking you're gonna have to do a lot of kids got to feel like get started and and some of them try to jump the gun a little bit and resort to some techniques that I'm not too fond of. But you know, put in the work, study, read a lot of books and really try to figure out what it is you're doing. And they realize it's gonna take a lot of time, you may think you're really good going two years into it or something. But I mean, like I said, I'm, I'm coming up on 10 years, and there's guys that have been doing it for 2030 years. And, you know, they know so much more stuff than I do. And there's, you know, don't be afraid to reach out to the people that that you look up to and whatnot and, you know, try to get as much knowledge and information and and, you know, just basically don't shortcut it, you know, grind, you know, put your nose to the grindstone and just really hustle with it. One I tell every student because I do teach, I tell them, you know, fill sketchbooks because I would still sketchbooks just trying to learn. That was one of the main things I would do is just draw a lot, especially if you're trying to develop your own style. I mean, that's really the only way you're gonna do it. You know, there's tons of people with lots of learning material and stuff out there. That's definitely helpful, but nothing's gonna, you know, Trump work ethic and actually putting in hours and stuff. I feel
Jeremy Perkins 20:28
like that's actually one of the common traits that people in the trades want is his work ethic and willing to learn and everything like You're 100%, right? You said you teach. That's interesting. Do they come to you? Or do you go to you put on clinics seminars? What do you do?
Dustin Loftis 20:46
Yeah, so it started out, a buddy of mine actually runs a leather crafting School up in Oregon. And he invited me to teach floral design and tooling class one time, and I've never done it before. And so I was like, well, I'll give it a shot and went out there and did it. And it worked out really well. So I was like, Well, I'd like to try to get more involved with this. And so I went back and did a couple more classes with them, and then started doing a few private ones on my own having students that are coming to my shop or me go, you know, to that, where they're at, and save for, you know, a few days or a week and, and just teaching them how to draw, like, a correct way, like basic stuff, but you know, how to figure out where they struggled and helping them learn how to draw on tool and then put things together. And then it branched into where I made a bunch of online tutorials and guides on on drawing and tooling and different processes that did really, really well. So you know, and I kept going with that and really enjoyed the teaching. And I mean, a lot of people really tend to advance quickly after that, they kind of took the all the guesswork out of it, all the stuff that I had to go and dig for and search for and learn on on my own and watch videos and stuff. It kind of gave people a lot quicker route to it. I would do classes for a handful people. They were pretty small groups, just private stuff. And then I got hooked up with a nonprofit organization called the Semper Fi fund. There you go. And so they would put on unit reunions for Marine Corps veterans, a lot of guys that served, you know, the early, early 2000s, you know, the initial invasion of Iraq and stuff. But it was all those guys that they were mainly focused on. And they would put on these huge reunions, I've done somewhere that was only 20 guys up to 150. And so they would put these reunions on and I'd go out there and we set up a whole little workshop, it was mainly real simple stuff, like, you know, we'd have pre cut belts and letter stamps, and we'd get stamps with their unit emblem and stuff on them and show them how to do some basic coloring stuff. But you know, they'd make key chains and you know, different things like that dog collars. But mainly it was belts and key chains and coasters, just smaller stuff. And none of it was actually totally new, it was just more or less that you'd have a hand press and a stamp and they would throw all this stuff together. And it's pretty funny because you get around all these Marines and the first group was always like, not doing leather crafting, like I can't drink beer and stuff. They forced early group of these guys to come in. And by the time they left, they'd be walking out with all this stuff they made no, their buddies would be like, Where the heck you get that, like the leather crafting class. Very cool. And by the end of that, I mean, those guys would keep us up to like, one two in the morning, doing leather work. And today, I really enjoyed it. And that's mainly what I've been doing for the past couple years, probably three years. And then I do a couple of those classes a month all over the, you know, mainly, I go to Colorado, Texas had some plan to go to Florida and some other stuff. But they they COVID gotta shut all that down. Yeah. So are you been pretty sad that, you know, because those guys really enjoyed it. They all said it really helped them out. It was really cool. And they all say it was the head of the reunion, really. I mean, they start getting pretty creative and putting some stuff on those belts and things that, you know, the Marines didn't really appreciate. But it was fun watching, you know how much they enjoyed it. And that's one thing that I really do miss is getting to, you know, give back to those guys, you know, and the small way that I can and hopefully, we'll figure out a way to kind of navigate through all the COVID mess and get them going again,
Jeremy Perkins 24:36
that sounds like an amazing opportunity to kind of give back and and I think that that's huge.
Dustin Loftis 24:43
It was a lot of fun. Yeah, it was really cool. So you know,
Jeremy Perkins 24:47
usually we we get into the show, we do a deep dive into what you do on a daily basis. And it's been very interesting, but what do you do outside of work?
Dustin Loftis 24:58
Oh, shoot, man that was I had asked myself that quite a few times. I don't do anything outside of work because I came from a rodeo background and, you know, growing up in Northern California, by Lake Tahoe, ski resorts and mountains. And I mean, we'd go fishing and camping and hiking all the time. And I mean, I grew up in the middle of National Forest, basically. And, you know, I've got 20 minutes up the road, and that could be one of the best fishing spots or camping spots or whatever, my buddies and I would always go for wheeling and stuff. And but I moved out to Oklahoma. And you know, for a while I was just rodeo and and I was going every weekend and got married, had a kid and rodeo stopped and work began more than anything. And I was just like, Man, I don't do anything outside of work. And so here recently, you know, I've finally had the opportunity to kind of settle down, take weekends and start doing stuff. My daughter's getting older and I'm able to, you know, take her out and do some fun things and starting to get her into the stuff that I was doing when I was growing up and everything you know, going fishing a bunch and camping and just getting out and kind of ended outdoors and everything. That's really where I'm most apt. He's outside of work. You got to ride yet. Yeah, yeah, she's, she's had a few experiences with some ponies. She She's, she's been bucked off of a pony. She's older. She's. She's six.
Jeremy Perkins 26:29
All right. Yeah. So my. So just to give you a little context, I have horses on my property, too. And my daughter's seven. Same deal. She's making lessons now and everything but yeah, it's fun to watch.
Dustin Loftis 26:42
Yeah, man. It's really awesome. The Rodeo organization here, they do a little like playing game where the kids go and they'll walk around cones and barrels and stuff like that. It was pretty fun. She did a few of those that when we had one of her little ponies before we sold it, we take her out and she loved it. They call her name she'd get all excited. And that was that was cool. She's done Mutton Busting. So we still enjoy going to rodeos and all that earn some of her friends that she's grown up with. decided they wanted to do mutton Buss and, and that was entertaining. But yeah, we're in the process of finding a new horse for her right now. Because we got a girl that she's a high school girl here that does lessons and my daughter gets along with it really well. Because I mean, she listens you don't listen to me or her mom, she she'll listen other people more better than us when it comes to learn and things like that. So she's gonna take some lessons with this one girl. And you know, we'll see if she likes it. If she does gymnastics, we go to a lot of gymnastic stuff with her and she's doing really good reflects that. So that's another thing we do outside of the works.
Jeremy Perkins 27:47
All right, my wife and our bar manager had a crazy idea. And I don't know if you've ever heard of it. But my wife's actually really good skier. And you know, our barn manager is is top notch equestrian, if you ever heard of skitouring it's so the two of them keep toying around the idea. So for all of our listeners, they need to Google it. I think it's from like, Northern Europe, but essentially you get towed behind a horse on skis. So you have a rider on the horse. You have a skier behind it, and it's nuts.
Dustin Loftis 28:19
Me and my buddies just called that, like Saturday afternoon. It was snow.
Jeremy Perkins 28:26
But there's like competition. It's crazy.
Dustin Loftis 28:29
Yeah, yeah. That's it's wild, man. You can get crews and pretty quick on those horses when you're getting pulled by
Jeremy Perkins 28:35
them. Yeah, yeah, we just got the farm. And we haven't been through a full winter. But be looking out the window watching my wife be towed around by a horse.
Dustin Loftis 28:46
Yeah, wait until your daughters a little older.
Jeremy Perkins 28:48
Yeah. Could you imagine my son and my daughter just doing that?
Dustin Loftis 28:52
Yeah, see them cruising by when you're sitting there looking out the window.
Jeremy Perkins 28:57
So that's awesome. I mean, we it's funny, too, because we got we're dealing in the pony space right now. We actually bought two ponies. And we got a couple of trainers at the barn and it was kind of like, hey, let's see if we can you know, flip them, you know, put some training behind them. Turn them over and flip them. So we we sold one pony but we still have this other pony Oscar. And it's funny because we don't have any ponies on farm except for this one. So we put them out with the regular horses and he's just a menace. He's out there. You know messing around with all the horses. It's hysterical.
Dustin Loftis 29:28
We we had to separate ours because we have a mayor. She's a picture on there. And so that we had one pony named Geoffrey, and he was a bigger pony, like a small man or woman could ride him pretty easily. So he was pretty big and stout. And I think he got a little bit of a short man syndrome, because he'd go out there and try and pick up on our mayor and we had to separate them because she about killed in one day. And she got tired of him biting at her heels and stuff and we put a couple panels between them and And now they're one morning and that Mayor was stuck in the panels because she tried to jump over to get it. That
Jeremy Perkins 30:07
was the same story. I mean, so we put our pony in with all the geldings and then he broke through the fence just to hang out with the mares. And I was like cheese. And so we fixed the electric fence, put them back, and then he did it again the next day, so I had to build like a wooden fence to keep them separated from all of our mares.
Dustin Loftis 30:28
Yeah, their best man ponies are. They got some attitudes.
Jeremy Perkins 30:33
They're trying to train them right now. And I don't know, they've been blocked off a few times. And, yes, it's got some spunk to them. Yeah,
Dustin Loftis 30:40
we sent our pony to kid and he wrote her for two separate times that he wrote her for 30 days and came back and he was like, oh, man, he's gonna be great. And then my daughter gets on them. And he realized my daughter's a lot smaller and not as you know, authoritive. And as he was, and he just decided he was gonna go do his own thing whenever she was on him. And so we're like, well, that's not gonna work. Because he was, like, I said, he was pretty stout pony. And so we send them to another kid for another three days. And he come back. He's like, Yeah, I wouldn't let it ride him. Like, oh, he's a he's a great dude. Like, for someone my size or you know, Andy, but he's like, your daughter's you know, she's older and bigger and can control them. You know, I don't, I don't think he'd be good for so we sold him. Got another one, a small one. And he was real great at first. And then one day, my daughter's just out walking around, and he decided just to take off and he ended up bucking her off, and it was a mess. And so he was gone. She Alright, obviously. Yeah, she was a little banged up for a minute, but she just get laid and they bounce. Oh, yeah. Yeah, right off of the dirt club. But she was good. And so now, but it's been kind of a slow process, getting her back into it. She's been a little timid after that. So we don't want to, you know, push or scare until we got, you know, something that we're confident we need some that one of the adults can ride when she's not feeling on run or reverse for a couple of weeks, you know, that way they stay kind of tuned up and, and don't give her any trouble.
Eric Girouard 32:15
Awesome. Awesome. Awesome. So so the last one we always like to do is obviously we'll, you know, we'll tag you and your account and all that anything that we can help plug for you, any websites, anything that's near and dear to your heart that we can help you promote?
Dustin Loftis 32:30
Well, yeah, I mean, shoot, you know, my website is the dusty hideko.com I don't have a lot of like, in stock stuff that I ever really put on there. It's more of a place where people can really reach me and like, contact me on the consoles and things I'm doing you can place orders for those there. But I mean, there's there's one app spoke with you guys about it before that a buddy of mine are starting up and it has to do with the the life outside the leather shop, you know, and, and everything that you know else that I do enjoy doing. And you know, I think others in my area are all you know, into as well. And that's the Ral and rich co Johnny, we started it's common Western influence brand, you know, we're just we don't have much going on right now. We're just getting getting things kind of started and lined out and figuring out what we want to carry and what not. But I mean, we got some hats and shirts that we made. And really, it's just about, you know, like I said that that Western kind of way of life that we all enjoy and what what comes along with that, like when you're not riding your horses or working in your shop, or working on whatever it is you do, you know, getting out into nature, hunting, fishing, hiking, just enjoying everything that God created. And you know, that's one thing that we really are passionate about, and that we're hoping to spread the word on. We don't have a website up yet. So it's kind of, you know, tough to get that that's in the works. But you know, we do have an Instagram page. It's called. And I just got a cool, fun little, little project that if I said it was just more fun than anything else, something that just to kind of, you know, let people know that we're not all just about work.
Eric Girouard 34:08
Yeah, I will take that as well. We'll take that as well. Awesome, awesome stuff. Dude, thanks so much for taking the time to share this story with us. And either Jeremy or I are definitely going to be in the future sentence and projects your way and we'd love to do one of our consoles or something something special so we can have it. I'm looking at a new truck, hopefully in the new year, but you
Dustin Loftis 34:29
guys have like a little Ranger. Oh, yeah, actually,
Jeremy Perkins 34:32
Eric Girouard 34:33
Yeah. And a pioneer had a pioneer and he's got he's got a ranger on his farm. Yeah,
Jeremy Perkins 34:38
but dude, also I want to thank you, you know, being a vet myself. I think it's us that you work with veterans and and you know, I think that that's a noble cause and can't keep that up but it's really appreciative.
Dustin Loftis 34:51
Like I said, it's a small little way that I can kind of show you all that I appreciate everything that y'all have done and and you know, we can't ever show it enough honestly. And I really hope that I'm able to get back out that was a really rewarding thing to be a part of and just getting to know I mean, I've made such good friendships with those guys that still stay in contact with a bunch of them. And just really cool. I mean, you know, can't thank y'all enough. So
Jeremy Perkins 35:16
yeah, awesome. Thanks for being on board.
Dustin Loftis 35:19
Me. I really appreciate y'all being great.
With a background in art from an early age, Dustin Loftis has always wanted to apply his artistic talent to a craft he can earn a living from. He had considered tattooing and other crafts, but working an unpaid apprenticeship was not a practical situation. One day, a friend introduced him to leather crafting and let him design a belt.
“I had no idea how to draw Western floral patterns at the time, but I drew some out, kind of Googled some stuff. And then, you know, figured out kind of where I wanted to go with it. I knew a few things. And I was good at art. So I drew a pattern out, gave it to him, and he put it on the belt. When I got it in the mail a few months later, man, I thought it was the coolest thing ever.”
Dustin has now been making custom leather goods for almost ten years. What started off as a self-taught hobby flourished into his lifelong craft - from making custom belts for a few close friends to owning a full-fledged business. Throughout this process, Dustin has become disciplined in his artistry through striving to master his craft.
“I mean, essentially, I learned how to tool leather off of YouTube. And so it was kind of funny because I was by myself, I've always pretty much done it on my own...I filled up sketchbook after sketchbook just drawing patterns, trying to figure out what is my main goal… And I told myself, you know, I want to be one of the best, if not the best down the road… as long as I'm doing the highest quality work that I can do... I wanted to be known for doing really, really good work.”
Expanding into other mediums, Dustin has more recently been taking commissions for custom automotive interior detail. His journey into this space began when a friend gave him a center console to work on. After learning his friend’s truck burned down, he finished the piece anyway and found success.
“I didn't have a customer in mind for it or anything, I made a couple videos of it and kind of put the word out there to try to generate some interest in it. And then it blew up, I was really surprised at how much interest I got, and put it up for auction on eBay. And I think that one ended up selling for somewhere around 1400 bucks.”
Looking ahead, Dustin wants to continue growing his business to take on more automotive interior projects. By expanding, he can continue with his core business in creating smaller leather pieces, and take on bigger commissions that require a longer lead time.
“I would like to build an addition off in my shop, to where someone could put their vehicle in and leave it with me for a couple of weeks. And I'm, you know, I'm able to really go to town on the interior. And to me, getting into that crowd and everything with the passion that I have for, you know, fixing up vehicles and stuff, I think it's a really good fit for me.”
Dustin also teaches a wide range of students how to craft leather, along with having written a couple ebooks and guides. From a self-taught hobby to fully-realized craftsmanship, Dustin Loftis has turned his passion for art and western lifestyle into a tangible living.