We had the opportunity of talking to Bob Siemon of Bob Siemon Design at the International Christian Retailer's Convention. He discussed his line of handmade Bible covers and reaffirmed for us why buying American is a better choice whenever possible.
Bob: Thirty year ago I bought… there was a little craftsman here and he was making handmade leather Bible covers, by hand. And he just didn't… you know how a lot of times an artist just doesn't have any business sense? This was this individual. He could make a really nice Bible case but he couldn't run a business. So I bought his machinery, I took over a couple of his employees and we started making Bible covers. So in another part of our factory you'll actually see a whole area of all these leathers and all this stuff.
Okay. Here's what we do. This is the finest top grain leather. This leather here [spine] comes from Brazil. This leather [sides] comes from Italy. So we actually shop the finest leathers. We go to leather tanneries and supply shows. I know it's kind of like wierd, but then once we get the leather we actually design the case.
But this is all hand made in America. The reason why no one's doing this is because they can't… everybody in this industry thinks things have to be cheap, cheap, cheap, cheap, cheap. My thought is that, how about everything being unique and wonderful, well made. I mean, if I'm an enthusiast or something, whatever it is, if it's running or biking, or if it's reading my Bible, don't I want to have really good running shoes if I'm going to compete? If I'm going to compete against Lance Armstrong don't I want to have a really good bike?
Ian: Right. That's the philosophy we've taken since we opened the store. We don't have to carry cheap stuff, we want to carry quality stuff that's beautiful, that people want because it's beautiful, not because it's affordable necessarily or really cheap. And we've found that people like that. And it's also given us the opportunity to work with vendors that people wouldn't have ever heard of because most stores take the easy way of, “I'll carry these things from China because everybody carries them and they're inexpensive.” And we've found very wonderful products, statues and other things, that are not Chinese and they're wonderful and they're not necessarily out of reach pricewise either.
Bob: Well it's like what you're doing is you're driving… think about this. Do you want to have a business with high sales volume or low sales volume? I say you want to have high sales volume. So why not sell things of better quality, priced fairly… you're not trying to get something that you don't deserve…
Look, this is die cutting. So what we do is after we design it on CAD we make these dies. This is actually right in our factory and they're there every day of the week. And so there's the big skins of leather. We're laying them on that machine. And this is a razor blade die. Imagine razor blades on a big thing… And they take this press and is pushes the button. And when he does that it stamps out… he's stamping out the spine right here. So then we stamp out all the pieces and once we get all the pieces we start stitching them together. It all has to be hand sewn. We even design and cast these [decorative grommits] out of pewter. We make this [zipper pull]. So every part of this case is unique. And I'm just excited about you guys that you appreciate it. Thank you.
Ian: Well it's been our mission from day one to carry quality stuff like this. We've always had a policy about where we buy stuff. And we've had vendors that we've had to drop half their line from and they don't usually understand why we're not carrying their stuff from China. We can find higher quality stuff at a reasonable price that isn't from a country that' persecuting Christians and it works fine.
Bob: Well, not only is it persecuting Christians but it's like polluting the world. It's like, hey how about if you had this sitting on your couch or bed and your child starts putting their head on it or biting it as kids do and then you find out that this is a toxic paint. What about if you had a cross that somebody was wearing and you found out that that cross is made with lead. And you know how kids do this [chew] all the time?
Ian: Yes, my kids constantly, having to take things out of their mouth.
Bob: What you've been doing is you've been killing your child with the lead that's in that piece of jewelry. That's one of the main reasons we stopped dealing with China. We just, you know, let's not do it anymore. They pollute the earth. They dump all the toxins in the water and then they water all the food the people eat. I mean, it goes on and on. So that' why we're really proud to do things in America. All of our Bible cases… we're not trying to compete with the Chinese. We're trying to give you something for the enthusiast. The Christian believer that wants something unique.
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