Q&A with Owner, Travis Butterworth
Give a high level overview of your business. What products or services you offer, where you're located, etc.
Terence Plunkett, founding artisan of Renaissance Leather, has been in the trade since 1968, with retail stores and wholesale operations in Connecticut and Bar Harbor, Maine before joining the Colorado Renaissance Festival in 1995. Starting out with a line of leather goods geared toward the every day crowd, he quickly developed a line of belts, bags and accessories for the costumed patrons of the fairs. Adding the Texas, Michigan and Minnesota Renaissance Festivals over the next few years, and with the addition of assistant artisans, Ian Hawkins and Travis Butterworth, we have established ourselves as a distinctive presence on the Renaissance Festival circuit and on the web, reinterpreting traditional craft techniques to produce leather goods of the highest quality of design, materials and workmanship. Mr. Plunkett retired in 2022, selling the business to Travis Butterworth, his senior artisan. With the departure of Terrence and Ian Hawkins, Travis hired a whole new crew consisting of Sarah Jane Post for his production manager, with assistant artisans Elizabeth Mavity, Nashama Buschman, and Krystal "Tiger Lilly" Gonzales. We are moving Renaissance Leather from the Renaissance festival circuit and into a more mainstream direction, while remembering our roots. We offer products for every day consumption, such as belts, cell phone cases, handbags, and beautiful pewter flask gift sets, alongside the products geared towards our wonderful Renaissance festival patrons.
What inspired you to step into the world of small business?
When Terrence Plunkett announced his retirement, I became very concerned that this wonderful, quirky, unique product line would go with him, and I simply could not allow that to happen.
How long have you been in your industry and what do you love most about your industry?
I have been involve with Renaissance Leather for 15 years. The thing I love most about the industry is the great variety of people to whom we appeal!
What led your business to seek out new/additional funding?
I took over the business in January 2023. It was at that a sole proprietorship, so all the funding went with the previous owner. We were an established business working on a startup budget.
What was your experience like when trying to get funding for your business? Ie, how long had you been looking? Did you experience difficulties, etc.?
Getting funding for the business was at first a struggle, because while we were well established, we were well established as Terence Plunkett, sole proprietor, and are a seasonal business. Renaissance Leather as a business did not exist.
What was different about working with CEF compared to other lenders?
They were willing to double check all of our numbers, which great. The previous owner did not keep a business account and kept all of his personal and business records in the same ledger, so they had to be separated. Having another set of eyes was invaluable!
How did the funding you received from CEF make a difference for you, your employees, or even your community?
The funding I received from CEF allowed me to dump a lot of money into supplies! I am an established business that was trying to function on the budget of a start up business. The money I received from CEF was exactly the infusion of cash that I needed.
What's on the horizon for you and your small business?
At this point, we're looking to expand the retail side of the business into a year round location, moving us out of the realm of seasonal, and into full time.
What recent success(es) have you experienced in your business?
We hired two new sales people, who came with excellent reputations. They have not disappointed! Our sales have grown by almost 10% over last year!