GA Voice

Barking Leather Celebratin­g ten years

- Adalei Stevens

Welcome to Best in the Biz, Georgia Voice’s new monthly series spotlighti­ng locally-, LGBTQ-owned businesses in Atlanta. This month's spotlight is on Barking Leather, a shop specializi­ng in adult leather clothing and accessorie­s. We sat down with owner Ray Stewart to discuss the ins and outs of his business.

When was Barking Leather founded? Barking Leather was formed in 2006. We were only doing road shows at the time, then it was founded because of my husband, Tory, who's also an owner.

We were sourcing things from Mr. S Leather out of San Francisco to harnesses, vests, pants, things of that nature. When we moved out of the 450-square-foot place, we moved into a 3000-square-foot place. That's when my husband got serious and started training me to make harnesses.

Why was your business founded? [Tory] worked at any leather shop that you can mention. He was like, “I should just open my own.” So, that's what we did… I had lost my corporate job. It was during, you know, a bad economy. Nobody was hiring and I had to do something.

How is business now compared to prepandemi­c? Business started to pick up when things started moving again. Business picked up, and we were able to pay our rent. When the pandemic occurred, I said, “I don't understand why we're not in essential business.” Things of that nature should be essential because people are at home, doing what? Being bored and doing what? Once we reopened, business just took off. Last year was the best year that we've ever had.

What are the greatest challenges of running your business? “The supply chain still has not recovered from COVID. At least that's what I'm being told. It's still a COVID issue. So that had been the biggest headache to keep stuff in the shop.”

What are the greatest rewards? My repeat customers. We are very proud of our algorithm and customer service. If you look at Google [reviews], we have a 4.9-star rating. We may you know we want all our customers to feel welcome and the quality of our clothes the quality of our leather…When our customers come in, they're happy with their purchases when they leave. I've seen customers you know that bought things for me three, four years ago that still have them and talk about how great our product is, and how well it's lasted. So that's the reward for us.

Anything you want to share with readers? Any new products, sales/deals, events, etc. We are constantly bringing in something new. There's always a new item. Right now, we're working on a harness called The Rookie. It is brand new to us. We're working on a more accessible harness for beginners, like let's say the price point is $109, whereas my other ones are all sitting at $160 to $200.

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