It’s been awhile since I’ve done an “In my next life” post (remember Christina the ballerina?). I started this column because this whole internet thing has exposed me to jobs that I never knew existed. Paper floral designer? Color expert? Tie designer? I wish I could do it all (and maybe sometime I can???) but in the mean time, I want to profile those who are doing it and doing it right. Like Quinn Peterson. I’ve been lucky to get to know Quinn and his wife since moving to Provo earlier this year through some mutual friends. In fact, I’ve known about his work for awhile now because…the guy makes floral ties! You know it was only a matter of time before I featured him and his work. And not just floral ties, various styles of beautifully handmade, quality bow and neck ties that he sells them from his shop, QP Collections. But he’s no one-trick pony. He also makes handmade leather wallets, sells vintage men’s shoes, makes handmade bags (like the one in the top photo. I’m calling dibs on it when he makes them for his shop), renovates his gorgeous home, and scoots himself around on his vintage motorcycle collection. This guy is the real deal.
AND, as a treat to Lars readers, he’s offering 20% off his shop, QP Collections, until December 11th! Enter the code HOUSETHATLARSBUILT20 at checkout. You WILL want to buy some things for the men in your life (like this this Nebula collaboration between Quinn and Kev, Lars contributor. I may have bought one already for a certain someone. Shhh, it’s a secret!)
Did you always want to be a designer & small business owner?
Not exactly. I have always been a creative person and my friends have always pushed me to try and sell the things I made online. Being the abominable type-A personality that I am, I decided to give it a shot. After about a year, the company grew beyond what I could handle on my own so I assembled a team. Designing and starting a business has really just been a matter of approaching opportunities when they present themselves and working hard to build and sculpt something from those opportunities.
You do so much, how did you get into making ties/wallets/shoes etc.?
It started when I was rather young. My family always shopped second hand, and I loved it but it was tough to find things that fit my tall, weird body. When I was in high school I found a sewing machine in my parent’s house and learned to tailor my clothing. As I became more confident in my sewing skills I started making things from scratch, and it really grew from there.
Your hobbies tend to become your business. How did you decide to go full-time on it?
Well, I actually have many hobbies that don’t make any money. I wish they all could become something to share with the world, but they are not. Let’s just say the world isn’t ready for it all yet. Anyway, the things I sell are those I’ve been able to make into a scalable business model.
Were there people along the way in your field who you admired or helped shape the decision to do what you do?
Absolutely, there is no way I could have had any of this success without all of the talented people around me. For example, two years ago I decided to learn how to make shoes and I met a man named Hugo in a city nearby. He has been a cobbler for nearly fifty years. He used to make shoes for Hollywood stars in Sinatra’s time. He used to take time out of his busy schedule each week to show me everything he knows. Although we don’t currently sell homemade shoes (just vintage ones), the skills I learned with Hugo really helped me perfect skills I utilize for other things I produce.
What’s your favorite part about your job?
I love the beginning process, developing an idea and making it into a tangible product I can hold. It really is a lot of work to find the right material, design the construction, and then have it made. Once it’s finished I need to find a market, which is the tough part. But, like I said, I’m a pretty ambitious person so these difficult things keep me going, and it’s fun designing things you like. Fortunately, most of the things I love have been products that a lot of other people enjoy too.
What is one of the most memorable moments of your career so far?
I had a really well paying job while I was simultaneously trying to expand this company and eventually made QP my full-time job. I decided to make this jump the same month I got married. It was a really stressful time and my wife and I didn’t make enough money to support ourselves right away. One of our most unforgettable moments was when we were able to pay all our monthly bills for the first time. So we just hope that we can continue to do that for us and our team of craftsmen.
Do you imagine doing this for the rest of your life?
I don’t really see myself ever quitting or selling the company. I do hope to get QP to a point where it’s sulef-sustaining so I can also work on other projects. I’ve really been wanting to build a network of tree houses behind our house but it’s a very involved timely process.
Where do you see yourself in 2, 5, 10, 20 years?
Seeing talented people struggle to make their practice is hard for me, so I hope that at some point I can teach or train people on how to take what they have and make it into a successful endeavor.
What’s a typical day like for you?
I wake up, fill orders, reply to questions and emails, head to the post to shop orders, and visit members of our team to see how production is going. Then I get back to work, whether that be on QP projects or projects around the house.
If you weren’t doing what you are doing now, what would it be?
I would love to learn more about motorcycles and open a shop. I’d also love to have a store that sells used shoes. I would love to be a high school teacher, design the habitats at the zoo, or consult people in restoring old homes. The real dream job would be to product paper flowers and run a sweet blog, but you’ve obviously Steve Job-ed that market, so I’ll stick to something else. I’m just lucky to have found a comfortable and fulfilling niche.