We had the good fortune of connecting with Tina White and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Tina, what role has risk played in your life or career?
I consider taking risks everyday in my career, from deciding which belts to make for a shop to picking out a new design as a staple. Should I spend more time on custom orders or creating inventory? My everyday tasks in running this business leads to the overall “risk factor” of trying to grow a business. Leaving the bartending industry to fully focus on creating this brand was one of the biggest risks I’ve taken. Building your own small business is a huge risk in inself, but being able to do something you love is worth it all.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
A lot of what I create is inspired by my hispanic background, love for music, & from working at a vintage shop in my earlier years. I’ve always loved the traditional tooling & stamping used on Mexican purses & 60s/70’s “one of a kind” items. I started off leather crafting as a hobby with a few commissions here & there. I later took it more seriously, taking fashion design courses part time while juggling bartending. My biggest challenge was deciding to leave the bartending industry to fully submerge myself in building Hard To Kill Leather as a brand. I realized that if I really wanted to give it a shot, I’d have to focus all my energy into the biz & not spread myself too thin. One of the first challenges was the social factor: I left a busy whiskey bar to work from my home studio, and it was a drastic change. I was always around my co-workers, regulars in the bar, friends who visited, & live music. What helped was building out my social media, promoting my business to my family & friends, creating inventory & signing up for local pop ups. Social media allowed me reach out to new customers I wouldn’t have met in person, the pop up markets gave me a chance to interact, & contacting local shops to carry my products helped me build work relationships. What I’ve learned along the way is to keep believing in myself & what I’m capable of doing. It takes time, patience, trial & error. What I’ would like for the world to know about my brand is the meaning behind the name – Hard To Kill Leather. Although it may come off as a little “aggressive,” Hard To Kill represents a business that creates life-long durable products. The brand is created by somebody that despite all odds, continues to pursue a passion, vision, & dream.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
A few musts (sorry to blow up the spots) are Mona Lisa deli, grab a sandwich togo, hit up Balboa Park & have a little picnic there. Swing by Panama 66 for a snack, drink & possibly some live outdoor music. Or if you’re in the mood for Seafood – Bluewater is where it’s at. If there’s any local art fairs, for sure hit those up. Some of my favorites are La Pulga & El Callejon markets in Barrio Logan. A walk through South Park where you can grab a slushee & bite to eat at Fernside. Swing by Vinyl Junkies to check out some records. If you find yourself in North Park/Normal Heights, stop by Little Dame for some cool local vendors goods. Cantina Mayhuel is next door if you’re in the mood for Mexican – also one the the best Micheladas I’ve had. A must is La Loupe Vintage. One of my favorite shops in town. Super vibey, really cool aesthetic vintage shop. Last but not least, The Seahive in Oceanside – my hometown in North County. It’s a co-op vintage/creators shop that curates to all lovers of unique items. Records, clothes, home decor, it has it all.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
I would like to dedicate my shoutout to Daniel Cervantes. He runs the San Diego indie Record Label Blind Owl, working on making others dreams, amongst his own come true. He is my finace, an amazing artist, and my biggest supporter of me following my dreams.
Other: Shop In Person at Seahive (Oceanside) – Little Dame (North Park) – La Loupe Vintage (Normal Heights) Website is launching this Spring!!! Stay tuned & follow my IG page to know when the release date is.