Joel and Kerri Miller, founders of Choice Cut Industries, used a mutual passion for creativity and ingenuity to establish their family-owned leather brand. The couple each has a B.F.A. in graphic design from Winthrop University, alongside over a decade of experience with marketing, packaging design, and photography.
Fueled by Joel’s desire for a well-made watch band, the couple initially began with an Etsy shop for products they screen printed in their garage. “We weren’t trying to start a company, just a hobby that paid for itself. But we stumbled upon a business!” Joel says.
Each product from Choice Cut Industries is hand-stitched and sourced from renowned tanneries within the United States. The couple uses Horween Leather Co., in addition to Wickett & Craig and Hermann Oak leather, brands that the couple describe as “legendary.”
Joel and Kerri married in 2010 after meeting at college. Both attribute a great deal of the motivation behind their brand to childhoods spent in the rural Carolinas and to what the couple call an “innate creativity and curiosity that drove us to spend our childhoods tinkering and making things.” It is this sense of tradition, authenticity, and hard work that infiltrates every part of the company.
Why did you start the business and how has it evolved since opening?
When we first started, it was just a hobby. But we realized quickly that we either needed to quit or take it to the next level. There were two solid years of hard work and sacrifice before the business grew enough that Kerri could quit her full-time job. Add to that the birth of our daughter, and it was pretty intense! It would have been easy to give up at any point, but we have so much passion for what we create.
What about this area has inspired your work?
Charlotte has an incredibly positive energy. There’s such a “can-do” attitude. It’s a young, vibrant city and people are constantly making new things, starting new ventures and businesses. We are continuously inspired by the other people who are doing amazing stuff here.
Why are you drawn to handcrafted goods?
Our favorite thing about leather, and why we continue to be inspired by it, is that quality leather will age, patina, and form to your body with regular use. What we do is make a quality item that will last a long time; it’s the user that makes it his or her own.
What are some of your favorite pieces that you carry?
Our watch bands. It’s what we started with, and it’s what we sell the most of. They’re so classic; you can pair them with an old pair of jeans or your business suit.
How important is community to your business?
Though we do most of our business online, I’m not sure we that would have had the same success in another place. We’ve received tremendous support and encouragement from friends, neighbors and other small businesses in the Charlotte area. It’s given us the confidence to keep going and growing.