Mark Schmidt is founder of CrashLeather, a a small business creating high quality leather goods in the country to Guatemala. I should know about his incredible products – here is a picture of my recent order.
As I have gotten to know Mark and his ministry, I was led to share this Special Edition post on how one family’s vision for the Lord’s work is driving an educational transformation in the village of Buena Vista, Guatemala.
Mark’s story is one all should read, reflect upon, and use as a real-world example of how to reclaim a mountain (education) one life at a time.
Here are Mark’s responses to a few of my questions.
What is CrashLeather?
CrashLeather is a small business, creating leather goods for your everyday life. Our products include messenger bags, MacBook / computer cases, iPad/Tablet cases, journals, wallets, and many other accessories to make life run a little smoother!
What drove/motivated you to start CrashLeather?
We have lived in Guatemala, serving the people of Buena Vista, since 2009. Our ministry, DeepStream Ministries, is focused on educating the next generation, in all areas of life and we also work in various areas of health and malnourished children. In early 2016, I decided to start making our leather creations, with the small purpose of funding one of the students in our private school. Our family had personally sponsored Julio for many years and due to other financial obligations, we needed a way to “create some income” so that we could continue sponsoring his education. A couple months into it, Julio’s account was paid in full and we raised additional money to pay for some of our staff and other students in DeepStream Ministries.
What does the name “CrashLeather” mean?
The name CrashLeather comes from our commitment to running hard in this journey that God has called us to, and is based upon Erwin McManus’ book, The Barbarian Way. According to McManus, rhinos are faster than squirrels which run up to 26 miles per hour. However, rhinos can only see 30 feet in front of them. So, imagine a heard of rhinos running toward you, or anything, at full speed. Rhinos running together are called a crash and as they run together, they mutually motivate and encourage each other to run faster and harder, crashing through whatever obstacle lie in front of them.
That is symbolic of Deep Stream Ministries – to charge ahead at full speed and crash through anything in its path that attempts to block the work of the Lord. So, we purpose to move forward with full force knowing our work for the Lord will transform cultures.
What makes your products so different?
Beyond the outstanding quality and uniqueness of each cowhide (making each creation “one of a kind”) is the purpose behind each product. The vision was birthed when we were led to help educate one of our students in Buena Vista. That is why 50% of all of proceeds go directly into help pay our teachers’ salaries and multiple students in our schools.
We’ve also been blessed to channel some of our funds into other partner organizations in Malawi and Honduras, who are also working in education and pointing their students to Jesus.
How are your products produced? Why this method?
To date, each of our products are hand cut, on site here at CrashLeather in Guatemala. They are then stitched or assembled by local Guatemalan friends who work together with us. We take Godly pride in our goods being “fair trade”, in that we are paying better than normal wages and providing great opportunities to multiple people here in our village. We can truly say that each creation is 100% handmade by our CrashLeather team.
Tell us how the Lord is directing your business.
God’s blessing has been evident even in this first 15 months dedicated growth. Due to our unexpected growth in orders and stateside interest, we just completed our corporate paperwork in the USA and our in the process of getting all of our Guatemala business paperwork done so that we can be a 100% registered as an exporter in our country. This is an exciting move for us and one that we feel is necessary to keep doing things the right way.
What have been your greatest business challenges and how has the Lord delivered you through them?
To date our biggest challenge has been moving our goods internationally. Until now, orders have been small enough to transport as we travel, and God has always aligned our orders with upcoming trips! The Lord has made it very clear that we need to move in the direction of officially exporting the goods and begin leveraging an international shipping method. It’s been challenging also, as it has caused us to adjust our pricing to remain profitable.
Since 50% of your revenues go to supporting the school, tell us how we can get involved?
First I would ask each person reading to visit our main DeepStream Ministries website and take time to learn more about who we are and what we REALLY do here in Buena Vista.
Second, I ask each of you to put us on your prayer list as we seek to point the people of Buena Vista to the truth of who Jesus is and how that can impact their lives.
Third, consider partnering with us. We exist here in Guatemala because of faithful partners and churches who have been a part of our “senders”. We can’t be here, without faithful followers of Jesus giving to help make it all happen.
How can we learn more and order your products?
Visit www.crashleather.com to read more of our story and see pictures of our creations. If you run a corporation or ministry, specifically check out the corporate order link, and learn about personalizing our creations with your logo. We hope to see this part of our business grow, giving corporate partners a great product, while also connecting your vision with ours.
Final Shout Out
SOMETHING I RARELY DO – BUT HERE IT IS: I strongly encourage you to make CrashLeather your go-to provider of corporate, customer, family, and personal gifts all created by hand with significant margins flowing into educational transformation for the gospel!
One More Thing
Please comment below if you would like to read more case studies on how marketplace entrepreneurs are transforming their cultures through business.