Beth Derrick grew up being around horses, saddles, tack, boots, and wallets. Watching parents, grandparents, and great-grandparents fixing and building things was a feast for the eyes. The Flower Mound-based crafter loved creativity and innovation at a young age.
“We weren’t rich, and my dad always worked a few jobs on the side and horse traded. He’s a very handy man and can build anything, so whether it was roofing houses, trimming trees, or building custom deer stands, there was always something going on, in addition to my parents’ full-time day jobs,” said Beth, who now owns a craft business. “Making things by hand is in my blood, and a deep hunger I will never grow tired of.”
Seeing various handmade leather accessories in London’s local markets in 2012 sparked a passion in her. “The next several years took me to other places like Portland, OR, Singapore, Cork, Ireland, Seattle, WA, and other beautiful places around the world. In all of them, I was able to find locally handmade leather goods,” she shared.
In 2016, Sully + Proper came into existence, a local business that sells handmade leather goods. “The first piece I sold was a wrap wallet for $20 in August 2016,” the artisan is proud of her humble beginning. “It was a slow and rough start, I still have a few of the first few items, and they are awful! But they were full of lessons learned, and I loved every minute of figuring out this art and craft,” she recalled.
Beth is a full-time tech professional, yet she makes time for her passion and now creates an average of 20 pieces weekly, continuing the family legacy of hard work and dedication. She is the sole owner of Sully + Proper, and her family is always there to support her.
The business makes a wide variety of goods, from vegetable-tanned leather and chrome-tanned leather. Wallets, folders, log covers, belts, keychains, bracelets, and utility pouch items are popular among customers. She makes each item by hand, one at a time. Each item is fully designed, planned, cut, punched, stamped, sewn, and finished by her! “I design, plan, source, procure, market, make, sell, and handle every facet of the business,” she said. The business is fully set up and runs through her home.
Beth participates in as many local events as possible in Highland Village, Flower Mound, Argyle, and Denton. Community people are supportive of local businesses, and they love handmade items. Sully + Proper is gradually becoming popular.
“Being of service to others, creating, and solving problems motivates me daily,” Beth says. “Life can be full of fear if we let it be. It can also be the greatest experience if we let it be. Productivity, progress, and growth matter.”
“Forging our path with confidence and enjoying the journey along the way is much more fulfilling than sitting at home, afraid to take the first or next step,” she said.
How her business was named is an interesting story. “Sully is our giant Labradoodle, and he is not very proper. He’s an excellent dog, and every bit of the name, Sully. Our late dog, Zephyr, was very proper. And thus, the striking balance of messy and tidy, dark and light, exuberant and reserved bore the name of Sully + Proper,” Beth shared.
Running a local/small business is a thrilling experience, but it also comes with several challenges. For Sully + Proper, marketing is a significant challenge. “Marketing is a continual challenge for me. I do leatherwork as a hobby to be away from screens and do something with my hands, yet the core challenge hovers around needing to be on a screen,” she mentioned. “I’ve participated in many in-person markets and events over the last few years, and while some are successful, some are also quite unsuccessful. Not every event is profitable, but all are great for meeting people and getting some marketing traction.”
Beth has a vision for her business. She sees Sully + Proper as a popular brand many people would admire. She’s planning to focus on making items for upcoming art shows and events while considering how she can reach a wider audience. Time will bring many changes in her business; however, in her own words, one thing will remain constant: her love of simply making leather goods with her hands.
“I care not to add machinery or automation nor to outsource any step of the making process,” she smiled.