PHOENIX – Sandwiched between a horse farm and a cattle ranch, the American dream has been built into an amazing building.
“This is where we do our fire branding and personalization,” Ty Bowman said.
Bowman is offering a tour of the LifeTime Leather Workshop in San Tan Valley. The business was born from a tragic zip line accident that left Bowman unable to walk for three years as a teenager.
“I couldn’t go to school, I had a lot of surgeries,” Bowman said. “I will not lie; When I was 15, it sometimes felt like the end of the world to me. But in the midst of it all, my perspective changed.”
During recovery, he turned to books.
“My father gave me many books,” he said. “How to control your thinking. How to achieve your goals. There were a couple of books I inherited from my husband’s grandfather and one was by the great Al Stallman, who was probably the greatest leather artist that ever lived.”
That book in particular will shape his life in ways he never knew. He said he didn’t have much money then and decided to use what he learned to make Christmas presents for his family.
“So here’s the final part of the main sofa,” Bowman said, pointing to an 8-inch-by-8-inch square of leather.
From a discarded leather sofa, he created his first leather products, Christmas, handbags, toiletry bags, bracelets and wallets.
“They were amazed, I didn’t know you could do that, the quality was so good,” Bowman explained. “I was getting more and more questions about that satisfaction.”
Now, more than ten years later and $250,000 in product sales, this American-made business has established itself in a community.
“A lot of people come in and ask me where do you get your workers, where do you get all the workers, like we did,” Bowman said. “We take people who are really good at learning and have a strong work ethic, and we simply teach them.”
Over the years, he has built a shelter for artisans. Twenty-four-year-old Victoria Ball is one of them.
“I’m excited to see everything come together and see how everyone here has grown to their potential,” Ball said.
Mondays are skills that can be seen proudly working everywhere you look.
“We may not be able to make a million bags a day, but we can put out high-quality products every time,” said longtime employee Dallin Ortiz, who sewed a bag.
65 percent of American adults say they have intentionally purchased “Made in America” products in the past year. The loyalty Bowman felt. In fact, his company attracted the attention of the White House, which honored LifeTime Leather in 2020.
“When they called the White House and told me who they were, I thought it was a hoax,” Bowman said with a laugh. “It was amazing.”
For Bowman, it’s a reminder of how far he’s come. A life forged in the turbulent days now presents the ultimate success story.
“Happiness is made, not earned,” Bowman said. “I wouldn’t change anything in my life.”