Middlesex County

After dreaming about it for years, Reading brothers start up their own company

READING, Mass. — Chasing the American dream is what helped build this country. Two brothers from Reading acted on their dream to start up a leather product company from their parent’s basement. The veteran-owned, American-made business has now grown and is employing their own family and friends

“I don’t think I could’ve imagined anything better than this,” said Chris Angelini, who started up American Bench Craft with his younger brother.

Reading brothers Chris and Jason Angelini talked about starting up a business one day — but never knew if it would happen. Chris went into film production. Jason joined the National Guard. But Jason’s longtime hobby of woodworking and leather made him realize he could turn his passion into a profit — with his brother’s help.

“He handled all of the marketing and ecommerce side of things,” said Jason, the COO of American Bench Craft. “I handled the design and the manufacturing and that’s how we got started.”

Jason’s design for his first product, a wallet, was a simple, single piece of leather — with a unique touch.

“Securing them with solid brass rivets in order to eliminate thread stitching cause we had seen so many wallets that fall apart at the seams,” said Jason.

Jason and Chris used a Kickstarter campaign to sell $20,000 worth of their American Bench Craft wallets in a month — all while working out of their parents basement and garage.

“By the time spring came around my parents wanted their garage back so we started looking for office space,” said Jason.

Chris and Jason upgraded from their parent’s house to a modest, 600-square foot business space at two Linden Street in downtown Reading. But after three years, they outgrew it and moved into a much more spacious facility in Wilmington.

“I love coming into work every day, it’s just fun,” said Chris.

That’s because as Chris and Jason’s product line grew, so did their staffing — which is made up of their family and friends.

“I like to call our team the island of misfit toys because none of us actually come from business backgrounds,” said Eric Morton, who is in charge of sales.

Eric Morton was a Mass Maritime Deck Officer but ever since joining his two best friends, he has helped land some big corporate accounts, like Sam Adams.

“We just kept on getting the word out there and bigger and bigger companies kept on giving us a chance,” said Eric Morton.

To date — they’ve sold a half a million coasters to companies worldwide. The Angelini’s admit being your own boss can be tough.

“Unlike a normal day-to-day job where you show up and get a paycheck regardless of what goes on that day, every day we show up we have no idea where our next paycheck is going to come from,” said Chris.

But it has taught them to learn and adapt to keep chasing that American dream.

“Always kind of looking for areas where there’s clearly a need for a stronger, better product and we try to make something that fits that,” said Jason.

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