Reed City craftswoman turns passion into a business

Taylor Whaling travels across Michigan selling her work

REED CITY — When she was 15 years of age, Taylor Whaling had her eyes set on a brand new leather horse tack set for Christmas.

After being informed that a new tack set would be out of the question, she then shifted her focus on a beginner’s leather-working kit, so she could make her own tack set. 

Nearly a decade later at 24, Whaling has turned her passion into her own business called Triple T Custom Leather, where she crafts and sells various leather items, such as belts, reins, patch hats and bronc halters. 

“It was just a hobby and I kind of made my own stuff, and occasionally something for a friend,” Whaling said. “Slowly, more and more people started to know what I was doing, and then they were asking for stuff.”

While in high school, Whaling was a Future Farmers of America member via the Cadillac Technical Center, where she used her leather work for some assignments, and eventually began selling her work.

Whaling said she was able to fund a portion of her tuition at Michigan State University from selling her handcrafted leather items. 

She brought her gear with her to East Lansing, and business began to pick up steam.

“I moved everything into my dorm room my freshman year at MSU; I lofted my bed as high as it would go and I put everything underneath it,” Whaling said. “I got a couple of noise violations, because tooling leather is pretty noisy.”

Whaling then brought Triple T Custom Leather with her to her college apartment, before bringing it back home to Reed City.

It has been her full-time job ever since.

Depending on the item, Whaling said there are things that take as little as 20 minutes to craft, and there are other things that could take a couple days to complete.

“I do so many different things,” Whaling said. “Sometimes, I buy patterns from other leather-makers who have put out patterns for purchase, and sometimes I draw my own.

"Drawing the leather or tooling patterns can be really difficult, and I struggle with it. That’s one thing I really want to get better at.”

Whaling has a steady online presence and following via her website, Facebook and Instagram pages.

She also converted a horse trailer into a mobile tack shop, where she can be seen selling her items at horse shows and barrel races across the Midwest.

“I travel all over Michigan, Indiana and Ohio to some big shows and sell stuff at them,” Whaling said. 

Contact Information 

Instagram: triple_t_custom_leather

Facebook: Triple T Custom Leather

Website: tripletcustomleather.com