American Native x Little Mountain Bindery
If there’s one thing I use on a daily basis, it’s my leather-bound notebook from Little Mountain Bindery called a Fillion. Lesha, owner and maker at Little Mountain Bindery, set out to make a product that merged her love of book binding and her background in writing. The result? A quality notebook you can keep for years and years.
When we were brainstorming for makers to collaborate with, Lesha was top of my mind. Not only has she become a friend in the maker community here in Fayetteville, but her products already prioritize the same things American Native does: quality craft, leather for everyday use, and a desire to create products with purpose and intention.
We can’t wait for you to get your hands on her Fillions. If there’s an item I swear by, it’s this. Want to get to know the maker? Continue reading for the full interview with Lesha Shaver of Little Mountain Bindery.
Where are you from originally and how did you end up in Fayetteville? How has that shaped where you are today?
I grew up in central Arkansas and my husband grew up in south Arkansas. We always knew that if we moved back to Arkansas we wanted to live in Fayetteville.
How did you get into book binding?
I have an English degree and an MFA in creative writing, so one thing led to another. Seriously, though, I love working with my hands and I love books.
What inspired you to start Little Mountain Bindery?
I was inspired by a bookbinder in New Mexico that I did an apprenticeship with to learn repair and boxmaking. She really inspired me to start my own similar business in Fayetteville.
What has been the most rewarding and most challenging thing about running your own business?
The most rewarding thing about running my business is helping people salvage family books that can be passed down. It also makes me so happy to hear from people who love Fillions. I think as a maker, having people use and love the Fillion, is extremely rewarding and that positive feedback keeps me going. What is challenging about running a business is everything else. It is just pretty difficult to do it all and it’s hard to know when to get help.
What did you do before Little Mountain Bindery? What made you decide to take the leap and go full-time?
I worked as a copywriter and special projects director at a company in Memphis, then as an Americorp VISTA. After I had my first daughter, I decided that having this business would allow me to be with my kids and also have work. I grew up with self-employed parents and there was always a level of flexibility they had that was important to me.
Where do you find your inspiration as a creative entrepreneur?
I get a lot of inspiration from people that I follow on Instagram both locally and around the globe. For tiny business, social media has really pushed the doors wide open. Being able to connect with other makers, bookbinders, writers, artists, entrepreneurs ... it is a constant source of motivation and inspiration. I think I especially gravitate toward women business owners as a source of inspiration.
What part of your work are you most proud of?
I am most proud of the distance I have come from working out of a spare bedroom to now. It’s not so much that Little Mountain has grown a ton, we are still tiny, but more that we have a pretty steady, reliable clientele.
Tell us about the Fillion.
The Fillion is capable of being anything: a planner, a journal, a sketchbook, a watercolor journal, an archeology field notebook, a business assistant, meal planner, dream journal, travel organizer. It can be one thing or all of these things at once. All you have to do is add and organize your notebooks to suit your needs.
What are you excited about or inspired by right now?
I am excited about gelatin monotype, which is a type of printmaking, and I am hoping to take more classes in printmaking locally. We have so much creative talent around us here in NWArkansas and I hope to learn from some of these amazing people. Taking classes from others, for me, is such a kickstarter for creativity.
What are the 3 most important things about your business and products?
-We do everything by hand.
-The “machines” we use are still mostly hand tools and mostly from the late 19th or early 20th century because hand bookbinding tools have not changed—at all.
-We put a lot of love in everything we do and spend a lot of time choosing the highest quality materials so that what we do also lasts.