Twenty-four-year-old Alex Ore is the founder and sole-operator of Wolf Hill, a brand of functional, durable high-quality products –– including leather goods and canvas bags –– reflecting classic, timeless design. He was born and raised in Colorado. He loves skateboarding, snowboarding, hanging out with friends, family, and his girlfriend. He also loves creating and building things with his hands.
We had the privilege of interviewing Alex to learn more about how Wolf Hill came to be and what goes on behind the scenes to inspire and create handcrafted goods.
We originally interviewed Alex in September, since then, he’s gone full-time with Wolf-Hill!
Describe how Wolf Hill came to be.
It was half-accidental, half-intentional. I’ve always been interested in running my own business. From an early age I’ve had the entrepreneurial spirit. I remember in sixth grade, me and some friends making and selling all sorts of stuff to kids at school including skate wax, hackie sacks, and even flavored toothpicks.
Fast forward a bit, and I started getting into printing t shirts with friends. Or I should say using iron on transfers to make them. Fast forward a few more years and I started getting into screen printing. That’s when my friend Trent and I started our first company.
Unfortunately it never really left the ground, even though we had been working on it for something ridiculous like three years. But I knew that I wanted to start another company –– it was just something I really enjoyed doing, and I loved the idea of being my own boss.
Fast forward another year or so, I was looking for a new wallet, but couldn’t really find anything I was that psyched on. Not to mention, I thought all the cool handmade wallets were extremely overpriced. Growing up skateboarding and always trying to run my own companies instilled a real DIY mentality in me. I figured I could make my own for half the price. So instead of spending $100 on a wallet, I went out and spent about $400 buying a roll of leather and all the essential tools to get me started. And a few hours later, I quickly realized why the handmade goods were priced the way they were. Haha. It was super hard and really expensive to make! However, it was the most fun I had creating something in a long time and right then and there I knew I wanted to keep making leather items, and I had it in the back of my head at that time that I wanted this to be my next business venture.
What is the driving force behind Wolf Hill? What inspires you to create?
It kind of drives itself. It’s hard to explain, but every time I finish a bag or a wallet, I get so pumped that I just want to keep making more. It’s so fun! It’s a crazy process but, to me at least, it’s so cool to take these raw materials like a roll of canvas or leather, that are essentially useless by themselves, then cut them into pieces, stitch them together, and then you just have a totally functional item that can be used everyday. I don’t know, that's just so cool to me! It pushes me to always want to make new products or refine the way I make a certain product. The process as a whole just inspires me. Anybody out there doing their own thing or creating art on any level inspires me. The freedom that comes along with running your own business. definitely pushes me to make it my full-time job.
Is Wolf Hill your full time gig at this point? If not, do you plan on getting to a point where you can focus the majority of your time and efforts on the brand?
It is! I actually just quit my full time job about two weeks ago.
What kind of risks have you taken to get your brand off the ground? Has it been worth it?
Since I started the company by myself in my spare time, I didn’t really risk a whole lot to get it started. With the internet being the way it is today, it’s basically free/ super cheap to start a business. As of now, I do all my marketing/ advertising through Instagram, which is free to set up, and I pay a pretty small fee to host a website. I put money into the company to buy materials and tools, but I don’t see it as a risk because if I wasn’t spending it on the company, I would spend the money on eating out or video games.
What does a typical day look like to you?
Typical day would be getting up early, checking social media outlets, and answering emails first thing. I like to try and keep lists of stuff I need to do and orders I need to finish. So then I’ll look over my lists and start working on orders, or if I'm caught up on orders I’ll be working on new products/ideas. Otherwise I’m out running errands, or dropping products off with vendors.
How has Colorado impacted your work for Wolf Hill? Does where you live inspire you?
I love Colorado! It definitely has impacted my work. The company is named after a mountain in Colorado. I grew up outdoors, camping with family and friends, skiing and snowboarding in the mountains. I love being in the mountains, and if I’m getting overwhelmed with work, it always helps clear my head just spending time outdoors. You will start to see a bit more Colorado flavor with the brand in the future as the line expands.
Who are some of your idols or mentors? Is there any specific people who have impacted the way you work or even just your overall outlook and approach on life?
My parents have been a big influence on my work. They have always been super supportive of everything I’ve done and have always pushed me to do my own thing. I definitely look up to them. Also, my friend Travis Idler, who owns 7Twenty Boardshop here in Colorado, has been a great mentor. He’s helped me out on several occasions with all my business and retail questions and has provided me with great advice for running my own business.
As far as people I do not know personally, the list goes on and on. Too many to name. I am constantly inspired by others who are pursuing their dreams, and turning their passions and hobbies into full time work. I love seeing the process. That’s the kind of stuff that inspires me to push my craft to the next level.
Do you have any specific goals you are striving for with Wolf Hill? What are some of your greatest achievements so far with the brand?
Eventually, I’d love to open my own brick and mortar store. I also have some pretty big plans as far as expanding the brand into other categories besides leather and canvas.
It may not sound like a big deal, but honestly one of my greatest achievements so far was just launching the website and making a sale. As I previously mentioned, I’ve tried to start more companies than I can remember and none of them really ever made it past initial ideas. So to take this company all the way to having an online presence and being able to show people around the world what I’m working on has been pretty huge for me.
I know there are a lot of brands out there who are working with leather and canvas goods. What sets Wolf Hill apart from from those brands?
This is a tough question for me to answer, because there are so many other great brands out there making really awesome products and I try not to compare myself too often. However, I don’t think I am making the same products as any other company. Everything I make is different from the last one. My hands have to touch everything I make, so every single time, I am making something new. No two pieces will ever be the same. You are buying a one-of-a-kind item that literally nobody else will be able to duplicate.
I also like to think my designs, materials, and construction methods set me apart. I always use the best materials available, and I strive to only assemble products in a way that will last for generations. I also stand behind my products 100 percent and offer a lifetime guarantee on everything I make, so you can always buy with confidence.
Recently, I have been trying to put a bit more of my personality and story into the brand. I know, for me at least, that’s always a selling point for products I buy. I love to know the story and any info behind the brand. Knowing info like that makes me feel more connected to the brand.
Do you have any advice for other creatives and entrepreneurs looking to start their own brands?
Just do it! Seriously, I can’t tell you how many hours I’ve wasted thinking, “Oh well, if I could just get this done, then I can do this, then I can launch the site.” Stop waiting around on things you don’t have control over and start taking control of the things you do. Just put your idea out there, and get started already!
Also, don’t think you must do everything yourself. Focus on what parts you really love doing and are good at. Find some people to handle the rest. I know this isn’t always an option for everyone, but when you are trying to run every aspect of the business by yourself, it can be overwhelming and stressful and ultimately slow down or even stop you dead in your tracks. It’s okay to ask for help.
Lastly, have fun. That’s the whole point isn’t it?
To learn more about Wolf Hill and purchase products, visit wolfhillbrand.com
Photos provided by Kyle Panis and Jared Tadlock