VermontBiz You might say Amanda Farrell and Peter Shangraw are all leathered up and ready to go.
The co-owners of Bergamot Amor, a high-end leather goods company based in Williamstown, have rocketed to success faster than even they could have imagined.
Photo: Peter Shangraw and Amanda Farrell, co-owners of Bergamot Amor. Courtesy photos.
“We are growing very rapidly,” Farrell said in a recent interview. “We’ve shocked almost everyone, including ourselves.”
The idea for the company, which produces made-in-Vermont bags and gear using U.S.-sourced boot leather, was conceived shortly after Farrell was laid off from her marketing job in the early months of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I had gone to college for fine art,” the East Montpelier native said. “So that’s when I leaned into painting.”
Around that time, Shangraw, who ran an upholstery business out of his home in Williamstown, commissioned Farrell to create a mural on an old woodshed, and the two began spending time together. Over coffee one day, they decided to blend their skills — design and textile art — to create a leather bag for Farrell’s art supplies. When it was complete, she posted a photo of the bag on Facebook.
And they’ve never looked back. The pair are now in the third year of running their highly successful retail business. “Sales have tripled in the past year,” Shangraw said.
Early in their business journey, Farrell and Shangraw began working with Scott Holson, a business adviser from the Vermont Small Business Development Center. Holson’s advice kept the pair focused, grounded and organized during some of the company’s most rapid growth spurts.
“Without his direction and pointed knowledge,” Farrell said, “we couldn’t be where we are today.”
Farrell and Shangraw also benefitted from strong followings on social media, which allowed their growth to happen naturally, albeit quickly, with 3,000 orders within the first 12 months. Sales also benefited from their mid-COVID launch, when online shopping reached unprecedented popularity. Their products, which can be purchased via their website (bergamotamor.com) or showroom (2383 VT Route 14, Williamstown) are now in every state and several countries.
In 2022, the couple were invited to be one of 20-plus vendors representing Vermont at the Big E, a multistate fair. “We got picked again this year and negotiated a two-year contract,” Farrell said. “But with that, we’ve had to scale.”
When they returned from the Big E last year, they purchased two buildings in town: an abandoned hardware store, which they converted into a workshop, and a brick building on Route 14, which now serves as a showroom and espresso bar where visitors can purchase their products along with a selection of highly curated handmade items by 150 other artisans.
“We’re juggling a lot right now,” Farrell said. “We’ve gone from a company of two to a company of eight, plus seasonal staff during the Big E. Our biggest challenges are keeping up with production and finding skilled employees.”
Although their bags can be found around the globe, the company is community focused. The couple donate a substantial portion of their profits to local charities and families in need.