We had the good fortune of connecting with Ben Ramirez Reed and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Ben, we’d love to hear more about how you thought about starting your own business?
Simply put, I wanted freedom to make my own choices. I grew up around entrepreneurs, my father ran a small family dairy farm and my mother ran her own Dog Daycare facility. I grew up with them setting their own hours and being their own boss and knew I wanted that too. I never thought about working for somebody else’s company, I just knew I wanted my own. I wasn’t sure what it would be, though. I started leather working to make things for myself and my friends. People began telling me I should sell what I made, but I thought that would take the joy out of it for me. Turns out quite the opposite. I love knowing that what I’m selling I designed, crafted, and sold with my own two hands.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
I started working with dogs when I was eight years old at my mother’s Dog Daycare. Eighteen years later, when I left to start my own business, I’d learned a lot about dogs. I’d learned about their behavior and individual needs. I’d learned about what dog owners (like myself) needed and wanted. Before I left the Dog Daycare, I was working as the business manager. That taught me a lot about how to run a business and the responsibilities that come with the territory. I’d been making leather things (belts, dog collars, clothing pieces) for myself at the time. It seemed like everything came together at once and Frost & Ember Creations was born. Using my knowledge of dogs and leather-craft, I started making custom leather dog collars, leashes, harnesses. Later I began making things for people too, like belts, corsets, bracelets.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
The first thing I’d do is take them on a picnic to the local Gorges. Frost & Ember Creations is based just south of Ithaca, NY where there are beautiful waterfalls that carve these deep gorges. We definitely have to get food from Angelhearts, a local vegan diner. They design all of their own recipes and make everything from scratch. I’m not even vegan and the place is one of my favorite restaurants in town. Ithaca sits next to Cayuga Lake, a long lake carved by glaciers retreating after the last ice age. It’s a perfect lake to sail on. You can take a small 30 foot sail boat out on the water and sail up the lake. If the weather’s warm, the lake is great to go swimming in. I don’t think a visit to Ithaca would be complete without visiting the Ithaca Commons. The Commons are a strip of small shops on either side of a cobbled street. You can find a lot of wonderful shops there. Like Handworks, a community owned store that sells a collection of handmade items from glass blown cups to handmade clocks. To top the trip off, you could walk through historic Cornell University’s campus and see the infamous brick clock tower. Any local can tell you the story of the Halloween when someone put a pumpkin stuck on the spire at the top of the clock tower.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
I’d like to mention my close friend and fellow leather worker, Zach Widger. He learned leather work from me and later joined the business when I was making dog collars and leashes to sell in a cellar of the apartment building I was living in. He stuck with me and the business through all the ups and downs. Sometimes even working for free when we weren’t getting enough orders. I’d also like to shout-out to my friend and fellow artist, Laura Chilson, who helped design a lot of our products and taught me how to take (less terrible) photos. Lastly I’d like to mention my dogs, three fluffy Siberian Huskies, who (mostly) put up with me trying new collar, leash, and harness ideas on them to see how it would look/fit and what needed changing to be more comfortable for pups. They were endlessly patient (with enough treats and bribery).