Bill Garne '85 and his wife Lilo Navales founded Leather Goods of Spain in 1997.
"My wife is from Spain and her family has been in the leather business for over 100 years. While traveling to visit relatives we decided to take a risk and bring unique leather goods to the United States," says Garne. The company started off small, but in no time began adding travel luggage, fashion accessories and custom orders.
"We have the ability to produce custom leather goods in almost any shape or size. We work with an idea from the client to create the final tangible product," says Garne. Many of the custom made products are incorporated into the company's main line and sold to their retail community.
"We work with about eight or nine different countries. Not only do we have leather goods from Spain, but scarves made of silk and polyester from Germany and Italy, alpaca shawls from Peru, key rings and other small items from the Philippines, and men’s silk ties handmade in Hong Kong," says Garne.
In 2009, The Kentucky Derby/Churchill Downs contracted Leather Goods of Spain to produce leather travel bags for the owners, trainers and jockey of each horse participating in the Derby, as well as the Kentucky Oaks, a race run for fillies the day before the Derby. In 2012, a major marketing company representing Abbott Pharmaceuticals, a Fortune 100 company, requested 330 travel bags for their annual President’s Club meeting in Playa del Carmen, Mexico. "We have small companies that will buy $1,000 to $2,000 worth of products a year, and then we have the Kentucky Derby. One of our best clients is Keeneland Racetrack and Thoroughbred Sales in Lexington, Kentucky," says Garne. Other clients include, PepsiCo, The Boston Celtics, Tufts University, Maisons Marques and Domaines (a leading US wine importer) and Societe General, one of the largest banks in France.
Traveling and staying active is something Garne and his wife Lilo are extremely passionate about. "My wife and I travel often for business. While we travel, we try to make it personal and take in the culture around us," says Garne. Garne thinks back to his time at Radford when he was exposed to different cultures. "I met other students from different states and around the world. Each one of them gave me a different perspective on life. Having the chance to meet other students and taking what I learned from them and Radford University has helped me become more successful," says Garne.