Business Reviews

Starz Custom Leather & More - Independence, Missouri

Written by  May 31, 2008

So wadda ya do when the zipper breaks on your leather jacket or that snap at the bottom of your chaps finally gives out? Do you try fixing it yourself before giving up and trudging down to the local leather store to shell out a few hundred dollars for some new duds? If you're made out of money, that may be an option; however, for those of us who aren't so lucky, or are sentimentally attached to those old leathers that have protected us for thousands of miles in the saddle and are just starting to get broken in, it's nice to know you have a better and far less expensive option. Just pick up the phone and call Betty 'Boop' Ford at Starz Custom Leathers & More in Independence, Missouri.

Over the years I've sought out Betty's expertise on numerous occasions, such as when the stitching came apart on my leather saddlebags. Naturally, this happened just a few days before getting ready to head to Sturgis, so I thought I was probably out of luck, but the stars (or rather the Starz) must have been aligned, because while talking to Betty on the phone, she reassured me it shouldn't be a problem and to run them by and she'd be happy to take a look. Not only did she get me in right away, but being a fellow biker and knowing I was in somewhat of a predicament, she fixed them right there while I waited. Now that's what I call service! That's also when I told Betty that someday I'd like to interview her for our magazine and share my experience with our readers. A few weeks ago I finally had that opportunity while dropping off my girlfriend's leather purse for Betty to repair.

CC: Betty, how did you get into the leather repair business?
Betty: My husband Bob 'Soulman' Ford and I had started riding in 2000 and we needed a snap replaced on a jacket. We couldn't find anyone to fix it, and since I've sewn since high school and I knew I could do repairs myself, I started doing small repairs for our family who ride with us and realized I needed to start getting paid for this service. I customized my leathers with stars and lots of white fringe, and more and more people wanted alterations and custom work. We made up business cards and started going to every motorcycle event we could to pass them out. It took a while, but I now have many customers who have become friends, and I love what I do.

CC: How long have you been in business, and have you always worked out of your home?
Betty: I started my official business in 2002, and I now have four sewing machines and a commercial embroidery machine. I love working from home. As business picked up, we thought of getting a small shop somewhere, but I needed to have some flexibility to take care of my dad, and we like to ride whenever possible. This way I have the best of both worlds.

CC: Since you work out of your home, do you keep normal business hours?
Betty: I try to be available at my customer's convenience. I'm available days and evenings or weekends by appointment. Just give me a call and we'll arrange a time to meet.

CC: How did you come up with the name Starz Custom Leather & More?
Betty: It was easy to pick the name Starz, because my maiden name was Starr, and it just worked out great.

CC: What all services do you offer?
Betty: I do leather alterations on jackets, chaps, vests, or whatever you need done. I can do snap repairs, replace zippers, replace linings, and replace eyelets. I can make you that one-of-a-kind embroidered patch, such as a special nickname patch, and can also make patches for your club's special ride. I also make leather tank and fender bibs, all with embroidery. I've done everything from home decor in a log home in Kansas to making a leather tuxedo. If you have something that needs done, I will do my best to make it for you.

CC: What makes your business stand out in your industry?
Betty: One thing I offer my customers is to make them one individual patch, small or large, and I can make many patches. I have no quantity requirements. I strive to do my repairs as quickly as possible and I always want you to be satisfied or I'll make it right for you.

CC: Where do most of your customers come from?
Betty: Most of my customers come from word of mouth and recommendations from local leather shops.

CC: How do you keep your customers coming back?
Betty: I think doing quality work and getting things done quickly has helped. Also, most of my customers have become close friends.

CC: Do you offer any specials or promotions?
Betty: I do offer quantity discounts.

CC: What was the biggest obstacle in starting your business?
Betty: My biggest obstacle was learning to work with and stitch leather. There just weren't many resources around. Most of what I do, I taught myself.

CC: What is the biggest change in business you've seen the past few years?
Betty: I'm doing more patches and leather repair these days and less leather customization.

CC: What do you and your husband ride?
Betty: My husband Bob has a 2006 Polar White Harley-Davidson Ultra Classic and I have a 2004 Suzuki Volusia. I started riding my own in 2004 and love it. If you see a white bike with lots of white fringe and leather added to it, then it's me.

CC: Being a biker yourself, what is the biggest change you've seen in the past few years in regards to motorcycling?
Betty: I love seeing more women riding their own bikes. And I see much more acceptance for us women riders.

CC: Do you participate in bike shows or other motorcycle events?
Betty: I don't do many events anymore, because it's hard to transport my sewing machine all around, and we like to spend our weekends riding and having fun.

CC: Do you sponsor or participate in local charity rides and events?
Betty: I set up and sew at the Bikers with a Mission Ride at the City Union Mission every year. I also support Bikers Against Child Abuse (B.A.C.A.).

CC: Is there anything else you would like to share with our readers about your business?
Betty: My goal is 100% customer satisfaction by offering quality service and affordable prices.

So there you have it! For all your leather repair, customization, and embroidery needs, call Betty 'Boop' Ford at (816) 796-9817 or (816) 550-4807. You can also contact her via e-mail at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., and make sure to check out her website at www.starzleather.com.

By Mike Schweder