American Entrepreneur | Paul Scheiter

St. Louis, Missouri

Hedgehog Leatherworks

Embrace the wild.  It’s the first covenant of Paul Scheiter’s business, Hedgehog Leatherworks. It’s also the way he lives his life.  On the surface Hedgehog Leatherworks seems to be simply a company that makes leather sheaths. That is what they do, but it’s not all that they are.

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Paul Scheiter, founder of Hedgehog Leatherworks, in one of his boyhood stomping grounds outside St. Louis, Missouri.

Paul wants to change the lives of as many people as possible, by allowing them to experience nature and the wild in the same way he experiences it: without fighting, without conquering or muscling through.  Hedgehog embraces the idea that we can all be a part of the woods.  The irony, Paul explained, is that embracing the wild is the most comfortable way to be in the outdoors. The more you resist, he says, the more tension you create.  Could we use this metaphor for business? Should we, as entrepreneurs, embrace the wild? Choose the path of least resistance?

Paul maintains that this core value helps him align a good team at Hedgehog.  Not only do his employees need to be capable of doing the work, but they also need to understand and practice an ‘embrace the wild’ mentality.  Paul said, "They need to be fans of the brand before they can truly come in and grow our brand."

Most companies say thatthey stand for good quality products and strong customer service, but these values are generic.  We do business in a world where that is not enough.  Paul knows that generic business values don’t have substance and don’t truly explain who he is and what Hedgehog stands for.  As entrepreneurs, we all need to be very specific in how we self-define, so that we can build a brand and build a tribe.  Paul gets this.

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Paul models using a Hedgehog Leatherworks sheath.

Paul brought Hedgehog Leatherworks to life while attending the undergraduate program in entrepreneurship at St. Louis University's Center for Entrepreneurship at the John Cook School of Business. The program is known for its practical approach to teaching business and it is also behind the Global Student Entrepreneurship Awards (GSEA), which recognizes full-time students that are also full-time business owners. In 2006 Paul placed 2nd in the competition out of roughly 300 international submissions from around the world.

Placing in the GSEA put Paul into networking circles where he eventually met fellow entrepreneur and author of The Toilet Paper Entrepreneur, Mike Michalowicz.  Their values meshed. They hit it off. Ultimately, Mike's firm became an investor in Hedgehog Leatherworks. (As a side note, The Toilet Paper Entrepreneur is a supporter of the American Entrepreneur Project!)

Less than a year later, here we are, chatting about business with Paul and listening to his advice. Paul encouraged other entrepreneurs to be focused, to look for the first step, take it, and then look for the next step.

The first step is the hardest, in life and in business. You can’t get caught up in anxiety so much that you don’t make the first step.  Doing it once, you realize that it wasn’t so scary.  And after a while, Paul told us, you get acclimated to experiencing that fear.  Now he knows that fear means that he is on the verge of breaking through to the next step.  And in this way, he’s embracing the wild of entrepreneurship.

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Paul shows us how to start a fire.

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We want Paul on our team! Read more about The Way of Hedgehog at the Hedgehog Leatherworks Website.

An Intimate Portrait of the American Entrepreneur Project is sponsored in part by the automated marketing gurus at Infusionsoft

and is championed by the spirited zeal of The Toilet Paper Entreprenuer and TPEs across the universe.