By Amanda Kuhnert
“We are growing very rapidly,” said Amanda Farrell, who co-owns Bergamot Amor, a Williamstown-based leather goods company, with her partner Peter Shangraw. “We’ve shocked almost everyone, including ourselves.” The company produces made-in-Vermont bags and gear using U.S.-sourced boot leather.
Amanda, who grew up in East Montpelier, was laid off from her marketing job in the early months of the pandemic. “I had gone to college for fine art,” she said. “So that’s when I leaned into painting.” Peter, who ran an upholstery business out of his home in Williamstown, commissioned Amanda 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 Amanda’s art supplies. When it was complete, Amanda shared a photo of the bag on Facebook. And that’s how it all began.
Three years later Amanda and Peter are running a highly successful retail business. “Sales have tripled in the past year,” Peter said. Both Amanda and Peter had strong followings on social media prior to their new business venture, which allowed their growth to happen naturally, albeit quickly, with 3,000 orders within the first 12 months. Sales also benefited from a mid-Covid launch, when everyone was shopping online, Amanda said. Their products, which can be purchased via their website or showroom, are now in every state and several countries.
In 2022 they were invited to be one of 20-plus vendors representing Vermont at the Big E, a multi-state fair. “We got picked again this year and negotiated a two-year contract,” Amanda 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 that they converted into a workshop and a brick building on Route 14, which houses 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,” Amanda 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 donates a substantial portion of their profits to local charities and families in need. For more info: bergamotamor.com.
Early in their business journey, Amanda and Peter began working with Scott Holson, an advisor from the Vermont Small Business Development Center (VtSBDC). “Scott’s advising has kept us focused and feeling calm during some of the most rapid growth spurts we’ve had to date,” Amanda said. “His direction and pointed knowledge have kept us grounded, organized, and truly focused on our goals. We couldn’t be where we are without him.”
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