Amazon brings renaissance for Reed’s leather goods in Detroit

Made in U.S, sales soar as Reed restructures their website to give customers the choice to purchase in their Amazon store.

3 min
May 2, 2024

Reed, known for their high-quality leather jackets crafted in the U.S., was on the brink of collapse in the early 2000s. Their Michigan operation was losing upwards of a million dollars a year when the new CEO Nati Mazor was brought on board to save the company. There was one condition to any plan Mazor might suggest, and it was written in the founders’ trust: “Reed must stay in Detroit.”

Reed was created by two Holocaust survivors, Mr. Silver and Mr. Reed, in 1950. The brothers-in-law immigrated to the United States in 1948 after World War II, setting up shop in a basement in Detroit with their wives, who were sisters. They used their leatherworking skills to build their “American Dream"-and build it they did, said Mazor. That same year, their craftsmanship was noticed by a buyer for a large retailer who loved their product and gave them their first big order for 300 jackets.

Silver and Reed built the company from that one order to selling jackets in more than 11,000 retailers at the company’s height. They were running two full factories in the U.S, and had one motto, “put the employees and the workers first.”

“That’s the story of Reed,” said Mazor. “Every company has a soul — the soul of this company is our workers, the employees.” That was how the owners left it and how it was intended to carry on, he said, for the generations that would follow in Detroit.

But the owners couldn’t foresee what was about to come for the U.S. economy after they passed on.

Across America during the 1980s and 90s, small retailers were closing, making way for larger department stores. By 2000, competition was steep and during the recession “fast fashion” was winning with consumers. Incrementally, Reed’s large retail orders were drying up. It was a far cry from where the company was in the 1960s and 70s. Something had to give.

Mazor knew he couldn’t outsource like other companies— he was committed to keeping Reed’s soul in Detroit. So he restructured, moving the business to a smaller facility and began “looking for the right partners to help the company grow back to the right spot,” he said. Amazon was one of those partners.

“With Amazon, if you have the right product, if you have the right approach, there’s no glass ceiling. You can market it, you can sell it, you can display it,” said Mazor. “It’s a big opportunity for small businesses.”


“Every company has a soul — the soul of this company is our workers, the employees,” says Nati Mazor, CEO of Reed.

Buying leather goods in retail is natural, said Mazor. You can feel the quality of the leather and see the craftsmanship of the stitch. Buying an expensive leather piece without physically inspecting it is a barrier for many consumers-but not with Amazon.

“Amazon gave that trust to customers to feel comfortable buying leather online,” said Mazor. Seeing the confidence buyers have with Amazon, Mazor switched the company’s website to point back to their Amazon store. Customers can now research on the Reed website and purchase on Amazon with one click.

It’s an approach that’s working, said Mazor, as the company is tracking conversions. “I always tell retailers to try to work with Amazon because it actually builds your brand and builds your presence— especially if you’re a small business,” he said.

Reed is now using tools like Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA) to help them scale quickly when needed. FBA is an optional service that businesses like Reed can elect to use. Instead of spending time processing orders, handling customer inquiries and managing returns, Amazon fulfillment specialists do that for them. It allows Mazor to “grow Reed the right way,” he said, focusing on hiring long-term staff local to Detroit.

“FBA gives us that scale, that if tomorrow one of my products is doing a home run, it goes to FBA and FBA can ship it all over the world. It’s amazing,” he explained. “We use all the tools Amazon gives us to scale our business without increasing our risk of doing business and increasing our operating expenses.”

In the 12 years since Reed opened their Amazon store, they’ve seen their sales shift towards Made in the U.S. and sold online. Their Amazon store has helped the company build a more distributed income mix between retail and wholesale. When they first started, 90% of sales were large, wholesale customers, now, 90% of sales are retail, direct-to-consumers.

“Amazon was the renaissance for us,” said Mazor. “Amazon has the best customers out there. If we can keep our Amazon customers happy, we should be able to grow.”

Tags and related tags:
Innovative capabilities