Published by Matthew Gustin
10 months ago
Ralphy Dominguez has a turbulent past. He grew up in the Bronx, a district of New York, and came into contact with a drug ring at a very young age. Dominguez was very early made the boss of the New England region and earned over a million dollars a year. But when the authorities found him out, Dominguez landed in prison and had to stay there for several years.
As he told the Entrepreneur.com, he attended a craft course in the penal institution to learn how to process leather. “I found a high therapeutic value when working with my hands,” says Dominguez. When he came out of custody, he wanted to continue using his new knowledge and make it a profession. His business idea was to sew purses from leather residues from sofas and bags.
Because he did not have the necessary capital to start a business, Dominguez sought help from the nonprofit organization Refoundry, which supports former prisoners in the process of building their own businesses. This is how Pen & Pistol originated.
The young entrepreneur sold his first handmade items for a low price on flea markets. Now, the chic wallets are found in luxury boutiques in Manhattan. They are also available through his website. Meanwhile, Ralphy Dominguez has hired two more ex-prisoners to help him.
Dominguez believes that ex-convicts meet the best prerequisites to become successful entrepreneurs. “That hustle was there, that spirit, that thirst for entrepreneurship is there,” Dominguez says. “I think coming from a place where we had nothing and we can only gain — this is really what motivates people coming home from prison.”