The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

Bikes provide leatherworker new opportunity for old skill

Phillip+Sims%E2%80%99+passion+for+bicycles+led+him+to+sell+his+truck+and+ride+his+bike+everywhere.+Photo+by+Martina+M.+Trevi%C3%B1o+%2FThe+Collegian
Phillip Sims’ passion for bicycles led him to sell his truck and ride his bike everywhere. Photo by Martina M. Treviño /The Collegian

By Frankie Farrar-Helm/reporter

While most students soaked up the hot sun at the lake or rode death-defying roller coasters at Six Flags this summer, NE student Phillip Sims used the time off to do what he does best — leatherwork.

From wallets and purses to chaps and guitar straps, Sims does it all. But what he loves to do the most is leatherwork for bicycles.

Growing up on a ranch in Glen Rose, Texas, Sims repaired saddles and made saddlebags for horses.

When he was 22, he and a friend started a business where he did leatherwork full time for three years, learning from seasoned craftsmen. 

When Sims moved to Hurst to go to college, he realized the market for the type of leatherwork he did wasn’t as large as in Glen Rose. Instead, he learned of another market — leatherwork for bicycles.

Phillip Sims’ passion for bicycles led him to sell his truck and ride his bike everywhere. Photo by Martina M. Treviño /The Collegian
Phillip Sims’ passion for bicycles led him to sell his truck and ride his bike everywhere. Photo by Martina M. Treviño /The Collegian

Because of the large cycling community in Dallas-Fort Worth, Sims started Back Pedal Bags, one of the few companies in the country that make customized bags for bikes. He ran the business full time for two years while going to school.

Then he discovered Bikes Inc. in Hurst. He has worked as a bike mechanic in the store since February in addition to Back Pedal Bags.

“I love what I do,” he said. “Working in the bike shop makes me happy because it’s rewarding when a little kid comes in with his bike and I can fix it.”

Sims, now 26, said his life revolves around bicycles.

“I work at a bike shop … I sold my truck at the beginning of this year, and I only ride a bike now,” he said. “I ride to and from work. It’s three miles one way. When I ride to school, it’s seven miles there and seven miles back. And then for fun, we all get together and ride our bikes. I love what my life is now.”

In addition to leatherwork, Sims has a strong interest in photography.

He began learning from associate professor Richard Doherty, who Sims said was an inspiration to him.

“Photography has become something I love,” he said. “Mr. Doherty has instilled in me the want to be a photographer and a teacher. If every teacher was like him, I would never want to leave college.”

Sims also has a passion for music, particularly playing the guitar.

“If I’m having a good day, I play the guitar. If I’m having a bad day, I play the guitar,” he said.

Sims plays 12 instruments, some of them daily. Besides electric, slide, acoustic and bass guitar, he plays the banjo, violin, stand-up bass, mandolin, harmonica, dobro and drums. Recently, Sims discovered the vihuela, a five-string mariachi guitar, which he picks up from time to time as well.

Holli Rae, a classmate and friend of Sims, said she wouldn’t have guessed he was so eclectic.

“I’m blown away by him,” she said. “He’s a man about talent. He plays a million instruments, he’s an amazing photographer … he can do anything.”

Doherty described Sims as energetic, fun-loving and hilarious.

“Phillip is a very hard-working, driven student. He was a role model in his class,” he said. “He is a dedicated, community-minded bicyclist who has strong photographic talents and a great sense of humor. Phillip will succeed at whatever he undertakes.”

Sims said he loves doing things with his hands because of the tangible results he gets from them.

“It’s very rewarding,” he said. “I consider myself a ninja of odd hobbies.”

TCC has made a positive impact on his life, Sims said.

“I freaking love school,” he said. “I’m going to stay in school till they kick me out.”

Donate to The Collegian

Your donation will support the student journalists of Tarrant County College. Your contribution will allow us to purchase equipment and cover our annual website hosting costs.

More to Discover
Donate to The Collegian