Shop Etsy

Day in the Life: Mercy Supply

Jul 29, 2014

by Aleksa Brown handmade and vintage goods

From process and studio photos to Springsteen references and Seinfeld jokes, Michigan-based maker Rusty Zylstra’s Instagram tells the story of his leather goods business – Mercy Supply – with an added dose of personality and fun.

We invited Rusty to take over Etsy’s Instagram and share some behind-the-scenes shots of his day. Check out the results below, as well as exclusive outtakes and the whole story behind his incredible school bus (yes, school bus!) that he turned into a living space.


More about the bus:

“My wife Kait and I occasionally go on trips together on the bus, but it started out with a different purpose. I bought the bus from a church – I believe in 2009 – to remodel into a mobile living and working space. I bolted my sewing machine table right through the floor, built a bunk, a kitchen, and added a wood stove.

“As my business grew, I obviously grew out of the bus. We ended up remodeling it to be more of a traveling motor home-style vehicle. With the help of a friend, we installed a filtration system and centrifuge to be able to roll down the road using vegetable oil instead of fuel. When we can’t find vegetable oil, it runs perfectly sound on diesel.

“Right now, the bus is parked out on some property 25 miles or so away from the shop. We go out there and stay when we need a break from the city, or just want some quiet time with nature. It’s nice to have that wood stove in there on the chilly nights!” – Rusty

Outtakes from Rusty’s day:


“First on the agenda is coffee. Rowster Coffee is usually in my morning routine. Whether I’m brewing it at home or out to grab a cup, it never fails me.”


“The kick press is by far my favorite piece of equipment in the shop. Its design is as beautiful as its functionality.”


“I have a love/hate relationship with using old equipment, but when everything is working, there’s nothing else like it. The stitch quality is unbeatable.”


“We ship anywhere and everywhere. This gives people the chance to enjoy Mercy products all over the world.”


“In the evening my wife and I commute to our home on my motorcycle. A roadside stop is usually in order.”


“Here’s Ishmael lounging on the bus during the evening hours before bed.”

What does a day in your life look like? Show us by uploading a photo to Instagram and including @etsy and #dayinthelife. You could be featured on Etsy’s Blog and Instagram!

All photographs by Kaitlyn Zylstra.


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