Friday, June 26, 2015
On the heels of our latest brick-and-mortar shop, now open on South Main Street in Ann Arbor, we sat down with Kevin Pearson and Eric Hardin—founders of downtown menswear mecca, Today Clothing—to get their take on the must-try-see-and-do destinations in and around their fair city.
Thursday, June 18, 2015
Kent and Lee Begnaud are the husband and wife duo behind Leather Works Minnesota. In honor of the National Day of Making (today), and in the spirit of our Makers Monday interview series, we asked them six questions about their products and what it means to be an American Maker. Check out Shinola’s Double Wrap Bracelet made by Leather Works Minnesota, and discover more Makers on the Makers Monday website.
What is it you make, and what should people know about your products?
We’re just interested in being happy. We like the small family business atmosphere where we all know each other and get along really well. We love how the European companies do it where it’s the same people who’ve been running a family business for a couple hundred years. It doesn’t need to become this massive corporation. Here in America we sort of think “bigger, bigger, bigger,” or “more, more, more.” We find that people get unhappy really fast when they try to do too much but we’re pretty happy with where we are.
Our focus is on small leather goods. Personally, I don’t like fabrics in wallets. That’s usually the first thing that wears out. I’m not saying we’ll never put a fabric in a wallet but a lot of times, it’ll look really nice when you buy it and six months later it’s falling apart. We definitely don’t want to be a part of that group.
We typically use a heavier leather on our products than you usually get out of the store. My wife has a saying she coined: ‘with our stuff, the ugliest it will look is the day you buy it because the more you use it the better it gets.’ You know, with most products it’s the other way around.
It’s also important we tell our customers where get our leather from. We get all of our leather from the Red Wing Shoe Tannery and people love the fact that the leather is made in the same place and some of it is the exact same leather that they are already wearing in their boots.
When did you commit to making your products in America and why did you choose to do it here?
Well, with the first leather shop that I worked for, it was a very healthy company; it was doubling every three years and our last year we were probably doing $12 million. So it was doing well, everybody was happy, but when the new owners bought it they had investors and of course they just wanted more money. So they took this American company that was perfectly healthy and took it to China so they could get more money.
So when that happened, I told Lee, ‘I’m going to bring it back to America, I’m going to start my own!’ So it was me and my old $300 sewing machine out in the garage sewing. Now we have four people that work for us and I’m so happy with the size. I don’t really have any dreams to grow; we could probably double if we wanted to, but I don’t want to. We’ll see what the future hold but I think to control the quality and the relationships we have with each other, I like the way it is.
Where is your business located, and what makes your town uniquely American?
We’re in St. Paul, Minnesota. It’s kind of a low-key, laid back area that has just gotten more and more popular over the last few years. They just revitalized the 1920s Union Depot Station so they are running trains again. They put in a light rail system now. They also just built the new Saint’s stadium and that’s like an AA size stadium. It’s just a few blocks over from us here, it’s beautiful.
Between that, the new restaurants and all the artists, it’s pretty good. All the buildings are filled with artists, they are just artists’ lofts; you have to be an artist to live here or work here. Or you have to pretend to be one.
What got you started, and what was the first thing you remember making?
Back in the late 1970s, a friend of mine from high school had a great leather shop just up the street from here. I used to work for him and it was just he and I. He was a really good businessman; he turned it into a multimillion-dollar corporation and we had about 50 employees. In ‘97 he sold the company and I was managing the manufacturing at the time. In ‘99 the new owners took all of the manufacturing and went offshore with it, taking it all to China.
At that time I had a little empty garage in our backyard and we turned that into our shop. I just started making handbags and wallets and stuff. About 4 years ago, the men’s products really caught on so since then and because of social media, it’s been growing ever since. It’s been everywhere!
When you’re not busy at work, where might we find you? What do you like to do with your spare time?
Exploring Lowertown, definitely! They have a long-standing farmer’s market that’s right across the street from us that’s been going on for years on the weekends. It’s a really great place to be. That’s Lee’s happy place: the farmer’s market.
Lowertown is really the art district of St. Paul. We’re in our third year here but since 1999 we’ve been working out of our backyard. There are a lot of great musicians down here and all that so it’s just a really happening place.
Are there other brands and makers that inspire you?
I like Tanner Goods, and there’s this guy from Japan and his business is called Dulles Club; I want to go work for that guy. It’s a one-man show. He makes handmade, leather doctor bags and different custom cases and I’ve never seen finer work than what he’s doing! He even makes the hardware for his stuff like the brass for the handle. It’s amazing.
Just imagine like the most amazing, most creative piece of sushi, and that’s what he does with leather. Every stitch, every… every piece is just amazing. He makes his own tools that he makes the leather with.
Thursday, June 18, 2015
Shinola's partner project with Jocks & Nerds continues this weekend with the latest installment of our Community of Craft Pop-Up Series, featuring Bellerby & Co. Globemakers.
Monday, June 15, 2015
With Father’s Day just a week away it’s time to get serious about your gifting strategy. And we want you to think outside the tie.
This year, give your father the gift he’ll eventually give to his grandchildren.
Tools, two wheels, and timepieces, built to last.
Thursday, June 4, 2015
Twin Magazine has teamed up with Shinola to bring a bit of Motor City over to London. In celebration of Twin's 12th issue, our soho shop is hosting a release party featuring the iconic work of Detroit-born photographer Don Hudson. Their 12th edition is all about attitude, and in this archival collection, Hudson captures soulful spirit and enduring attitude of the city and people of Detroit.
Tuesday, May 12, 2015
For Shinola’s latest release, we tapped the critical eye of early brand adopter and watch enthusiast, Peter von Panda, for his take on our new Rambler GMT watch.
Friday, May 8, 2015
“A single speed reminds us was how simple it was when you were a child to jump on a bike and experience freedom and liberation. Getting away from your parents, or whatever.” — Sky Yaeger
Friday, December 19, 2014
Vintage furniture store Beall & Bell is one of New York’s best kept secrets. Located in Greenport, Beall & Bell is incredible for finding vintage furniture, and is located near the Greenport Farmers Market, with local produce, meats and cheeses—make it a day trip.
Friday, December 19, 2014
Along the Hudson by Flickr user James V. DiBianco Jr.
Artist Brice Marden and his wife Helen bought the old Madalin Hotel in Tivoli, NY, gave it a revamp, and just reopened the doors to guests. The historic hotel is the perfect holiday getaway. When you plan your trip to this Upstate destination, look the part with these seven wardrobe must-haves.
Monday, December 1, 2014
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