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January 25, 2016

Profiles
Leather

TAKE IT FROM A LOCAL: TALKING DETROIT WITH CLINT JACKSON

Profiles
Leather

January 25, 2016

As a lifelong resident of Detroit who watched both his father and grandfather hold jobs in the automotive industry, Clint Jackson never imagined working for a company like Shinola. “Growing up in the city you don’t think this type of job will be here — I just never thought a watch or leather factory would ever be an option,” he says. “It was bred into me. My father and grandfather and everybody I knew were autoworkers, and it’s easy to think your future will revolve around that too.”

Clint is of the many faces behind Shinola’s leather production team inside our 12,000-square-foot leather factory. Read more about his story below.

As a lifelong Detroiter what sort of changes have you noticed in the past few years?

I was born and raised here. I’ve seen the good and the bad, and I still haven’t been one of those residents that just turns their back on the city. I live in Detroit, I work in Detroit, and I never thought I would work in the city, so it’s really important for me to be here.

I think there’s still a long way to go, but I definitely see the changes in the city and it makes me feel proud as a Detroiter that people are finally once again taking an interest in Detroit. We get such a bad rep.

We’re finally getting the recognition that we deserve. We had a head start when we were running the auto industry, and now it’s finally time to see Detroit come along as the world class city I think it’s able to be. I see Shinola going down in Detroit history. Kind of being up there with the automobile industry, I see that happening for Detroit.

Clint inside the leather factory painting watch straps.

How old are you and how did you become interested in working at Shinola?

I’m 26 years old. I first got the call for the watch movement line and hadn’t even heard of Shinola yet. I didn’t pass the dexterity test, but as soon as I had the interview here and the moment I walked through the door, I knew I wanted to work here. I got a call for another interview, so I came into the leather area and from that moment I was on the spot.

I started on the paint line, which means we painted the edge of the watch straps. But last year, they moved me up into the cutting room where I have a little more responsibility, and I work with a team to make sure the quality of the leather is OK. We cut out all the pieces and we get everything set before it hits the line, so when everything hits the line there’s no issues.

Where are your favorite spots in the city?

I like hanging out downtown. I like Kuzzo’s Chicken & Waffles. New Center area is a good spot too. I also like Joes Coney Island, a retail men’s clothing shop on Livernois right where Kuzzo’s is. Punch bowl Social is fun, and I like to go bowling there. I’m very city-oriented, nothing against the suburbs, but we’ve got small businesses that have recently opened in the city that deserve business too. I always encourage others to shop the city and discover it for themselves.

Clint inside the leather factory organizing leather watch straps.

What is your favorite Shinola product?

I like the watches, but I love the bikes. I own a Detroit Arrow and it’s fantastic. I ride through the city all the time, and when people see it they say, ‘Wow, that’s a cool bike’.

I love bike riding. I can wake up and jump on my bike and be to work in ten minutes, and last season I started doing the Slow Roll. I think I went to almost every Slow Roll bike ride.

How did you discover the Arrow?

They let us checkout bikes at work for a few hours at a time, and I checked out a bike one day and I rode it and absolutely loved it! I think I set the record for how many times I’ve checked out a bike at work because I would checkout a bike like everyday and just ride downtown.

I went to the Shinola store and test drove The Detroit Arrow, and it’s also a great riding bike that’s a little bit less expensive. Detroit is a flat city, so we don’t need all the gears, and a single speed like The Arrow is perfect for me.

Clint owns The Detroit Arrow, and rides his bike to work in the summer months.

Who is your role model?

My mom. I think she did a great job raising five kids. All of our names start with the letter ‘C’: Christopher, Clint, Cashious, Cortez, and Cianna. Our family dog’s name is Ceasar and he’s an American Bully.

What is one of your favorite memories from growing up in the city?

I met Clint Eastwood. He was shooting Gran Torino in my neighborhood in 2007. They were filming for over a month—they setup on five or six blocks. My grandma loves his movies, and he came out one time and I asked him for his autograph. He was like, ‘Sure, no problem. What’s your name young fellow?’, and I told him, and he said, “Cool name,” and signed it for me. 

This interview is part of a new series called JOBS that highlights the people that make Shinola tick. Find their stories here on The Journal or on our Jobs page

Nearly all of Shinola Products are Built in the US with US or Imported Parts

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