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CONTENT

Ashley Sullivan | In Her Own Words

Ben Ashby

ASHLEY SULLIVAN

IN HER OWN WORDS

 


I grew up in Maryland, a sort of grounded daydreamer. I have always been creative, so I decided that I would study interior design. In school I learned a lot about the foundations of design, processes, and shaping space. I have always drawn inspiration from the seasons, natural light, textures—and their contrast. I love linens and silks, birch bark, flower petals, worn cobblestones...anything I can find pattern and texture in inspires me.

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I started a blog five years ago as a creative outlet for my design and began experimenting more with photography. I spent time developing my technical and composition skills and finding my own style. Today I specialize in food, still life, and travel photography.

 

I've always been filled with a global curiosity, and I feel most alive when traveling and exploring the world. I'm fascinated by foreign cultures and traditions and how people live. The details and textures that can be found while traveling are amazingly intricate, if you take the time to notice. I use these details like puzzle pieces in my design, each one an important element in the final product.

 

My husband, our bulldog Kane, and I recently relocated to Minneapolis. We're thrilled about the adventure, and although the winters are a lot to bear, there is a vibrancy to the culture here. I've made some great friends in the creative community, and am energized by the maker spirit. I started a series on my blog about Minnesota makers with trades like glassblowing, leather-working, woodworking, and painting. There are many fantastic goods that are made right here in our community, and I love sharing their stories.

 

In addition to having a deep passion for travel, I have a great yearning for the calm life at home. Slow mornings with coffee and a good book or sunny afternoons with an open bottle of wine. I love throwing on Frank Sinatra and creating a meal with my husband...these are the moments that make up our lives, and I think being intentional about how we spend our moments is truly important.

 

— www.ashley-sullivan.com

Wales on Film

Ben Ashby

 

WALES ON FILM

A PHOTO ESSAY BY CHRIS BUXTON

 


 

Wales is the mountainous western cousin of England, a Celtic link to the past with over 1,180 km or 730 mi for us using the imperial system of coastline, and 50 islands decorating it. Boasting three national parks and the Heritage Coast, Wales is an untapped land of adventure. Chris Buxton, a lifestyle photographer based in Wales in the United Kingdom, uses 35mm film for most of his practice. He relies on film to achieve a feeling that digital cameras can't capture naturally.

 

 

 

Living in Wales, he'd never really travelled around the Welsh landscape and finally decided to explore it with his second set of eyes, his camera. "I was very shocked by how beautiful this country truly is," says Chris, "it has shown me that everyone needs to explore their own homes to see where they're truly from." Chris tries to capture the natural and inner beauty of the landscape of his homeland and put it on the maps of like-minded soul-searchers and explorers hoping to find a new destination and a new adventure.

 

 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Woolrich | American Made

Christophe Chaisson

STORY: HEATH STILTNER | PHOTOGRAPHY: BEN ASHBY | BOOTS: WOOLRICH

CAMERA: FUJI X100F

Just after the American revolution, but before the Civil War, the Great Depression, two world wars, and the Cold war, rural north-central Pennsylvania was little more than a largely spread out collection of family farms that collectively formed small communities. The United States was a small nation of only 24 states, only slightly developed, and surround by wilderness completely. It was in one of these small communities that one of America’s oldest heritage companies planted its roots. When John Rich II boarded a ship in Liverpool early in the nineteenth century, it’s doubtful he could’ve ever imagined that his voyage to the land of opportunity and entrepreneurship would allow him to build such a lasting legacy but today the family tradition and the mill still stand, a testament to the 183 year-old and oldest-running woolen mill in the U.S.

In 1830, When John Rich II moved from a small community near Philadelphia to the north-central community of Little Plum Run, Pennsylvania, the area was little more than the typical landscape of family farms and lumbering communities. The son of a wool carder – the process by which wool fibers are straightened – Rich had migrated to the U.S. years earlier with a great depth of knowledge about the wool industry. It was using this knowledge that he first began his career in operating woolen mills in Mill Hall before moving to Little Plum Run to join his business partner Daniel McCormick where they would begin the legacy that is Woolrich. Little Plum Run acted as the perfect beginning for the young upstart, so much so in fact that by the fourth year they had outgrown the small community. With a growing production demand, the limited access to water power for their growing factory operation forced Rich and McCormick to relocate the mill to a nearby community called Chatham Run in 1834.

The Pine Creek Township began development first with the establishment of a sawmill that would build three log homes for the Rich family and their mill employees, along with a three-story brick woolen mill factory measuring thirty-five feet by fifty-five feet. In 1843 Rich bought McCormick’s interest in the company, becoming the sole proprietor and going on to turn the township into Woolrich, PA, the home to eight generations of the Rich family who still own and operate the company today. From that point, the community around Woolrich sprang to life, with several generations of Rich’s starting community housing, the Woolrich Community United Methodist church in 1868, and the iconic mile-long drive into town lined with 50-foot pines planted by members of that church after the unfortunate passing of M. B. Rich in 1930. The Woolrich community is one that seems untouched by modern industry, still made up of the families who have worked the mills for generations, along with Rich and Brayton families.

The Rich family has always controlled the company in one way or another and the current president, Nick Brayton, and vice president Joshua Rich, are no exceptions as they represent the seventh and eighth generations of the Rich family. Nick’s father Roswell Brayton, Jr. was a sixth generation Rich whose parents, Roswell Brayton, Sr. and Catherine Rich, moved from Rhode Island back to Woolrich, PA. in 1953. Robert F. Rich, great-grandson to founder John Rich, had asked that his daughter Catherine move to Woolrich with two-year-old Brayton, Jr. so that Brayton, Sr. could help run the woolen mill and modernize the factory. Brayton, Jr. grew up in the community of Woolrich and recalled in his opening letter to Woolrich: 175 Years of Excellence that his childhood was filled with memories of sneaking into the woolen mill with his cousin John William Rich and jumping from one 500-pound bale of wool to another while sneaking by the factory watchman.

Brayton, Jr. passed unexpectedly in 2007, leaving the Woolrich legacy in the hands of his son and the 7th generation of the Rich family, Nick Brayton. In 2010, Nick and his cousin and 8th generation Rich, Joshua Rich, started to take up ownership of the Woolrich, Inc. company together. “Throughout my college career I never planned to be the President of Woolrich,” Nick admits. “I grew up in the factory like my father, but I remember how late he had to work and how frustrated it made him sometimes. I had boiled it down to just that thought, and like most kids in my situation I guess I thought that wasn’t what I wanted.” However, when Nick was asked to take up the position, he knew it was the right decision for him and for Woolrich. 

Since taking up control of Woolrich, Nick and his cousin Josh have started the transition into bringing some of Woolrich’s most popular items back to domestic manufacturers. “We’ve always woven our own wool here at the mill,” Josh says, “but in the late 80s and early 90s we had to start manufacturing some of our most popular items abroad to keep up with market demands. Now, we’re working to bring back some of those most classic items back, like the Woolrich Buffalo Plaid Shirt Jac.” Josh and Nick enlisted the help of their popular Italian branch and Executive Vice President Patrick Nebiolo to help bring back to light that iconic American heritage past the company is known for.

The last couple of years have seen tremendous growth for the company in finding a new younger audience in heritage-minded Generation Y. “We started taking our shirts and blankets to Penn State tailgating events and realized we had a whole new audience that was aware of our company history and standards, they’re now some of our best clients,” says Leah Dole, Woolrich’s marketing and advertising director. Leah has started collecting swatches of the company’s past through archiving customer’s antique and vintage Hunting Shirt Jacs. 

“We want to keep the stories of everyone’s history with Woolrich alive. Those stories are so much a part of our community here,” Nick explains, “we have families that have worked here for generations. That’s the great thing about our products too, not only can a grandson have the same style Shirt Jac that his grandfather wore hunting, but he can inherit it.” The Woolrich family and company are still very much alive in Woolrich, PA. With its iconic pine-tree-lined mile-drive into town and 1830s mill, the town stands as a gleaming example of American industry and its lasting quality.

A Focus on the Human Element | Jeyson Paez

Christophe Chaisson

When it comes to portrait photographers Texan Jeyson Paez is in a land of his own. To learn more about Jeyson and his work I asked Christophe to sit down with the man behind the portraits.

 

Christophe: When did you first become interested in photography?

Jeyson: I was really young, I can't remember the exact age. But I always knew that I wanted to express myself in a creative and interesting way. I was always captured by the beauty of images and the stories they could tell. That translated into my interest in being behind the camera as a photographer, so I could be the one behind the stories. 

C: Were you self-taught or did you learn in school/from a mentor?

J:I took a class at a community college covering the basics of photography. I was taught how to properly use a camera, but the imagination is inherent in me. I was ready to learn things on my own, and I knew that I needed more hands-on practice. 

C: How did you develop your style?

J: I'm not sure if I've locked down a style yet. My work is about the people, and they inspire me in a different way every time. 

C: What themes do you explore through your work?

J: There are two themes in all of my work: the personal and the professional. My personal is more visceral and candid; I like to put a focus on the human element. It's a little more free, and the story comes naturally. It's definitely more intimate and honest. Professional is more polished and stylized--I know the photo is for a specific purpose, and there's more structure to it. 

C: How do you find and choose your subjects or locations?

J: I find most of the models I work with on Instagram, and sometimes they find me. When choosing, I veer towards someone who (I think) can give me more of a personal connection to the photos I'm taking. I like to make my personal work feel as real as possible. For locations, I do this the old-fashioned way. I drive and bookmark the unusual or unique spots around my city! 

C: What inspires your work?

J:The people and their stories. That's where the appeal of an image comes from, and that's why I picked up a camera in the first place.

C: How do you compose an image? Do you go into the shoot with a specific shot in mind, or does the inspiration strike when you place your model in the setting?

J: It always depends on the subject. I think not knowing how things will go in a shoot is the most exciting part because it creates this unique experience for me and the models I work with. We are walking into the unknown, and that's how I can capture emotion and vulnerability. With my current project, ROOMS, I sometimes don't even know what the actual room is going to look like until I'm with the model the day of the shoot.

C: What has been your biggest lesson learned through creating your art?

J: Whatever you create or do, always make sure you're doing it for yourself. I sometimes push the limit and it may not be the popular choice, but I know what images matter the most to me. I'll always focus on that. 

C: What do you hope your art says to people?

J: That life is a beautiful mess.

C: Why did you choose your craft(photography)

J: I've always gravitated towards photography since I was very young, and it felt like the only option for me to express myself creatively. 

C: How hard was it to become profitable at it?

J: I'll let you know once I find out! 

C: Any suggestions to newcomers to the field?

J: Find what gives you the fire, and go for it. It's not going to be an easy journey but if you truly want it, the result will be fulfilling. 

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C: If you couldn’t be doing your craft, what would you do instead?

J: While I can't imagine what life would be like without photography, I know I'd be working with people in some way. Anything I think about has to do with helping people, with inspiring them to be their best self.

C: Any favorite moments of your career so far?

J: My glitter project, Glitter That Portrait, took me places I never could have imagined. It was something so personal to me, and the reception was widely positive. I ended up being featured on Instagram, OUT Magazine and Cosmopolitan. It gave me a platform to expand my photography business. 

C: What would you do differently if you could start from scratch?

J: Honestly, nothing. I am where I am because of what I have gone through, and I can't imagine a different outcome than where I am right now. 

C: Is there a defining moment in your career so far?

J: My current project ROOMS. I've always wanted to explore the internal battle between good and evil, and it was something deeply personal for me. I was afraid to take things too far or make someone uncomfortable, but I took a chance. When the reception was positive, it was the best feeling. I put something so personal and gritty out there, and found that it made so many people feel something.

C: Is there anything you really enjoy in your craft vs another line of work?

J: The connection I can foster with people. The behind-the-scenes conversations make people feel relaxed and comfortable, and I don't think I would find opportunities to get to know people like this with any other job.

C: Biggest pet peeve about the industry?

J: The unrealistic idea of what pretty and perfect looks like. We are all different in how we look, how we act and what we want. That keeps the stories behind the photos unique instead of blending in with each other.

C: Is flannel really always appropriate?

J: It REALLY isn't.

A Southwest Love Affair

Ben Ashby

 

 

Today's photo gallery comes to us from Jordan Ison from Salt Lake City. You may know him better as @jordan_is on Instagram. 

I asked Jordan to share a bit about himself: 

I'm Jordan. I live in Salt Lake City, Utah. Born and raised. I have a love affair with the Southwest Desert. Spent most my life exploring different areas, and learning the history before taking up the camera to photograph it. I love the National Parks, but I love being off the beaten path more. 

I shoot medium format film, iPhone, and digital, in that order. I mostly shoot landscapes and portraiture with some lifestyle photography mixed in. 

Other things; I read a lot. I travel a lot. I eat a lot. I drink a lot of coffee. I lift heavy things. 

These photos are from Lake Powell and Lower Antelope Canyon.

 


PHOTOGRAPHY: JORDAN ISON

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

The Fog Lay Low

Ben Ashby

 

THE FOG LAY LOW

A JOURNEY THROUGH ISLAND

 


 

Iceland is a beautiful country of long roads and waterfalls. The fog lay low on the mountains during our visit, making it feel exactly how I hoped it would feel. The atmosphere was contagious.  I'll never forget the awe that I felt surrounding each landscape.

PHOTOGRAPHY ESSAY BY: NATHAN O'MALLY

SHOT USING AN IPHONE


 

 

Iceland is a beautiful country of long roads and waterfalls. The fog lay low on the mountains during our visit , making it feel exactly how I hoped it would feel. The atmosphere was contagious.  I'll never forget the awe that I felt surrounding each landscape.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

PHOTOGRAPHY ESSAY BY: NATHAN O'MALLY

Meet the Maker | Aviate

Ben Ashby

By now you've probably seen at least one or two people wearing those airport code hats. Have you ever wondered where or why they're made? I was curious...so I went straight to the maker to find out why they've become so darn popular. 

Aviate, a lifestyle brand based out of Birmingham, Alabama crafting signature travel products around the three letter airport codes. For millions of travelers, these airport codes evoke memories of journeys past, adventures ahead and the comfort of returning home.

Aviate was founded in 2015 on the idea of encouraging explorers to Play Hard & Travel Often. It has since established itself as a must-have travel accessory with its signature three letter airport code hats turning lazy hair days into hometown-pride staples. The first Aviate hats were produced in Founder Ben Lancaster’s home city of Birmingham, AL with the BHM airport code. Only 100 samples were made and they sold out in under two days. The company has since expanded into 500 retail locations across the country and offering more than 100 codes for cities ranging from Key West, Florida to Honolulu, Hawaii.

At Aviate, The Motto “Play Hard. Travel Often.” Is more than just a catchy tagline – it’s a way of life. And true to the brand’s unofficial motto, to work even harder, Aviate doesn’t plan to rest its laurels solely on the success of their hats – no matter how many thousands more they may sell. Aviate is the place where community takes off! They pride themselves on being a giveback brand, working with organizations such as Make –A- Wish Alabama, The Exceptional Foundation, and His Hands Mission.  In 2017 alone, Aviate has donated over 15,000 hats across the United States and around the world. 

To continue the discussion we asked the team behind Aviate a few questions about business

WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE ASPECT OF SHARING AVIATE WITH OTHERS: Though the concept is simple, the idea of the brand is deeper. Aviate is a good way to identify with your community. Everyone takes pride in where they’re from, or where they’ve been, or where they want to travel to, and the airport code identifier is what we use to help build community.

WHAT IS THE GREATEST LESSON THE COMPANY HAS LEARNED: Much of Aviate’s success in the past two years is due to our commitment to doing whatever was necessary to get the brand off the ground. However, the greatest lesson was to be sure to align ourselves with positive relationships that had our best interests. 

WHAT HAS BEEN THE BIGGEST CHALLENGE: Maintaining our success and delivering more products beyond our signature hats. And true to the brand’s unofficial motto to play hard, travel often, and work even harder, Aviate doesn’t plan to rest its laurels on the success of their line of hats- no matter how many thousands more we may sell.

WHAT IS NEXT FOR AVIATE: The brand hopes to extend beyond its current collections in the southwest, northeast, northwest, and midwest. “That just puts the good pressure back on us to reinvent the wheel, reinvent our hat, and always be changing and evolving into ultimate travel brand.” Aviate plans to expand product (luggage & weekender bags) for all travel needs.

USE CODE "FOLK17" FOR 15% OFF YOUR ORDER AT:

— SHOPAVIATE.COM

— @AVIATEBRAND

PHOTOGRAPHY SHOT WITH FUJI X100F

Coffee Culture || Kyle Boen

Ben Ashby

I find myself more drawn into Kyle Boen's world by the day! He takes us into scenic and golden world south of the Mason Dixon Line. Photography that captures the current transformation of Nashville and the surrounding area has me excited to follow along. Today I asked him to be part of our Coffee Culture Monday series....

Introduce yourself: My name is Kyle Boen AKA StayFoxx. I live in Nashville, TN.

What is your favorite coffee shop: My favorite coffee shop is Frothy Monkey. There are several locations here in TN and one of the best coffee shops I've been to. 

What is your favorite coffee drink: My favorite coffee drink is a soy vanilla latte. I honestly like the taste of soy milk more than regular milk which is why I get it with soy.

What camera do you use: For my photos I mostly use my iPhone 6s. A DSLR is used on some photos but majority is done through phone.

What makes for a good coffee shop: I think what makes a good coffee shop is the ambience. I'm usually drawn to the more rustic vibes of coffee shops so if you have lots of wood and a fireplace I'm sold.

Give us a photo tip: When it comes to taking a good coffee photo...the key, in my opinion, is keep it simple. Sometimes simple is better.

What city has the best coffee: Obviously Nashville has the best coffee not only because I live here but because there are soo many varieties to choose from around the city. Frothy Monkey is still my "Go To" when I'm feeling like a cup of joe.

— @STAYFOXX

Coffee Culture || Tyler Wendling

Ben Ashby

 

I've known Tyler Wendling for years now. I have followed along on his aesthetic journeys in Michigan. From coffee culture, to lifestyle shoots, to having an eye for the little things in life...Tyler is such a treat to follow. Today we sat down with him to learn a bit more about his love of coffee. 

 

INTRODUCE YOURSELF, PLEASE || Hello, 

My name is Tyler Wendling. I'm a graphic designer, photographer, and stylist living in Grand Rapids, Michigan. I write, design, and photograph for the blog Wendling & Boyd. You can usually find me in the kitchen making some delicious or out having fika with some friends. 

 

 

WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE COFFEE SHOP || My favorite coffee shops is Harless + Hugh up in Bay City because I love the ambiance, the coffee is amazing, and a lot of my friends are from bay city and own the coffee shop. 

 

 

WHAT CAMERA DO YOU SHOOT WITH || I shoot with a Nikon d5200 with a 35 mm lens.

 

WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE COFFEE DRINK || Cortado

 

 

WHY DO YOU LOVE COFFEE CULTURE || I love coffee culture because it brings people together and it's something that is extremely communal. I remember as a kid (at age 4), I'd always drink coffee with my grandparents every morning before our days began. So there's a bit of nostalgia there as well. 

 

 

 

GIVE US A PHOTO TIP || Let your composition breathe. Don't make your picture to cluttered.  

 

WHAT CITY HAS THE BEST COFFEE || Well, I haven't traveled as much as I want to but I'd pick Grand Rapids or Detroit. My blog started at a coffee shop in Detroit. 

 

 

 

WHAT MAKES A GOOD COFFEE SHOP || The ambiance, how warm and welcoming it is, and the coffee. It has to have good quality coffee. 

 

— WENDLINGANDBOYD

 

When It Rains || The Playlist

Ben Ashby

Today has rained and rained. They say its the hurricane coming through. The town is quiet. I sit up on the hill above town watching the showers fall from the sky, bounce off the still lake and sink beneath the surface. The thick forest of oaks and pines in the front yard hang low with hours of watered weight. Candles burn and reflect in the window glass. Wildflowers sit atop a stack of Eurdora Welty's works. This playlist came out of the sounds of rain and the sounds of the thick clouds overhead. My love of Americana runs deep into this playlist. 

A PNW Moment

Ben Ashby

 

Nothing beats the PNW. Sure, you see those 3 letters all over social media, but you really can't grasp the intrigue of this region unless your feet are in the dewy morning grass of Seattle. Waking up to breaking clouds and perfectly roasted coffee will you put you in a zen like state you've never felt before. Prior to a sunset fire on the beach, we worked our way out of the city and into the trees... In a Subaru of course :) Petite coffee shops, old railroads, and running creeks line the windy roads that lead you to a nature like you have never seen. So, grab a ticket, pack a bag, and take your friends to the PNW for the perfect weekend getaway.

PHOTOGRAPHY BY: ADAM SWARTZ

 
 
 

Our Chicago Food Tour

Ben Ashby


A WEEKEND IN CHICAGO

TWO DAYS - FOUR MEALS - ONE CITY

 

A few weeks ago we headed up to Chicago for the weekend. The goal was to visit a few of our favorite restaurants. We managed to get four stops in over the two and a half days in Chicago. I've been trying to figure out what sort of food Chicago is known for...beyond hot dogs I'm not really sure what their signature foods are....but they have a thriving restaurant scene....

 

BERNIE'S LUNCH & SUPPER

Bernie's was a new one for me. Sure I'd seen its wall designs in many an Instagram photo...but I had yet to visit this trendy spot on N. Orleans Street. For our visit to Bernie's we asked for a sampling of the menu. Typically when we are visiting places for the first time I feel it is best that they select the dishes instead of us. I reckon it is an excuse to avoid the monotony I usually do on trips—way too many burgers. 

We started with two different salads, moved on to a delightful mussels dish that was the highlight of the evening, moved towards a prosciutto and toasty bread number, and ended with the most wonderfully creamy parfait. 

I do have some tips for visiting Bernie's...go as early as possible and get the good seats by the windows. This place is super trendy and super perfect for all those Instagram and Snapchat moments. We were surprised at how quickly the place filled.

We did a selection of small plates and appetizers at Bernie's and all shared. Their menu is broad and this felt like a good way to try it all.

— @Bernies_Chicago — @ChefRyanSand

 

 

FRONTIER

Frontier in Wicker Park is by far my favorite restaurant in all of Chicago. I make an annual trek to the frontier themed spot. Yes...I said frontier themed...as in high class Americana foods. They had me at the bacon flight and the reeled me in with their selection of wild boar, bison, and a variety of bacon options. 

For our brunch at Frontier we started with the beignets, which are one of the chef's signature foods. Designed around his grandmother's recipe and better than any you'll get in New Orleans. 

If you're going purely for the sweets skip the meat and go straight for the house-made pop tarts. They're massive and a part combination of tart, sweet, and flaky goodness. Frontier fills up fast so we always go early for brunch. Grab the big booth in the front for the perfect photo light. 

After the pop tart grab some bacon and and apple butter....an absolutely delightful combination. I have an obsession with french fries. Frontier doesn't disappoint. The sandwiches are all perfect for a hot summer's day. 

— @FrontierChicago — @ChefJup

 

 

G & O

G and O (Grand and Ogden) is actually the final place we visited on our trip. After three insanely large meals we decided we'd have to go small at G and O. G and O is a local diner style place with tons of outdoor seating. It appeared to be filled with groups of friends that were there to hang out on a Sunday morning.  

I had the spiced biscuits and gravy...which had to be the very best biscuits and gravy I've ever had north of the Mason Dixon Line. A perfectly sized portion of perfectly soft biscuits covered in perfectly spiced sausage gravy was the perfect end to a very nice food tour of Chicago. 

If you're looking for something more filling go for the oatmeal. The portion was huge. After four meals that all included bacon...it may be safe to say that Chicago should just be called the Bacon CIty. Each of the four places we visited serves their own version of thick cut bacon. It would be unfair to select which place did it best...instead you're just going to have to visit them all!

— @GrandandOgden

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COCHON VOLANT

This was not our first rodeo at Cochon Volant. We knew to come prepared for a big meal. Last year we visited for brunch. This year it was decided we would go for dinner. That was a wise decision. 

I'm going to go ahead and call it now —Cochon Volant has the best steak in Chicago. Yes, yes I did bring 3/4 of the steak back to Kentucky with me and eat it in bed the next day. I have no shame. 

Cochon Volant is just south of the river in downtown Chicago. It is perfectly decorated with surfaces that glitter and glow. The accents are encrusted in brass and the room really is aesthetic perfection....but that isn't we were there. If the interiors are perfection...there isn't a word to describe the food. 

I love steak tartar. It is one of my favorite foods. I think steak in general is a favorite. We started with an appetizer of tartar. I could have made it my entire meal. Cochon Volant is known for their boards. We learned that last time at brunch with their pickle board. This time we went for a cheese board and a pickle board. These seemed like pleasant ways to cleanse the palette between courses. 

For our main courses I went with an dry aged steak, and as I already said it is enough of a reason to visit Chicago. It is served with french fries, but let's be honest...you're going to want to skip those and hold off for desert. Nick had two entrees. He started with a crab leg platter. A petite display of unbelievably fresh crab awaited him...and a shrimp cocktail. 

We closed out our food tour of Chicago with creme brûlée and chocolate mousse. I am not usually a mousse fan...but like everything else at Cochon Volant it is done to perfection.

— @CochonVolant_ — @ChefMattAyala

—@Jschatan — @JonasFalk_ #FlyingPigGram

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Sure, I know what you're thinking...but only four restaurants...you have so much left of Chicago to cover. Oh yes, I agree, you are totally right..rest assured we are already planning many return trips. Chicago is one of the easiest of the major US cities to navigate. Chicago is also much more affordable than New York City. 

If you're a bacon lover...time to load up the car and head to Chicago. 

American Field Washington DC — Roundup

Ben Ashby

 

A couple weeks ago I flew to DC for the latest American Field. In a time where the market, fair, barnsale, and show market have peaked American Field continues on. Founded in 2012 American Field has gained a reputation for supporting American made makers. Originally a market exclusively for American made menswear makers the market has since shifted towards a more inclusive appeal. In fall of 2017 American Field will hold markets in Washington DC, Brooklyn, and Boston. Here is a round up of some of my shots from the event.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Worn + Company

Ben Ashby

WORN + COMPANY | LEXINGTON, KY

Somewhere between the thousands of barrels of bourbon and the thousands of acres of pasture that surround Lexington, Kentucky a style has developed thats equal parts southern, preppy, and equestrian...but has always skewed a little to the old side. It has taken far too long to get pleats out of Lexington. That is all changing with the introduction of Nick Nardiello's new shop Worn + Company. With a flair similar to big city menswear stores the shop brings American made goods to Lexington with a unique blend of equestrian and camp themed vintage and antiques. To learn more about Nick's shop I popped in a few weeks ago to check it all out.

TELL US A BIT ABOUT YOURSELF AND WHY DO YOU LOVE LEXINGTON || I was born and raised in Lexington, Kentucky on a horse farm that my dad owned. My mother is an artist and a teacher. I was able to travel a little bit during high school and college while living in different parts of the world. After all of that traveling I knew that I would end up back in Lexington. We have a very worldly and eclectic community. I got my idea for my store after realizing that I have always been a big collector and I am always hunting for new pieces for my own collections. I chose Lexington because I felt that we were lacking a good mens store to go in and buy a pair of jeans and a little something else.

I wanted to share my appreciation for items both old and new and show uses via my store for each item. To me it matters so much that people get to come in and touch and handle the clothing or the antiques or vintage finds instead of shopping online and just looking at pictures. I wanted to create a destination store. I've already seen how it only takes one shop to create a movement that leads to a city becoming a destination. The east side of Lexington seemed like the perfect place to get it all started!

 
 

 

 

WHAT ARE YOUR FAVORITE ITEMS IN THE STORE || My favorite items in the store have to be hats, selvage denim, and even my mothers painted feathers!

 

WHY IS IT IMPORTANT TO SUPPORT BRICK AND MORTAR || I support brick-and-mortar because when someone walks in my doors I want to evoke every one of the senses in their experience

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Coffee Culture || Wes Taylor

Ben Ashby

This week's coffee culture Monday is dedicated to Chicago based photographer Wesley Taylor. Wesley makes special moments for coffee wherever his travels and photography take him. 

WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE COFFEE SHOP || My favorite shop in Chicago is Gaslight Coffee Roasters in Logan Square. I'm crazy productive any time I go there! Crema in Nashville holds the record for my favorite cortado, The original Sightglass in SF has my favorite ambiance. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

WHAT CAMERA DO YOU SHOOT WITH || Canon 5D, 35mm 1.4 

WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE DRINK || My favorite drink depends heavily on the weather. When it rains, a dirty chai with oat milk. On any given day a cortado is always a good choice... On sunny days, either an iced matcha latte with oat milk, or an oat milk angeleno which is basically a vanilla latte with an extra extraction of espresso, shaken. 

 
 
 
 

WHY DO YOU LOVE COFFEE CULTURE || I love coffee shop culture because it'shonestly for everyone. you can get as deep into it the brewing and tasting aspects as you want, you can be obsessed with coffee or get tea. but at the core it's about bringing people together, and there's not much better than that.

GIVE US A TIP FOR A GOOD COFFEE SHOP PHOTO ||  It's simple, but the best coffee photos just come from good light. stand by the window or go outside, I promise it'll be worth it. Also, work quickly! Latte art often has a short photo life, so get your shot set before your order so you can make it happen fast. 

 
 
 

WHAT CITY HAS THE BEST COFFEE || San Francisco is home to some of my favorite coffee shops! But I may also just be smitten by the toast. 

WHAT MAKES FOR A GOOD COFFEE SHOP || Whenever I check out a new coffee shop, I tend to care about ambiance first. I want to make sure it's not too loud to have a conversation, and hopefully a place I can get some work done. comfortable chairs are also super important.

The Playlist | Route 66 Throwback

Ben Ashby

For this weeks playlist I wanted to throw it out west to the landscapes of the American southwest and to provide sounds that capture those vibes. After riding down Route 66 and experiencing the tiny time forgotten towns along the way it only made sense to include as many throwback songs as possible. 

Thriving Photography: An Interview with Bronson Farr

Christophe Chaisson

California raised, New York living, Bronson Farr is a phenomenal photographer whose love and passion for people is evidently displayed through his work. His very presence lights up a room with his radiating optimism & positivity, which is a pretty useful skill to possess being in a profession dependent on light.  We had the privilege to hear about his journey and career as a photographer.

 

Christophe: When did you first become interested in photography?

Bronson: Growing up, I though photos were really only to commemorate the happy stuff in life. When I was a child, I went to a wake for my Gramps. My uncle was taking photos of Gramps in his coffin and I super confused by it. I asked my Uncle why he was photographing this particular moment. He replied with something along the lines of "all aspects of life are important to document, even death". For me, this was a total and complete revelation. Photos aren't only for the happy moments, but photos are for ALL moments. Moments that we will all look back on and pensively reminisce over and moments that our posterity will look upon and know that we all existed and lived good lives. There is something magical and romantic about that, this is when the idea of photography became something meaningful to me. 

 

 

C: Were you self-taught or did you learn in school/from a mentor?

B: Self, Friends, Youtube tutorials.
 



C: How did you develop your style?

B: Practice and Collaboration.

 

 

B: Natural light is my absolute jam! I like to work with interesting locations in the city where there is a good mix of direct sunlight and shadowed back drops. Most times, my subjects choose me. For my art series, @bronson.skin a lot of subjects reach out via instgram, but if I think you look interesting I have no problem being that creep asking to take your photo. When it comes to clients, I always have a consultation to make sure the vibe is right. Nothing is worst than working for a client you can't stand or truly collab with. 

 

 

 

 

C: How do you find and choose you subjects or locations?

 

 

 

 

 

C: What inspires your work?

B: My absolute favorite part of my work is working with people. People inspire me and my work. 



C: How do you compose an image?

B: One thing that is always on my mind is the rule of 3rds. 

 

C: Do you go into the shoot with a specific shot in mind, or does the inspiration strike when you place your model in the setting?

B: A bit of both. You need to know what you want to accomplish in any given shoot. Location, tone of voice, lighting etc should be worked out before your shoot, but if you aren't open to inspiration in the midst of creating- then what's the point? If you are looking at the model and your set and get a great idea that you are enthused about- the best advice I can ever give is to try it! You'll hate yourself if you don't.

 
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C: What do you hope your art says to people?

B: I really just hope it makes people happy and make them want to work with me or try to execute what they've seen me do. 

C: Why did you choose photography as your craft?

B: It's the best mix of working with my hands, working directly with people, and actively trying to be creative and thoughtful. It just works for me.
 

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C: How hard was it to become profitable at it? 

B: Thankfully I didn't struggle too much to get in the green. One of the first projects I worked on was a fundraiser for my friend's dad who had throat cancer. I shot loads of family sessions and gave all of the proceeds to my friends family. A few days after the project was done one of my roommates handed me an envelope with all of the money I had made and donated. He said someone dropped it off for me and said to not mention who it was from. To this day, that person is the reason why my equipment is paid for. 

 

C: Any suggestions to newcomers to the field?

B: Just show up. Take every opportunity to shoot and learn.
Be with other creatives. Train your eye and your hands.
Cloud based storage will be your friend.
Shoot RAW and in manual mode.
Practice with prime lenses.
Stop if you don't love it. Thrive if you do.

 
 
 


C: If you couldn’t be doing your craft, what would you do instead?

 


B: You know how Uber partners with hella companies to do cool stuff? I wanna be the guy to set up those partnerships...

Puppies would be in every car.
 


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

C: Any favorite moments of your career so far?

B: Shooting an huge Indian wedding in San Francisco. The groom's family blocked off part of Union Square and the family danced and sang while the groom rode in on a white horse. It was the most magical display of tradition I'd ever seen. 

 

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C: What would you do differently if you could start from scratch?

B: I was transfering data from one hard drive to another. I got a bit too stoned and ended up deleting every.single.photo. If I could start from scratch, I would get that cloud based storage off the bat, for sure.

 

C: Is there a defining moment in your career so far?

B: I was shooting a fashion show for Marc Bouwer and got to meet some of the cast of Orange is the New Black and some of those Housewives from BRAVO, that was pretty cool.

 

 

Ben: Is flannel really always appropriate? 

Bronson: Obviously.

 

 

C: Biggest pet peeve about the industry?

B:I don't think I've been around long enough to have too big of complaints. 

 

To capture all the moments of life as Bronson does really causes him to stand out. That to me is authenticity at its finest. He captures the good times, the hard times, and everything else in between. To follow his journey or even be a part of his shoots, check out his Instagram and Website below!

Bronson Farr's Website 

 

 

 

Instagram @Bronson.photo

 

 

Share the Lex[ington, KY]

Ben Ashby

Lexington, KY is my favorite small-town-city. Perpetually locked in an identity crisis between being a small town and being a big city. Perpetually locked as a treasure box of southern days gone by. I lived in Lexington for eight years. I went to school in Lexington. I learned so much about the world outside my tiny western Kentucky town by watching the world slowly creep by in Lexington. Over the past ten years Lexington has experienced a refreshing amount of growth. From new faces and leadership to an ever evolving food and culture scene. Lexington is doing its damndest to catch up to the trendy cities across the US.

By being the northern most southern city in the US—Lexington serves visitors a more liberal and less antiquated version of southern culture. Gone are the vestiges of many of the southern stereotypes. In their place stands an open and colorful town. As I find myself frequently visiting Lexington I wanted create a short guide to a few of my favorites places. This list will grow over time. 

DINING

Lexington's food scene is quickly putting itself on the map. From trendy bars and farm-to-table spots, to quick lunch spots, to fine dining Lexington has it covered. My personal favorite is County Club in Lexington's Jefferson Street district. The pountine with brisket is the only reason needed to visit. The aesthetics are worth staying for.  

I asked my friend James where he recommends: 

1) Distilled at Gratz Park

2) Heirloom (a short 10 minute drive to Midway)

3) Dudley's

4) Cole's 735 Main

5) Lucy's at the Red Light

For those looking for classic southern comfort food, local chain Ramsey's is a must visit. Wallace Station and Windy Corner are both worth the drive outside of town to visit. Malones, the staple of Lexington is 100% worth skipping. 

 

SHOPPING

Shopping is not one of Lexington's greatest assets. Beyond a handful of fabulous shops and boutiques you're left with the stand Anthro, Pottery Barn style. My absolute favorite is Fable + Flame near the mall. James, the owner, brings an incredibly pleasing aesthetic to his shop. With legendary sales and constantly rotating inventory the mix of new and vintage is the perfect excuse to visit Lexington.  

When it comes to shopping for vintage fashions Foxhouse has it covered. A tiny gem of a shop near UK's campus, Foxhouse offers everything you need for a completely vintage outfit. Recent additions to the shop include American made art, jewelry, and accessories. 

Worn + Company is my favorite new store in Lexington. Nick's menwear stores focuses on classic American made men's staples, a flair of hipster, and a timeless, yet modern, southern meets outdoorsman style. 

Michler Florist and Greenhouse is absolutely 100% out of a dream. A handful of time worn greenhouses cover the wooded grounds of the urban property. A beer garden and vegan restaurant are carved among the trees. The greenhouse specializes in plants native Kentucky. Every inch of the property is worth photographing, but the plants really do take center stage. If you're looking to bring the outdoors into your home you want to make a stop at Michler's. 

This literally doesn't even scratch the surface of places to visit in Lexington. Stay tuned for more. 

A Motorcycle & Route 66

Ben Ashby

They came from foreign lands, they came from distant cities. From Chicago, from New York City, from tiny Connecticut towns, they came from Miami, and they came from Los Angeles all searching for something more, searching for something different. The reality is we live in an overly digital, overly connected world. They came searching for a reprieve from the 24/7 political nightmare, from the 365 biased news overload. They came searching for places that had been untouched, places that meet the morning horizons with zero traces of man or modernity. They came for a motorcycle tour of Route 66 with Los Angeles based motorcycle touring company EagleRider

 

 

When I got the call asking if I’d go on a motorcycle tour down Route 66 with a touring company I had several concerns, questions, comments, etc etc. We’ll address those as we go, but for the sake of the beautiful narrative I have in my head lets continue with where I was headed. 

The kids on the trip showed up in their Ubers clad in the standard all black uniforms of the American cities. they brought with them every device short of beepers. Constantly connected to business emails, to Instagramers, to Twitterers, to txting, and weird side projects they were working on. The majority had never been on a motorcycle, and the majority had never been deep into the desert out west. After a brief mixer at the Eagle Rider headquarters they quickly found common ground. Three worked in the same tower off Columbus Circle. One would soon be the other’s boss. The phones slowly were used less and less and real tangible connections were made. The CEO of EagleRider greeted us and welcomed us to what would be our three day tour. He began it all by telling us a motorcycle tour of Route 66 is as American as apple pie. A rite-of-passage that every American must do. EagleRider was the perfect means to make this possible.

EagleRider was founded on the idea of providing motorcycle riders with motorcycle rentals in locations all over the world. You can rent them in a very similar fashion to renting a car at Enterprise or Hertz. EagleRider also offers guided tours of routes all over the world. From short ones like our three day tour of Route 66 from Los Angeles to Las Vegas, to a complete tour of Route 66. EagleRider has locations all over the world. 

 

After the CEO’s introduction we were fitted in our motorcycle jackets and outfitted in some appropriately themed gear. Indian is one of my favorite bike brands. I quickly went for anything I could find. We packed up and headed out…to basically the best BBQ in L.A…I’ll report back with the name. 

For our tour we were all strangers. We walked into the tour with only one thing in common…a love of words. We would each be responsible for writing our thoughts on the trip. Over dinner we discussed our angles and our plans. We discussed our backgrounds and who our audiences were. I quickly realized I got the lucky job…I have the audience with a love of adventure. 

As worlds connected and the millennials connected the guards and walls of urban dwelling and politics and whatever this weird round the clock negative news world we live in fell away. Moods became lighter and the excitement build for the journey that would begin as the sun rose over the southern California mountains the following morning. 

 

In the American west the sun rises over the dusty mountains the same as it has for hundreds of years. The march of time has turned coastal deserts of southern California from a vast sandy sea of succulents and cacti to a wild treeless wilderness of horse paths, tiny mining towns, outlaws, and tall tails, to an urban jungle of kids seeking an escape into wanderlust. As the sun rose helmets went on, bikes were mounted, engines were revved, and the tires carrying the millennials were hitting the sun-baked asphalt of Los Angeles. This mornings route would take us high into the mountains towards Palm Springs. The interstates began to fly by as we made our way towards the forgotten highways leading east. 

I’ve already driven from Kentucky to California twice this year in a rented Chevy Malibu. I’ve driven across the US and back in Cadillacs and Toyotas, but I’d never been on the open road on a bike. I’d never felt all the cliches, I’d never felt the wind in my hair. I’d never felt Bette Midler’s wind beneath my wings. The bike ensured a sense of freedom, a sense of abandon, a sense of independence. The wind swept past, the bumps and curves were felt, it was just you and this man made machine. It was you, without a hand to hold a phone, a hand to text, or an ability to talk to those around you. It was just you, your thoughts, the sun, and a reckless spirit of Americana. It was exactly what was needed. 

The cityscapes and the suburbs gave way to orange groves and cattle farms. The ascent up the mountain began. The air grew chilled. The ride slowed down as the curves became tighter and the pack of motorcycles became narrower. Our trip has one main guide and three additional guides that were joining us for the trip. The lead knew all the routes and the curves. He led us the entire trip with a flawless pace. Between the four guides on the tour they complete hundreds of tours a year leading Americans of all ages and tourist across nearly every state in the US. With all of us being from the world of media this was all new territory for us. Hardly any of us had ever been on a bike, much less ridden it through deserts or over mountains. EagleRider specializes in keeping an up to date fleet of bikes and having guides that not only know the roads but also know the details and histories of all the areas they’re visiting. 

 

 

We stopped for lunch high in the hills surrounded by pines and cabins. This new landscape seemed an extreme exchange of the landscape we had been immersed in just a few hours ago. The goal of this trip wasn’t to just ride a motorcycle down Route 66…it was about experiencing something different and about being in nature and out of the urban element. The mountains and the mountain themed restaurant were a reminder of that. We all vowed to experience everything as it came and to savor the moments. Basically I am just trying to say we had zero cellphone service as dramatically as possible. Conversations seemed authentic. It is an idea we will be exploring in depth this year—but it seems the idea of living in real life rather than living a digital facade is where we millennials are heading. If you’re looking for a festive way to start that journey—grad and EagleRider bike and head out. 

I am a sucker for Palm Springs. There is something about it being totally lost in time that really speaks to me. Maybe its the desert vibes or the mid century aesthetic, but I am obsessed with the place. The winds outside of town are a true experience for a motorcycle rider, but absolutely worth the thrill. EagleRider has the accommodations perfectly prepared. All luggage follows behind the group of bikes in a sprinter van and everything is unloaded at the hotel. Bikes were parked and we all went inside to freshen up. The digital world was once again available, but few indulged. Being disconnected had become a luxury not worth giving up. 

The next morning I broke away from the group to meet up with a photographer friend to photograph the Desert X house in Palm Springs. This meant I would be picked up by the Jeep that trailed behind the group. It also meant I would be skipping the nearly full day exercising into Joshua Tree National Park. 

 

 

We met back up with the group for BBQ in 29 Palms. The rest of our day would be driving through the extremely open roads of Arizona and California. During that afternoon with my Jeep driver I learned a few things about taking a motorcycle tour:

  1. You will be much hotter in black than you will wearing white. In the middle of the summer ditch being stylish for being comfortable.
  2. Stay hydrated. The wind will dry you out. 
  3. Wear every bit of sun screen you can slather on. Don’t forget to coat those fingers and hands well and often
  4. If you want to take a tour but don’t have a motorcycle license grab a three wheeled Slingshot.
  5. Learn the hand signals. 
  6. Know the limits of your bike. When it gets to a certain temp motorcycles (and helicopters) get too hot to operate. 
  7. Put your phone away.
  8. Don’t try to show off. You are absolutely not as good of a driver as you say you are.
  9. When in doubt just ride in the Jeep. 
  10. Always go for the gas station hot dogs. The risk is always worth it.

Our day concludes with a boat tour along the state line and a rest at a casino outside Las Vegas. They tell us we have a long day tomorrow, but refuse to say anything else. 

 

The hotel sits along the banks of the river in a deep valley. The sun rises slowly yet the heat quickly creeps in. We continue to skirt the Nevada state line. We take routes of Route 66 that seem like a Wiley Coyote cartoon. Roadrunner should be leading our group. Wild donkeys rest alongside the highway and one of the oldest ghost towns in the US sits over the horizon. Oatman, Arizona is a town of legends. A tiny mining town that has been the center of folklore for decades is a nearly preserved reminder of the former America and the newly embraced Chinese made consumption obsessed American tourist. Dew rags and t shirts coat the derelict wooden structures with a vile mix of tacky and trashy. This is the America was have set out to escape. Our bikes quickly become a comforting reminder that we will escape this nightmare as quickly as we entered it. 

Back on the road we are told that we must hurry towards our final surprise of the trip. We are all well bonded and unhappy with the idea that our trip will soon be over. We head across Hoover Dam and head towards the sins of Las Vegas, but first we stop at one of the regional airports where a fleet of helicopters await. 

For many of us this was our first helicopter experience. For all of us this was the perfect ending to our trip. We rose high above the landscape. The desert gave way to the jagged and indescribable beauty of the Grand Canyon. We soared over the walls and the Colorado river. We had final conversations over headsets and we lamented on the fact that the depths and wonders below would soon give way for a rude reality that our overly digital overly connected lived await. 

EagleRider is a company that was founded on the idea of giving people the freedom of the road and the ability to experience America. Eagle Rider has since provided countless people of all ages with the ability to escape this absurdly negative world. It affords its riders with the ability to head towards an America and a reality that is void of connection. It affords its riders the ability to find tangible connection with strangers, with the sun, with the road, with the time forgotten landscapes or America, and it allows its rides to find a connection with themselves that we millennials are in desperate need of. 

We, the seven millennials were all strangers from foreign lands seeking an experience, and escape, and a connection with each other. We left as seven new found friends with a shared experience and a shared appreciation for a life less modern. 

EAGLERIDER.COM

10 Tips || Buying American Made

Ben Ashby

ESSAY: BEN | PHOTOS TAKEN AT AMERICAN FIELD DC SPRING 2017

I've been in this American Made game a long time. Six years seems like a lifetime. I've seen countless American makers come and go. I've seen brands skyrocket and I've seen brands crash. I've seen brands totally change the game and brands that are as stale as week old white bread. I'd argue that by now I am an expert on American Made...and I've seen more brands than most anyone. When we first started promoting American Made I was a bit of a snob and said you should be all American made all day every day. In the years and in the economic and manufacturing shift since I no longer stand by that claim.

 


Today you'll find me still screaming from the rooftops to buy American Made...but not exclusively. The idea of buying exclusively American Made is bad spending. You aren't Trump. You can't just get Russia to get you out of debt. Be wise with your consumption. Years ago I worked with a girl that, when we'd promote makers, argue that the key was investing in statement pieces. For her that was a love of handmade jewelry. She would collect massive, chunky, pieces of jewelry that would complete an outfit. When she first started promoting the idea I thought she was brilliant. Her stance was...as a college student, it would be nice to buy all American Made, but like, that isn't possible.

 

 

In the years since I've added to her original platform. You may want to sit down for this...but...I've seen a lot of brands..and I can assure you...American Made isn't always worth the price. Some of the most poorly constructed pieces I've owned are American made. Why is this? Isn't American Made supposed to be the be all and end all of integrity and quality. Well 100 years ago that was likely true, but the art of quality died as most American companies moved production overseas. With that departure the decades old machines went overseas with them and the skilled American craftsmen were left behind.

 

 


Today as brands and makers shift back towards American production there is still a learning curve and a cost curve. New makers are having to purchase new equipment that is insanely expensive. Having to teach themselves the trade, and having to work incredibly hard to source the raw materials.

 

 


I've been teetering for months about how to best write this piece. I feel like simply providing ten tips for buying American Made is most practical.

 

 


But first back to her ideas about statement pieces. Rather than buying massive quantities of poorly made American Made simply to say you wear exclusively American Made...save your money and invest in really high quality pieces that will last for decades. Buying American made has never been about following trends. In a world of fast fashion...if you're looking for trendy tops and sneakers...go for the fast fashion. Save up and invest in American Made leather goods, jewelry, or outerwear. She always liked investing in pieces from makers we worked with so that if people complimented the pieces she wore she could educate them on the maker, the brand, and the movement. A grassroots effort is largely what has brought American Made back to the limelight.


 


Over the years I have a few brands that I personal feel are worth investing in and wear almost daily. If you were to go into my closet you'd find:

Luggage and watches by Filson
Anything by Ball and Buck (in my opinion the best made American Made brand)
Waxed canvas by Neverest Outfitters
Leather Accessories by Loyal Stricklin
Candles by PF Candle Co
Underwear by N2N Bodywear
Blankets by Woolrich
Shirts by Stock Manufacturing
Leather bags by Fount

 


10 Tips for Buying American Made



1. Invest in pieces that will be timeless. Luggage and bags are the best place to start.
2. Shop markets and fairs for handmade jewelry. Get the pieces in your hand to make sure they're well made and will hold up. Look at Hobby Lobby to see if their pieces are sourced from there.
3. Check the sticking in denim. Is the crotch going to rip out fast. The US made denim industry is plagued with poor quality. Some brands will last a lifetime. Some brands won't last a season. When in doubt hold off buying and grab a pair of Levi's instead.
4. When buying bags look at the stitching and the seams. If you can see between the pieces of leather the piece will not hold up.
5. Most candle companies source their scents from the same bulk supplier. A $5 candle and a $45 candle often times both have the same scents. Go for brands like PF Candle Co that have custom mixed scents rather than the bulk standards.
6. A brand may say it's American made, but in reality may only produce a small percentage of their goods in the US. Don't buy blindly thinking it's all made here. Woolrich makes their blankets in the US. The majority of the clothes are made in Asia. New Balance makes a small percentage of their shoes in the US. Their US shoes are worth the investment.
7. If you're looking to invest in boots, American Made is the answer. Red Wings can be passed down for generations. Go for Asian Made sneakers and save up for American Made boots.
8. The best way to be introduced to American Made makers is by going to markets and fairs. See the products in person. Meet the makers and hear their stories. My favorites are American Field on the east coast, the Country Living Fairs in the east, Made South in the south, and Liberty Fairs in the major cities.
9. Follow makers and brands on social media, you'll save by watching for sales and buying directly from the maker.
10. Don't feel obligated to buy American Made all the time. Buy what you like, when you can. Don't waste money on things you'll quickly tire of simply because it's American made.