Contact Us

Use the form on the right to contact us.

You can edit the text in this area, and change where the contact form on the right submits to, by entering edit mode using the modes on the bottom right. 

         

123 Street Avenue, City Town, 99999

(123) 555-6789

email@address.com

 

You can set your address, phone number, email and site description in the settings tab.
Link to read me page with more information.

CONTENT

Filtering by Category: MAKER

Wolf Jaw Press | A Conversation

Ben Ashby

We love upstate New York! between Earth Angels, Upstate Stock, and now Wolf Jaw Press we are itching for a visit! Recently we sat down with Alicia Burnett, the owner of Wolf Jaw Press for a brief chat about what she does, why she is a maker and why you should support American made. 

Who are you?

I’m Alicia Burnett, and I am a designer, artist, and all around maker. I’m also the sole proprietor of Wolf Jaw Press, a small independent printmaking studio that produces fine art screen prints inspired by the beauty of the natural world.

Where are you?

Right now my studio and I are located in the northern Hudson Valley region of New York State. I’m really happy living and working here. I think it’s a great location for makers like me that love nature and feel more comfortable living in the country versus living in a city. The countryside and farmlands of Upstate New York are a beautiful place to live; it can be quite rural, but it’s not so rural that I feel isolated and disconnected to the surrounding makers and local arts communities. I love the fact I’m surrounded by serene farmland and plenty of open space while still being close enough to New York City, Hudson, and Albany to be physically involved the art communities of those cities. 


Why are you a maker?

I am a maker because it feels like the most authentic and natural way for me to live my life and make a living for myself. I am a maker because for as long as I can remember, I have had an insatiable compulsion to create. It’s just something that is in my DNA I guess. 


What do you make?

Through my studio, Wolf Jaw Press, I make limited edition screen prints. 


How long have you been a maker?

While I’ve always identified as being a creative, artistic individual with a strong desire to make and create, professionally, I haven’t been a maker for that long. I graduated with my MFA from Pratt Institute in 2015, and shorty afterwards I established Wolf Jaw Press. I’ve been a professional maker for less than year! Establishing my own studio and business has been quite the process, but putting in the long hours and hard work has been so worth it. Everyday I learn something new, and seeing my studio slowly but surely grow and flourish gives me an indescribable sense of satisfaction. 


Why did you decide on what you do?

It took me a long time to find myself artistically. I attended the Rhode Island School of Design where I spent most of my time as an undergraduate student trying to find a medium that felt comfortable for me. I watched so many of my friends as freshman and sophomores immediately gravitate towards a specific major, and then to a specific medium or process. Meanwhile, I felt like I was interested in too many things. I wanted to do any try everything, but nothing I artistically experimented with felt right. 

It wasn’t until the tail end of my junior year that I had a moment of clarity. On a whim, I decided to take a screen printing class with RISD’s printmaking department during the spring semester of my junior year. Within weeks I was completely in love with the screen printing process, but it still took me a few years to find the courage to establish my own screen printing studio and business.

The catalyst that finally pushed me to take the leap of faith and start my own studio were the repeated failures I had at trying to break into the corporate world of design. After my graduation from RISD with my BFA, and then from Pratt my MFA, I had interview after interview with companies and design firms, but it seemed that no one wanted to hire me. In hindsight, these “failures” in getting hired, while discouraging and frustrating at the time, pushed me to realize that maybe I should try to open my own studio and be self employed.


Favorite part about being a maker?

There is so much I love about being a maker! In short, I love the freedom and control it gives me in my personal and professional life. While being self employed undoubtedly comes with an expected level of uncertainly and stress, I have been able to experience a level of freedom that is both liberating and exhilarating. By being a maker, I get to do what I love everyday and I get to be my own boss. I decided what I want to make and when I want to make it, I create my own hours, I decide what projects and collaborations I want to work on, and I get to decide how and in what direction I want my business to grow. 

I also love that each day always hold something new and different. I could never have a job where I do the same thing everyday sitting at a desk. As a maker and a self employed artist, I get to first and foremost create the art that I love to make, but I also get to explore and learn about financial management, business strategies, legal procedures, accounting, and marketing. I’m learning and exploring so much. I find that my days bouncing between slinging ink in the studio, compiling and analyzing finical reports hunched over my laptop, or researching small business growth strategies are engaging and deeply rewarding. 


Why support makers?

When you shop for items made by artisans and makers, you can expect receive high quality goods crated with care while your dollars contribute to and strengthening a local economy. By supporting makers, you are also helping support someone’s passion. We makers care so deeply and passionately about what we do, and through buying our goods you enable us to make a living off of our authentic passion for creating.

FOR MORE: WOLF JAW PRESS

A Lifetime of Leather with Duluth Pack

Christophe Chaisson

In the year 1870, a man named Camille Poirier came to Duluth, Minnesota with a dream of opening a leather and canvas good's store. Over 130 years later, this dream is still alive and growing. 

Duluth Pack is the is oldest canvas and leather bag and pack company in the USA. Still located in Duluth, they have not ceased manufacturing high quality, built-to-last canvas and leather bags, packs, and outdoor gear in their century-old factory.

Their quality and values have not wavered or waned since their beginning. Duluth Pack continues to embrace their American made heritage. Not once have they compromised quality for quantity, instead they continue on in the one-customer-at-a-time way of doing business that they have always valued.

 

Duluth Pack sticks to tradition well as their craftsmen and women have been using the same reliable, timeless artisanal techniques since the beginning of the company. Not only do they cherish their customers, but also their employees. The talented sewers are actually able to sew their name with pride into the high quality product that they have thoroughly hand crafted with skill and precision. 


Typical products found other places are built to fall apart and be thrown away. One of the many amazing things about this company is the life time warranty that they offer. It is a guarantee of the longlasting quality of their products.  



 

 

 
 

As they honor tradition, they also have been cutting edge in their designs and keeping up with the times while maintaining the beautiful essence their company carries. There are 15 canvas colors available, along with wool, American bison leather, and an assortment of other American leather products to choose from. No matter the product you are interested in, you can be reassured of the highest quality.

 

Duluth Pack is special for a myriad of reasons. Their packs carry the power of storytelling and so many memories are made with the packs. Adventure calls when you get your hands on one of these packs. 

Their humble beginnings back in 1882 has grown and amassed into a worldwide organization. Products are sold to a global consumer through their flagship retail store in Duluth, MN, their online retail store, and a global network of dealers.

Duluth Pack has extended a 15% discount in the online store for all of those apart of the Folk Family. Go pick out a pack perfectly suited for your next adventure. With so many styles and colors to choose from it is going to be a hard decision. (Personally leaning towards a Burgundy Scout Pack myself) 

CODE: FOLK15

Click here to view their website and online store

 

Follow them on Instagram to share some love with the Duluth Pack team for their generosity and commitment to their customers! 

Instagram: @DULUTHPACK 

Meet Michael the Maker

Christophe Chaisson


Michael Stricklin is a maker located in Opelika, Alabama. The business he founded, Loyal Stricklin, is a leather goods and accessories company. He shares with us the in's and out's of being a maker and tells his story of becoming the maker that he is today. 

 MICHAEL STRICKLIN
OWNER, FOUNDER, AND CREATIVE DIRECTOR OF LOYAL STRICKLIN


Christophe: Tell us about your process to becoming a maker. Did you go to college? Did you come from the corporate world? Or were you always a maker?

Michael: I took a serious interest in product development after returning from a study abroad trip in Italy. I realized I wanted to be able to create beautiful items on a smaller scale than the degree in Architecture I was pursuing would allow for. I started working with leather to make a phone case/wallet combo, mostly because I could make them at the desk in my living room. The material spoke to me and so I continued to develop my skills and products over the next year and a half. I launched Loyal Stricklin in the Fall of 2013 as I started my masters degree and went full-time once I graduated.

 

C: How did you decide you were finally ready to be a full-time maker?

M: I had my first mild success the Christmas season of 2013, and business never slowed down after that. By the time I graduated, I went full time with a few part-time employees helping me make everything. I haven’t looked back since.
 


C: Why are you a maker?

 M: I wanted to become an entrepreneur so I could have time to do the things I loved and not have to answer to a boss. Turns out, it’s not the days spent leisurely doing whatever that I had hoped they would be. It’s a full-time 9-5 job spent in the studio now. I’m never really “off” though, and am constantly thinking about ways to improve a design or how to run the business.

 

 



C: Why are you still a maker?

M: God willing, I’ll be one for as long as I can. Even if Loyal Stricklin could not pay the bills for some reason, I wouldn’t stop. Creating and working with my hands is my passion, and always has been.

C: As a child what did you want to be?

M: I was always drawing and creating as a kid, which is why I went into architecture. I knew I wanted to be in a creative field, but you have to make a living too. My childhood experiences spending time in the garage with my Dad on DIY projects and the skills I learned in Architecture school really lent themselves to making this business possible.

 

C: Tell us about your creative process and the evolution of that process as you've perfected your craft and as you've grown as a business.

M: I stay pretty passive on design for a long time while I think about the next product. I usually mull it over, sketch something out, and then it might be weeks before I look at it again. Because I am heavily involved in so many as parts of the business — from marketing to production and running the business and all that entails—  It can be hard to find time to set aside just for design. I keep a journal and pens in my bag at all times. Once I’ve fixated on the next product I want to create, then that’s when I get down to design, sketching slight variations until I have something I’m pleased with on paper. Then it’s onto the real design, which is creating samples and working the kinks out with the actual product. It’s important to me that our products are simple and cost and time effective, yet also beautiful and useful. One of the most important things to me is that our designs are coherent across our entire line. I don’t like to make something new just to fill up a void in our product line. I need it to fit into the overall aesthetic and design of our entire product range.

 

C: What inspires you?

M: For design itself, I’m inspired by anyone creating beautiful work. I love 2D design, but I really get excited about 3D design, from true craftsman in the leather world to furniture and building design. A lot of the time, inspiration has to take a backseat; I have employees and bills to pay, and I have to put product development on the back burner and instead go into production mode most of the time to make it all work. 

 

C: How have you grown your business?

M: We’ve been really blessed with this business. It’s hard to explain how we’ve gotten to where we are in a “do this and you’ll succeed" kind of way. I’ve found myself surrounded by wonderful people who really pushed this business forward. Friends like Folk helping us on social media when we got started. If I were still working alone, I don’t think that I’d be where I am at all today.  Our small town is cheap to live and work in, but beautiful with an incredibly supportive community; my wife has been my biggest supporter, pushing me to be a better husband, boss, designer, and businessman; My employees are hardworking and loyal, and really carry the weight of our better selling items, and Instagram has been an instrumental tool in our growth and presence online. We take careful consideration of our designs and how our products wear in, and don’t release a product we’re not completely happy with. All these things, plus our amazing customers and fans have really propelled us forward. I think we were also lucky that I started doing all of this before being a “maker” was a normal thing. Sometimes you just have to be in the right place at the right time, and I think that’s been huge for us as well in the relationships we’ve forward with our retail partners and customers as a whole. 

 

C: How have you perfected what you make?

M: I’m obsessive over the things I love. I always have been. My mother used to get mad at me because I’d find a hobby, get obsessed, and then drop it once I had had enough of it. I’m lucky to have that trait, as it’s allowed me to push forward with this business. I’ve matured at least a little since my younger days, and don’t plan on dropping this obsession anytime soon. I need to create to have a fulfilling life, and this has been the perfect outlet for my desire to create.
 

 

C: Has this growth been easy?

M: Nothing about running a business is easy, but it’s worth it to my wife and me. Even the toughest moments are something to be thankful for, as it’s the hardships that reveal and refine your character and allow for the most personal growth.
 


 

 

 

C: What has been the most successful way to get your product out there?

M: Instagram and trade shows by far. We’re starting to look into more traditional methods of advertising in the new year, but connecting with our customers directly online and with small business and store owners in person has worked well for us. Life is all about people, and connecting with them. You can’t do anything worthwhile without including someone else, and that has been a core belief in our business since the get-go.

 

                                                       C: What does the future hold for you?

M: We hope to continue to be able to do what we love, hire more people and create more jobs, and grow as big as we can while maintaining our values. We’re constantly improving and refining our current product line and coming up with new ideas. I didn’t put “leather” in our business name, because it was never just about that. We hope to move into many different forms of design and product development and will continue to expand our offerings as we continue to grow.

C: Give us three tips you've learned as a maker that can be applied to everyday life:

1. Whatever you do, work your ass off.
2. Refine, refine, refine.
3. Always continue learning something new.

 
 

C: What is the biggest lesson you've learned?

M: It all takes a lot more time than you think. Don’t compare yourself to someone that looks like they’re doing better than you. Keep your head down and worry about you, and you’ll get there.

 

 

 

 

C: Why should we support and buy maker and American made goods?

M: The maker movement is just so real, so tangible. You're not just buying a wallet, or a candle, or a mug; you're buying into someone's passions, their dream, their livelihood. It's as if you get a glimpse into a part of their day--through their eyes--where they spent hours looking over and shaping the same piece that you now hold in your hands.  That same care and attention will rest loyally in your hands, in your pocket, and in use for years to come. There's a beauty and a warmth to it that just isn't possible with your normal big box store purchase.  
Even if you decide not to purchase from us, we hope that you will purchase with a purpose from makers, from artists, and from average Joe's just chasing their dreams and living life by their own terms.

 

If something isn’t good enough, we redo it. If a stitch doesn’t look right, we redo it. If a piece of leather doesn’t look right, we don’t use it. Quality control happens throughout the process.We make sure to only use certain types of leathers, with certain thicknesses for certain things. If the material is too thick or thin, it won’t work.
 Since everything is made in-house, it isn’t too hard to maintain the quality we want. 

C: How do you ensure quality of your brand and your products?

M: We’re a small team- only four of us make all of our products. I make all of our bags, my wife makes all of our wallets, and our two production employees, Kelen Rylee and Seth Brown, make everything else. The team has been trained to really understand the quality that we’re going for, and I trust them to only let products that pass my standards go out the door. If they have any concerns, I’m right there everyday in the studio alongside them to guide them.

 
 

C: How do you live authentically?

M: I keep the same schedule and routine everyday. I speak my mind, but have learned when it’s important to remain silent. I do my best to treat others well and with respect, and I love what I do.

 

C:How do you find the divide between work and personal?

M: The actual work takes place between 9-5. Thinking about the business never stops, but when I’m home, I do my best to be at home. Rest and turning off the business mind makes your work far better than if you just think about it nonstop. Don’t be afraid to take a break. You probably need one.


C: What is the biggest question you've yet to find the answer to as a maker?
 
M: Why are there so many different taxes? It’s insane. As a small business owner, I’m taxed from all sides. I’d love to be able to put more money back into the economy by providing more jobs, and buying more supplies and materials and equipment to expand, but sadly, growth is often slower than I want because so much has to go to the government. 

 

                                 C: How/Where can we find your products?

M: The best place to find us is at our website at www.loyalstricklin.com, at our flagship retail store at 711 Avenue A in Opelika, AL, or at one of our many fine retailers across the globe. A complete list of stores carrying our goods can be found at www.loyalstricklin.com/pages/stockists

By humbly and passionately pursuing his dream, Michael plays an important and vital role in the maker movement. People like you and me have a part to play as well in supporting our local, small businesses. It is a privilege to see Michael and his incredible business continue to grow and prosper. You can continue to follow their journey on Instagram @loyalstricklin

Fount Leather Goods

Ben Ashby

Heath recently sat down and was able to chat with Jackie and Phillip Watcher of FOUNT, a leather goods business based in Cleveland, Ohio to learn more about them and their brand.

Read More

A Peek inside Village Common

Ben Ashby

VC (9 of 19).jpg

 

VILLAGE COMMON

A PEAK INSIDE THE CATSKILLS SHOP

 

They're one of our favorite candle brands. We've known Ben and Blake of Village Common for years, long before they created their continually growing brand. Back in the fall we popped into their Catskill, New York shop to see the new space and to learn more about the brand and their journey into retail. 

 


 

Who are you? The Village Common - Blake Hays and Ben Lebel

What is the story behind Village Commons? Beginning in 1968, and from where we get our name, the first Village Common opened its doors in Avenel, New Jersey. It was run by Grandma Bernadette, current owner Ben Lebel’s grandmother. In its first incarnation, Village Common was an antique store of carefully selected, fine pieces from all eras. Grandma Bernadette also had beautiful plants and flowers for sale on the front porch that always attracted passers by to stop in. 

In 1984, the Village Common moved to Stroudsburg, Pa., on the property of the Stroudsmoor Country Inn, and was re-imagined into a country store by Susan Lebel, Bernadette’s daughter and Ben’s mother. Antiques were still available alongside candles, soaps, homemade canned goods, and unique gift ideas. Susan has since blossomed this once country store into a thriving floral and decor studio. 

 From our southern roots, Billy Hays, current owner Blake Hays’ grandfather, opened his first country store in Pineville, Louisiana in 1960. It served as a vintage bodega; offering local produce and custom goods. Because of the construction of the new “American Highway”, Billy moved and opened his second store in 1978. This time offering mouth watering barbecue and other country store favorites. After years of serving his community, he decided to close the doors to his store. 

We bring to you a new installment of these family traditions blended together. Creating handmade, natural apothecary goods, kindled by their family history, we are continuing the legacy of the Village Common.

 

 

 

Why did you want to become a maker? I believe it’s just who we are and born to be. We were always making something as individuals and as partners. We saw the yearning for quality goods and something besides the mundane or what was available at every corner store. We wanted to create that for people. We also found a beautiful community of makers in the Hudson Valley and Catskill region of New York and wanted to contribute our skills and heritage to the movement. 

 

 

VC (5 of 19).jpg

 

 

What were each of you doing prior to Village Common? We were both working for Ralph Lauren in NYC. Ben was in store development and helping to create new spaces for Ralph Laurent stores. I was working for the website creating the content you would see and shop from. Our jobs were very exciting and challenging but we both knew that we were ready to create our own lifestyle brand. So, we set off and haven’t looked back.


 

 


Tell us about the Catskill community: Catskill is growing so fast! The community is one that is layered, evolving, quirky and so warm. We have become a very tight group in a short period of time. It feels like we are at the beginning of a very cool thing. It feels like a blessing to be a part of it. 

 

Why did you decide on that town? We felt like Catskill had everything we were looking for. We could afford to produce, have a shop and live in the Village of Catskill. That was really important for us. We are also so close to Albany/Troy, Kingston, the Catskill mountains are 10 minutes down the road, and the train ride to NYC is 2 hours down the river. We felt like Catskill had been overlooked and we were puzzled as to why. So, we moved in and love calling it home.

 

 

VC (11 of 19).jpg

 

 

How has it been adapting to the Hudson Valley way of life? It has been quite a ride in the best way possible! We have had so much fun opening a store and getting to know the community in and around the Hudson Valley. Life is beautiful up here. The hiking, small towns, farms and events keep us busy and finding new ways to enjoy our life up here. We love the Hudson Valley!

 

 

VC (1 of 19).jpg

 

 

What made you want to open a store? We have been dreaming of opening a store since we started the Village Common over 3 years ago. So, it was always on the radar. We wanted to have a space where people could come and see us and where their candles are made. It works out really well that we have the candles made in house. We also wanted a place to display more of our lifestyle vision for Village Common. In our store you will find anything from handmade bags by local artisans or vintage barware to tool boxes and spices from our neighbor. We try to have something for everyone. This was a way for us to also reach deeper into our community and establish ourselves as a member of the Catskill growing maker/retail scene.

 

 

VC (12 of 19).jpg

 

 

What are your most popular products? Our most popular product is our American Landscape candles. It was the first thing we created and people continue to express their love for the scents. We only use essential oils to fragrance our products and I feel this is what people keep coming back for.  

 

What challenges have you faced being in a small town and how has the shop/business adapted to those? Our biggest challenge is getting people to our town and in our store. We adapted before we opened creating a space to fulfill orders in the back of house right in our shop. So, we create all of our product and have the store under one roof. This helps us with the slow traffic because we can still be working while we entertain our guests that do happen to visit us. 

 

 

VC (13 of 19).jpg

 

 

What is the most rewarding aspect of being in a small town? Community for sure. There is nothing like a small community behind you and all of your fellow business owners cheering you on. 

 

What’s your favorite product in the store? Besides our Village Common product, we carry vintage African indigo textiles and that is one of our favorite things to share with our clients and thrown on ourselves.

 

 

VC (14 of 19).jpg

 

 

Walk us through the design/aesthetic process a bit: This is an ever evolving and constantly shifting process. We are always putting together drawings, colors, designs, ideas and building things. It’s also a lot of trial and error. We have a clear vision, but actually creating what we see is the tricky part. I think the process is just that, a process. It’s just Ben and I so we get to figure it all out. Sometimes this is challenging but it is always rewarding to put into motion what we are dreaming. 

 

 

VC (18 of 19).jpg

 

 

When we visit the Hudson Valley what other shops/places should we visit? The Hudson Valley is so vast with so many great places to visit but here are a few we think you should stop in:

Circle W - Palenville, NY

Clove and Creek - Kingston, NY

Northern Grade Barn Days - High Falls, NY

Lovefield Vintage - Kingston, NY

Mansion+Reed - Coxsackie, NY

Otto’s - Germantown, NY

 

What’s next? We are planning to grow our personal line into more products and we are also planning to expand our store and hopefully dive deeper into the lifestyle portion of our Village Common dream. 

VC (19 of 19).jpg

Meet The City Girl Farm {and her chickens}

Ben Ashby

File Sep 12, 1 12 44 PM.jpeg

 

THE CITY GIRL FARM


CHICKEN FOOTSTOOLS 

AN INTERVIEW WITH SALLY JANE LINVILLE


Sometimes you meet artists that make you step back and think....where has this been all my life. Sally Jane is one of those artists. I grew up on a farm, surrounded by chickens, but I never realized I needed a chicken foot stool....until I met Sally Jane Linville of The City Girl Farm...

 

Who are you: My name is Sally Jane Linville, Creative Director of The City Girl Farm. I am also a wife, new mother, daughter, sister, and friend.

What is your business: The City Girl Farm is a community of artisans sculpting beloved 'Chicken Footstools' together. The idea was inspired by memories of childhood pet chickens, pining after the sheep sculptures by Claude and Francois-Xavier Lalanne, and exploration of traditional art processes. Every chicken is one-of-a-kind, unique in posture and personality.A turned wood egg-shaped core stands on bronze feet and is connected to a bronze beak. Feathers are fashioned with various fiber art techniques- felting, spinning, knitting, dyeing- and are upholstered by hand. The chickens can function as footstools and are the best at making people smile!

 

 

Goat (37 of 40).jpg


 

Where are you located:We design and fashion Chicken Footstools at thecgf studio in midtown Kansas City, Missouri. Bronze is cast outside of Lawrence, Kansas, and wooden eggs are turned in Hesston, Kansas. Each chicken's internal frame is constructed by my father at our family farm in Lyons, Kansas.


Tell us about your process to becoming a maker: I grew up on a third generation farm in central Kansas. My father is a crop farmer and my mother is a designer, with a lifelong interest in textiles. Childhood adventures flowed with the rhythms of our farm, family and rural community. I attended Kansas State University where I received a Masters in Interior Architecture and Product Design. My professors fostered a collaborative studio environment for students to explore curiosities and design process. Henny and Penny, the original Chicken Footstools, hatched from a furniture design/build studio in my last year of school.
 

Did you come from the corporate world: No, I side-stepped it making chickens. 

 

 

Chicken-9423.jpg


 

Were you always a maker: I have always enjoyed lovingly arranging things- whether flowers in a vase, letters on a page, chocolate chips in a cookie, or rooms in my treehouse by the creek. Childhood on the farm provided plenty of time, natural resources and visiting cousins for creative play.

 

Chicken-9454.jpg


 

How did you decide you were finally ready to be a maker: In 2010 when graduation came, the design job market was less-than flourishing. I embraced the opportunity to move back home to prepare chickens for an upcoming show in New York. After that, I planned to begin my search for a 'real job.' Seven years later I have a fiber studio in Kansas City making chickens with friends!


Why are you a maker: For the joy of the journey of discovery. This quote by R. Buckminster Fuller says it best: 'There's nothing in a caterpillar that tells you it's going to be a butterfly.'


Why are you still a maker: Thankfully, the work of head-chickener requires me to engage my hands in fiber every day.

 

 

Chicken-9450.jpg


 

 

Is this your main job: For the last four years, yes, but now I am a new mother to our precious daughter, Analou Pearl. Our world is forever changed! I am just beginning to discover what bringing her sweet presence into life at studio life will inspire.


As a child what did you want to be: Treasured.


Tell us about your creative process and the evolution of that process as you've perfect your craft and as you've grown as a business: While the basic form of our chickens is now established, the sky is the limit when feathering time comes. Playing with a variety of fibers brings a fresh set of opportunities and challenges to each fashioning. I am most creative when I am present in the moment, responding to the materials in front of me. I love collaborating so incorporating more makers as the business grows is a joy; I learn so much alongside them.

 

 

Chicken-9473.jpg


 

What inspires you: Right now on my walk with Analou: a poppy-red zinnia, the curve of her foot, refreshing breeze on my face, afternoon prayer with a friend, and the hope of fall. Moments like these remind me I am a small yet special part of a grand, good, mysterious, beautiful design. And so is my neighbor.


Who inspires you: With the miracle of birth fresh in my heart, I believe inspiration can be found in every person. We are all specially made with particular gifts for the good of the world. I am inspired by so many people, particularly those who show kindness and hospitality, and all who are brave to love after loss.


Who has been your biggest champion as you've progressed as being a maker: My mother and I have shared years of creative life together. My dad is a huge fan of Chicken Footstools, telling people about them even when they can't quite grasp the concept. The delight my parents take in me has been an encouragement through every season of life.

 

 

Chicken-9462.jpg


 

How have you grown your business: The City Girl Farm has grown with the support of my family, my business partner and the willing hands of my 'chickeners.' For several years, Chicken Footstools were stitched by myself, my sister and my mother. When the demand for chickens exceeded our stitching capacity I reached out to old friends from studio days. We gathered for weekly 'chickening' sessions and shared life together. Now the business operates as a cottage industry where chickeners stitch under my direction both at thecgf studio and at home.


How have you perfected what you make: There is no substitute for years of sitting behind Chicken Footstools stitching tail-feathers. I have found that the materials often guide the project and confidence that any 'mistake' can be made beautiful with creative problem-solving. Every chicken has quirks (who doesn't?), but I have learned to embrace them and hope our collectors agree.


Has this grown been easy: Let's call it bittersweet. The process of recognizing my weaknesses and limits, asking for help and releasing control does not always feel good. Waiting for right timing can be frustrating. Stewarding relationships and resources is real responsibility. But the reward? A vibrant, authentic community of makers, beautiful chickens and a whole lot more fun.

 

 

Goat (36 of 40).jpg


 

 

 

What advice would you give based on your own experience: Surround yourself with people who believe in you. Seek out the gifts and wisdom in others. Be patient through seasons of questions and sit with one another in grief. Celebrate all that is good and lovely! Remember, the best is yet to come.


What has been the most successful way to get your product out there: For several years, we primarily shared Chicken Footstools with the public through art fairs in the Midwest. People's reactions are true entertainment! They share stories from childhood, make the best chicken impersonations and are generally so bright and intentionally encouraging. We are honored and thrilled with every adoption that takes place- particularly from our collectors with growing flocks.


Give us three tips you've learned as a maker that can be applied to everyday life: 1. Go for beautiful. 2. Start with what you've got.
3. Trust the process.

 

 

Chicken-9463.jpg

 


How can we find your products/where: Please follow our flock online at chickenfootstools.com and on social media @thecitygirlfarm. We post behind-the-scenes footage of our adventures and poll our audience for chicken names. If you are in the Kansas City area, contact me to schedule a visit to thecgf studio or swing by George Lifestyle, a lovely shop in Brookside, to meet Chicken Footstools in person.


Why should we support and buy maker and American made: Handmade objects can be unique expressions of special people, times and places. I think surrounding ourselves with treasured objects that bring joy and hold a story worth sharing is a wonderful part of being human.


How do you ensure quality of your brand and your products: The 'Art of Chickening' is a labor of love. Nothing is quickly made or touched by unfamiliar hands. We source all of our materials in the USA. Our artisans take cheery pride in their craftsmanship. Traditional manufacturing techniques encourage us as makers to slow down and enjoy the process of creation. When someone adopts a Chicken Footstool, we hope it is a family treasure for years to come.

 

 

Chicken-9442.jpg


 

 

Is flannel always in season: Absolutely. In honor of its classic appeal and this fine Folk community, we are designing a Flannel Flock of Chicken Footstools to be released for adoption later this fall. Please stay tuned!


How do you live authentically: I seek the Maker's beauty to keep my heart open, enlivened and ready to walk with others through this journey of life. My wonderful husband @evan.linville (suggestion: follow him!) love to adventure outdoors to witness creation together.


How do you find the divide between work and personal: My co-workers are friends and family so my work/personal life has always been blended. A friend recently suggested that each day should contain work, play and rest. I am finding this idea simple, sweet and helpful in this season of transition into motherhood.

 

 

Church (26 of 36).jpg

American Field DC | 5 Must Visit Makers

Ben Ashby

 American Field is just around the corner. The Washington DC market is the final weekend of September, and we couldn't be more excited. While we try to contain our excitement, here are five must visit vendors at this falls market! 

The Washington DC market is September 30 - October 1 on the second floor of Union Market. 11-6 each day.

 

American Field Boston 2017 (1 of 14).jpg

1) Ball and Buck — the brand that never misses an American Field market! Known for being one of the best made American made menswear brands, shop their booth for deep discounts on out of season items and staple pieces. 

 

File Sep 19, 9 33 41 PM.jpeg

2) Stonehill Design — everyone, especially those in Washington DC need something to brighten their days. Stonehill's one of a kind lamps and light fixtures are fun and funky additions to any space. We're obsessed with his industrial themed pieces. 

 

 

 
File Sep 24, 2 44 22 PM.jpeg

3) Solomon Chancellor — these handmade bags are honestly pieces of art. If you're looking to invest in a bag that will last for decades, and is made of the top quality materials, you'll want to spend some time with Solomon. 

 

American Field Boston 2017 (12 of 14).jpg

4) Mark Albert Boots — They're sleek, yet timeless. Mark's boots are the kind you'll want to wear on the trails, on dates, and around the office. This twenty one year old boot and shoe designer has managed to create beautiful designs that are bringing the idea of craftsmanship back to footwear. 

 

File Sep 24, 3 28 05 PM.jpeg

5) Schon Dsgn — Who knew that pens were such an industry. Ian craft's pens that are perfect for the pen collector or the regular guy looking for a sexy pen to sign his checks with. Talking to Ian is getting an education in a design trade you may have never realized exists. 

 

 

 

American Field Boston Recap

Ben Ashby

American Field Boston 2017 (7 of 14).jpg

 

AMERICAN FIELD


BOSTON | FALL 2017

 

Another American Field is in the books. This is my second of the year. Two more to go. I go to the American made pop up markets as a fan of markers and of American made and as a friend to the team that runs it all. Ive been surrounded by makers since we started this business, and it is one of the reasons we started the business. We decided early on that we would take the road less travelled and skip corporate sponsorship whenever possible in favor of promoting and advocating for makers and doers. While that road hasn't been easy for us or for any other business that has trudged down it, it has been incredibly rewarding. The team behind American Field shares many of the same views that I have on the important of conscious consumption and the value of handmade and maker made. 

 

 

American Field Boston 2017 (12 of 14).jpg

 

 

Each of the American Field markets brings together dozens of small businesses. The market itself is a way for these makers and brands to remove the digital wall between the brand and the follower and put a tangible face, voice, and hand shake with the brand. While these markets are billed as marketing events rather than money making weekends for the brands involved, it often allows the brands to cover their expenses of traveling and setting up at the market and allows them to establish hundreds or thousands of potential new customers, wholesalers, and fellow industry insiders. Thanks to social media, photography, and sites like Tumblr these connections will continue to grow well into the future. 

 

American Field launched their first market in 2012 in Boston as an extension of American made luxury brand Ball and Buck. This market in the south side of Boston allowed the various brands sold in the Ball and Buck store to come together in one place to celebrate and highlight the dozens of makers. Originally branded as a menswear pop up the event has, over time, rather effortlessly diversified to include womenswear and accessories and a variety of home goods. This diversification has allowed the American Field market to remain relevant as a market while many other markets have shifted towards different business models. 

 

 

American Field Boston 2017 (1 of 14).jpg

 

Over the years the connection to Ball and Buck has been diluted in favor of American Field standing alone as a market that straddles the luxury and every day quality goods. The price points at the markets have expanded to ensure the markets offer goods for anyone seeking to promote American made. Brands like Ball and Buck and Rancourt have used this as a way to have extreme sales at the market, in turn generating traffic to their booths. 

 

As American Field continues is 2017 season and pushes into 2018 the hope is they will launch their long awaited ecommerce Marketplace. New market events in Los Angeles, Denver, and Chicago are also being investigated. 

 

American Field will wrap the 2017 season with markets in Washington DC and Brooklyn.  

 

—  americanfield.us || Camera: Fuji X100F

American Field Boston 2017 (2 of 14).jpg
American Field Boston 2017 (5 of 14).jpg

Coming Soon! FOLK's Artisan Products in Small Shops!

Ben Ashby

FullSizeRender.jpg

We've been quietly working on this all summer...but its finally time to talk about it. As you may have noticed...we closed the online shop back in the spring. We decided it made more sense to license the FOLK name to a really amazing production house and allow them to create really amazing artisan quality products. Our first products will be the infused honeys. 

If you have a shop of know of one that needs to carry the FOLK goods please email the wholesale team today. || wholesale.folk@gmail.com.

 

Here is a preview of the collection:

FullSizeRender.jpg
FullSizeRender.jpg
FullSizeRender.jpg
FullSizeRender.jpg
FullSizeRender.jpg
FullSizeRender.jpg
FullSizeRender.jpg
FullSizeRender.jpg
FullSizeRender.jpg

Eclectic Eccentricity Jewelry || Meet the Maker

Ben Ashby

ECLECTIC ECCENTRICITY JEWELRY

MEET THE MAKER | eclecticeccentricity.co.uk

 

IMG_8252.JPG

 

 

EE Jewelry or its formal name Eclectic Eccentricity is one of our favorite jewelry makers! Known for their nature themed styles and wonderfully fun photography we knew we had to learn more about this brand and the makers behind it!

 

How did you get started creating handmade jewelry? Honestly, I was stuck in a job I didn't enjoy and was really seeking a creative refugee that my head could escape to.  I had some gemstones and pieces in a box and just started - it really was that straight forward. When I ran out of gemstones, I ordered more; when they arrived, I was so excited that I got up at 2am to make them into necklaces because my brain was too buzzy with excitement. The buzzy brain never really went away, 13 years later I still have it.

 

IMG_8253.JPG

 

 

Were you always interested in jewelry? I was always interested in design and how things fit together, ratios and symmetry - and playing with asymmetry. I come from a maths and science background, it's what I studied at university, so I think that analytical approach has influenced the designs! 

 

Did you know you would start your own brand, if not what spurred it? I wouldn't say I always knew I'd start my own brand, but I did always know, on a very gut level, that I'd do something different from the 9-5. At the time, I was aspiring to be an astronaut or work as an astrophysicist at NASA, but I'm still waiting for NASA to call. When I first began making jewelry, I quickly started developing ideas as to where I could take the business; I was working as a manager of a shop at the time so I started selling through the store and gradually over the next few months, the brand started gaining traction. I had a huge opportunity when a few months later I was featured by the website Daily Candy - overnight, sales went through the roof. It took a lot of work though, I gave up my job and my life to make the brand work. 18 hour days became my normal and there was never a moment where I didn't obsess over the smallest detail of things.

 

How do you get ideas for new products & photo shoots? Initially all the designs were my own as the business was largely run solo, but the team has now grown so we tend to work collaboratively on ideas. EE has very much become a brand which all of the team is a part of - everyone brings something different to the table so it's really pieces of all of us. From hiking to astronomy to our furry friends at home and travelling to far flung places, the pieces we create represent all the things that make our hearts beat. Our tag line is 'for the inquisitive of heart and inquiring of mind' and it's a motto we stick closely to when working on new concepts. Each piece tells a story.

 

 

IMG_8251.JPG

 

 

What are your inspirations? How do your hobbies influence what you make? Is it cliched to say anything and everything? It's difficult to pin point precise inspirations, I think ideas come naturally and you don't necessarily know where from. I think we all try to fill our time with the things we love - being out in the wilds, walking the dogs, going out for long runs. These are the moments where your brain ticks it all over, the best ideas come when you're most yourself and filling up that happiness tank with fresh air gives the mind freedom to wander a bit. We're incredibly lucky and our studio has a huge balcony with incredible views over the city; we have tables and comfy seats so at lunch you can pop out, do some yoga or just enjoy your lunch in the sunshine. Without fail, we all feel revived and connected for the afternoon and that's the best inspiration there is.

 

 

IMG_8257.JPG

 

 

 

What has been your biggest lesson?  This is easy - hiring the right people. A brand is only as good as the people behind it - you can have the best brand identity in the world but if you've got the wrong team it's impossible. If your team can't connect, how could your customer? Over the years there has been a lot of trial and error and going from a place where the company was a one woman band to suddenly having to share that load with others has been a tricky one. It's never something I'll perfect, but I try to trust my gut when taking on new people. Really, it's about knowing your tribe and putting together a group of people who are reading from the same page. You work with the same few people every day for 5 days a week, you have to get on and you have to know how the others work. We're an incredibly close team (seriously, sometimes we're all like those 'cute' couples who finish each others sentences) but that level of understanding has come from knowing each other so well and all working towards the same goal. I never thought I'd have a group of people work for me who cared and were as emotionally invested in my brand as I am. I've had to make some tough choices and there's the lesson - don't do harm, be kind, but make sure you hire the right people (no pressure).

 

IMG_8254.JPG

 

 

What's your favorite thing about sharing EE Jewelry with others?  Seeing it all over the world! EE has so many international customers, from people who buy direct from our website to those who buy via our little army of stockists, seeing how far we can make the EE net reach is exciting. It's like a community and that makes my face beam rainbows. On the other end of the spectrum, seeing our pieces being worn in our own neck of the woods is so, so, so amazing, I can't even begin to tell you. I was walking home from the office recently and walked past a girl wearing our 'You Cannot Be Cirrus' necklace; it was all I could do to not say something. It's not an exaggeration or a sales line to say that every piece is made with so much love and care. Our relationship with our customers is paramount and the wonderful feedback we get makes us so happy.

 

 

What's been your best advice you've been given? Many years ago when the business was first starting to expand, it was stressful and I struggled. I was finding it hard to know how to structure my days efficiently and suddenly I had a major high street retailer in the UK calling me in for a meeting. It was scary, I felt stuck and I had zero experience.  A friend called Jason said "say yes, you'll make it work later". So I did and it worked. Tina Fey said something similar a few years after that with "say yes, and you'll figure it out afterwards". Guessing she and Jason must have had a chat at some point. It's by far the best piece of advice I've been given - because 100%, you'll always figure it out.

 

 

IMG_8255.JPG

 

What's been your biggest challenge? The downside of saying yes means sometimes you are left in a pickle.

The scaling up of the business is a challenge. Knowing those tipping points, when it's time to start investing more both in terms of money and time, is vital. I guess it comes down to your gut again - most of my business decisions are gut based with a small basis of paperwork and numbers! Working with big international companies is challenging, they bring with them their own demands which can affect how you choose to run your business, not to mention how huge orders can play with your cash flow when a 6 week wait for payment is the expected. It's all good though, running a business is the harshest learning curve but it makes you learn hard and fast!

— SHOP: eclecticeccentricity.co.uk

IMG_8256.JPG

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.

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

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.

Undress to Impress || Related Garments

Ben Ashby

Last week Heath, Trey, and I went out into the woods of Kentucky to shoot some images of Related Garments underwear and socks. After shooting was complete I asked the folks at Related Garments to tell us a bit more about the brand...

David and Mike Appel were prone to fighting over almost anything as kids, even the unique underwear their mom would bring home from the department store. Looking back, it was this very underwear that gave the brothers the infinite confidence of superheroes as they’d spend countless hours running around the house and yard. Fast-forward years later and the brothers had a revelation: the women in their lives were always giving them raving compliments on their refined taste in underwear. As they set out to disrupt the clothing industry they found a very common theme: when women were asked, “What is the one thing you’d change about your man?” their overwhelming response was, “his underwear!”.

Time after time, when faced with the chance to change one thing about their guy, women continued to say they would kick those ratty, mix-matched undies to the curb. Time to make a change. RLTD spent years sourcing the best fabrics and most responsible manufactures in order to get a quality and affordable product to our customers. Our production partner is certified by the Worldwide Responsible Accredited Production (WRAP) dedicated to promoting safe, lawful, humane and ethical manufacturing. Related was built on the belief that too many men are ignoring a quick and effortless way to improve their style: upgrading their underwear.

By presenting guys with simple, coordinated, and comfortable options, David and Mike have made it easy to ditch your gross, old underwear and put on a more refined set of undergarments.

For David and Mike, Related is about much more than just introducing men to a new way of thinking about style, it is a vehicle for raising awareness around some of the biggest health challenges facing men today. This includes working with The Movember Foundation to “change the face of Men’s Health” through combating various cancers such as prostate cancer.

Nature's Kindle | Meet the Maker

Ben Ashby

When most students are trying to make it through college, they get a job waiting tables, but because he was already burning a candle at both ends that didn't work for Diosdado Velasquez. When his hectic college days started to make money tight, he started making candles. That small idea because a small venture in time, and eventually Nature's Kindle was formed.

How did you start Nature's Kindle?

Nature’s Kindle began as a crazy side hustle during college with an impossible internship schedule and the need to pay my bills.  I was looking for a way to get by but was unable to have a typical “college” job, so I decided to hone in on my entrepreneurial spirit and go for it.  

Who taught you to create candles and fragrances, or were you self-taught?

I started Nature’s Kindle buying and reselling candles that I felt had scents inspired by nature, but truly didn’t own the brand until I started developing my own products and learned how to make them by hand.  I did some research and found a class, where I learned the basics of candle making. That is also when I learned about soy candles and the natural benefits of working with soy wax.  From there, I started blending fragrances and developed our signature scent Woodlands. 

What was the first product you made and how was it received?

The first candles we ever made were heart shaped candles for Valentine’s day.  It was our first show and we went above and beyond for what we thought would be “popular” which was the total opposite of who we are.  That was a huge learning lesson for us to be ourselves.  I literally sold 1 candle and decided from then on to go with my gut and properly brand my business to truly represent who I am.

Did you know you would start your own brand, if not what spurred it?

When I first started making candles I had no idea that I would start my own brand.  Once I knew I had a product that customers started coming back for, my wife and I had a heart to heart about what our goals were.  We wrote down what was important to us and how we felt our brand should be represented, and Nature’s Kindle was born.  As we are always inspired by nature, we felt we should always have scents inspired by nature and we took it from there!

How do you get ideas for new products & photo shoots?

We have a few product ideas lined up for the upcoming year that are in line for Nature’s Kindle.  We’ve thrown around a lot of different ideas but we always come back to who we are and what we need to continue representing.  Keep it simple.  Our photo shoots are usually in house and collaborative with our awesome photographer, lots of natural light, and based around nature inspired home décor.

What are your inspirations?

My wife and I inspire each other.  Our business inspirations are almost always on a road trip to the mountains, hiking and talking, or late nights at the warehouse after about 10 cups of coffee.  As long as we are together we are inspired.

How do your hobbies influence what you make?

We love hiking, backpacking, camping, and just generally hanging out outside.  During our adventures we love to dream big and loud and figure out the next scent or product we can start working on.

What has been your biggest challenge?  

My biggest challenge was taking the leap of faith to take this on full time in 2016.  While working full time and having a steady income I was able to play it safe.  Both Nature’s Kindle and my previous job required full time attention so with the moral support of my wife I took the route that allowed me to live my dream of being an entrepreneur.

What's been your best advice you've been given?

The best advice I had been given was to chase your dream and give it all you have to make them come true. 

 What's your favorite thing about sharing Nature's Kindle with others?

My favorite thing about sharing my product is seeing the reaction of when they pick up and smell our candles.  Scent is a huge memory trigger for most people, so to hear about my customers memories when they experience our candles really makes my day.  I love hearing feedback from my customers and as we grow I hope to share more of our story and journey with others and inspire more people to experience nature as well.

Designs from Upstate: Meet Wolf Jaw Press

Christophe Chaisson

We love upstate New York! between Earth Angels, Upstate Stock, and now Wolf Jaw Press we are itching for a visit! Recently we sat down with Alicia Burnett, the owner of Wolf Jaw Press for a brief chat about what she does, why she is a maker and why you should support American made. 

 

FOLK: Hi! Please introduce yourself.

WOLF JAW PRESS: I’m Alicia Burnett, and I am a designer, artist, and all around maker. I’m also the sole proprietor of Wolf Jaw Press, a small independent printmaking studio that produces fine art screen prints inspired by the beauty of the natural world.

 

Where in the world are you located? 

Right now my studio and I are located in the northern Hudson Valley region of New York State. I’m really happy living and working here. I think it’s a great location for makers like me that love nature and feel more comfortable living in the country versus living in a city. The countryside and farmlands of Upstate New York are a beautiful place to live; it can be quite rural, but it’s not so rural that I feel isolated and disconnected to the surrounding makers and local arts communities. I love the fact I’m surrounded by serene farmland and plenty of open space while still being close enough to New York City, Hudson, and Albany to be physically involved the art communities of those cities. 

Why are you a maker?

I am a maker because it feels like the most authentic and natural way for me to live my life and make a living for myself. I am a maker because for as long as I can remember, I have had an insatiable compulsion to create. It’s just something that is in my DNA I guess. 


What do you make?

Through my studio, Wolf Jaw Press, I make limited edition screen prints. 

How long have you been a maker?

While I’ve always identified as being a creative, artistic individual with a strong desire to make and create, professionally, I haven’t been a maker for that long. I graduated with my MFA from Pratt Institute in 2015, and shorty afterwards I established Wolf Jaw Press. I’ve been a professional maker for less than year! Establishing my own studio and business has been quite the process, but putting in the long hours and hard work has been so worth it. Everyday I learn something new, and seeing my studio slowly but surely grow and flourish gives me an indescribable sense of satisfaction. 


Why did you decide on what you do?

It took me a long time to find myself artistically. I attended the Rhode Island School of Design where I spent most of my time as an undergraduate student trying to find a medium that felt comfortable for me. I watched so many of my friends as freshman and sophomores immediately gravitate towards a specific major, and then to a specific medium or process. Meanwhile, I felt like I was interested in too many things. I wanted to do any try everything, but nothing I artistically experimented with felt right. 

It wasn’t until the tail end of my junior year that I had a moment of clarity. On a whim, I decided to take a screen printing class with RISD’s printmaking department during the spring semester of my junior year. Within weeks I was completely in love with the screen printing process, but it still took me a few years to find the courage to establish my own screen printing studio and business.

The catalyst that finally pushed me to take the leap of faith and start my own studio were the repeated failures I had at trying to break into the corporate world of design. After my graduation from RISD with my BFA, and then from Pratt my MFA, I had interview after interview with companies and design firms, but it seemed that no one wanted to hire me. In hindsight, these “failures” in getting hired, while discouraging and frustrating at the time, pushed me to realize that maybe I should try to open my own studio and be self employed.

Favorite part about being a maker?

There is so much I love about being a maker! In short, I love the freedom and control it gives me in my personal and professional life. While being self employed undoubtedly comes with an expected level of uncertainly and stress, I have been able to experience a level of freedom that is both liberating and exhilarating. By being a maker, I get to do what I love everyday and I get to be my own boss. I decided what I want to make and when I want to make it, I create my own hours, I decide what projects and collaborations I want to work on, and I get to decide how and in what direction I want my business to grow. 

I also love that each day always hold something new and different. I could never have a job where I do the same thing everyday sitting at a desk. As a maker and a self employed artist, I get to first and foremost create the art that I love to make, but I also get to explore and learn about financial management, business strategies, legal procedures, accounting, and marketing. I’m learning and exploring so much. I find that my days bouncing between slinging ink in the studio, compiling and analyzing finical reports hunched over my laptop, or researching small business growth strategies are engaging and deeply rewarding. 


Why support makers?

When you shop for items made by artisans and makers, you can expect receive high quality goods crated with care while your dollars contribute to and strengthening a local economy. By supporting makers, you are also helping support someone’s passion. We makers care so deeply and passionately about what we do, and through buying our goods you enable us to make a living off of our authentic passion for creating. 

— Wolf Jaw Press

Flower Power: Toby Kassoy + Lilla Bello

Ben Ashby

Recently, we made a trip out west to the golden coast with the sun shining and the windows down. We asked that along the way makers reach out to us to meet and shoot what it is that they do. Each and every business was unique, but when Toby of Lilla Bello reached out and asked us to shoot her floral design studio we knew we had to go. Making our way past the superbloom of poppies in California we traveled to Lilla Bello to meet Toby, who has been following us for years. We were lucky enough to stop in and shoot her creating in her space while getting to know her better. Meet Toby Kassoy of Lilla Bello, a bespoke floral design studio in Los Angeles, and watch as she pulls together several beautiful arrangements in her lifestyle shop and studio.

Read More

WILD + HABIT

Ben Ashby

THE INSATIABLE PURSUIT OF CREATING TANGIBLE BEAUTY FROM WILDERNESS // SEEKING MAGIC // FOSTERING SENTIMENT. 

 


Recently I sat down with the folks behind lifestyle shop and brand Wild Habit in Oceanside, California to learn more about their brand, their mission, and their love of nature. We also learned they plant a tree in Tahoe National Forest for every purchase in their store!


 

Who are you?

We are makers. We are best friends. We are stylists, artists, consultants, photographers, and collectors. We are wanderers, shakers, and movers with roots in to two magnificent coasts. Both Danielle Quigley and Sue Fan grew with the trees in the eastern deciduous forests. It was there we found art, meaning, a lot of poison ivy, and our insatiable pursuit for all things beautiful. We met over ten years ago chasing ice and adventure in Antarctica and haven't slowed since. We've shifted our focus from our full time photography jobs to pursue our greatest passions together in the amazing state of California: To create, to forage and explore, to seek and share.

What is your business?

We wander and forage in search of natural materials. We collaborate and create handmade products and installations from our found, natural materials. Staying true to natural beauty and to our craft, we are impulsive in gathering (picking up anything we find interesting) and deliberate in our execution (finding the best way to show of the inherent beauty of the material). We illuminate birch bark, carve bones, wear feathers and stones. Our WILD HABIT keeps us exploring & creating - from our back woods to the beach to the mountains and world-wild. Making beauty from nature is what do and what we love - from jewelry to lighting, wall art to table art.

Why are you a maker?

We want to bring the beauty of the earth into every heart and home. The more beauty we can share from the earth, and the more we stress the importance of preserving Earth's natural beauty (by planting trees, by sponsoring beach clean ups, by donating a percentage of proceeds to great organizations), we hope to make a small difference in how people see, feel, and shop.

 

Why should we support small makers?

We are real people. We should support those who live with the land, those who work to make it better, those who farm, and build, and create, those who work hard daily to keep craftsmanship alive, those who work to produce beautiful, thoughtful, and real wares, and who have amazing stories to share. Supporting small makers is the greatest step towards reconvening with the earth and people, and seeing what it truly means to be made with love.

Why did you start your business?

We want to be a part of a community that consists of artists and makers and lovers and thinkers and doers.

What inspires you?

Definitely the great outdoors. It's a very wild habit.

— www.wildhabit.com

Meet Bowen Outdoors

Ben Ashby

As part of our series of maker spotlights, we recently teamed up with Zack of Bowen Outdoors to talk about how he turned his passion for the outdoors into a business. For Zack, owning her own company is a way that she can give back to the causes and programs that matter to him, like nature conservation and camps and training programs that help children experience nature. Read more below to find out how Zack started Bowen Outdoors, and how he's making sure a new generation can enjoy the great outdoors.

 

How did you get started creating an outdoor brand?

We founded our brand on one mission: to inspire families and children to get out and explore more. During our conversations about our biggest influences, we realized the brand we wanted to create should be founded on two principles: family and exploring. These influences led us to creating a social enterprise driven outdoor brand where we give 10% of all net profits to programs all around the country that provide training, education and camps for children and families to experience the outdoors. 

A lot of our passion comes from relationships with our families. We were both raised as active outdoor children and were heavily influenced by the experiences and lessons a child can learn from being exposed to the outdoors. Having our own kids now we see that the idea of going camping, hiking and exploring outside is starting to fade and with that we think children are losing their sense of adventure, curiosity and wonder.  

Who taught you to start your own brand, or were you self-taught?

We have learned a lot of valuable skills about overall business operations from past experiences in family business and in college. We have learned a lot since starting Bowen Outdoors. Many of the important aspects of creating products, brand image, creative development, etc. were all things we did not know much about. We have had a lot of trial and error and picked up on different skills as we have gone just by trying and doing and asking for help from friends and family. It hasn’t always been perfect, but we have definitely learned a lot along the way.

Did you know you would start your own brand, if not what spurred it?

I have always known I wanted to start something of my own. I come from a long line of entrepreneurs and business owners, so I  think that the drive to create and build upon ideas is somewhat in my blood naturally. I started working for my grandfather’s business when I was 13 years old because the idea of running a business seemed fun and interesting to me. I worked there from 13-20 and as I got older, I would always have people call me the “little boss man” and tell me how I would one day be running the company and I would always just laugh. Although I have always felt fortunate enough to have had the option to work in the family owned businesses, I always wanted it to be in a field that I was passionate about and wanted to pave my own way.

Bowen Outdoors and the idea behind it happened somewhat naturally for us. Getting outside and exploring has always been something I have been passionate about, but growing up in the Midwest I never thought about creating an outdoor brand because I didn't feel that we were in an area that was “outdoorsy” enough. Now that I have started a family of my own and do my best to get my kids to explore all that life has around us, I realized we don't have to always be in the mountains to explore. The opportunity for exploring is all around us.

How do you get ideas for new products & photo shoots?

Bowen Outdoors is focused on providing outdoor lifestyle products and apparel for people who are just as comfortable in the city as they are on the trail. Our product ideas come from trying to inspire and motivate people to live life outside of the cubicle, living room or their cell phone. 

 

What are your inspirations?

My greatest inspiration overall has been my father. Since I was young, I remember his passion for the outdoors and the part it played in our relationship. My Dad is every part of the word, outdoorsman. Growing up, I lived in a log cabin in the woods, we had a couple of horses, played in the woods and creeks daily, and he participated in all of those things with us. Our vacation every year was in a state park or campground where we always went on hikes and climbed around on rocks. He really taught us about the outdoors and instilled his love for it in us. To this day, my greatest memories with him have involved camping and exploring. Just a few weeks ago, we had one of the best trips I have ever been on in my life and conversations while exploring that I will never forget. He is a tough guy who still loves rock climbing, backpacking, and finding new places to explore.

Outside of the outdoors world, my father is a quiet yet smart and calculated businessman. He is passionate not only for his business, but also for the people working for him. I have always admired the way he has done his best to treat people fairly and respectfully even when it meant less overall profit for the business in the end. The kind of compassion for people that is greater than the desire for money is a rarity in this world and I really look up to him for that.

Overall in life, combining his love for the outdoors and his business knowledge and compassion for people, he is a pretty cool guy. What I am sure most people wouldn’t expect to read is that my Dad is legally blind, and if his eye disease has it’s way, will be completely blind sometime in his life. To see a man who has never stopped rock climbing, walking on narrow trails at the top of a mountain, crawling through caves, and skydiving despite not being able to see is the most inspiring to me. He has never let his sight keep him from living life and laughing and that is one of the things I will always remember most about him. He lived his life to the fullest and didn’t what people thought he should or shouldn't do keep him from truly living.

How do your hobbies influence what you make?

We are family guys, and most of our time is spent with our wife and kids. We try our best to get out with them and teach them about the outdoors, being safe while exploring, and about the incredible things you can find while you are out on an adventure. The best part about being an outdoor brand is that we actually live this life so we are able to take those experiences and work toward creating products that reflect them.

 

What has been your biggest challenge?  

I would say our biggest challenge has been lack of knowledge. We started this brand on a shoestring budget. I have a wife and three kids under 3 years old at home and the idea of using our savings or getting a loan just didn't seem like the best idea while trying to keep their well-being as a priority. When you make a decision to start a business without a lot of money, things start slower in terms of products available and slower in general. This is something we are navigating; yet trying to keep our priority of family as our main focus. 

What's been your best advice you've been given?

My father once told me, “I am not going to stop living life waiting to die just because I can't see. I am going to live my life to the fullest, doing the activities that make me happy and if I die climbing down a mountain, at least I died doing something I love” It may not have been real advice that he was trying to give, but the impact that the idea of really going for what you want, never settling and taking chances, will stay with me for a lifetime.

What's your favorite thing about sharing your art with others?

The impact it has had on families and children. When we give back to community programs that help support exploration and adventure it's an incredible feeling. Knowing that not only are we providing great gear and apparel, but that we are actively making a difference in people's lives is the best part of what we do. At the end of the day, it doesn't feel like we're running a business - it feels like we're creating something special and something we believe in. BOWENOUTDOORS.COM

 

Good + Well || Candles + Soaps

Ben Ashby

Recently I had the pleasure of shooting a series of images for Good + Well Co. Their candles and soaps are truly delightful.