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Filtering by Category: MAKER

Teressa Foglia + A Modern Millinery

Ben Ashby

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TERESSA FOGLIA

reinventing an age-old art



originally ran in Where Women CREATE

Teressa Foglia is an entrepreneur who recently opened her first millinery shop in Industry City, Brooklyn, New York. Starting her first business just after college, she quickly grew her online following as well as her social and professional circle. Now the owner of two businesses, we catch up with her, plus hear a bit of her story and advice for hopeful entrepreneurs.



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Growing up in Troy, New York, I always knew I wanted to explore the world. I was close with my entire family but it was no surprise to them that when I turned 18, I wanted to move to the West Coast.

After graduating, I switched jobs four times in a year. I was 23 when I started a social media company after I quickly realized that neither climbing the corporate ladder nor office life was for me. It was during that transitional period that I picked up my first few social media clients. My company continued to grow through word of mouth and we successfully built up an agency that worked with incredible brands all over the world.

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I spent my late 20s as a digital nomad. Working and traveling to 35-plus countries, many of them alone, often wondering, “Why am I here?” “What is my true passion?” A question that I think so many of us search for—some finding it earlier than others. When my heart was broken, I took off to Europe on a one- way ticket. I allowed myself a break. It was a huge soul-searching time in my life.

It was during this time that I thought it would be fun to learn how to make the beloved hats that I wore on my head—every single day—just for fun. When my friends started to see me wearing my own designs and product, they started asking for their own as well. So, I got busy and focused more energy into a creative project that brought me happiness.

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Currently, I live between the West Village and Los Angeles, but the majority of my time is spent in New York. I still have my social media business, which now has its own team of creatives and marketers to help me grow it, but I also own and operate a store and atelier in Industry City, in Brooklyn, New York. I am constantly trying to learn new skills and I always encourage others to do the same— just as I did with my career-making hats! If I could encourage budding entrepreneurs to do anything, it would be to make travel, hobbies and other activities part of your regular routine. Tasks like that are how I’ve found success in my business and discovered new loves.

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When it comes to my millinery business, I try pay attention to the small details. Every hat is one-of-a- kind, whether it is made-to-measure from my ready-to-wear collection or a custom hat. I don’t believe in mass-production, so I painstakingly try to ethically source all of our materials used. We donate all scraps to a local university, have eliminated almost all plastic we use and believe in making a product that our clients will have forever.

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“WE BELIEVE IN QUALITY OVER QUANTITY, HANDMADE OVER MASS-MADE, AND THAT standing out is always better than blending in.”


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I tend to invest a lot of time in my social relationships with other entrepreneurs. Being able to find guidance and understanding with people who run similar businesses allows me to grow and flourish in my own. I often find advice from friends like Kaitlyn Barclay + Willow Hill of Scout Lab Creative, Emily Katz of Modern Macramé and Lindsay Zuelich of Wood Brain, three fellow women business owners who always inspire me in my own work.

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Opening my space has been my biggest accomplishment. I’ve never worked in retail, and when I first started, my only hat sales were to family and friends. But I went with it! I knew this wouldn’t be a space for just making and selling hats.

Our foundation is to create a place where a community can gather to learn, to share a meal or to listen to live music—a place where anyone can feel inspired. It’s because of this community we have had such a successful first few months. When you’re starting a business or even just pursuing a new hobby or project, trust your gut. Don’t be afraid to start today, and when things are going well, don’t be afraid to take a vacation— you deserve it! Above all else, enjoy the journey!


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Choose Success

➀ Be less afraid to fail. We learn the most from our failures, and if a project or product doesn’t work out like you’d hoped, you ideally will have learned something from the process.

➁ Have a good team. Surrounding you, cheering for you, in both your business and personal life. And cheer even louder for them!

➂ Put your all into every piece you make. It’s an extension of you!

➃ Don’t be afraid to ask for help. And accept help when it’s offered to you.

➄ Take breaks. Daily meditation is key for me.
➅ Go for it. “The right time” never comes soon enough. Go after what you want now.
➆ Take the vacation. The good life is all about balance.



TeressaFoglia.com Instagram: @TeressaFoglia | WHERE WOMEN CREATE

Christy Jo Stone + Serving Southern Sweetness

Ben Ashby

CHRISTY JO STONE

the fruit tea chicks

The tiny town of Hartsville, Tennessee, and its surrounding countryside, with its rolling pastures, southern charm and small-town sensibility, provides the perfect palate for Christy Jo Stone to grow her businesses, raise her kids and serve up her signature blend of deliciously refreshing fruit tea. From her family’s farm outside of town, she has transformed a shed into a beautiful space for creating teas, hosting her annual Strawberry Patch Barn Sale and making plans for the future of the Fruit Tea Chicks.

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I live in Hartsville, Tennessee, the same town where I was raised. Trousdale County is the smallest county in Tennessee. It’s predominately a farming community. Like so many others, I grew up in a broken home. My parents divorced when I was in the fourth grade, at which time we moved from Lafayette to Hartsville, which are about 15 miles apart.

Growing up in a small town, I never felt comfortable expressing myself and lived somewhat of a caged-up
life I guess you could say. I really didn’t recognize this until I got older (probably in college) and more in touch with my inner-self. In small towns, it’s not always easy to be “different.” In fact, it was frowned upon, so I chose to conform.


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As I got into high school, I quickly realized if I ever wanted to unleash the beast within, I would have to get the heck outta dodge. So I did. I headed south to Ole’ Miss, which was not a good choice in terms of proper places to unleash the beast! It was one of the most uniform schools I have ever been to, with lots of old money, beautiful people and rich southern gals—none of which applied to me.

I left there after one-and-a-half years and transferred to the University of Tennessee-Knoxville, where I ended up getting my degree in psychology. While there, I had the opportunity to travel abroad to Australia, where I backpacked and lived in hostels for four months. I made this journey all alone, and it’s where my passion for handmade, color and pastry shops came alive. The inner beast was finally released!

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In 2003, I became a stay-at-home mom and a member of the local garden club. Each month we had a potluck, and my “dish” was always my homemade fruit tea. The little old ladies would fluff me up about how good it was and make me feel proud of myself. I started with just a basic recipe, but before long, I was super-bored with it. I started tinkering with the recipe, adding fresh puréed fruits and such.

That worked on a small scale, but when I started the business, that recipe just didn’t work. I finally perfected my own unique recipe using fruit juices, concentrates and a few other specialty blends which have stood the test of time. It’s the one I hope to use until my tea-making days are over.

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I used to journal and doodle a lot. About a year ago, I cleaned out my sewing room and found a journal entry dated June 2009. In it, I had written about my dreams to start my first Barn Sale—The Strawberry Patch—and how I wanted to sell my homemade fruit tea by the jug. I had forgotten I had a vision for my tea, way back when. All these fruit tea ideas finally came together in July 2016 when I did my very first show at Swanky Plank at Rippa Villa.

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I’m completely self-taught with my own cooking. I grew up eating good-old southern food like pinto beans and cornbread, where the only seasoning used was salt, pepper and lard. Being a single mom with three kids going three directions, I never get enough time home to cook. I don’t like frozen or boxed dinners. I love food blogs and pics.

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I’m not sure if it is because of the artfulness of the picture, the staging and styling of it or the beauty of the finished product itself. I’m fascinated by chefs and their ability to create a piece of art using food. I love cookbooks like “The Plantiful Table” and “Whole Food Energy.” I love the pictures in them just as much.

At the end of the day, I’m a single mom without any formal training who is chasing her dreams and doing the best she possibly can. My greatest dream is to deliver a creative product that people will want as a staple item in their pantry for years to come.

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“I’m good at fruit tea—that about sums it up!”

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Summertime Tea

Fresh berries for muddling (such as strawberries or blueberries)

Three parts fruit tea
One part gin
Thyme or rosemary for garnish

In a cocktail shaker, muddle your choice of fresh fruit. Pour in the fruit tea and gin then add ice and shake. Serve on or off the rocks and garnish with your choice of fresh herbs.


Chelsea Farmer + A Very Colorful World

Ben Ashby

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CHELSEA FARMER

originally from WHERE WOMEN CREATE

Chelsea Farmer is the owner and founder of HorseFeathers Gifts - an online jewelry and lifestyle company that gives modern women globally inspired and locally rooted designs to express themselves. Educated in gemology and energized by lots of color, Chelsea loves connecting with real women and their real stories through handmade jewelry. 


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I was born in Kentucky, but my family was moved to Rhode Island when I was two years old—and from there, all over the world. As a Navy child, I grew up all around the world. I spent most of my childhood traveling Europe while we lived in Spain and Italy. We moved back to the States when I was eight-years-old, including the South and Great Plains. We really did live all over! 

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According to my mom, I’ve been making pretty things since birth. My mom is incredibly artistic and always had projects for us to do. I remember painting, coloring, and making jewelry from the time I was three-years-old. We would spend hours making decor for our home. Mostly, we were always trying to bring color into the boring, white-walled military base housing we always lived in. I’m always looking to bring more color into our lives because of it!

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I feel like being a creative person has opened my eyes up to more beauty in the world. I see art in everything around me. I am inspired by colors in old buildings, flowers, and sunsets. It is intertwined with how I grew up and my passion for traveling and connecting with the world. I find joy in the differences in cultures and styles, architecture, etc. I am always looking for patterns, and color combos, and textures.

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My heart is drawn to the world and all it has to offer and see. Even though my roots were—and are—in my Kentucky home, my heart branches all around the globe. Creating is a way to pull those branches back in and draw all the inspiration and joy I have discovered and the memories I’ve made in so many places. It pulls it all back home—and lets me share my heart with the world.

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My style is influenced by my travels. It is best summed up as globally eclectic, as it is influenced by colors and textures that I have seen all over the world. Not being from just one place, I find myself feeling quite at home almost anywhere—or maybe everywhere, some eclectic combination of everything. 

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Our studio is located in Owensboro Kentucky overlooking the beautiful Ohio River. We moved here in 2015, and after having lived all over, this just feels like our corner of the world. It is our favorite place to be and to come back to, even after international travel or scooting around the country in our renovated Airstreams. (We have had a few over the years.) 

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It is always nice to take a break. I like to just physically step away. If I am feeling stumped in the studio, I will grab my son and we will get outside. Being in nature always seems to refresh me and inspire me. The Ohio River practically runs through my backyard so there is always something to explore. We also have three rescue dogs who keep us moving out there and help us to just stop and enjoy nature.

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I also try to get out and get involved in the community. Sometimes, we will just hop in the car and go volunteer at a church—either with jewelry or something random. Recently, my stepmom and I spent a day cutting fabric for a quilting circle at a local church. Just talking with others, hearing their stories—and playing with multi-colored fabrics—brought lots of fresh creativity! It is not long before a new idea pops into my mind. 

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As an introvert, I do thrive most when alone in my studio. As a mom, sometimes just a quiet moment is all I really need. It is always refreshing, and important, to get together with other creative people and get recharged.

I love encouraging and inspiring other women to fulfill their God-given talents. I’ve made so many wonderful friends over the years simply by reaching out to them on social media and complimenting their work. Being a creative person can be very lonely sometimes. I’m thankful for the artsy women I have met over the years and the encouraging community that we have build through these friendships. 

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If ever there was a time to turn your creativity into a career, this is it! When I started this journey back in 2009, people looked at me when I was crazy when I said I make jewelry for a living. Friends on social media would see me traveling around the United States mingling with celebrities and be totally shocked that at 21, this was my life. Etsy was still kind of new.


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Social media was still new for a lot of people. These days, everyone knows someone who sells online—on a website or through social media. That stigma is not quite there anymore—so go for it, learn from others, and create your own path! 

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Social media has positively impacted my business over the years. I love connecting directly with our customers from all over the world and forming actual relationships, more than just a sale here and there. This allows me to get a better feel for my customers and what they are looking for in our pieces. Over the years we have developed such a great following and we regularly ask their input on new designs and projects. I enjoy allowing customers to become a part of this business. 

— horsefeathergifts.com

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Lena Schlabach + More Faith than Fear

Ben Ashby

Lena Schlabach was born and in Ohio’s Amish Country. She was once herself a little Amish girl. She is now a fashion designer and gets to travel the world with this dream job. Her life is way more than a little Amish girl could of ever imagined. She now gets to empower women with the brand she has developed in the three short years of business. Lena is passionate about making that her patterns fit a size 28 women as well as a size 5. She believes everyone should feel beautiful when they slip the Frock on.

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More Faith Than Fear.

Make your decisions on faith not fear.


I was born and raised in Ohio’s Amish country. I grew up in the Amish culture with my family making everything they needed and watching my community farm. As a child, I always had a desire to be creative. I remember sitting in an outhouse restroom by the one room schoolhouse I attended and creating rose flowers out of the toilet paper. I loved the reaction of my friends thinking I was talented. It inspired me to continue finding unique ways to be creative. I think it’s always possible to make something beautiful out of something ugly. It’s that way with life too.

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Though I grew up in a naturally beautiful community, I always dreamed of growing up and leaving the Amish culture to live on the beach. I’m sure in retrospect that is because we love the new and mysterious, but it was always something I wanted to do. Today, I no longer live the Amish way of life, but it is the culture of my family. One of my sisters still lives in the community, and I live just next door in Millersburg, Ohio—the heart of Ohio’s Amish country.



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Though I always had the desire to leave, one day I heard the saying, ‘Bloom where you are planted.’ That changed my way of thinking and my way of living. Suddenly everything changed and my creativity blossomed. I started sharing a photo-of-the-day and giving people on social media that I’d met at vintage events or fairs a glimpse of the beauty of Amish country. At the same time, I started to dream about the kind of products or business I could create that meant something to myself.

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As a plus-sized woman, I have always been frustrated by the reality that there aren’t m any companies that make ‘cute’ clothes for me that look good and fit well. Suddenly, I found myself wanting those bohemian clothes that had become popular but there wasn’t a company making them for me. I decided that if I set my mind to it, I could be that company, and I could make a garment that was just as beautiful and well-built for a size 28 as it was for a size 5. 

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I had the vision, but as a kid I didn’t really learn to sew. I’d always dreamed about moving out of the Amish country, so any lesson my mom would try to give me went in one ear and out the other. Luckily I inherited the Amish work ethic and resourcefulness. Gathering inexpensive thrift store curtains and fabrics, and enlisting the help of my local Amish community of seamstresses, I slowly taught myself to sew enough to start making frocks. Speaking the Dutch language of these talented women, I was able to build a community with them helping me achieve my dream.

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I have been in business as Farmhouse Frocks for going on three years now. It has become a business that feels not only creatively rewarding, but also fulfilling in my ability to create beautiful pieces for other women and bring happiness to them. My garments are an extension of my goal to empower women of all shapes and sizes. I am also lucky to be able to work with both of my daughters. Sydney, my younger daughter, acts as my personal assistant and aids with my online presence and styling, while my older daughter, Felicia, is my lead salesperson. 

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Six months into our business, we outgrew the basement of my home where we were producing all of our goods. We were utterly out of excess space to work and create, and people were starting to ask us about opening a small space for retail, so I began to look in our historic downtown for a usable location. Eventually, we found our space, with its industrial roots, high ceilings, and ceilings decorated with tin roofing, and using 28 gallons of white paint we painted all of the walls white and found a new home for Farmhouse Frocks.

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Wed have grown rapidly, but I feel blessed. My biggest passion has been empowering women from maker to consumer, and I vow every day to make my decisions out of Faith, not Fear. It’s too difficult to make clear decisions that are hard if you’re fearful. That is why I always try to operate with faith. We even started and use the hashtag, #MoreFaithThanFear. 

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Today, I am happy to say that employ 40 people, and I love that I can involve my Amish community in my business. We now have a great leverage to create jobs in the community for Amish mothers that aren’t able to work outside of the home. Last year the local chamber gave us the reward for Small Business of the Year because of the impact we have had on our community. Now that I have a team that can now help me with all the day-to-day needs, I have more time to travel and feed my soul with inspiration. When I’m not drawing inspiration on the road, I love to browse Pinterest and Podcasts.

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I love to think of ways to better my business/events. How can I make it more creative? Sometimes that becomes building new fixtures, or figuring out creative solutions. Generally, I love my work and never feel too overworked. As I’ve always heard, ‘Do what you love and you’ll never work a day in your life.’ Always make sure to figure out a way to make money while doing what you love. Sure, sometimes working at fairs or events can be stressful, but my workspace makes me smile and I think that’s important. 

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Favorite Thing: I don’t like to get attached to things but if you’re talking about material things it’s all of our chandeliers. The huge one in the front of the Studio is my favorite one. The spirit of love that you feel when entering is my most prized possession.

Jackie Watcher + Making American in Cleveland

Ben Ashby

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This story originally ran in WHERE WOMEN CREATE

Jackie Wachter, together with her husband Phillip, are the owners and creators of FOUNT Leather of Cleveland, OH. FOUNT produces an ethically-produced high quality line of leather goods that has also helped them to enrich their community. When they’re not at their studio, they are taking care of their two beautiful kids and managing their two retail locations.


“Isn’t it funny how day by day nothing changes, but when you look back everything is different?”

C.S. Lewis

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Looking back, I have always been someone who loves to work with my hands. I grew up in Cleveland, OH, and according to my my mother I was a creative person out of the womb. My family fostered my creativity. I have my grandmother to thank for teaching me to sew when I was seven or eight-years-old, she was a very special person in my life. When I was younger, I used to daydream about potential craft projects at school. Often, I would get off my school bus with a list of supplies and have my mom take me straight to JoAnn Fabrics.

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In 7th grade, I started my first business out of my locker. I loved to make macrame hemp jewelry, and my friends started to ask for their own. Soon, the girls from all classes were coming to me with requests for their own bracelets. By demand, I would talk to my clients, sketch designs, and then go home to create their jewelry. I sold the bracelets for $12 each, and was selling several a week. Unfortunately, my venture garnered the attention of the faculty, and after about a year of business and a trip to the principal’s office, I had to close shop.

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After high school, I attended the Virginia Marti College of Art & Design and pursued a degree in fashion. While there, it allowed me to hone the skills I was taught by my family and channel them into something I was very passionate about, though it was still manny years before I met my husband, Phillip, and we started FOUNT together. After college, I moved to New York for a while, but I found myself missing something. I was very lonely there and I craved the Midwest charm I’d always known. I was seeking purpose, and became passionate about becoming involved in my community and supporting local and ethical manufacturing after a six month activist trip in Africa. That experience allowed me to get a better view into what I could eventually create through my craft and passion.

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A few years ago, all of the stars seemed to align. I met my husband, Phillip, and he became someone who inspired and motivated me daily to be creative. He is also someone who enjoys crafting with his own hands, and like me, had his own schoolyard business selling homemade beanie babies. In our first year of dating, we decided that we would make all of our gifts for each other. Phillip made for me a pair of wool mittens using a vintage Pendleton coat, as well as a cutting board. I made for him a wool pencil case, laptop sleeve, and journal. After looking at our gifts, Phillip suggested that the sewn goods could be beautiful made out of leather, and I agreed. We started trying to find leather, and found a local cobbler that also sold scraps from his hides of leather. We bought our first leather, and the sweet older couple taught us about some of the hand tools and techniques we should use. 

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Our first product trials were a leather wallet and lucky penny pouch. Phillip and I quickly fell in love with our newfound hobby, and after a little trial-and-error we started to make more leather goods. At the time, I was selling vintage clothing and goods at our local market, slowly we started to introduce a small table of our leather goods alongside it. It was at one of these markets that my friend Nicki’s mother-in-law said she should start trying to design a purse. She wanted to have us make a bag for Nicki for Christmas, and suggested that I give it a try. 

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During church soon after, I sketched a design, showed her and she said she would help us buy our first sewing machine to get us started. After finding a listing for a Singer 111 on craigslist, we went to test it out. It had been used to stitch WWII parachutes and it ended up being the sewing machine we used for our first six months of business as FOUNT.

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Our first great bag was created after many discussions about what every woman would want. It quickly became apparent that our best chance would be a tote. Our mission has been, from the beginning, that we want to make products that are beautiful, timeless, and well-made enough to last a lifetime while also being made ethically. The Bellfield Tote was designed to be a durable everyday bag for anyone. It’s gone through many small transformations since, like adding two pockets and straps that are designed to be unbreakable. 

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The first totes, though, were designed in our first apartment together on Bellfield Avenue, in a tiny studio that was ten-by-ten feet. The Bellfield Tote is now our number one seller, and is now available in three sizes. From that simple beginning, we have now grown our husband-and-wife business to a team of 41 employees. It has been a wonderful 4-year journey and I am so happy that we have been able to create a thriving community within and around it.

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Today, after years of hard work and a leaps of faith, FOUNT has not just one, but two retail locations—as well as our studio where we manufacture. When I was growing up, my dad worked in a factory here in Cleveland and I had to watch the systematic loss of jobs and manufacturing until his job was ultimately outsourced. I always knew that when I was able to create a business, I wanted it to be able to stimulate my local economy and make my products here in the United States. Today, I’m happy to say that we have been able to do that by supporting our 41 employees, as well as community outreach through events.


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FOUNT is a direct-to-consumer business, so we don’t have a face in the consumer market and boutiques. This can be a challenge, but until recently we have always marketed ourselves by attending maker shows. We take pride in making a high-quality product, and word of mouth is our best type of marketing. In every bag we place a little pouch filled with a couple of business cards that asks our new friends to share our message when people love their bag. It’s a very simple marketing solution, but FOUNT has had a lot of success because of it. We recently had an event in our Cleveland store and a lady pulled out three business cards and approached me. “I work for Apple, and I cant tell you how many times I have complimented your bags, but after getting several of these business cards I had to come see what you were all about,’ she said.

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Aside from opening our two retail locations—in a time when people say brick-and-mortar is dead—one of the greatest accomplishments we have had has been to build an inventory. 

When we first started, we were making each bag by hand, one-by-one. Now, we do batches by type of hide or pattern. We were part of a television show that helped business-owners with their models, and one constant piece of advice we were getting was that our website was always sold out. We learned that we needed to take a leap of faith, bought a ton of leather, hired nine new employees and built our first inventory. It was a great success, and having a product that a potential customer wanted allowed us to grow our business further.

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Every day with FOUNT seems to fly by. It’s very rewarding, and a lot of work, but getting to work with artists and artisans to create and share products makes it all worth it. We have three new designs coming soon, and are planning to create more elevated designs that can be formal, as well. Through this business I’ve been able to do something impactful, both in my community and across the world—like our partnership which brought over ten thousand dollars to dig wells in Africa and provide clean water. Being able to share our products with the world and see the positive impact that they bring to our families, friends, and community makes me every minute of this business worth it. 

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A Tour of Village Common

Ben Ashby

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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. 

 


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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.

 

 

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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. 

TO READ THE FULL STORY PICK UP A COPY OF FOLK SUMMER 2019 HERE

 

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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

Meet The City Girl Farm {and her chickens}

Ben Ashby

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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!

 

 

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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. 

 

 

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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.

 

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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.

 

 

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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.

 

 

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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.

 

 

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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.

 

 

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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.

 

 

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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.

 

 

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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.

 

 

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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.

 

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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. 

 

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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. 

 

 

 
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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. 

 

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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. 

 

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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

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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. 

 

 

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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. 

 

 

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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

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

Ben Ashby

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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:

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Eclectic Eccentricity Jewelry || Meet the Maker

Ben Ashby

ECLECTIC ECCENTRICITY JEWELRY

MEET THE MAKER | eclecticeccentricity.co.uk

 

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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.

 

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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.

 

 

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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.

 

 

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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).

 

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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.

 

 

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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

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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.