A passion for handcrafted goods.
That napkin wisdom is borrowed from the internets and it’s message is the basis of my philosophy. Today’s “buy it cheap then throw it away” consumer environment is unsustainable and largely irresponsible. Do your research, find something that suits your needs and is well made, pay a fair price for it and be rewarded by years of happy use. Support your local independent craftsman over a big box retailer and search out unique and well made items.
While I believe that “the best things in life aren’t things,” the things that you do need should be pleasurable to use and pleasurable to look at: simple, functional, durable and beautiful. I have a somewhat obsessive desire for perfection and put a high value on items that are designed and executed to the highest standards.
When I think about great design, Apple Computer is one company that comes immediately to mind. Some others I appreciate on a daily basis: my Volkswagen, or better yet, my wristwatch. Damasko is a small watch company in Germany that makes beautiful mechanical wristwatches from bombproof materials with a functional, clear aesthetic. I saved up for over a year to be able to afford this high quality timepiece and now I have owned my Damasko DA36 for more than 6 years. To this day, each glance at the wrist results in a wave of marvel at the beautiful simplicity of the dial and the time-defying condition of the case - hardly a scratch.
To this point, here is another piece of borrowed wisdom. I couldn't embed the photo here, but it is a rustic old sign. I don’t know where it hangs, but I have found these words to be so very true over the years:
"The bitterness of low quality remains long after the sweetness of low price is forgotten."
Simple, functional, durable and beautiful. I strive for my handiwork to embody these ideals.
Durability is especially important for a “carry good” because as it ages the object grows in value and develops a story of its own. It travels with us and bears witness to the passage of time and to our unique experiences. Consider your childhood stuffed animal, now worn and discolored, or your grandfather’s weathered pocket watch. Time and use have transformed what was once a simple item into an heirloom, steeped in profound memories and tales of adventure. In my eyes, these things are priceless and irreplaceable. A well made product will survive to a storied old age, whereas so much of the disposable goods that populate our lives are soon and easily forgotten.
I put a high value on craftsmanship. For example, Peter Limmer, Jr. still makes custom-to-your-feet leather hiking boots in the White Mountains of New Hampshire using the same methods that his grandfather developed a lifetime ago as a shoemaker in Europe. His father patented the first leather ski boot in the U.S. Postcards from happy customers plaster the walls of the shop, some dating as far back as the early 1900s. Pete, himself, hand stretches each piece of leather over the last and executes every step in the boot making process. His boots can last 20 years or more.
I have great respect for people still investing this sort of time and expertise into their craft, and I strive to do the same. Sure, you’ll pay a little more for a handmade, high-quality product than you would for something that is mass produced by a machine or an under-paid laborer—but in return you receive a unique one-of-a-kind item made by someone else’s hands, their accumulated experience and a boatload of elbow grease. To me this is priceless, and why I take pride in handcrafting my products.
I use top grade materials because I can tell when people don’t. Most of my leather is supplied by two U.S. tanneries: Horween, tanning superior leather since 1905 in Chicago and Hermann Oak, tanning in St. Louis since 1881. I use top quality thread made in Maine. Whenever possible I source materials from within the United States. I don’t use a sewing machine because traditional hand stitching is superior in strength and durability (not to mention more elegant and beautiful). I make my products with love and by hand and I believe that makes my products special.
I live with my awesome wife and our awesome cairn terrier Buzz Lightyear and work out of a tiny room in our rented apartment in Los Angeles, California.
I love the feel of good leather in your hands, I love the smell of it under your nose and I love watching each piece age uniquely and beautifully. My goods are durable and made for the long haul—they may well outlast their owners.