Back in the Summer of 2008, as the U.S. was on the brink of a massive financial crisis, I took off on my bicycle from Knoxville, Tennessee, and left for an epic adventure that would end 5 months later in Southern California. Before I began that trip, not knowing exactly where I was headed or how long I would be gone, the thought occurred to me that having a strong working knowledge of all my gear would serve me well on this trip, should anything go wrong miles away from the nearest city or big town where I might find resources. So I took apart my bike and rebuilt it; I built a steel front rack and sewed two bags that carried some of my gear; I made an alcohol-burning stove from aluminum cans using a guide I found online. As I was getting prepared for the trip and thinking about where I might end up or what kind of problems I might encounter, I kept thinking about the disconnection that exists today between a customer and the origins of the products that we use on a daily basis. If something goes wrong with these products that we buy, how often do we fix them anymore? If we wanted to fix them but didn't quite know how, to whom would we turn for guidance? Or parts? If you were curious about a certain design or function choice, can you ask someone with actual knowledge of initial decision-making about that detail?
Maybe this doesn't matter much to most folks. After all, most goods we use are manufactured pretty cheaply these days, so it's not much effort or cost to replace these products we use most often. That's especially true today, with the domination of Amazon and the effort by other companies to match their mindless convenience and breadth or product options. But what if it does matter? What if you do desire to have more connection to the things you buy and use on a daily basis? What if you care where something was made, or how? Or what if you just like the idea of being able to know who made what you wear or what went into that article?
More and more these days, there are options for this kind of connection, which is awesome. When I started making hats and ties in my apartment in Nashville, Tennessee, in 2009, it didn't seem like there were even a fraction as many easily accessible options for that level of connection as today, especially at a high quality. Then the "maker movement" really started to take off. I can't say I was really aware of it before I got started, but I thankfully still got to ride the wave that swept the U.S. in the early 2010's.
My business has grown and shrunk in the last decade, but through it all, I have striven to maintain that initial desire to facilitate connection. These days I make nearly everything myself in my studio in Oak Ridge, Tennessee. Though I am considering a bit of growth in the near future to expand my output and take some pressure off, I put my name on every product because it comes from me and my desire to create satisfaction and connection more than just a product or disposable item. It matters to me that I have become friends with customers and have conversations about family and mental health. It matters to me that there are people on both side of the transaction, and we can know each other's names. If you have a question about something I make and sell, you can email and ask me about it. To me, that's awesome. That's why I've continued doing this, even through some really tough times, emotionally and financially. To all those who have supported me along the way, I say "thank you!" If you're new around here and are interested in owning products that come from someone who cares, who values connection and quality, I hope you'll stick around and see what's coming next.