Shinola (SHINE-ola, in case you were wondering! I was saying it incorrectly!) is a Detroit-based company that manufactures watches, bikes, and leather goods. Created by the founder and former leaders of Fossil Brands, Shinola’s goal is to reinvigorate quality manufacturing in America, and particularly in Detroit.
I’ve been a fan Shinola for some time now – hearing Heath Carr speak at the American Made Workshop and visiting the Tribeca flagship only solidified my support of the brand. Heath spoke about the power of communities, and how the founders of Shinola were attracted to Detroit because of the supportive entrepreneurial community that was forming within the city – people were taking ownership to make Detroit better, and they wanted Shinola to be a part of that. To build the company, the founders could have easily worked with top talent from anywhere in the world, but instead they chose to work within their community – finding the best talent for digital, video, etc. right there in Detroit.
Clearly, it’s a great story. A lot of product sells because of a great story. But Shinola is more than that.
It’s an amazing experience. I was shocked by the size of the Tribeca store – you enter into an amazing, magazine-filled coffee shop where everyone is friendly (I’m from the Midwest – this stuff is important to me!), and then walk back into this gorgeous, two-story atrium of bikes and watches and leather goods galore. (Again, filled with really nice people… If I lived there, I’d want to be pals with the staff!)
The products are all classic but thoughtfully designed. A lot of American-made products really play off of the “heritage” concept, and while I can appreciate that look, it’s not usually my taste. Shinola uses heritage materials, but balances them in a simple, modern way. These are legitimately “have forever” pieces.
This leather piggy bank made me so happy. It didn’t come home with me, but I may have to do something about that soon. Although bicycles, watches, and leather goods are the brand focus, the shop also carries some jewelry, Detroit Denim, and other American made products.
Even more impressive? Shinola’s commitment to transparency. Transparency is a buzz word lately, which is fantastic and something I support wholeheartedly, but I’d also argue that gorgeously shot, well-lit (and pre-announced) photo stories detailing factory life are far from true transparency (although a great first step towards educating consumers!). Shinola is legitimately transparent – check out their factory livestream!
[photos by TAE]
To learn more about Shinola: