Shinola’s Creative Director, Daniel Caudill

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Happy Makers Monday! Shinola launched Makers Monday last year to encourage consumers to buy American Made on the Monday after Thanksgiving. If every adult in America spends just $10 on American made goods today, it would add up to 2.4 billion dollars. We’re obviously focused on supporting American made all day every day around here, but these days and calls for support matter and legitimately help drive the movement forward.

I was fortunate to visit and tour the Shinola factory this past summer and meet with Daniel Caudill, Shinola’s Creative Director… Shinola is an incredible company with a huge goal – to make as many products as possible in the USA while also supporting other American brands and makers. The company is constantly innovating, adding new product lines, and expanding scope – just last week Shinola announced the opening of a new dial production factory in Detroit, bringing the brand even closer to creating watches that are predominantly American made.

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In the time I’ve spent with various members of the Shinola team in Minneapolis and in Detroit, the focus on quality and passion for the details is apparent, but the pride in the work and the belief in the mission is even more inspiring. To celebrate Makers Monday, read on for my interview with Daniel Caudill… and then please go and pledge to buy American made today!

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WHAT IS YOUR BACKGROUND?

I went to design school, then worked in apparel and home styling in LA, worked on commercials, did brand consulting, and then ended up at Shinola. My current role is an amalgamation of all of my previous jobs – particularly visual display and styling.

WHAT BROUGHT YOU TO SHINOLA – AND DETROIT?

I joined Shinola as they were concepting an American Made watch company – what it would look like, what was relevant, what mattered. Before there was even a name! Now, we have almost 300 employees!
Our first task was where to put the watch factory and assembly. We wanted to build a company that was about the people. Detroit had a history of manufacturing. The people who could do the work were here in Detroit. Shinola has slowly built up within Detroit. Most of our employees are local. There’s an amazing talent pool – of manufacturers and creative – in town. Now this city is about helping people.

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WHAT WAS ONE OF YOUR FAVORITE MOMENTS THUS FAR IN YOUR TIME WITH SHINOLA?

When the movement factory opened in Detroit. It was a huge leap of faith for Randa, our Swiss partner, to partner with us. The owner said he was so proud of the level of quality in Detroit – it had exceeded what he thought could he done outside of Switzerland. And had come together so quickly and so well. The level of quality was unparalleled. It was an emotional, amazing moment… the pinnacle of our business thus far.

TELL ME SOMETHING PEOPLE MAY NOT KNOW ABOUT SHINOLA?

We delayed the launch of the watches to redo how the watches were put together – to improve the quality. It delayed the watch launch by 6 months – no customer would have known but it improved the quality of the watch and we wanted to put out the best possible product. So much thought that goes into every product – the details are so important.

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TELL ME ABOUT THE CUSTOMER YOU DESIGN FOR?

Men are loyal to their favorite brands; women tend to go for what is right for them at the time. But this consumer – both men and women – cares about where their product is made and who made it.
Our female consumer is a very American woman – classic, casual, comfortable. American brands speak to that classic woman. Shinola is simple, understated, and will last. Women still shop trend, but there is a shift – she’s starting to buy things that will last for years.

I think of Caroline Murphy (Shinola’s women’s design director) – she mixes vintage + new + classic + luxe. Jeans with a beautiful vintage jacket, a classic bag, and a watch. Today you can dress for your life all day all week. The wardrobe is all one thing – there’s no need for a different wardrobes for different days or parts of your life.

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WHY IS MADE IN AMERICA IMPORTANT TO YOU?

Made in America used to be about price. Now it’s about quality. Well designed, thoughtful products – where every part is considered. No one used to recycle – now it’s such a part of our lives. There’s a shift in how we look at product, how we purchase, and spend our dollars.

I have vivid memories of having lunch with a friend’s mother, and she was wearing a jacket that was over 30 years old but still so beautiful and current. If you take care of your things, you treat them well, they will last. Your things can go with you through your life. You can certainly wear our watches for 20 years – and more, we want you to want to wear them for 20 years. Design matters, quality matters.
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Thank you Daniel, for taking the time to meet with me, and thank you to Shinola for driving the American made movement! All images courtesy of Shinola.

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The Conversation: Jean Stories

Who better to end Denim Week than Jane Herman Bishop and Florence Kane, the founders of one of my favorite sites, Jean Stories!

TELL ME A LITTLE BIT ABOUT YOURSELVES… HOW DID YOU MEET AND WHAT MOTIVATED YOU TO START JEAN STORIES?

JANE: We met when we were editorial assistants at Vogue magazine. About a year after I started at Vogue, we were both promoted to positions as fashion writers, where we worked side-by-side for more than five years covering fashion news and trends.

Cut to about a decade later (!) and we were both working as freelancers, and wanting to do something together that was our own. We saw a miss in the market – no one was talking to women, specifically, about jeans online, in a way that was truly elevated and personal. I grew up in a family that lives and breaths denim (my dad is Ron Herman, and my family’s stores in Los Angeles have sold jeans since the 70s…I spent my infancy sleeping in those stores, and my summers in high-school working in them…denim is a regular topic of conversation at the dinner table in my family; it’s something we discuss casually and intimately). SO, coming from this very personal place of style – and feeling like our jeans are the one thing in our closets that get better with age, and that are steeped in sentiment, and the thing we wear when we’re feeling most like ourselves and that we wear for years and years and years – I went to Florence with the idea for a site about people and their jeans. Everyone has a favorite pair, and in that pair are great stories…you can learn a lot about a person by asking them about their jeans!

FLORENCE: I grew up in Southern California. Jeans were everything. In high school, it had to be Calvin Klein or Levi’s. In college, Marc Jacobs first denim collection. And then I loved covering denim while at Vogue. So, when Jane asked if we could meet to talk about an idea for a site, and then told me over brunch, it was a no brainer.

Plus, there is no end to the amount of denim out there – we saw jeans as mine for content and stories…and a starting point for other creative projects (stay tuned!).

AND, so many of the best jeans in the world are made in Los Angeles. Few people know that, and it’s something we like to talk about at Jean Stories whenever we can.

WHAT DO YOU LOOK FOR IN A PAIR OF JEANS?

JANE: Quality. Fit, yes, comfort, yes, a great wash and color, definitely. But more than anything, I want my jeans to last. I don’t want to fall in love with a pair of jeans only to have them fall apart after a year!

FLORENCE: It’s usually color and wash first. A pair of jeans can fit wonderfully, but if I don’t love the wash I won’t wear them.

DO YOU HAVE A UNIFORM?

JANE: Absolutely. I wear jeans, a button-down shirt or a sweater, a jacket, and a flat, almost every day of the year. And my Levi’s orange tab trucker is often close by, too.

FLORENCE: Yes! Jeans and a tee, or jeans and a chambray or white shirt. A blazer or a peacoat. Slip on Vans or low leather boots.

JANE: Our uniforms have become so similar, we’ll text each other in the morning before big meetings to make sure we aren’t wearing looks that are too similar.

WHAT ARE YOUR STYLE ESSENTIALS?

JANE: Clean jeans, white button down shirts, menswear flats, a practical carryall (i.e. something I can carry my laptop in), a mix of little gold rings (all of which have some sentimental value), Neutrogena Rapid Repair Moisturizer w/ spf 30 (day), Linda Rodin OIlio Lusso (night), MAC eyeliner in Powersurge, Smythson Soho notebook, iPhone, Levi’s Orange Tab Trucker jacket…and a can-do attitude.

FLORENCE: Mansur Gavriel black tote or LL Bean tote. Mannin gold link stud earrings. Nars Satin lip pencil in Hyde Park. Blue or white jeans (usually loose fit).

YOU HAVE BOTH SPENT SOME TIME IN DENIM FACTORIES… WHAT SURPRISED YOU THE MOST ABOUT HOW JEANS ARE MADE? DID THE FACTORIES CHANGE THE WAY YOU THINK ABOUT YOUR JEANS?

JANE: Visiting denim factories, mills, and laundries made me appreciate the amount of work, skill, and technology that goes into making a single pair of jeans. So much of what goes into quality denim and design is still done by hand. From mill to retail, the work that goes into making a pair of jeans is astounding. When people question why jeans cost so much, I’m always thinking – they should cost more!

HOW DO YOU SHOP MINDFULLY? ARE THERE ANY CERTAIN FACTORS THAT YOU CONSIDER EACH TIME?

JANE: I can’t say that I am not guilty of indulging in less-than-top-quality purchases from time to time, but for the most part, mindful consumption, for me, is about investing in things that last. I will spend more on quality products, and wear them until they are threadbare. I am very sentimental about clothes, jeans especially, but everything – sweaters, shoes… – I get attached. The emotional reaction I have is often what convinces me to buy something. It can be love at first sight, or a much slower fall, but it’s always an emotional purchase, first.

FLORENCE: I’m not a huge shopper. I buy what I really like, but I tend to buy less and wear it to death, whether it’s designer or high street. You won’t find things in my closet with the tag still on, or purchases I regret. If I buy it, I wear it!

WHAT JEANS SHOULD WE BE WEARING THIS FALL?

Anything from the new Simon Miller women’s collection (made in L.A.); Seafarer Circe jeans (made in Italy), Frame’s Le High Straight (made in Los Angeles), and McGuire’s denim skirt (made in L.A.). Any vintage Levi’s (just ordered some old 517s online and I can’t wait to get them; fingers crossed they fit well). Ayr’s Slouchy (made in L.A.). Any of J. Crew’s jeans made with Cone Denim (North Carolina!)

WHAT AMERICAN MADE ITEMS DO YOU LOVE?

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The Row t-shirt | Clare Vivier Simple Tote | Bliss and Mischief Military Jacket | Stan Bitters Ceramic Birdhouse | Radish Moon Illustration | Pamela Love Luna Ring | The Elder Statesman Baja Cashmere Sweater | Simon Miller Lowland Jean

Image of Jane & Florence by Taylor Jewell.
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Martha Stewart American Made 2014 Finalists

In which I go through all 63 pages of the Martha Stewart nominees so you don’t have to.

The Martha Stewart American Made Summit is coming up (last year’s recap!) and with that comes voting for the American Made Awards. I have a huge amount of respect for the time and attention devoted to promoting American made across all MSL channels and always look forward to seeing the finalists.

But, there are 63 pages of finalists, and the categories are helpful but not always clear, so I find the user experience to be a bit overwhelming.

To make it a little easier for all of you and to better support my favorite makers, I spent some time going through each and every page this week… and quickly realized many TAE A-List vendors were finalists! As a reminder, the A-list features my favorite brands – brands that I personally buy, recommend and have experienced myself. These are some of my very favorite brands and makers, and I’ll be happily voting for all of these finalists over the next month… I hope you will join me!

You can vote up to 6 times a day, but you do have to register. The A-list nominees, in alphabetical order:

A Piece Apart (Feature coming soon!)

Annie Williams (Feature coming soon!)

Cotton & Flax (feature)

Fort Standard (Feature coming soon!)

Grado Labs(Feature coming soon!)

Hackwith Design House (feature)

Keith Kreeger Studios (Feature coming soon!)

Maison du Soir (feature)

Maryanne Moodie (feature)

The Object Enthusiast (Feature coming soon!)

Paper Chase Press (Feature coming soon)

Rebecca Atwood Designs (feature)

S.W. Basics (feature)

Susan Connor New York (Feature coming soon!)

Whit (Feature coming soon!)

Looks like voting will keep me busy this month! Let me know if you are attending the Summit this year… I haven’t decided yet, but would love to meet you if I do end up going!

*Note – Food purveyors are a huge focus for Martha Stewart but are not included on TAE. I think the craft food movement is incredible and support it as much as I can, but it is not a focus for this site. I also only included true makers as opposed to stores and resellers. If I inadvertently left an A-list brand that is also a finalist for the MSL Awards off of the list, please let me know!

Hopewell Workshop

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Hopewell Workshop was founded by long time friends Eliza Kenan and Claire Oswalt. Eliza, an art director and quilter, & Claire, an artist, launched a design studio where they planned to brand, package, and create products. That business wasn’t quite right, but that year they decided to make 12 quilts and sell them during the holidays. Though not ready for sale till after Christmas, the 12 quilts that they made became Hopewell Workshop’s first one of a kind collection, released in January 2013. The name (and general mindset) of the studio comes from the Hopewell Exchange System, a Native American trade route through which materials were transformed into handmade goods and then traded.

Claire and Eliza have since expanded into additional quilts and pillows – the Hopewell aesthetic is a brilliant mix of simple, classic, and fun. The bright colors, clean lines and clever prints make the pieces something anyone would be happy to have in their home.

I stopped by the Hopewell Workshop when I was last in LA and had a chance to speak with Claire and Eliza about their work and their passion for local, ethical manufacturing (they had an amazing list of other LA makers I’ve been following ever since!). Read on for more… Thanks, Claire & Eliza!

Claire-and-Eliza

TELL ME ABOUT WHAT YOU DO:

We are making heirlooms for the future. Handmade but simple. These will last forever.

We love that we make functional (Eliza), beautiful (Claire) things. It’s a symbiotic relationship. Quilts are the epitome of function and beauty – if women hadn’t made them beautiful many years ago, they wouldn’t exist today.

WHAT MAKES YOUR QUILTS SPECIAL?

We hit on something that’s not in the marketplace. But we know why it’s not in the marketplace! It’s difficult to teach others how to make our quilts – it is a twelve step process.

We made it difficult for ourselves – but in some ways that is good because it is also difficult for imitators to create a lower end version. The bit of ignorance that we had going into it was the blessing that has gotten us this far.

WHY DO YOU MANUFACTURE IN THE USA?

When we launched, Bangladesh had just happened. We were nervous about outsourcing. We wanted to keep our ethics in tact. We don’t take the easy route. We had to try it – and make it work. People are starting to care about made in the USA. We can make a difference.

We care about what we buy. We believe in a local economy and less environmental impact. America is young and quilts are a deep part of American history. Our families have quilted for generations. Staying here felt right.

It also allows us to make sure our products meet our standards – quality control would be incredibly difficult overseas. We like to see the people we work with – we get to know them and build relationships with them.

WHAT EXCITES YOU?

Eliza: Not knowing what’s next. Excitement + nervousness + anxiety are often the same thing… you just have to trust the process.
Claire: Color. Feedback from our fans.

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Image of Claire & Eliza c/o HOPEWELL WORKSHOP.