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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