Meet the Maker: Malvin + Joyce

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This post was originally published March 2014. I wanted to share a current update.

<<<*UPDATE! *>>>

I want to personally apologize to anyone I convinced to back this Kickstarter project. I’m deeply saddened to report that it appears that this project was a scam. Octavia Dosier, has gone M.I.A. – and no one who backed this project has received their rewards. What initially was just excuses has turned in to mass deception. Multiple backers have requested refunds, but M+J haven’t followed through on that either. Kickstarter is also of no help, saying they can’t get in between disputes and suggest backers take legal action against M+J. (Although Kickstater got their fees!… But that’s another story and another complaint!)

I always want to believe the best in people and I wanted to give them adequate time to respond and follow through on their promises. It’s been close to a year now since the project was funded. I know in manufacturing sometimes things get beyond your control and deadlines take longer than expected. But this has gotten to the point where it’s obviously not just manufacturing delays….
I truly love companies that are commited to Made in USA. I also love giving new entrepreneurs a helping hand through crowdfunding sites like Kickstarter. I’m completely heartbroken by this.

I was scammed as much as the rest of the backers. I now only back and promote companies on Kickstarter that I know and trust. Which is sad, and I’m sorry. It’s not in the original spirit of Kickstarter, but it has become the nature of the beast. People will always take advantage of other’s good will. I know there are lots of reputable companies giving Kickstarter a go, and it has been a great resource for many. I’ve backed many of them myself!

Unfortunately this project has truly put a bad taste in my mouth. It’s sad how one rotten apple has spoiled the whole bunch.
Anyways, thanks for commenting. I hope you’ll continue to support Made in USA, and continue reading Modestics!

<<Posted March 3, 2014>>

*There are many reasons why I love MALVIN + JOYCE.  For starters, they were one of my first followers on Twitter. (You never forget your first.) And over the years of tweeting back and forth, I’ve learned that Malvin + Joyce’s owner, Octavia Dorsier, is genuinely passionate and supportive of all things American Made. She’s also extremely humble and modest in her accomplishments. – When I asked her for a profile pic for this article, she asked, “Is it possible to use a group photo instead of a single profile pic? We have a slew of interns and people that are really helping to bring this vision to life.” – I can really appreciate someone who gives credit where credit is due. That’s why I’m giving credit to Octavia as this week’s Maker. Maker of Men’s Boots and Footwear, made in Illinois and Wisconsin.

Modestics: Tell us about MALVIN + JOYCE.

Octavia Dosier for MALVIN + JOYCE: Malvin + Joyce is a footwear brand that’s been designing and crafting small batch runs of American Made & Inspired work boots since 2012. We use the very best American sourced materials for those who can appreciate a well crafted American Made boot.  We sell direct to the customer avoiding mark-ups and middleman costs.

MO: Where did the name come from?

M+J: The name is a combination of our parents names that represents where we came from and the life lessons we learned from grandparents, great grandparents.  The history and character of hard work those names represent.  Where we came from and how we grew up.

Our grandfathers worked in the shoe and candy factories in Chicago and we knew the quality of craftsmanship that could be achieved.  They helped build those industries and some even wore the same boots the MALVIN + JOYCE brand is inspired by.   We wanted to create a brand inspired by that heritage. All the styles in the collection are named for streets, people or neighborhoods in our hometown of Chicago.  A tribute to the strong, honest and hardworking folks of Chicago. American Inspired.  American Crafted. American Made.

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MO: How did you start Malvin + Joyce?

M+J: We actually started manufacturing shoes in 2009 when we became a footwear licensee for a popular brand at the time.  It was a very interesting endeavor and it was a trial by fire experience.  We learned a lot about what we did and didn’t want for our brand. We were manufacturing that brand in Brazil.  As we continued along, we learned a lot about ourselves and some very important lessons.  One, that we wanted to create our own independent brand.  So many things as a licensee has to be approved through a very tangled company system.  We couldn’t be as creative as we wanted.  Two, we decided there had to be a way to create the type of footwear we envisioned and do it in America.  In 2011, after several visits to Brazil, the distance, the increasing production quantities, the language barrier stress, the customs and import process all reached an all time stressful high, I knew I was done with the license.  I wanted a brand where I could work directly with the manufacturer that was close to home.  We spent an entire year researching vendors and visiting factories.  We found a factory that we wanted to work with and they wanted to work with us.  MALVIN + JOYCE was born and we did a small batch production run of 120 pair of boots, which we sold out of very quickly.

MO: Why was starting a American made company important to you?

M+J: With the USA economy taking such a hit and American’s losing jobs at an alarming rate, we were determined to do our part and manufacture and source our brand domestically.  We thought about the impact our purchasing dollars could make on the American economy and understood that every time we buy something Made in America, we put our friends and neighbors back to work. We started working to find vendors that were left hanging by huge companies for overseas manufacturing opportunities. They understood our vision.   We wanted to create a brand as resilient as those rebelling along with us. Over the next year we researched how we could craft our collection right here in the USA.

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MO: When did you feel like you were a “real company”?

M+J: When we realized we couldn’t do it all and hire a part-time production coordinator!  That meant we were growing and the thought of having an employee made us stop and say we’re creating jobs.  Even that small contribution.  We felt responsible and more dedicated to producing the brand in the USA.

MO: What aspect of your job do you love? 

M+J: I honestly love visiting the tannery, Horween, in Chicago and seeing the numerous leathers and watching the process!  I also like working in the sample development room at the factory.  Seeing the process from the paper come alive.

MO: What was the first thing you made?

M+J: A leather belt.  We had some scrap leather left over from a production and I took the leather scraps for reference samples.  I started playing around with the hardware and leather scraps and made a very cool belt. (at least in my mind)

MO: Do you, yourself make your products or do you have factories that you work with? 

M+J: We work with a factory in Wisconsin. The factory we’re working with is family owned/operated.  The factory is over 75 years old and as an employee-owned company, the craftsmen work hard to provide the absolute best, most comfortable and premium boots around.

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MO: What is your favorite Made in USA product?

M+J: We love Billy Reid and Imogene + Willie.  They are doing some amazing work and every season I can’t wait to see what they do next.  Also Kalamazoo Gourmet Grills…now that’s a thing of beauty!

MO: Do you have a special interests? 

M+J: Since we started the collection we’ve really gotten into ancestry research and the history of the city of Chicago. We’re spending a lot of time researching and going to the city archives.  We have some great ideas for the future.

MO: Any memorable on the job work injuries / close calls?

M+J: Because we have a factory partner we don’t really have anything to do with the actual production..but once when we were visiting the factory I was so engrossed in what the workers were doing, I walked into once of the machines and hit my head.  They make me wear protective gear now!Malvin + Joyce 16th Street

 

Want your very own American crafted work boots? Support MALVIN + JOYCE and American made and contribute to their current Kickstarter project. I backed them and look forward to the reward, of not only the boots, but also continue watching thier version of the American Dream.

 

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“Fuck It” Says Target

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Let me just start off by saying, I wanted to be the positive Made in the USA blog! Promoting and highlighting the best companies and products made in the USA. Which, I do… But what really fuels me, what really lights my fire, is calling out the knockoffs. The cheap imports, the job takers and design fakers. I didn’t intend to be the “Knockoff Police”. Yet, that’s what I’ve become. And I’m cool with that. Someone has got to say it, might as well be me. I’ve said it before, and unfortunately I have to say it again! STOP SUPPORTING KNOCKOFFS! – and – STOP MAKING KNOCKOFFS!

Just when I was starting to not hate Target again…
Last fall, I lifted my 6 month shopping ban from them knocking off Made in USA company, ModFire. Although ModFire never got paid by Target for their design, the knockoff product was discontinued. It was a small victory. – Since then, I stroll the aisles of Target’s home section, praying I don’t spot a knockoff by their house brand, Threshold. Because after all, Target is supposed to be better than that. They’re supposed to be the store that values good design. I want to love Target, I really do. – But smack! The Target Knockoff Fairy strikes again!

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This time it’s aimed at another one of my favorite American made originals, Caravan Pacific. The copy absolutely pales in comparison to the original, as most copies usually do. But that’s not the point. The “look”  of the lamp is strikingly similar. So much so, you know that someone brought the Caravan Pacific lamp to Target execs in charge of Threshold and said, “Make this.”  It’s not a coincidence. Its not flattery. It’s a blatant copy, and Target needs to pay Shannon Guirl, of Caravan Pacific for the design. Period. – If Target wants to be known as the store that offers good design at reasonable prices, they need to respect designers and pay for it. Instead, they diminish the design, devalue the brand, and flood the marketplace with their crappy inferior copies.

Independent Designers struggle bringing a product to market. They work their asses off designing, prototyping, marketing and selling. They put out thousands of dollars to go to a trade show for product debuts. – This is where they can see if anyone responds and appreciates their hard work. Designers don’t know whether to be excited or scared when they see Target badges walking the show floor. – Are they going to stop in front of my booth and talk amongst themselves from the aisle? (bad sign?) Jot down a few notes and then walk on? (really bad sign?) Actually walk in to the booth and introduce themselves? (good sign?) The buyer then asks, “Can you send me a sample?” (bad sign? good sign?) Do you say Yes? (because, of course! – You want to work with Target!) Or say No? (are they just going to send your sample to China and knock you off?) It’s a risk that most designers are willing to take. Because after all; IT’S TARGET!! You can’t say NO to Target!

Target doesn’t allow theft in their stores. So why do they think it’s OK to steal designs? The Execs sit around a table discussing next seasons designs and say, “Fuck it. We’ll do what we want. We’re Target” It’s an arrogance. Big Box Store mentality. – Not this time. I say Fucket Target. I’m not going to allow this.


Too harsh? Do you need more reason to say Fucket? Target lists the product on their website as “Made in the USA or Imported.” – What the?! It’s either made in the USA or it’s not. Well, it’s not. It’s made in China. They list it as Made in the USA on their website for the search engines. Another way of them siphoning off from American made designers. Fucket Target.

What really irks me, is this happens to the nicest of designers. Brandon from ModFire, and Shannon from Caravan Pacific are seriously two of the most genuine, nicest people I’ve met. I asked Shannon what she thought about this copy? “It seems inevitable, unfortunately.  I think my brand will be able to endure over time, it’s just one of the hurdles to being a small maker / manufacturer. I wonder how other designers feel about this?” says Guirl. – So, how DO you feel about this? You’re the consumer.

Just so I’m completely open here, I haven’t reached out to Target for a response to this particular infraction. I did Tweet them, with no response. If they want to respond to this, they can do so in the comments. – Like and Share, if you’re sick of this. Last Spring when Target knocked off ModFire, we flooded social media with #ShameonTarget. It’s time to get loud again. – (They only listen when we shout collectively.) Hashtag #FucketTarget. Are you a designer? Say #FucketTarget. Are you an independent retailer? Say #FucketTarget. Are you a supporter of original design? Say #FucketTarget. Are you somebody who just thinks this practice is wrong? Say #FucketTarget. We’ve got to put an end to this practice at some point. We’re not going to let Target steal from us! (or anyone else!)

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We’re proud to offer both Caravan Pacific and ModFire as part of the Modestics Collection. Support American made and buy original.

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American Made Stocking Stuffers

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Good things come in small packages. At least that’s what my mother always told me to feel better about my short stature. – Later on I came to realize my mom was right in more ways than I knew.

These little American Made gifts are perfect stocking stuffers for the modern lover in your life. Go ahead, and get two – so you can stuff your own stocking. We won’t tell Santa.

1. AXO Bowls by 100xbtr - These bowls are a stylish way to stash coins and keys on your nightstand. The AXO Bowls come in a set of 3 diamond shaped bowls, that you can arrange in a number of different configurations. Made in California.

2. Cork Teardrop Bud Vase by Melanie Abrantes – Hand-turned cork bud vases are designed for a single flower or two, each one is unique and one-of-a-kind. Made in California.

3. SBiR Gem Ring by Fruit Super – It’s bold, it’s beautiful and it’s shaped like a huge gemstone! This chiseled ring is flexible, durable and shockingly comfortable. Wear whenever you’d like to call major attention to your hand. Made in Washington

4. Hex Bottle Opener by Iacoli & McAllister – This bottle opener is made from solid brass hex bar. Simple in form, elegant in execution, this opener is something you won’t want to keep hidden in a drawer when not in use.

5. SoftBottle by Platypus - Nothing’s cleaner, greener or more flexible than a Platypus SoftBottle. Whether you’re running an ultra-marathon, waiting for a flight out of Bangkok, or hitting the yoga studio after work, the SoftBottle is your source for hydration on the go.

6. Lift Coaster by Fruit Super – Reduced to elegant simplicity, FruitSuper’s Lift Coasters are designed to elevate and present your glassware—celebrating the relationship between hand, glass, and table.

7. Peppermint Hand Sanitizer Spray by EO Products – Hand sanitizing on the go. The natural plant-based alternative to chemical laden hand sanitizers. Organic Peppermint Essential oil is cooling and sanitizing. Fragrant and soothing.

8. Cava Pouch in Champagne by Monserat DeLucca - A perfect pouch made of  shimmering cow suede with a braided zipper pull.

9. Ebony Blade Letter Opener by Davin and Kessler - This handcrafted ebony and lacewood letter opener will make tearing into bills so much more satisfying. Feature a proportionally shaped and sized handle allowing for accuracy and comfort in letter opening. Made in Rhode Island

10. Medium Tooth Comb by Chicago Comb Company - Made by the finest comb makers in the world, this iconic comb is made from laser-cut stainless steel, hand finished for comfortable daily use.

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American Made Gifts for Kids

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Every year, Christmas seems to sneak up on me quicker. No matter how hard I try, I’m always scrambling down to the last minute. And especially when it comes to kid’s gifts. I struggle fulfilling their wish list and not compromising too much on my Made in USA values. I know I’m a little late in the game to post this Holiday Gift Guide, but I was busy! It’s a crazy time of the year! You can understand that! – Keep this book page bookmarked for when their Birthday rolls around. These American Made kids gifts can be enjoyed any time of the year.

1. Boomerang by Catch The Spirit available through Pure Play Kids – Boomerangs – it keeps coming back to fun! The “Spirit of the Wind” Boomerang has a traditional shape and is designed for 25 yard throws, making it a great starter boomerang.

2. Heritage Balance Bike by Loll – Minnesota company, Loll teamed up with Chicago based handcrafted USA made bicycle manufacturer, Heritage Bicycles, to make this little balance bike out of recycled plastic. Perfect for little tikes learning to ride.

3. Owl Clock by Decoylab - This beautiful mid-century inspired Owl Clock will watch over your little one while he’s snoozing away waiting for Santa to come.

4. Skull Crew Neck Socks by Point 6 – OK, we know kids aren’t really excited about opening up socks on Christmas morning, but these cool skull socks will soften the blow a bit.

5. Aminal Block by Studio Dunn - (it’s not a misspelling) Crafted from sustainably harvested maple, cherry, and walnut, the “Aminal” Blocks set contains 12 unique animal pieces: owl, hippo, kangaroo, polar bear, squid, chameleon, rhino, panda, eagle, sloth, whale, and elephant.

6. Hisss Game by Gamewright available through FatBrain Toys. – I can personally recommend this game to keep your little one entertained for AT LEAST 20 minutes! – And if you’re a parent, you know 20 minutes can mean everything to your sanity at the end of the day.

7. Organizational Tote by Loll – Keep it tidy with the Loll Organizational Tote. 8 sturdy storage compartments will separate art supplies, toys, kitchen utensils, or whatever your loose ends may be. The large handle keeps it as mobile and it all cleans up like a charm.

8. Barrel of Monkeys available through Norton’s USA – Create a chain of chimps with this classic game. Just like you remember from your youth!

9. 8 Compartment Cafeteria Tray available through Schoolhouse Electric – Evoking the old days of navigating the school cafeteria with a lunch tray in hand, this eight-compartment tray offers versatile utility with a playful vintage feel. Manufactured in the United States from a vintage mold.

10. School Bus by Green Toys available through FatBrain Toys – When my little guy (who is now 13!) was 2 years old, he was obsessed with buses! He had 2 buses he carried everywhere. Big bus, and little bus. Of course, those buses were both made in China back then. I want to get him this bus from Green Toys just because I think he deserves a do-over. Or maybe it’s me that wants a do-over? Ahh Christmas, makes us all feel like kids again!

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American Made Gift Guide for Her

American Made Gifts for Her

This Gift Guide ain’t for everybody. Only the sexy people. This one goes out to all the ladies out there. We dedicate this gift guide to you. – Actually we dedicate it to anyone that’s unsure of what to get that modern lady in your life. We got you covered. So all you fly mothers, get out there and shop. Shop American made.

Sorry… I’m feeling a little goofy today as I write this. I have Salt and Pepa, “Push It” stuck in my head. Because of the fabulous Salt and Pepper shakers made by Seattle company; Ladies and Gentlemen Studio. Once I discover a very cool American Made product, I can’t get it out of my head. I also wanted to see if anyone reads my posts or just looks at the pretty pictures. If you are reading this, I’d love to hear what you think of the gift guides so far. And better yet, if you’ve purchased any of the gifts from any of the guides, be sure to tell the maker you found them on Modestics.

Anyways, thanks for reading and supporting modern made in the USA. Carry on.

1. Foldable Bronze Star Sculptures designed by John Kostick for DWR – Made in USA

2. Waves Roll In Top available through ModCloth – Made in USA

3. Canyon Oak Earrings by Isobell Design – Made in California

4. Skinny Strap Bracelet by Meet Me Here – Made in Washington

5. Cylinder Salt and Pepper Shakers by Ladies and Gentlemen Studio – Made in Washington

6. Perimeter Tray by Ladies and Gentleman Studio – Made in Washington

7. ModDish Mezzo by Steel Life – Made in Oregon

8. Dark Stone Writer’s Block by Bower – Made in New York

9. Girard Throw made by Pendelton for Herman Miller – Made in Oregon

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American Made Gift Guide for Him

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If your guy is like mine, you have the toughest time shopping for him. He’s so picky, most years I feel like I spend just as much time returning items after Christmas, as I do shopping before Christmas. We’ve resorted to just buying ourselves what we want and wrapping it up to put under the tree. (You can do that after 15 years of marriage.) But to spice things up, this year I asked my lumbersexual guy to help with the men’s gift guide.

The average American household spends $700 on Christmas. If just 10% of that was spent on items made in the USA, the economic impact would result in the creation of 200,000 jobs. So not only will these gifts not be returned post-Christmas, they’ll also stimulate our economy. The gift that keeps on giving.

1. Egg Birdfeeder & House by J Schatz – made in California

2. Ribbed Sake Set by Pigeon Toe Ceramics – made in Oregon

3. Hey Handsome Shaving Kit Bag by Owen and Fred – made in New York

4. Hairpin Wall Mounted Magazine Rack by OneFortyThree – made in Nevada

5. Steel Tool Box by Best Made Co – made in New York

6. Bourbon Barrel Maple Syrup by Noble Handcrafted – made in Washington

7. 12′ Exto Electrical Extension by Conway Electric – made in Washington

8. 5 Panel Cap in H2O Cotton by American Trench – made in Pennsylvania

9. Bethlehem Reversible Vest by Woolrich Co. – made in Pennsylvania

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American Made Gift Guide Under $50

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We all know it’s more rewarding to give than to receive. So get two of these American Made gifts all priced under $50, to be sure that you give and receive something that you both want. These gifts are not only affordable, they also support small independent companies. And what could be more rewarding than that?

1. SideCar Wall Mounted Planter by Revolution Design House – Made in Oregon

2. Smile Script Necklace in Gold by Kris Nations Jewelry - Made in California

3. Corian Coaster Set by 100xbtr - Made in California

4. Canvas Baguette by Poppy vonFrohlich - Made in California

5. Stackable Gnomes set of 3 by FruitSuper – Made in Maine

6. Pink Wood Tray by Wolfum - Made in California

7. Wobble Bowl by Speechless Studio - Made in California

8. Wrapper Cups set of 3 by Speechless Studio – Made in California

9. Everyone Bath Salt & Oil Soaks by EO Products - Made in California

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Meet the Maker: Fruit Super

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I was so happy to have discovered this fun made in Seattle company, FruitSuper. It was great to be able to speak with husband and wife duo, Joe Kent and Sallyann Corn. I was even happier when they agreed to partner with us and become a part of the Modestics Collection. I love getting an extra insight in to what makes our makers tick, and being able to pass on that information to you.

Modestics: Can you give us a brief overview of your company?
FruitSuper: We design products that are a lot like us; a balance of fun and function. Always simple, always made in the USA.

MO: Where  did the name FruitSuper came from?
FS: Sallyann’s last name is Corn, which is (technically) a fruit. Joe’s last name is Kent, which is Superman’s last name. (This obviously makes us both nerds)

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MO: When did you start FruitSuper design?
FS: We started the company in 2008 as a consultancy, and added making our own products in 2011. We really love the balance of both sides of our company. Working with clients on their projects always brings new challenges and fresh perspectives. While working on our own projects means that we are able to see something through from initial conception through to the final product.

MO: What prompted you to want to start your own business?
FS: We knew when we met in 2003 that our skill sets were so perfectly balanced that we should be working together. The best way for us to do that was to start our own business. We are partners in every way; as part of the design process, in business, in life. What one of us can’t do, the other can, it’s a great match!

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MO: When did you feel like you were a “real company”? / Big break?
FS: A friend sent us a picture of someone on the NYC subway wearing one of our rings. The idea that someone (other than a family member) liked our products enough to purchase them made it all feel real and amazing!

MO: What aspect of your job do you love?
FS: All of it! We each love different aspects of the design process. Sallyann loves the research, the inspiration portion and concept generation, and Joe loves the development, flushing out the details and making it all real. Sallyann is the idea side, Joe is the reality side.

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MO: What was the first thing you made?
FS: Our first FruitSuper product was our silicone rings. A HUGE learning experience! We both have backgrounds in Industrial Design and are very familiar and comfortable working with manufacturers, but doing it with our own products and our own investment was a whole new reality.

MO:  Do you, yourself make your products or do you have factories that you work with?
FS: We take all of our products through to prototype stage and then find US manufacturers. The products usually go through one more stage (at least) once we start talking with a manufacturer that does the process day in/day out. They have a lot of expertise to add, and we’re happy to learn and adapt the products to streamline the production process.

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MO: What is your favorite Made in USA designer?
FS: We are members of JOIN, a collective that started in 2008 in Seattle and has now expanded to the PNW region and beyond. We are a group of 20+ independent design studios that are all US designers/makers. We are proud to be a part of it, and love the work coming out of each of these studios!

MO: Do you have any hidden talents or special interest?
FS: We are huge bibliophiles and frequently get lost in bookstores. We find books to be irreplaceable for inspiration sources. Along with cooking and being museum junkies.

MO: Any memorable on the job work injuries /close calls?
FS: The first season we launched the Stackable Snowmen sets we made 80 sets by hand. We don’t have a sander in our shop, so that meant sanding over 700 hardwood balls by hand. Needless to say, our fingertips were sanded off several times during that process! We now happily have all of our holiday sets made in Maine.

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4 Day Shop USA

By Linda Geiser

This week marks 2 great American traditions. THANKSGIVING & SHOPPING. Our economy depends on you to go shopping this weekend. Stores need you to and the people who make the products need you to. And to ensure you do go shopping, there are many sales happening all weekend long.

Unfortunately, some big box stores are confused and trying to combine the two traditions by having Black Friday sales ON Thanksgiving. Apparently opening at midnight Friday just isn’t early enough….. Stay at home with your family on Thursday.  Shoppers leaving their families and Thanksgiving meals means store clerks are forced to leave their families too. If store clerks are forced to interrupt their holiday plans, then the CEO’s and Executives of these stores should be forced to have their holiday plans interrupted as well.  Show store executives that we have our priorities straight.

Is it really necessary to interrupt your meal with your family in search of sales of foreign made goods?
On Thanksgiving day, stay home and enjoy your family. Get up early on Friday and start a new tradition by shopping for good deals on American Made Goods.

4 DAY – SHOP USA!

Black Friday;

Typically this is  when holiday shopping begins and the stores take full advantage with “door buster” sales.

If you’re going to brave the crowds try to avoid the foreign made goods. It’s almost impossible not to be swooned by the price tag, but ask yourself first if it’s an item that you need. Shop for products that you need and will be of lasting quality. Buy something that you’ve been eyeing for a while and now it’s finally on sale.  Buy something you will cherish.

Small Business Saturday;

The sales don’t stop on Friday. The very next day stores are marking down items for Small Business Saturday. I hardly ever take part in Black Friday sales, but I’m a big shopper on Small Business Saturday. You’re a lot more likely to find smaller independent domestic made goods at these smaller independent stores.

There are many incentives to get behind your local economy. American Express is even doing a huge national promotion offering their card members a $10 credit for every sale of $10 or more at an eligible small business. (up to 3 times)

Cyber Monday;

The sales don’t stop when the weekend ends. Online stores keep the savings flowing with Cyber Monday sales. This is my favorite shopping experience of all! Shopping from the comforts of home. No need to struggle to find parking, or battle the lines. And finding American made is less mystifying.

We’re proud that all items in the Modestics Collection are Made in the USA. Every. Single. One. Of. Them. We don’t have a Made in USA search button on our site, because it’s all made in the USA. And as always, free shipping on orders over $75.

For the busiest shopping weekend of the year – make it Four Day USA. Look for the Made in the USA label. Because THE must have gift to give this year is anything that says Made in the USA.

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American Made Gift Guide Under $30

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Who says American made has to be expensive? Stock up on these American made gifts all priced under $30 for anyone (and everyone!) on your list. These 10 gifts represent 9 states from this great country. – Don’t show up empty-handed to the next party. Any of these goodies make great Hostess Gifts as well!

1. One of a kind – Wooden top, Hand-turned, by A19SF  - Made in California.

2. Faceted Pillar Candles made of 100% beeswax, by Urbancase – Made in Washington

3. Whoa-Bots Ninja balance blocks, by Tree Hopper Toys – Made in Illinois

4. Modern Wood Ornament by Fredrick Arndt – Made in Michigan

5. Zuzu Metallic Drinking Glass by Wolfum – Made in California (slight disclaimer here; priced at $50 for a set of 4 = $12.50 per glass!)

6. Espresso Star Oven Mitt by Hable Construction – Made in New England

7. Wall Mounted Bottle Opener by Starr X – Made in USA (possibly Georgia? from what I could tell through my Google sleuthing)

8. Bourbon and Brown Sugar Soy Candle by Sydney Hale Co. – Made in Virginia

9. SaltBox in solid walnut by Revolution Design House – Made in Oregon

10. Chef’s Kitchen Utensils by Epicurean – Made in Minnesota

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Meet the Maker: 100xbtr

100xbtr-1One of my favorite ways to discover makers is on Instagram. I’ve followed 100xbtr for a while, and I’m constantly hitting that “like” button. Their work is fun and playful, yet still clean and sophisticated that it’s not going to look dated in 5 years. I was psyched when I reached out to the team of 100xbtr for a Meet the Maker interview, I got a response immediately. I feed off the creative energy that American makers bring forth, and 100xbtr kept the positive energy moving. – Meet Brendan Sowersby and Will Rollins; co-makers and co-designers of 100xbtr.  Makers of modern home furnishings, made in Los Angeles, California.

Modestics: Give us a brief overview of your company.

100xbtr: We are a small Los Angeles based design company working on custom residential and commercial projects while also producing a line of furniture, lighting, and tabletop items. Our sensibility aims to balance structure and form with an economy of production.  We like exploring ways to create beautiful and profound objects which can be manufactured in an efficient manner, blending modern fabrication tools like CNC machines and 3-D printers with more classic woodworking techniques.

MO: Where did the name came from?

100xbtr: I believe it came from Will’s step-son.  He was like nine or ten and he just said it one day – “one hundred times better”… and it kinda just stuck. Later on I did the logo with the vowels dropped and I really liked all the letterforms together graphically.

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MO: What year did you start 100xbtr?  

100xbtr: 1997.  We did custom work for many years before focusing on trying to figure out a product line.

MO: When did you feel like you were a “real company”? 

100xbtr: Hah!  I still don’t really feel like a “real company”…  but it’s been fifteen plus years so I guess we are here to stay.  We have a few employees now and a pretty nice fabrication facility which I get to come into everyday. I think when we had to buy a forklift a few years back is when I realized the business was getting bigger. We had stacks of plywood and lumber everywhere and always had to borrow the cranky neighbor’s forklift. I never thought I would own one of those.

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MO: What aspect of your job do you love?

100xbtr: Probably the prototyping phase of developing new objects…  sometimes it’s really quick and other times things gestate for years. It can agonizing but when everything comes together there is no better feeling.

MO: What was the first thing you made?

Brendan Sowersby: The first real functional thing I made was this 20′ wide skateboard ramp in my backyard (thanks again, mom) – it was like 1988 or 89… We had no idea what we were doing but that thing was solid, and so fun.

Will Rollins: I’d have to say “Art” was the first thing I made. I grew up in downtown L.A. in what is now called the “arts district.” My father, an artist, took on the task of renovating a 5 story warehouse into artists lofts by himself. At an early age he taught me woodworking, cabinetry, welding, construction, and the list goes on.

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MO: Do you, yourself make your products or do you have factories that you work with?

100xbtr: Mostly everything is made here in our shop. We have some local vendors to help us with metal stuff, we try to keep it local.

MO: What is your favorite Made in USA product?

100xbtr: There are so many. Even just in L.A. right now there is so much happening, so many interesting people doing great things.

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MO: Do you have a hidden talent that’s not related to your work?

Brendan Sowersby: Not really, I basically just work all the time.

Will Rollins: Treatment free beekeeping and urban farming based on permaculture principles. 

MO: Any memorable on the job work injuries /close calls? 

Brendan Sowersby: I’ve been really lucky over the years, but last summer, the day before a much needed getaway to Palm Springs, I stepped on a plywood scrap and somehow this shard of wood went up my calf like 6 inches… I’m still not sure exactly how it happened? Luckily it just slid between the muscle and the skin but it was gnarly – I remember the doctor in the emergency room saying “no pools” and I was like, “great, I’m going to the 110 degree desert for four days and I can’t swim?” (I ended up getting some waterproof bandages and floating on an air mattress the whole time) 

Thanks Brendan and Will! – To see more of 100xbtr and to see that piece of plywood scrap that was lodged in to Brendan’s calf, follow them on Instagram. To see more of their beautiful furniture and projects check out their products proudly part of the Modestics Collection: www.100xbetter.com.

 

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