Walk us through some of the steps in producing a product?
It starts with tracing the chipboard template of the design onto a rolled out side of leather. Then it is all cut by hand. We try to do a quick finish of the edges that we can’t clean up once assembly starts and after that we begin adhering the pieces together to be marked for stitching. We stitch each product by hand to ensure quality assembly that if treated right will last a lifetime.
You guys have created a successful business wth Simpleton and you both come from a musical background. How do those two things relate?
Well, we were unaware that playing music and trying to perpetuate a touring schedule would be very helpful to our current branding experience. We were younger and immature to the fact that our band was actually a business. We treated it as an artistic outlet that portrayed our passions and personalities. We were in it to experience the fun and adventure however that would look but we still had bills to pay, deadlines to meet, product to sell and some amount of marketing had to help those things along. Now, for instance, when we think we don’t have any experience in selling a product we can look back to those days and take notes from what worked and try to stay away from the things that can’t be transposed from the music business to leather.
So you’re learning to run this business from the ground up. What have been some of the best experiences and what have been the worse?
I think we would have to agree that the best and worst experiences have come from the same source. We have had the opportunity to see some success at what we are doing and help propel us forward but there is a ton of room to grow and so much more to learn. I think we have learned more through our failures than if we would have by just taking someone’s advice. But through failing we learn the lesson in a permanent way as to not make the same mistake or to not be so naïve about the business of business. Our experiences have taught us it is simpler than we once believed while remaining more complicated than we want to deal with. Haha. It’s quite the conundrum.
What is the best advice you have gotten for your business?
The best advice was from my grandfather. He said, “Don’t chase the dollar. You’ll fail that way. Instead, do everything with integrity and the dollar will follow.” I felt like that was a simple insight that really lined up with our values so we are trying to keep that in mind as we make decisions.
In a single statement, what is Simpleton about?
SMPLTN creates handmade, working class leather products inspired by the virtues held by our fathers and grandfathers. We look to initiate community when possible since it is people that have inspired and drive the brand.
What are some of the things that inspire you guys to create?
I am inspired by many things, from searching out old leather products to better understand their design and function to simply hearing the history of craftsmen that came before us. Sometimes inspiration comes from things unrelated to what SMPLTN does.
I love that you guys are doing this out of your house, what has been the biggest struggle of balancing life and home?
Working from home does have a down side for sure. It’s too easy to think that you can take longer breaks or spend the afternoon with the family instead of completing orders but we have worked on maintaining a better working schedule over the last year and have tried to be conscious of our diligence.
How long have you and Noah been friends?
We met in 2007 before playing music together in 2008.
What does a typical day look like for you guys?
A typical day starts around 6 a.m. with some reading and coffee. We both usually try to spend the morning with our families and have a good breakfast before meeting up to begin work. The hope is to be at work no later than 9 and work a solid day. In these crucial beginnings we have had to pull frequent long hours to work on a lot that is behind the scenes but we know that it will pay off soon.
How do you guys handle bumping heads?
That was one of the first conversations we had before deciding to partner in this venture. We have had experience working together in the band so we knew that we already have an understanding and respect of each other in our working relationship. So, it honestly hasn’t been too difficult. We have just committed to being honest and un-offended even when we deal with the hard stuff.
What’s next for SIMPLETON?
It is just building a brand that we believe in and trying to create an appeal to everyone else.
QUICK FIRE QUESTIONS
What’s your morning ritual?
Wake up, let the dog out and make coffee before catching up on the news and doing some reading.
How do you take your coffee?
I think I’ve turned into a bit of a coffee snob. What I would consider good coffee I’ll drink black but I prefer cream and sugar in the less desire coffees.
Best way to top a pizza?
Everything except olives! Tons of parm on top.
Your favorite drink?
Coffee during the day and a craft beer in the evening. I usually stick to imperial stouts and IPAs.
How do you unwind?
I hang with the family. My wife and I don’t agree on many shows except The Office so we basically watch through the complete collection over and over. I don’t have any unwinding rituals really.