Depending on where you live, you might not believe that it’s actually Spring. But it is! And to welcome the new season, we’re featuring a brand new assortment from Jen Michel the designer behind JensBags.
These new designs all feature her trademark mix of geometric prints in bright, welcoming, joyful colors with jute details.
Equally appropriate on a casual walk to the grocery store, or dressed up for a more formal outing Jen’s line of handmade totes, clutches, and pouches are the perfect accessories for this Spring.
And if you're looking for something else to sparkle in the sun, take a look at our jewelry assortment where you can always find something special!
We spend a lot of time at various craft and design shows that feature American artisans. While these types or shows are lots of fun, even the largest of them pales in comparison to some of the major trade shows that happen every year. In our ongoing efforts to cast a broad net over what’s happening with American artisans we spent some time at the Atlanta International Gift & Home Furnishings Market this past week.
If you’ve never experience this show, the first thing you need to know is that it’s absolutely huge. The show takes place over eight days, in three separate buildings (occupying over seven million square feet), with over 1,400 permanent showrooms, and 2,500 temporary exhibiting companies.
For real product junkies, having all these vendors around is great, but what we were really interested in is that fact this show now has a significant Made in America section. Debuting in January of 2012, this is a juried collection where to be considered for inclusion, exhibitors must guarantee 75 percent of components are produced domestically, and the product is assembled in the U.S.
While the Made in America section makes up just a fraction of the show, the fact that there is now a space in a prime location dedicated to featuring these products and vendors is a sign of how Made in America is becoming part of the mainstream conversation again.
Equally as interesting to us was the fact that vendors throughout the show were calling out the fact that their product was Made in America. It was great to see, and our conversations with these vendors, from those working out of their home, to those working on a larger scale reinforced our belief that the consumer at large has a growing appreciation for the expertise and skills that these artisans have.
We’ll be hitting more gift shows in the coming months. Keep an eye out for more reports back on what we see and experience on the road.
This week NFL Films president and pioneering filmmaker Steve Sabol passed away at the age of 69.
Alongside his father Ed, Sabol founded NFL Films in 1962. First christened Blair Motion Films, the father-son duo so impressed then NFL commissioner Pete Rozelle with their work filming the 1962 NFL Championship game that Rozelle petitioned owners for three years to acquire the production company. In 1965 the owners agreed, each putting up $20,000 and the company was renamed NFL Films and set to work producing a highlight film for each team.
The Sabols quickly developed their signature style, heavy on slow-motion photography, sideline microphones and narration by rich, baritone voices, including the late John Facenda whose work earned him the nickname "The Voice of God." By producing the films outside of the time-sensitive, compressed schedule of network (and later cable) sports coverage, Sabol was able to craft richer narratives, imbuing drama and gravitas into even the most mundane 7-and-9 season.
Steve Sabol's work on team highlight reels and special productions such as the Greatest Moments series is credited with expanding both the size and intelligence of the football-viewing audience, helping the NFL to become the most popular pro sport in this country. Multiple generations of football fans were weaned on his films, shown ceaselessly on ESPN2 and the NFL Network (which Sabol himself helped launch). In addition to the 35 Emmys he received for writing, cinematography, editing, directing and producing his films, Sabol will surely follow his father Ed into the NFL Hall of Fame, and has already been credited by Rich Cohen in The Atlantic with teaching America to watch football.
Among his many career highlights was the poem Sabol penned for the 1974 Oakland Raiders annual film. Titled "The Autumn Wind," longtime Raiders owner Al Davis is said to have loved the piece, and Oakland fans have adopted the work as the team's unofficial fight song. Here is that poem, as read by The Voice of God himself:
Weeks of preparation and it's over just like that. I think we've all been there.
If you haven't yet heard, last night's Fourth of July fireworks display in San Diego wrapped up ahead of schedule when all of the fireworks queued up for an 18-minute show were simultaneously ignited, producing the spectacular display pictured above.
We would imagine the trigger man is feeling a little glum today, in spite of how much time he saved his fellow San Diegans. To celebrate the considerate efficiency of this patriot, we're offering him a chance to tell his story and a $100 gift certificate to the Fog + Foundry storefront, which also launched yesterday.
With 300 unique products all handmade in the USA, Fog + Foundry celebrates independent designers and the stories behind their passion. Browse our handpicked selections by department, designer and region to discover the amazing craftwork of your fellow Americans.
Drop us a line at email@example.com to let us know what you think, or if you're a pyrotechnician with a cool story.
Over the course of three months we have been fortunate to meet dozens of talented people making well-designed products in their communities and we've drawn a measure of inspiration from those interactions. And now, our appreciation of independent designers has led us to an opportunity to work with them on building a platform to share their products with our audience.
On this Fourth of July Fog + Foundry will add a storefront to the site.
We're thrilled to be working with a group of talented craftsmen from the San Francisco Bay Area and Cascadia regions, and we look forward to sharing their merchandise and the inspiration behind each piece. Our collection will feature products from a dozen designers, including industrial-chic jewelry made by Lolide in Seattle, hand-crafted leather accessories from Scabby Robot of San Francisco, and limited-edition backpacks from Portland's Lemolo Baggage. The assortment will continue to grow as we discover new products.
Our aim is to provide our visitors with a well edited selection of American made apparel, accessories, jewelry and housewares. Our approach will continue our narrative exploration of craft. We hope you'll join us.
Google introduced its Nexus Q home media player last week and its most interesting feature may be what's stamped on the bottom of the unit, "Designed and Manufactured in the U.S.A." The phrasing is an obvious jab at Apple, who inscribe, "Designed by Apple in California. Assembled in China." on their devices. And it could be that advance knowledge of the device's provenance inspired Apple chief Tim Cook's musings at the All Things D conference last month.
No one has ever accused Google of timidity, and with their first foray into hardware manufacturing they've chosen to produce the device in Santa Clara County, home to one of the nation's highest costs of living. With the secrecy that typifies Google's operations, a New York Times reporter was given a tour of the production process on the condition that he not reveal its location. Hidden somewhere in the valley is a team of hundreds assembling the Nexus Q, and that's affecting the cost. At $299 the Nexus Q is priced at three times that of foreign-made competitors from Apple and Roku.
While Google is not explicitly promoting the domestic origin of the Nexus Q the Made in the USA angle has dominated news coverage of the device this week. Google won't say whether manufacturing will remain in this country, but analysts are wondering whether this portends the domestic production of other hardware devices such as the Nexus Tablet.
In a study last year the Boston Consulting Group predicted that high-tech manufacturing would return to US, with less complex production remaining in Asia or returning to Mexico. Could it also be the case that, with devices such as the Nexus Q as the model, processors will be manufactured in Silicon Valley again with components such as the plastic casing produced in, say, Fresno?
Given Google's history of boldness and their mountain of cash, they could be the ideal candidate to re-imagine American manufacturing.
Winner of the Grand Jury Prize for best documentary short at the 2012 Slamdance Film Festival, PROFESSIONal is filmed on location in metal-fabricator Neil Youngberg's workshop in Salt Lake City. The beautifully photographed piece by Vita Brevis Films captures the emotion and devotion behind Youngberg's craft and is part of a series exploring American craftsmen. Visit the Vita Brevis web site to enjoy more of their work.
The things we carry reveal something about us. A laptop, a camera, a makeup kit, a dog-eared book. Encompassing the personality hidden among those items is the very container in which we transport them. The cotton dufflebag given to the attendees of a bond trading conference. The oversized suede hobo handbag. The ubiquitous urban messenger bag.
If these elements don't constitute our identity they at least express our passions. Matching our own passions with a commitment to producing a great product is San Francisco based Rickshaw Bags. Founded in 2007 by former Timbuk2 CEO, Mark Dwight, Rickshaw advocates a new notion of Good Design that combines form, function and footprint.
Rickshaw offers two main bag collections. The Zero Messenger is an open flap shoulder bag available in three sizes. Its rounded cover flap and contours differentiate it from the more common angular messenger bags on the market and allow it to fit to your body as you weave through traffic on two wheels or navigate a crowded BART platform. The Commuter 2.0 line is offered in both shoulder bag and backpack forms. With multiple pockets and dividers, its heavyweight interior provides for serious lugging without sacrificing style.
Unique to Rickshaw's business is that each bag is built to order. Customers choose from a palette of 50+ fabric options to design a bag's interior, exterior and binding. Each Zero Messenger bag is built entirely from scratch in their San Francisco factory. The Commuter 2.0 utilizes a stock "chassis" comprising its organizational pockets that is made in China. The chassis is paired with its component parts and assembled in San Francisco.
By manufacturing locally and using just-in-time production methods Rickshaw is able to control the size of their environmental footprint. Featuring an almost exclusively customized product line allows Rickshaw to pivot more easily, to avoid filling landfills with products and materials that don't sell or fall out of fashion. And by involving the customer in a product's design they're more likely to produce a bag that the user will cherish for years, rather than replace after a season of use.
Founder Mark Dwight is a such a fan of local manufacturing that he founded SF Made, a non-profit focused on assisting San Francisco businesses grow their manufacturing efforts in the city. Through SF Made countless entrepreneurs and small businesses have gained access to resources, connections and education that allow them to grow their operations and create jobs in San Francisco.
Show your support for American manufacturing by visiting the Rickshaw Bags website to design your bag or to pick up one of their coordinating accessories. Over the bag's lifetime you'll never lose sight of its unique origin as into each bag is sewn a tag bearing their "PCQ Tattoo," to remind you of the labor and love that went into its construction.
Get ready for The Cupola, our recurring feature that shines a light on the world of American manufacturing:
1) We love factory tours; there’s nothing quite like a behind-the-scenes peek at how things are made to give you an appreciation for the finished product. However, as this article by Sarah Park of Matador Network demonstrates, not all factory tours are created equal. Pet caskets anyone?
2) In 1991, Pulitzer Prize—winning journalists Donald Bartlett and James Steel wrote a series of articles called, "America: What Went Wrong." They are currently revisiting this seminal work in a new project with the Investigative Reporting Workshop. One of the most fascinating features is an interactive map showing yearly state-by-state shifts in manufacturing since 1971.
3) Quirky is an online product development company based in New York, New York, that creates and sells consumer products from user-submitted ideas, and pays the user/inventor royalties if the product gets made. This article in USA Today talks about the upcoming release of the first of their products to be made in America, and the reasons behind their decision to manufacture it here.
4) This column by Jon Yates in the Chicago Tribune demonstrates why Made in America is more than just a label. Understanding the story behind a product is both interesting and the only way you can be assured of getting what is advertised.
5) If you live in San Francisco, California, you might be interested to know that the first ever UNIQUE SF is happening on June 30 & July 1. Read our recap of UNIQUE LA for an overview of the show.
That’s all for this edition of The Cupola. Leave a comment or send us an email to let us know what you think about these topics, or to let us know what’s going on in your neck of the woods.