Happy Independence Day.
I’ve wrestled with this blog entry for weeks.
I’ve tried carefully to share my thoughts in love.
In a way that is neither offensive or defensive.
The Makers we’ve met over the last 8 months have rekindled our patriotism. They have increased the level of pride we take in our craft, and the amount of pride we have in our Country.
Today, we are proud to be American.
And we believe that’s okay.
It is NOT okay to think you’re better than someone else.
It is NOT okay to hate.
But we believe a heart can overflow with patriotism when you consider the qualities that have made our Nation great:
-A spirit of innovation
-A heart of compassion.
–A willingness to defend others.
–A commitment to freedom.
–A champion of equality.
Sadly, these qualities are not always on full display by all who call themselves American.
But when we do exercise these traits-
It is a beautiful thing.
And that is something worth taking pride in.
Happy Independence Day.
To read the story of who we are and how we got here, Click THIS
To try our balm, click HERE
I’ve never been one to read warning labels.
Mandy, on the other hand, reads every word of every label on every product she buys; coffee creamer, deodorant, cleaning products, etc.
It’s kind of annoying actually (I’m half joking.) But seriously, she’s diligent. She puts in the research.
She is the guardian of our home, protecting our family from harsh chemicals and toxic ingredients.
This is why our product was born.
Saturday I stood in the leather care aisle at my favorite shoe store. I studied the labels on every leather conditioner. I read the fine print:
“Potentially harmful or fatal if swallowed.”
“Keep out of reach of children.”
“Avoid contact with skin and eyes.”
Despite these serious warnings, many of the instructions were to “apply by hand.”
I shook my head, almost in disbelief.
Are we so charmed by shiny labels that boast “100% More Effective” that we overlook fine print that reads “Potentially Fatal.”
This post is about more than just leather balm.
I challenge you this week- study the labels on familiar products in your home.
Check the ingredients. Read the fine print.
What you discover may surprise you.
To see a full list of our ingredients, Click HERE
To read the story of how we got here, Click THIS
Last month I had the privilege of being interviewed by the kind gents across the pond at Clobbercalm Supply Co.
If you suffer from insomnia and you’re seeking an all natural sleep aid, read what I had to say here:
After completing the interview, I realized almost immediately that a discussion with Mrs. Smith would have been far more interesting for readers.
Of course I’m kidding. (Not really. I’m serious.)
This product was Mandy’s idea. It’s her recipe.
She is the one who hand measures, hand stirs and hand pours every single tin.
My only contribution is getting in the way and posting to Instagram.
I wish I could say that I’ve had complete confidence in her idea from the start.
But I haven’t.
When she first told me her idea- I laughed.
For ten years I’d been using the same oil based leather conditioner. Applying it by hand.
It worked great. Why stop?
“Because those chemicals are not safe and they’re getting into your body.” She said.
She’d already converted every cleaning agent in our home to something all natural. Apparently my leather conditioner was next.
“I can make something that works just as good, that’s safe on skin.” She said.
So she did.
When she told me the recipe- I laughed
“Cocoa Butter!? Cocoa butter is not for leather- it’s a moisturizer in women’s hand lotion” I scoffed (after I had Googled it.)
“Exactly!” she said. “If it’s good for rehydrating human skin- imagine how great it will work on leather.”
And she was right. As always.
I could use this blog entry as an opportunity to tell you what an amazing human she is- but she hates attention.
So, I won’t do that (wink-wink) But I will tell you that she is the strongest, kindest person I know.
She’s survived brain surgery, shoulder surgery and the natural birth of three children- all without a single complaint.
She likes butterflies, She’s deathly afraid of raw chicken and on the rarest occasions will devour an entire box of Swiss Rolls with her best friend.
I keep telling you we make this product by hand.
We do. Well, she does.
I thought you might enjoy learning more about the wonderful woman behind the balm.
To read the story of who we are and how we got here, Click HERE
Last November when we brought our product to market, I mailed samples to a few select Makers.
I addressed an envelope for Little King Goods in Ontario, Canada. I hesitated for a moment at the Post Office when I discovered the shipping cost would be $15.
I thought- Man, that’s expensive. But this guy’s work is amazing- I really want to see what he thinks of our balm.
So, I sent it.
Ryan called me as soon as he received the package. He spoke kindly and told me that he enjoyed using the balm.
Although we’d never met- there was a kindred spirit. We spoke at length as if old friends.
At Christmas time he sent me a journal that he’d made by hand. The level of detail in this journal was unlike anything I‘d ever seen.
The quality was such that I knew immediately- I’d be giving this journal to my children one day. It was heirloom quality- built by hand – made to last- forever.
I realized something when I looked over that journal- I’ve always been drawn to handmade goods. Mainly because I love the story behind them.
There’s a connection that comes from buying something handmade from a Maker instead of something made in a factory.
But the moment I held that journal I realized- handmade goods are better- and not just because they come with a story.
Handmade goods are better in every way. They’re hand measured, hand cut, built to higher standards. They’re skillfully crafted, scrutinized and built to last forever.
The story is just a bonus.
So, thanks for teaching me that lesson, Ryan.
Handmade goods are better, and yours are some of the finest I’ve ever seen.
I’m honored to have you as a Stockist- but even more proud to have you as a friend.
Just the Two of Us.
January 28, 2018
This week I had a conversation with a buyer from a nationally recognized brand.
He said to me:
“You’re not just some guy working out of your garage are you?”
He wasn’t trying to insult me.
But he did.
Rarely in my life have I been at a loss for words- but this time- I couldn’t think fast enough.
I was grasping for words but they weren’t coming.
“Yes, Sir…actually….yeah…we are.” I stuttered after a pause that seemed to last ten minutes.
It was uncomfortable. I was embarrassed.
The entire tone of our conversation shifted.
It wasn’t until after the phone call that I realized-
I don’t have anything to apologize for.
We’re not trying to mislead anyone or pretend to be something we’re not.
Vince from Truman Boot Company told me early on: “Humble beginnings are nothing to be ashamed of.”
His words have been a great encouragement to us since our launch 4 months ago.
So, if our online presence has led you to believe that we’re anything more than just a husband and wife team- working from our home- we’re not.
We do everything ourselves, by hand, in our home.
Just the two of us.
To learn more about who we are and how our company began, Click HERE
The world is not as big as you think.
January 22, 2018
When we launched our small company in November- I expected to learn a few lessons about business.
What I didn’t expect- was to learn so many valuable lessons about life in general.
This experience has been an incredible teacher.
So far, the primary lesson has been this: The world is not as big as you think.
I’ve lived in a small town my entire life. The world as I perceive it has always seemed so vast, so endless.
In the last 90 days I’ve met people I would have never encountered otherwise.
From our small home in Maine we’ve built friendships with people in Colorado, Utah, California, New York- even as far as Finland and Germany.
I’ve become close friends with a denim expert in Southern California, an Englishman in Oklahoma and several Makers in Canada- one of which I’m convinced might be my brother separated at birth.
This week I had the privilege of meeting Sascha at Vater & Sohn in Hamburg, Germany.
Germany seems so far from our little home in Maine, but as we chatted, the world seemed a much smaller place. I discovered immediately that we share many common interests and values. Our lives mirror one another so closely.
Through this experience I’ve learned there are people scattered across the world who share identical interests- people who hold to the same common values- a mutual appreciation for things that are made by hand.
My philosophy has always been to invest all of your time, love and energy into the few people who are closest to you.
I still think that’s a good principle. But don’t miss the opportunity to have your life enriched by the friendship that lies wait in a stranger- who you may find- isn’t strange at all.
To read the story of who we are and how we got here, Click HERE
Bring It Back – December 22, 2017
Twenty minutes from our home, at the center of a small New England town, I passed a quiet storefront with a sign that read “Some Leather.”
It was early morning and the shop had just opened for the day. I walked inside to the rich smell of leather and a quiet voice that said “Come in.”
I peeked around the corner to find a single craftsman perched on an old wooden stool. He was deep in concentration and surrounded by the tools of his trade.
I realized immediately that all of my surroundings– the leather bags, wallets, notebooks and purses- every piece- had been hand made by the craftsman who sat at the table.
It was my first time in the store but we spoke as if we were old friends.
He was younger than I imagined a skilled tradesman would be. His eyes were big and he spoke with such passion as he explained to me the careful steps he takes when crafting each piece.
As he spoke I could tell- he wasn’t doing this for wealth. He wasn’t interested in fame. He comes to work every day because he loves what he does.
It was as if I had stepped back in time. Back to a time when people took pride in their work, dealt honestly and made promises with a handshake.
America, please bring this type of shop back to the center of every town.
Bring back our sense of community, pride in a hard day’s work and a commitment to quality American made goods.
Bring it back.
Because every small town in America desperately needs some leather.
Keep it Premo – December 13, 2017
When we launched our company in November, we mailed samples to a few highly respected leather craftsmen.
No strings attached. All we wanted was their honest feedback.
The first envelope we sent was to Mason Premo at The Premo Workshop.
As we looked through the Premo online store we thought “Maybe we’re aiming too high. These people might not even call us back.”
Reluctantly, we mailed the sample anyway.
To our shock Mason Premo responded right away- early on a Saturday morning. His first words were “Buttery smooth, my friend. I love it.” Attached was a picture of his own handmade wallet beside a tin of our leather balm. I was standing in the LL Bean parking lot when I received his text. I must have jumped three feet off the ground.
Mason’s approval means the world to us. If you know anything about Mason- you know he demands the best- of himself and the products he works with. His excitement about our leather balm was a stamp of approval for us. It meant we were doing something right. Our product was being trusted by a professional.
We celebrated for days.
Since November we’ve gotten to know Mason and his family a little better. There’s something different about the Premos. They’re hardworking, dedicated craftsmen who are passionate about their trade. Yet, in spite of their success they remain genuine, down to earth and kind. They are approachable and sincere. These are qualities not common in the everyday business world.
Thank you, Premo family, for your commitment to handmade, high quality American goods. Thank you for your character and your passion.
I get it now.
That’s what it means to “Keep it Premo.”
Thank you American Craftsman – November 8, 2017
For many years we’ve made leather balm in our home for personal use.
When we decided to bring our product to market I began researching our target consumer.
What I found is remarkable.
I have been overwhelmed by the number of highly skilled American craftsmen I find hard at work.
You are resilient and strong. You demand the best of yourself and the products you trust in.
Your level of dedication and the pride you take in craftsmanship has inspired me.
You have rekindled my patriotism.
You have made me proud to be an American.