Glad to have you with us for another insightful instalment of ‘The Brands…’ edition of the 10@10.
Tonight’s post is a little different as we delve into the world of the start-up and have a natter with Harley of @indigoashby. I get as excited featuring guys like Harley as I do featuring guys like Tellason, Rogue Territory (Hi Karl!) etc because the main thing that translates, no matter what stage you’re at, is the passion these people have for what they do!
Starting up + learning on the job is all part of the process and I imagine it can be draining but you can hear from how the guys starting out to the guys 20+ years down the line talk about it all…it gives back in droves. I have massive respect for the start-ups of this world and I love the fact we @clobbercalm can give them a platform on our humble blog.
Seeing as how this is a ‘Start-Up Edition’ of ‘The Brands…’ we thought we’d give you a quick insight into @indigoashby by having Harley answer three quick fire questions. Three starter-for-10s if you will…
A. Where did you learn to pattern cut and sew, you know, the basics?
I taught myself how to sew when I was 19 years old. I didn’t know how a bobbin worked or how to thread a machine but I watched YouTube videos to educate myself. I started learned how things were made by taking them apart and trying to put them back together.
B. What is the main obstacle when it comes to setting up a denim brand? What things are really taking effort and concentration to overcome at this early stage of brand life?
I think the main obstacle in starting a denim brand is an obstacle shared by many dreams; faith in your vision and the willingness to keep going no matter how hard things get. With denim specifically there are so many aspects. First is what equipment do I need? Specific machines for specific functions. Of the machines you find that do these specific functions, which is the best? Or, best for what I am doing. Do I use old machines or new machines? Which is better? Where do I get material? Last but not least, how do I make jeans? The biggest obstacle is properly educating yourself in whatever you pursue. If you can do that you’ve already made it.
C. What denim do you use and how do you source it?
I use mostly Cone Mills denim. It’s made in the USA and they’ve got a nice selection of quality denim. I admire a lot of the Japanese denims but have worked with it very little.
That’s certainly whet my appetite and yours I would imagine, so let’s learn more by sitting back, relaxing, cracking open a beer and enjoying the thoughts of Harley as @indigoashby answers the @clobbercalm 10@10.
MEET THE BRAND BEHIND THE MENSWEAR
NAME: Harley Ashby
POSITION: Owner / Founder
BRAND: Indigo Ashby
LOCATION: Portland, Oregon
SIZE OF TEAM: 1
SPECIALITY/COMPANY FOCUS: Selvedge denim goods / Made in U.S.A
1. Straight forward, please tell us, how did your company Indigo Ashby start out? What’s the story? How and why does this sort of journey begin?
Indigo Ashby and the journey to make jeans all happened right before my 20th birthday. I had just finished my first year of community college. I have never really been deeply interested in school and I didn’t really know what I wanted to do with the rest of my life. Growing up, my family didn’t have much money so id always worn hand me downs and poor quality clothing. I’ve always been intrigued by fashion and proper fitting clothing but could never really afford to buy it.
At the time I was working 6 days a week applying heat transfer silk screens that we would apply to paper and then use to apply on different colored shirts that people could pick a choose from. I realized how much people like customizing their own clothing, and I love interacting with the people and custom designs we would make out of a bunch of different transfers.
The shirts we were printing on were as cheap quality as they come; bought in bulk and then sold for 10 times the price with a cheap print on it. The more shirts I sold, the worse I felt about the quality goods. This is when it really hit me that I would create an all American made clothing brand where my customers could completely customize their denim jeans, or buy ready to wear jeans that are of the highest quality.
My girlfriend and I spent $70 dollars at JoAnns fabric on some denim, chalk, a yard stick, a mini iron, and a standard ruler. We borrowed a plastic sewing machine from her parents attic and thought we were going to produce jeans and we had just the right equipment. Unfortunately we were very mistaken and the plastic sewing machine we had acquired was not capable of penetrating multiple layers of denim.
So began the research, I searched Google for months looking for machines and denim brokers. Slowly but surely our research paid off and we began making connections on Instagram that have really built what you see as Indigo Ashby today. All of the machines I have, all of the valuable people that have helped me build this company I’ve met Via Instagram, and only 2 or 3 I have actually met in person. We have spent all the money we’ve saved and made to build this company from the ground up.
2. Tell us. What does a day in the life of yourself look like? What’s your daily work routine?
My daily routine is going to my day job as a construction worker monday-fridays 6:30-3:00 when I get home I am sewing jeans, working on new designs, and working on machines in my 10’ x 10’ sewing room in my house.
3. What do you see as being your signature item? The garment to take you forward?
I would like to excel in jeans particularly, shirts next…
4. What’s your personal favourite garment when it comes to the items you manufacture?
It’s more the fact that I like the process, coming up with new ideas, changing stitch length, contrasting thread. I enjoy the process of turning one dimensional fabric into three dimensional goods.
5. What are your thoughts on the rise of Instagram fashion and the chaps that post their clothing on there to help spread the word of their fave brands?
I think that Instagram is an extremely powerful tool this day in age. I have met more good people, caring people, and big thinking people on Instagram than anywhere else. Some of the people that have helped me most in life I’ve found on Instagram and I’ve never even met most of them. It is important for like minded people to collaborate, share knowledge and connections. We are all important to each others success. I’ve never understood people un-willingness to share knowledge in the handmade industry. I’ve been helped by many and I am always willing to help anyone, anyway I can. The way I look at it is; that you should share knowledge with everyone you can. The one’s who ask for help and make it truly deserve it because this journey is already hard enough.
6. Has it made an impact on your business at all, do you think?
It has definitely made a huge impact on my work.
7. Is there any feeds on IG that you particularly like to check-in on regular. What brands are you fond of on there? What menswear feeds to you like to peruse?
I’m a huge fan of Companion Denim as well as Railcar, Momotaro and Ben Viapiani’s style. I am also a huge fan of the small up and coming lines like Luxury Death Machine by my Friend Robert Keller, as well as B-STRONG Denim by my buddy Freddy. I also enjoy the pages of people who take photos in a wide variety of the big brands gear; like, @selvedge1 my buddy Victor, @raw.denim and @inn8chiro on IG. Defintely give me inspiration.
8. A quick one about you. Other than the business, what passions do you have in life? What flicks your switch and helps you relax?
I enjoy camping and traveling, I also like hunting for rare old industrial sewing machines. I love summer time river days and exploring.
9. What do you consider to be the best thing about your business and why?
The best thing about Indigo Ashby is that I truly enjoy everything that I make. All of the stitches from all of the different machines were a huge achievement for me in the process of getting them running. So every stitch matters. A bond between man and machine that can be seen in the products we now sew. I enjoy making stuff, and I enjoy interacting with others; consumers and producers in the handmade world.
10. And Lucky Last, You’re going to be stranded on a desert island and you can take 1 outfit (4 items) only with you. And 1 choice of drink.
What would they be? And Why?
I’d take my Luxury Death Machine Pima Cotton blend jeans made by my buddy Robert Keller because they’re so soft you could sleep in them.
B-STRONG jacket made by my buddy Freddy.
A tank top because it was designed for survival on a desert island!
Plus my electric shade because lets be honest, a desert islands probably going to have some rays.
So good Harley! It’s great to hear from a new voyager on the quest for indigo gauntlets and selvedge gold. It’s easy to forget that without guys like yourself, Harley, taking that leap into the unknown to fulfil a life goal, expand a hobby, test a skill to the limit etc we wouldn’t have the established brands that we blue bloods all love so dear. You’ve got to start somewhere and Harley you’re well on your way my friend! Thanks for your time and keep doing what you’re doing…
This week’s ‘The Men…’ feature we have Jeroen aka @jeroenbredewold in the 10@10 hot-seat. Co-Founder of @bluerootsofficial, whose “passion for blue” is infectious, + owner of a majestic beard Jeroen really knows his stuff so stay tuned for that, dropping on Thursday…usual time ⏰
Have a tip top week folks and stay close, below is a few things listed FYI…
1). Check out the CLOBBERCALM STORE. Stay tuned, the independent craftsmen & woman that make our product are the real deal.
2). @clobbercalm.threadsnfades2017 is starting to pick up steam so bob over and check it out.