Glad to have you with us for another insightful instalment of ‘The Brands…’ edition of the 10@10.
This week’s going to be another slightly different one here @clobbercalm (which I suppose means it’s not that different but hey-ho let’s roll with it) and the reason being is this week we will focus both of our features on the all-round top bloke and true composer of indigo symphonies Mr Isaac Paul!
Yeah, tonight we will focus solely on his talents as a craftsman and the stellar handmade leather and indigo goods coming out of his workshop. Using the finest full grain leathers, and natural indigo dye Isaac goes THAT extra mile to make quality goods that are different than anything else out there. AND boy does he deliver!
So much so that, Isaac was one of the guys we chose to collaborate with on the @clobbercalm flagship collection (see below) and as soon as we received the sample piece we just knew that we’d made a great choice. Not only that but, with every conversation between us that passes it’s clear that Isaac is also a sincere, knowledgable bloke that’s a pleasure to work with.
“Everything that I make is made for myself; but driven by a desire to share those items with others. I don’t make anything that I wouldn’t feel comfortable buying for myself or for a loved one.”
MEET THE BRAND BEHIND THE MENSWEAR
NAME: Isaac Paul
BRAND: Pigeon Tree Crafting
ESTABLISHED: January 1st, 2016
LOCATION: Los Angeles, CA
SIZE OF TEAM: Just me!
SPECIALITY/COMPANY FOCUS: Handmade Leather & Indigo Goods
1. Straight forward, please tell us, how did your company Pigeon Tree Crafting start out? (For people that don’t already know)
Let’s start with the name, people ask how I came up with name and the logo all the time! My goal was to come up with a brand name that was fun and didn’t sound like it was created on a hipster brand generator. While sitting on my patio one day, I noticed an all too familiar site here in LA; a telephone pole filled with pigeons. It occurred to me that you never see pigeons in trees, they’re always on telephone poles- so it’s sort of like a pigeon’s tree! I envisioned the logo right then and there, and within a couple of hours on Photoshop, I had the final logo that I use today.
Now onto how I got started on the whole leathercraft business. I really owe it to the Quick Release Buckle. Once I saw this belt being made in England, using buckles that were originally used by firefighters to buckle the firehose, I fell in love. The aesthetic, the functionality, and the history really called out to me. I couldn’t afford the belt at the time, so I decided to seek out the buckles and see if I couldn’t fashion one up for myself. One thing led to another, and I began making belts for friends and family, and that eventually led to an Etsy store. My product offerings grew very quickly, and natural indigo was there with me from the very beginning. I think the first thing I dyed Indigo was a set of leather coasters, which was also my first ever sale on Etsy. I remember celebrating my first sale with my girlfriend!
Now my Etsy has grown considerably, and I have opted to use ‘Pattern’ by Etsy, which allows me to have my own customizable site, while still managing everything through Etsy. One inventory makes things very easy, and I love being able to track whether sales are coming from Etsy or from driving traffic to my Pattern site- it took a few months, but now my Pattern is responsible for the larger portion of my sales.
2. Tell us. What does a day in the life of yourself look like? What’s your daily work routine?
You never would have caught me working weekends at my old job; that’s a big difference between being employed at a job you dislike, versus being self-employed and doing what you love. Right now I’m working through the weekend to make sure I have enough product for a show that I’m doing next weekend, and I’m having a blast all the while! I’m not a morning person, at all! Never have been. So it’s not surprising to find me working late and sleeping in. I just don’t function the other way around!
Instagram is a huge part of my business, so I usually start my day with a post. I’ve never missed a daily post for the last 15 months that I’ve been doing this! Then I make some coffee and have a super light breakfast at my computer, I start with e-mails and dealing with orders. If I have any orders that are ready to be packed up, I like to get those out of the way and at least have them ready for shipping. I make 2-3 mail runs a week, luckily the post office is only a couple miles away.
No day is the same, with many of my items being made to order, my daily schedule can vary greatly. Belts are a huge seller, so there’s pretty much always belts to make. Another thing that I do often is get into the indigo. I try to do Indigo in batches, so that I’m not disturbing it more than it has to be. Every time you expose a vat to oxygen, it becomes less potent, so I leave that air-tight lid on until I’m ready to do some work!
I currently have 3 indigo vats, which have grown bigger and bigger with each new one. The next one will probably be twice as big as my last! I love working with the stuff, it’s incredibly satisfying, watching the items that I dye oxidize from whatever color they started – to green as soon as they’re pulled out of the vat, and then within seconds; indigo. It’s truly magical.
3. What are your top 3 bestselling items? And why do you think this is?
The Quick Release Belt is definitely up there! It’s such a unique item, and I have some pretty unique pairings and color combos that I think really do justice to the awesome buckle. People also love getting a truly custom sized belt, my measuring diagram is a bit more precise than what I’ve seen others using, I also account for stretch in the different types of leathers that I use.
Catchall trays are another popular item. I learned the technique of wet-forming from my Mom when I was a kid, she used to make these leather pouches by soaking leather in water and tying it around a balloon. When the leather would dry, she’d pop the balloon, and magically, the leather held its shape.
I make my trays in a similar way, the leather I use is much thicker than what she used for the bags, so it holds very strong, and instead of using a balloon, I have a bunch of moulds that I form them around and leave them to dry over the course of 2 days. They’re a very unique item as it is, but when you add in the indigo treatment, they’re really something to behold, no two are exactly alike, and I’m always coming up with new designs.
Wallets are probably my next most popular item. I keep the designs simple for the most part, and let the dye do the talking. I essentially “garment dye” my wallets, so that they have a consistent and even dye all around, instead of dyeing them in pieces. If I mess up a dye job, I mess up a whole wallet. Luckily, I’ve become very capable in my dyeing abilities, and I haven’t had any mishaps in forever.
4. What’s your personal favourite garment when it comes to the items you manufacture?
My Catchall trays are my favorite item. I get to play with creating unique indigo patterns, and I take so much pride in the rivetless/stitchless/glueless design. People ask me all the time how they hold their shape, and I love being able to say “it’s just water”.
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?
Every day I get to see my customers and friends share photos of how they are using my products. It makes me extremely proud, and the exposure is the best kind there is. Something that I feel is very different about the denim community to any other out there is the inspiration behind sharing posts of their goods- it’s never about flaunting “look at me and how much I spent on this”, but rather they’re sharing because they genuinely want to spread awareness of the brands they love.
6. Has it made an impact on your business at all, do you think?
Absolutely it has! I’d even go as far as to say that Instagram is integral to my business. It’s the best form of advertising that I have, and while it doesn’t cost me dollars, I do invest an enormous amount of time into it. In addition to the business related perks, I’ve made many friends on IG, both other makers, and other Denimheads.
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 enjoy seeing posts from brands that I love, such as Rising Sun Jeans, but I find the most interesting feeds belong to other Denimheads, retailers, and makers.
@denimhound has a great feed and is a friend of mine. He posts reviews of awesome brands!
I also love how many denimheads have their own unique styles, for instance:
@vorstenbos has an amazing feed, and his thing is LVC and true vintage Levi’s. He has the best collection I’ve seen!
@sennah0j is the Lee 101 king!
@migigp has an awesome style, and really knows how to balance warm tones along with his Indigo!
I’d like to shoutout to @indigo_proof as well, some of her denim repairs absolutely blow my mind! It gives me a sense of security knowing that almost no damage is beyond repair when dealing with a favorite pair of denim.
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’m a total flea market hound, I love hunting for cool vintage finds!
I’m not much of a sports guy, but I love almost all non-sporty sports. I’m good at bowling (have my own ball), darts (have my own darts), and billiards (yep, I have a cue). I was a skateboarder for all of my teens and I still look at ledges from a skaters point of view, but falling hurts now that I’m in my 30’s.
At the end of the day though, nothing beats a whiskey and a good movie or some indulgent TV.
9. What do you consider to be the best thing about your business and why?
Nothing I’ve ever done has given me the level of satisfaction that creating things with my hands has. Making things makes me happy, and people actually like those things. What more could I ask for?
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?
Shoes: Red Wing Blacksmith in Copper Rough & Tough – my first and only pair of Red Wings! For the longest time I wanted a pair, and now that I own one, I want more.. I’ve been bitten!
Jeans: Rising Sun New Rocker Jeans – I was given this pair by Allan at Rising Sun, it’s a new model that they put out, it has a thicker proprietary fabric, and a roomier upper block with deep pockets. Plus, they aren’t nearly as faded as my other pairs, so they’d be a good starting point for desert island fades!
Shirt: Hoping that this desert island isn’t a hot one, I’d pack my Samurai Jeans red & indigo flannel, it’s got indigo dyed buttons and it’s just amazing.
Jacket: Apolis Indigo Chore Jacket – My outerwear is my favorite part of my wardrobe, it’s really difficult to choose just one, but the chore jacket is just so versatile!
Drink: Whiskey! Bourbon, Rye, Old Fashioneds, Manhattans.. If I had to choose one bottle (that never runs out I hope?) it would be Old Weller Antique; are there better bottles? Sure, but are there better bottles for the price? Not that I’ve found. Unfortunately, it’s a tough find!
Thanks Isaac. 🙂
A top read mate and thanks for taking the time away from, I’m guessing, creating some badass indigo patterns to humour us bro! Go check out Isaac’s website HERE and see below another link to a later piece we worked with Isaac on…
…also, stay tuned for Thursday as Isaac doubles up and answers ‘The Men…’ 10@10. Already given this a skim over and it’s top stuff BUT after reading the above from this top man would you have expected anything less??
Have a top week folks and see you Thursday so stay close.