Hope you’re doing super and are all in high spirits this fine Monday evening?! Firstly, if you haven’t already, head over to last Thursday’s 10@10 HERE. It was a great week where Ruedi the @swissjeansfreak and owner of the first raw denim museum in Zürich took some time out to tell us about his “slightly eccentric” passion for raw denim! It’s a must read for any true blue blooded denim head.
However, the question now is, how do we follow up this evening?
Well we are going to do it by talking to a brother of ours and collaboration partner Evan Kellner, the sole soldier of @tannerysouth. “An artist with Horween” Evan’s product selection offers everything from card holders to book covers, from placemats to biker wallets. It was an honour to link up with Evan for the @clobbercalm collaboration/leather product offering, last November, and we have had the fortune of shipping his pieces of craftsmanship worldwide.
Well tonight you get to know Evan a little better and also learn a thing or two about leather craftsmanship…luck so-and-so’s!
It’s a privilege to say it’s now time to sit back, relax, crack open a bed (I’m partaking in a Guinness this evening) and listen to the thoughts of Evan Kellner as @tannerysouth answers the @clobbercalm 10@10.
MEET THE BRAND BEHIND THE MENSWEAR
POSITION: Owner/Lead Artisan
BRAND: Tannery South Leather Co.
LOCATION: Atlanta, GA
SIZE OF TEAM: One, Uno, Solo, Me, Myself and I.
SPECIALITY/COMPANY FOCUS: Heirloom quality leather goods handmade in the heart of the South.
1. Straight forward, please tell us, how did your company Tannery South Leather Co. start out? (For people that don’t already know)
Like many other “Makers” of goods my journey down this path started from necessity. A few years ago I was in need of a new wallet and began the search for a design that would meet my minimal everyday carry needs, be affordable, and last as long as it was needed in service. Whether that was me, or my kids, it needed to last. I also wanted something I could make my own, personalize it with my tastes, not someone elses. What I found were lots of great handmade wallets and card holders, from lots of great makers. What I didn’t find was the wallet I had envisioned and needed for my everyday carry, so I set out to make it. My wallet didn’t need a huge cash slot. Most of the time the only paper I carry are receipts, and when I do have cash it’s gone quicker than it arrived, or can always be folded in half. (I have three kids). So not needing an extended cash compartment would cut down on the space needed. I went through and got rid of most of my reward cards, punch cards, etc. by adding them to apps on my phone. So, really, I only needed one pocket for my ID, business cards, and a few pics of the fam., and one pocket for a few leftover membership cards, insurance cards, etc. But in reality I only needed access to one or maybe two cards each day, with the others being used much less frequently. A simple way to access those cards would need to be created. Using all of these needs and ideas I measured out what would become my flagship wallet, The Gemini. With this design, most days I don’t even have to open the whole wallet, making it a classy and amazingly functional carry piece. Somehow it came together pretty quickly, looking back it’s surprising how well it worked out with so little trial and error.
The Gemini wallet is a beautiful design, if I do say so myself, with two full pockets on each side and one unique, outward facing pocket which provides super quick and easy access to your two most frequently used cards. But I didn’t want this to be just some stock inventory wallet, I wanted it to be a truly personalized wallet experience by offering customization of the inner and outer thread colors. Choose your outer thread, and then shake it up with a bold inner accent color. Or keep it all one color, the beauty is that the customer can choose how they want it to look, not me.
Well, now I had my wallet, and a design I was really proud of, not to mention a few hundred dollars in leather and tools, so I set out to share my new found skills and passion for leatherwork. Developing these skills into other products and variations, building on trends and customer feedback, looking for ways to improve what I was currently doing, and always looking for ways to be original and new.
2. Tell us. What does a day in the life of yourself look like? What’s your daily work routine?
Wow, I’m not sure you even want to know, but here goes. Tannery South is a one-man shop, me, but beyond that I’m a stay at home dad to three beautiful children, a daughter and young twin boys. First and foremost I have to make sure my home is straight, and that job is tough. My day starts pretty early with getting my daughter up and ready for school. This usually begins before the sun rises, and involves some type of coercion to eat, get dressed, or stay on track. A quick look at emails, DM’s, etc. gives me an idea of the day. Shortly after that the “Twin-vasion” occurs with my boys waking up and looking to pick up where they left off the day before with doing their best to leave no speck of carpet visible beneath a layer of small toys, each of which has no less than 5 sharp sides and points, and is too small to see until it has already been stepped on. My beautiful, and super hardworking, wife leaves for work and I set out to herd two 5 year olds into a schedule that to them seems like wearing a straight-jacket. If all goes well each boy leaves the house with clothes on their backs, two shoes on their feet, and lunch to eat. I can’t lie though, I’ve been back to that school with a lunch, or towel, or jacket.
After carpool I need to make sure everything at the house is done and in order, which includes any cleaning or “projects” my wife has left me. After all of that I go through my shops open orders and prioritize everything new and needing completion. If possible, I can get a few items made, stamped, punched and basically as far as I can take them before the next carpool begins and I’m back on the “daddy” gig. The day goes on, leather and orders take a back seat to running errands, hitting the park, refereeing, and making snacks and cooking dinner. Later on, the kids go to bed, and if I’m lucky I was able to do enough so that I can sit down stitch up and finish any orders I can, as well as package any ready to go items. After bedtime is when I do all of my sewing, knocking out any hammering, setting or generally loud work during the day. Most nights I’ll call it quits well after midnight, only to be up again in a few short hours, ready to start the day again and ship out any finished orders that are now ready to go.
3. What are your top 3 bestselling items? And why do you think this is?
My top three items are the Gemini Wallet, my Mason Jar Cooozie (found in my Etsy shop @tannerysouthleather), and now my Lincoln Cardhold. These pieces are popular for different reasons but all of them represent my core philosophies and beliefs: Use tried and true techniques, use only premium quality materials, and put the same amount of dedication and heart into each piece that you expect to get out of it.
4. What’s your personal favourite garment when it comes to the items you manufacture?
I know it sounds like a broken record, but I really do love my Gemini Wallet. It is the one item I have on me any time I leave the house, no matter what I’m wearing or where I’m going. It’s an original design I’m really proud of, and I really enjoy making it. Since I use it every day I’m constantly getting compliments on its unique design and functionality, and overall “badass-ness”, so that’s a great confidence booster.
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 it’s amazing, and look forward to seeing how far things can go with Social Media. If that is what it will be called in the future. Lol. We think it’s so amazing, and look at the doors it’s opened, but it’s really just the beginning. I mean, really, if this is what we have now, and we’re amazed by it, and it’s opening doors we never thought were possible, then what is around the corner? Tannery South, that’s what. Kidding. Really though, I don’t know, but I’m excited by it, and looking forward to looking back on this moment as a time when we didn’t know any better. I just blew your mind.
6. Has it made an impact on your business at all, do you think?
Absolutely, both directly and indirectly. Obviously it has directly impacted my business by giving me a platform to express myself through creation and to sell those creations. But, it has also opened my eyes and exposed me to so many wonderful people and makers. People who have pushed me to step up my game by the amazing work they’re doing, or the people who have helped me with questions when I was in need of answers. People who don’t know me, people who could easily look at me as “competition”, people who could have easily used the impersonal nature of social media to ignore me and let my needs get filtered down below the fold and lost forever. But what I found was the opposite, I’ve actually found friends. And I’m not sure that happens in Big Business.
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?
Obviously @clobbercalm is number one, and then I do have a few I like to check regularly such as, @bravestarselvage, @theunbrandedbrand, @shockoe_atelier, as well as a few other brands and makers. I’m also a big fan of @deadthingsbykate, @aegishandcraft, @jmietzel, and a few others.
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?
Ha. For me leather is what helps me relax. As a stay at home dad there are a lot of stressors throughout the day, but it’s always nice to take those steps down to the shop, put on my awesome waxed denim apron from the amazing @aegishandcraft, throw on some Pink Floyd and create. Of course, I always love spending time with the family, especially if my wife is reading this. I love you honey.
9. What do you consider to be the best thing about your business and why?
Me. Not in an egotistic way, but in a down-to-Earth kind of way. A simple way. When you work with Tannery South you’re working with me, on a personal level. You need something, you can just ask me. You don’t have to go through a recording, or jump through hoops to get what you want. Just ask. I’m here to help, and to work with each person to create a piece that is bonded to them for ever. Whether it’s a simple card holder or keychain, or a giant tote to hold god knows what. There’s a connection to handmade, and that connection is to the maker, that’s me, and I’m Tannery South Leather Co., and each person who has one of my pieces is Tannery South. It’s a connection that only comes from a maker/user relationship.
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?
Obviously it’s desert island so I think shorts would be appropriate. Although I’m originally from Florida, luckily, I missed the jean shorts craze and never really got into them. Literally or figuratively, so I’m going to need a nice pair of pants with some zip off legs. Not the most fashionable outfit, but I’m going more for practicality I guess. Other than that, I’m not sure what else I would need, they say Mother Nature provides, but maybe a good book on ship building?
So now you see…
Now you see why we chose @tannerysouth to be our brother in the wallet department when it came to the @clobbercalm collaborations. Evan is incredibly talented but just as important he is incredibly personable. Tannery South isn’t about making money for Evan it’s about making art, which is great for us as it means we get the best for less!
There’s no false persona or ego when it comes to Evan. Firstly he’s a Dad, a very funking busy Dad with a heavy schedule (I know, I have 3 also) and secondly he’s an artist – nobody can be “just a Dad” 24/7, it’s impossible. We need time to unwind and relax, we need a hobby and when you spend the majority of your day attending to the needs of your loved ones you would be surprised just how much you enjoy the chance to relax and relish the challenge to do something else in an expert way. I instantly related to this so knew the @clobbercalm ‘ram’ would sit proudly on any @tannerysouth product.
It’s funny as I’ve never actually met Evan in real life, it nearly happened at the start of this year when I flew back to the UK via Atlanta but WOW that’s a big airport – needless to say the meet never happened…
Dudes, I encourage you drop by Evan’s store via this Link HERE and set aside a small about of time to browse his small, but exclusive, leather range. Also, (letting you into a little secret) if you use the code “clobbercalm15” via a private message to Evan, before you purchase, you’re more than likely going to end up with a 15% discount. Just saying *wink wink*.
That’s enough bromancing from me for this evening…stay tuned for Thursday’s ‘The Men…’ feature and as always folks, stay close…