Today we are talking with HANK co-founder, Adam Rice. Hank is here to “make buying American-made clothing a wholly better experience.” Read on!
Can you give 50 BUILT readers some background on yourselves and the events that lead up to starting HANK?
Ryan, Sarkis, and I (Adam) have been friends for over ten years now. We originally met way back in middle school and stayed friends through high school and college. We all just graduated this past year; I went to Michigan, Ryan went to Michigan State, and Sarkis went to Kenyon College. In college, the three of us maintained a short-lived lifestyle blog that developed a decent following but never grew into anything more than a hobby. Our blog was made up of things we found interesting: film, design, and culture, but mostly style.
Being from the suburbs of Detroit, we’ve seen first-hand what the departure of a manufacturing base can do to an economy and a city. This, along with our interests in style and apparel, led us to discover tons of companies making great apparel here in the US. However, there is no “one stop shop” to discover and purchase these awesome, American-made products. As the American-made movement is growing, more and more online stores are allowing consumers to filter American-made products, which is a nice feature, but we wanted to take the ambiguity out entirely. With us, it’s made in America or it’s not on our site. We also wanted to create an exceptional experience for the user: a great, attractive website with clear product images, detailed information, and awesome customer service.
For now, our products fall into three categories: originals, collaborations, and brands we love. Originals are items that we’ve designed and had manufactured. Collaborations are existing pieces that we work on with manufacturers to put our own spin on. Finally, we’ll be carrying items from brands we love that we think really complement our original and collaboration pieces.
What kind of impact are you hoping to make with HANK?
We want to make buying American-made clothing a wholly better experience. These products can and should be more accessible than they currently are, in terms of discovery, purchasing, and price point. In addition to producing great products ourselves, we want to highlight the amazing manufacturers that are already out there with our collaboration pieces. We’re thrilled with how our Parrott Canvas project turned out and they were more than happy to work with us. Nothing’s for sure yet, but we’re working on something with another company on a collaboration project for a fall release that we’re really excited about.
Most of the companies we’ve spoken with are really excited about what we’re doing. A lot of them don’t have the time or resources that are needed to develop great websites or social media presences. We want bridge this gap.
What is the process/criteria for selecting the brands you work with and feature?
Goods that we sell are manufactured in America – they’re cut/sewn/built/assembled/etc. here. While some of the materials may be sourced elsewhere, they’re turned into the final product in US.
We strive to provide goods that not only last for a long time, but goods that will actually improve with age, like a pair of jeans or a baseball glove.
We seek brands that meet these criteria and also fall into the aesthetic we’re aiming for, which is a classic, timeless look. If we find a product we like but feel that it doesn’t really fit into our look and feel, we’ll approach the manufacturer and pitch a collaboration. This process has been particularly exciting, and, like I said earlier, we’re working on one right now for the fall that we can’t wait for.
Why is it so important for HANK to market the fact that they sell/are ‘American Made?’ What does that mean to you?
To be honest, I think Americans feel a bit letdown by their own country right now. We used to be known as the country that makes everything, the country that builds the most, the biggest and the best. Now it’s virtually impossible to walk into a mall and buy a anything that’s made here.
We want to make it easier for people to discover awesome products that are made domestically: products that are built to last, products that people are proud to own.
We always want to be transparent when it comes to our products’ manufacturing processes. We feature the manufacturer’s background information on each product page and we’ll cover them more deeply in blog posts. These companies have great stories to tell and they shouldn’t be left untold.
If you could tell our readers one factor that is the greatest threat or advantage to keeping things made in America, and allowing companies like HANK and the brands you represent to succeed, what would it be?
For our purposes, as an apparel company, it’s adaptability. We love our manufacturers’ methods because they are time-tested and don’t sacrifice quality. However, this often leads to longer production times and, sometimes, less specific capabilities.
It’s worth it to spend that extra money on timeless, American-made items that will hold up for years as opposed to a trendy item that begins to fall apart after only a few wears. We want to help people adopt this belief on a larger scale.