Today, we’re talking with Ben Nobel, the man with the plan (AKA Brand Manager), from Kletterwerks.   Can you give 50 BUILT readers some background on yourself, the company and the events that led up to starting Kletterwerks/Mystery Ranch? Let’s see, where to begin.  Mystery Ranch is the modern Dana Designs by Dana Gleason, for those of you who ever backpacked or skied in the 80’s and 90’s – you might have owned one.  Before that, was Kletterwerks – a brand of backpacks built for climbers in the 70’s.  Since the adoption of Mystery Ranch in 2000, we’ve grown into a multimillion dollar business focusing on the professional user – Military, Fire Fighting, Hunting, Ski Patrol and Backcountry Guides.  2006 really changed the face of the company when we secured the SOCOM contract – outfitting the majority of the Tier 1 Military Units in the United States.  Fire Fighting came…Continue Reading
I remember growing up with an old Chicago Bears t-shirt. Every photo I look back on from the ages of 2-10, I swear I’m wearing the same classy tee. The fabric was dripping with memories and comfort. We all go through that stage of thinking we’ve grown out of being a ‘t-shirt’ guy/gal, but always end up in that favorite soft tee. There will always be tees. Charlie Hustle is a “vintage t-shirt company founded on respect for the old school and love for that perfect vintage tee.” They have you covered, literally. Go through their collection of events and milestones and find one that resonates with you. If they don’t have one now, keep checking back, they have several projects in the works. Currently Charlie Hustle has a Kickstarter campaign for their Negro League collection, with some artwork by Aaron Dana. These are premium, American made tees, celebrating the Negro League’s…Continue Reading
People tend to collect things. Baseball cards, comics, shoes,cars, bicycles. Sometimes we don’t even realize it until these objects take over our mental and physical space. I had this epiphany as I was writing this review. I have a lot of backpacks. I collect, analyze and most importantly, heavily use backpacks. The Topo Designs Daypack is my new go-to daypack. It’s not easy to take the crown in my collection and boot my other packs aside, but the Daypack is king. It has a perfect mix of purpose, quality and aesthetics that make this otherwise simple pack a personal favorite. The kind of pack you see with you on adventures that you will one day tell your children about. I opted for the orange Daypack, a pack that suits your jaunts around the city and will store all the necessities for a day at work. For the last 3 months…Continue Reading
I have always envied women who could pull off the ‘jean jacket’ look.  I’ve never been able to swing it… that is, until now. Tradlands, an amazing company out of San Francisco, have put together some really great pieces.  As they themselves claim, they, “have designed pieces for the woman who drifts toward menswear and thinks, ‘if only this were made for me.’”  And they have!  I am certainly that woman. Though it’s a mite on the spendy side, weighing in at $187, I really think it’s worth every penny.  It’s a piece you’ll have forever and it’ll never go out of style. I was taught young to buy fewer things, but nice things. This is a nice thing. Their EMB Denim Shirt Jacket is an amazing feat. Not only does it fit stunningly, it is comfortable (no neck chafing like most denim shirts/jackets I’ve ever worn) and can be…Continue Reading
Today we’re talking with the one and only, Eli Cox, founder of Berkeley Supply in Denver, Colorado USA. Can you give 50 BUILT readers some background on yourselves and the events that lead up to starting Berkeley Supply? I think I was just fucking sick of having to fly to places like Portland, SF, NYC, LA, or Boston just to find quality menswear, when in those towns for visits. If I wasn’t doing that, I was ordering everything online, which when it comes to this type of clothing, it can be hard, you want to be able to try things on. I had been talking about doing a shop like this for a few years, we were sitting around Pearl Velo one night drinking beers, and we came up with this idea to give me the 165 sq feet of frontage that was connected to Pearl Velo and Avery County…Continue Reading
Baseball is a game of tradition. It’s an American pastime that deserves respect. It’s a beautiful game in all aspects from strategy to the equipment used. Every kid growing up needs a ball and glove, but they want a bat. Today we’re reviewing a bat by Warstic, that any kid would dream of having and any professional would be delighted to use. This Texas based company makes their bats from American White Ash with straight grains, Rock Hard Sugar Maple or Dense Yellow Birch, all designed for ultimate performance. The model we have used, and have drooled over, is the Whiskeyville Maple, Pro Designer series. It retails for $129 and comes with a full dip vintage black with a warrior flame Wartip®, and off-white engraving, including a free engraving of the player’s name. Sizes range from 31-35″ and bats take 7-12 business days to ship, since each one is made to…Continue Reading
I can be a little bit overly organized at times. One of the things that I love are pocket (or purse) –sized notebooks in which I can make my shopping lists, remember things I’d otherwise forget, or jot down a book I’d like to read. I have used lots of these little books and have liked some and hated others, but this one I love and WORD’s the word! Brought to you by Cool Material, Word. notebooks are 3.5”x5” notebooks with 48 lined pages. There is a space at the top of each page that can be titled and down the left side of each line is what looks like a little bulls-eye. On the inside of the front cover is a key of how they suggest you use the little bulls-eye for organizing tasks, ideas and thoughts. It’s pretty cool. Or, of course, you can make up your own…Continue Reading
If you’re looking for a backpack that is smart, functional, and well thought out, then Tom Bihn’s is the backpack for you. Not only is it 100% made in the USA, it’s a bag that makes other backpacks I’ve used seem under-thought out and bulky, without reason. Today we are reviewing the Smart Alec, a modular bag with 13 webbing loops on the front of the Smart Alec and an included removable reflective bungee. Tom Bihn has created a backpack that is modular so you can pick from lots of different inserts and add-ons that make the backpack suit your needs exactly. Each accessory snaps into the webbing loops to build your own unique set-up. I took this bag while I traveled, loaded with my work-items. I took my MacBook with me and the case for the computer was pretty cool. Tom Bihn has dubbed it the “Vertical Brain Cell.” …Continue Reading
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…Continue Reading
Today we are talking with Mark Paigen, owner and designer at Osmium, a high-quality clothing company based in Massachusetts. Can you give 50 BUILT readers some background on yourselves and the events that lead up to starting Osmium and the catalyst for doing so? A few years ago, I sold Chaco, the outdoor footwear company that I had built over a 20 year period. Chaco had been a true labor of love and I wanted to take some time, chill and discover what would come next. Six months later, I sailed from Massachusetts to the Caribbean via Bermuda. I wanted to live aboard, explore the islands and enjoy some serious down time. There are a ton of islands down there, each a bit different from the last and plenty of opportunity for exploration and fun. Many months later however, I found myself craving more than another white sand beach, kiteboard session and…Continue Reading
Today we’re talking with Robert Torres, one of the founders of Black & Denim, an American Made denim and apparel company out of Los Angeles, California and Tampa, Florida.   Can you give 50 BUILT readers some background on yourselves and the events that led up to starting Black & Denim?  Roberto Torres is an auditor by trade. Christopher Findeisen is a fashion designer to the biggest apparel manufacturer in the world (VF Licensing Group). Luis Montanez has an IT background and does all things social media. We started Black & Denim back in 2008 because we wanted to create a company we were proud off. A lot of people start companies because they see a “void in the market” or “the products currently being offered does not satisfy their standards. We wanted to make sure that this project was 100% American Made. We are obsessed with American craftsmanship. We…Continue Reading
Today we’re talking with Bron Heussenstamm of Alex Maine. Can you tell us a little about yourself and how Alex Maine came to be? As for my experience, I grew up in my parents’ surf shop, Newport Surf & Sport, Huntington Surf & Sport. I used to be the kid who would grab peoples’ ankles under the clothes. It’s just been my entire life, you know?, I’ve always been in the clothing and retail sales (industry).  So it’s something that I knew that I’d always want to get into. I went to USC and I was an entrepreneurship major. I started a couple businesses, didn’t really go the way that I was hoping with the partnerships and whatnot. So I took a job at Sanuk, doing their PR for a year. They’ve just been acquired by UGG, so that’s a good step for them. I knew that I wanted to…Continue Reading
When you buy a WIlson football, you are purchasing the only American Made ball of any of the major U.S. sports leagues. Not only does Wilson manufacture the official NFL football, ‘The Duke,’ in Ada, Ohio, but they also make NCAA and Highschool footballs in their USA factory. The ball we’re reviewing today is the Wilson 1003 GST football. The construction of the ball we bought is flawless. Seams are tight and straight and the feel of the materials is top notch. The 1003 GST is unique in that the white stripes on the ball are sewed on to create another level of grip and texture. This additional attention to detail makes for a great feel and better ball control, especially if you don’t have the big hands of an NFL or NCAA quarterback. The composite leather laces have a slight rubberized texture to them as well adding to grip…Continue Reading
In 1974 Kershaw Knives opens for business in Lake Oswego, Oregon with its no-hassle, lifetime guarantee. It continues that same customer service and manufacturing quality to this day, known for their superior materials and manufacturing techniques. The Ken Onion Blur knife comes from a lineage of award-winning knives, winning Blade Magazine’s Blade Show “American Made Knife of the Year” award multiple times over the last couple decades. The Blur is perfect for all your outdoor adventures. The blade is premium stainless steel providing maximum strength and corrosion resistance and the option of a partially serrated blade to make all your camping and everyday tasks easy. The handle is coated with Trac-Tec that is rough to the touch, but not abrasive. It is a solid build, not too heavy and easy to use with the SpeedSafe opening system. Blade length: 3 3/8″ partially serrated Tanto Closed length: 4 1/2″ Steel: Sandvik…Continue Reading
Since we featrued Tellason a couple weeks ago and their premium denim, I wanted to repost this factory tour of Cone Denim. One of the gems we have in the USA. So much history… Few institutions garner the respect of their industry the way Cone Denim has. In the textile industry since 1895, they are a world leader in manufacturing corduroy, flannel, and most notably, denim. Denim aficionados around the world know what it means to have a pair of jeans manufactured out of selvage Cone denim. Cone’s White Oak Cotton Factory was built in 1905, and by 1908 became the world’s number one producer of denim. Like most manufacturing plants, a community was built around the mill it has remained a staple of White Oak and the Greensboro, NC area. The coveted premium selvage denim manufactured today uses some of the same equipment from over 100 years ago and…Continue Reading
Today we are talking with the fine folks at Northern Grade, a pop-up market of American Made products.   Can you give 50 BUILT readers some background on yourselves and how Northern Grade came to be? Well being based in Minnesota, we are surrounded by brands like Red Wing and Duluth Pack who represent the authentic heritage brands. We thought we should do something to celebrate them and promote their historical significance. We also saw a lot of men in this area who did not know where to shop for premium American brands. How has Northern Grade evolved from when it started in 2009? We have grown from an event that had about 600 people at the first one, to 3000 at our last.  We still have about 20 vendors. We like to keep things in scale with our venue, Architectural Antiques.   Has the Made Local/USA always been the…Continue Reading
There are some great options in the food cooling market. A household name around the world, Igloo manufactures their world famous ice chests in Waller County, Texas. A 1.4 million square foot facility that serves as their global corporate headquarters, as well as their warehouse, distribution and manufacturing facility. The 50 quart MaxCold rolling cooler we are reviewing is a perfect option for tailgates, road trips, camping or jaunts to the beach. Yup, I said jaunts. It keeps ice cold for several days, meaning that weekend trip won’t be spent looking for replacement bags of ice. By elevating the floor of the cooler, Igloo has kept the contact to the hot ground minimal, allowing for a colder temperature inside. We have had our Igloo to the beach to roll in sand, and in the back of our car for cross country road trips. Food and beverages stay cold, and no leaking…Continue Reading
Today we are talking with Jen Guarino, CEO of J.W. Hulme. J.W. Hulme has been making quality goods in Minnesota since 1905.   Can you give 50 BUILT readers some background on how J.W. HULME Co. came to be, what has changed over the lastcentury, and your product offerings? John William Hulme founded  J.W. Hulme Co.  in 1905 as a tent and awning maker. By 1917 Hulme was making tents for American soldiers fighting the Great War. After World War I, our company began to apply its fastidious approach of purposeful design and construction towardsproducing awnings for the homes of St. Paul’s elite. Such was the demand for Hulme’s hand craftsmanship that the company’s product offering grew over time to include leather and canvas sporting bags and accessories. Distinctive Hulme bags became a must-have for the serious outdoor sportsman. As J.W. Hulme flourished it concentrated solely on making bags, including private label…Continue Reading
So you need a water bottle, everyone does. It can be for everyday, athletic or environmental needs. Almost everyone owns one in some shape or size. The kicker is that 99.9% of the ones available to buy are not made in the USA, BUT they still cost the same, or more. Polar Bottle, founded by Robert Heiberger and Judy Amabile in 1994, is your Made in the USA alternative. When you buy a Polar Bottle, you are assured it is BPA free, safe for drinking, and made to their high quality standards. Each Polar Bottle is insulated, making it more than just another bottle. When I fill the bottle up, and add a little ice, it stays cold well into the day. The top nozzle stays closed, and is even removable to make washing the bottle easier. Sold in a variety of sizes and materials, this one is their 12oz size and…Continue Reading
Drum Workshop, DW, has been crafting drumsets out of Southern California since 1972. Those two initials have come to represent the pinnacle of quality and pride in the percussion world, and they are still proudly made right here in the USA. In a short time, what started out as a drumming lesson business, morphed itself into a manufacturing icon. The signature DW sound is the sound of quality components and the handmade process.   FACTORY TOUR DETAILS: Cost: FREE Reservations: Yes, required for factory tour. Maximum 10 people, must call 2 days before. Tour Schedule: Th 2:00PM Tour Duration: 1hr Drum Workshop, Inc. 3450 Lunar Ct. Oxnard, CA 93030 USA or by phone: 805-485-6999 x450 DW Factory Tour info
Today we are talking with Tony Patella of Tellason. Tellason is a premium denim company founded by Tony Patella & Pete Searson in San Francisco, CA.   What was the catalyst for starting Tellason? Pete and I had been in the apparel industry for twenty years each in various forms — sales agents, sales directors and in my case, also as a partner in a San Francisco-based denim brand in the 1990s.  It really came down to our shared passion for denim and durable goods and our desire to do something of our own. We are a two-person operation. We have interns on occasion, but all of the design, distribution, customer service and sales management is handled by the two of us.  Our studio is in Sausalito, California and the factory that makes our products is right across the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco. The factory makes products for several…Continue Reading
This month’s wallpaper highlights the fight and threat our domestic companies face with stolen intellectual property and counterfeits. Available in 5 different sizes for your computer. Free to download. Also available as a poster for purchase in the shop. STANDARD SCREEN | WIDESCREEN SCREEN | HD SCREEN | iPHONE
The Pearce Sectional from Pottery Barn is a versatile piece of furniture that can be worked into most rooms, regardless of style. It represents what has historically been a dominant American furniture industry that has as of the last twenty years been severely threatened by cheap foreign imports. Upholstered in the Everyday Suede, along with large rolled arms, this sofa is comfortable, durable and great for conversation. Pottery Barn decided to take their furniture manufacturing to the skilled craftsmen and women of Sutter Street in Highpoint, North Carolina. Highpoint is rich with tradition, including many third and fourth generation furniture makers. Pottery Barn produces a quality, handmade product that undergoes six quality control tests before being released to retail. Their factory, corporate and retail stores provide well-paying jobs to many Americans. To see more images and configurations for the Pearce sectional, check out: The video above is an overview of…Continue Reading
There are few factory tours like Kohler’s. You are first introduced to their products in their multi-level design center. Once on the factory floor, you witness the process of manufacturing the various plumbing products from sinks to toilets from the world’s largest plumbing product company. It’s a hands-on process where the human hand, and muscle, still do their fair share. As you move through the molding area, foundry and casting sections you gain an understanding of how much goes into creating these products you use every day. FACTORY TOUR DETAILS: Cost: FREE Reservations: Yes, required for factory tour. Tour Schedule: M-F 8:30AM Tour Duration: 3hrs Kohler 101 Upper Road Kohler, WI USA 920 457 3699
Today we are talking with Dani Turkovich from AT-95. AT-95 is making quality furniture and fixtures in Middle America from American resources.   Can you give 50 BUILT readers some background on yourselves and how AT-95 came to be? While working 10 years in various large architectural firms, Dennis Blankemeyer expected to become the next Frank Lloyd Wright. Unfortunately, his design skills were set to work mainly drafting toilet partitions, shuffling mass quantities of paperwork and creating drawing after drawing for $150 million dollar projects in a large architectural firm. After long days hammering out drawing after drawing in an impersonal cubicle farm, Dennis would spend the majority of his free time designing and concepting items for a store that he dreamed of opening with his wife, Denise. Dennis and Denise opened American Furnishings in 1995 in a very small, 1,200 square foot space in Grandview, Ohio. Because Dennis and Denise were green in the ‘retail’ industry, business…Continue Reading