Brand Respect: American-made goods from Shinola

Being makers ourselves we’re always on the look out for other brands that love quality and craft as much as we do. When we discovered American brand Shinola we fell head over stix. With a focus on hand-made American goods, Shinola is championing the American craft revival. 

It’s no big secret that 2014 saw a growth in the maker movement. For anyone not familiar with the term Maker Movement it’s a phrase coined to describe the recent increase of DIY and handmade crafts, hobbies and goods. Looks like not everyone has been glued to their tablet over the last year, as more and more of us have been repurposing and making our own things. No wonder it’s been a good year for us knitters. We always knew it was sexy.

A brand whose forward thinking approach to manufacturing and craft we admire is Shinola - named after the American shoe polish. Like us, Shinola believes in creating long lasting, well-made and quality products.  Turning its hobby into a business Shinola creates a wide range of goods, from beautiful watches to hand-made leather accessories and even bicycles. But that’s not all, Shinola is the first company in America to make watches since the 1960s and a specialist lovingly creates every part they make. By setting up its factories in Detroit Shinola aims to create a community that will thrive through excellence of craft and pride of work. Just like us the company aims to localize its production as well as its craft, which we all know is better for you, the environment and us. Just in case you’re already not as in love with them as we are, Shinola Pet products support the Michigan Humane Society and the Best Friends Animal Society. The brand’s aim is to help raise awareness for animal shelters and rehome furry friends. Swoon, where can we buy that gorgeous leather watch again?

We managed to steal Shinola’s Bridget Russo away from the factory to find out more about our new favourite brand:

What was the inspiration for starting Shinola? The brand was conceived in 2011 with the intention to bringing manufacturing back to the United States with quality products.

What are the values the brand lives by? We are a design driven brand that does not compromise the quality of our products. When it comes to our processes or materials, we take a “cut-no-corners” approach.  Ultimately, we want to make products that will last.

What are the benefits of hand-made vs mass produced?  No detail is overlooked.  We have the ability to control our quality ever step of the way.

Why did you set up in Detroit? How is the city changing?  When it comes to great American manufacturing it all started in Detroit.  The community has been very welcoming to us and there is such a strong talent base here.  The city is experiencing an exciting revitalization and it’s amazing to be here to witness it. The art, the food, the culture, the sense of pride and community – it’s amazing.

You have your own Gang of local American Craftspeople, tell us about them. Shinola is about a community of people – everyone counts.  Our craftsmen bring to life the beauty of manufacturing, the spirit of Detroit and the quality of our products. We are inspired by one another – there’s a palpable energy in our headquarters.

We wholeheartedly believe in the maker movement, how is Shinola introducing and scaling this concept for future generations? As a manufacturer of quality handmade goods we hope to foster an even stronger revival of manufacturing-based in America. We are committed to celebrating the craftsmen, artisans and builders that are growing our communities. The reality is however, that we as a brand are a very small part of this growing movement.  There is a resurgence of Americans, who are making not just as a hobby, but as a career—and applying these values to their own life.

What’s next for the maker movement? From a global perspective, consumers are a big part of this movement – the  power is in their pocket.  They are driving us to work, build and create the best quality–made products, from watches to pet accessories to journals.

What’s new for Shinola in 2015? We recently opened a watch dial factory in our Detroit Flagship where Shinola bicycles are also assembled by hand and visitors have the opportunity to experience this.  The store is being expanded in 2015 to accommodate other innovations to come.

If you could make anything by hand, what would it be? The goal is to make products that we are proud of.  We started with watches, because they are arguably one of the most complicated products to make, at the standards we’ve set forth for ourselves.  We believe, if you can build a quality hand-crafted watch then you can pretty much make anything.





Thank you to Shinola for the imagery.

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