Interview with Makr

It's always interesting to hear stories about origins, especially when it's the origin of something really beautiful. Michael Allen recently interviewed Jason Gregory (the man behind Makr Carry Goods) for Executive Edits. A little bit of insight into the birth of something very cool.

MA - Please tell us the Makr Carry Goods backstory, and the origin of the company name.

JG - Makr Carry Goods started as an art project. I was working for a branding firm and we were doing corporate re-images and strategic roll out concepts for very large corporations. Needless to say this type of design lives mostly in the computer only to be realized by a group of people that had no part in its creation. Not being able to see so I started to build my own projects in the firm's model shop. With access to a laser CAM I started patterning little card holders and other small goods. I found this very satisfying and realized my real interest was in product design. These experiments were my way of understanding and creating a product that I could manufacture myself.
The name started out as just "Makr", as in to make something. My thought was that rather than a designer object, these are maker objects -- objects concepted and crafted by the same hands. I wanted to align myself with manufacturing, not just do design drawings and send them away to be interpreted. I still remember the moment I thought of it, driving down a road in the dark coming home from a late night at the office. From there it turned in to Makr Leather and Fabric because those were the primary materials used. After that, my girlfriend came up with the concept of "carry goods" and it seemed unique and appropriate. Now I have a really wide logo that I have to fit on things.

MA - Walk us through the brand's value proposition.

JG - Makr is a very personal project. The products that we create and our entire aesthetic isn't developed or strategized. It is very much who I am. The goal of Makr is to develop products/projects that are honest and thoughtful and that we think are beautiful. For this reason it is very important to us that our brand reflects who we are in every detail, from our site and blog to who we collaborate with and sell our goods through. Our core value is to be thoughtful and work very hard. Hopefully this comes across.

MA - How are your products currently distributed ? Are you able to ship worldwide?

JG - Our major outlet is our web shop but we have stockists across the globe. We ship anywhere that people want our products.

MA - Without giving away your secret sauce explain your product design through production process.

JG - The design process starts with ideas for a particular product - or specific manufacturing techniques - in mind. The architecture of our products is a very important aspect. I try to figure out ways to utilize patterning in a non-traditional way. I have no schooling in bag or fashion design so I do what I feel works and apply techniques that one might find in other industrial applications.
The process begins with sketches. These then become proportion studies in CAD and finally develop into 3D models. The models are broken apart into patterns and prototyped in fabric or paper. Refinements are made. A full scale model is made using garbage materials and then the first sample is made. I live with that sample for a week or two and then make changes. A final sample is made and a small run is produced. Small changes are always being made to our products and methods both in our workshop (where we create the small goods) and our factory (larger bags).

MA - Your products are both stunning and functional. From where do you draw design inspiration?

JG - I am mostly inspired by photographs and the way people live. Makr loves the beauty of the everyday and people that live well and appreciate quality. We don't intend to be exclusive or elitist. We want to be a product that quietly lives with you and makes you happier each time you use it.

MA - Makr Carry Goods are Handcrafted in North America, does this create any special challenges?

JG - Creating products in the USA has its issues. There are limitations in sourcing, capabilities of machines, types of machines, and skilled labor. It's difficult and often what we end up creating is a compromise. Making the best of those compromises is as important as the original idea.
In addition, its expensive to make product here, but what we lose in product cost we gain in communication with our main factory only 2 hours from the studio. We are able to oversee production and learn a ton. This also allows for a lot of experimentation which is key. It took a little while for them to understand what we were making but we are getting there and the transition from design to production is getting smoother.
Many times the designs are reactions to limitations of production capabilities. The small goods have a very specific origin point; how to make really beautiful items that are simple in build and able to be hand sewn.

MA - What keeps the team up at night?

JG - Not much. We are pretty happy with what is going on. Expectations produce a lot of stress. We try to remove expectation and fill it with really hard work, careful consideration and constant experimentation.

MA - If granted just one business related do-over, what would it be?

JG - We made a deal with a Japanese distribution company didn't turn out as hoped. It was mostly me not being that excited about people telling me what to do. It's a long story but it's probably the only thing that I am not happy with. Good comes with the bad. It really pushed me to design a large line that will be released soon. Things happen.

MA - How do you envision the company in the coming years?

JG - Our goal is to stay on track with what we care about. We want to continue to progress in every aspect of our processes. Also moving beyond just carry goods. Stores, furniture, shoes? Probably.

see the original post at executive edits HERE

see Makr Carry Goods HERE

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