Last time, we spoke with Isaac Childs of Rustico about his company's founding and philosophy. We finish our interview discussing the changing production landscape and the future of Rustico:
Q: So how do you respond to the changing landscape in the other direction: the recent emphasis on American Made products?
IC: I love it for one. It has been awesome to see the revitalization of “hey we make cool stuff here.” America is the birthplace of a lot of design ideas, but we also used to make stuff. We are stoked to see boutiques and other places that have the ability to make or show off those products. And something that is made, not assembled on an assembly line, in America was something that was lost and is coming back now.
We’ve seen competitors to what we do, but we don’t mind. It is awesome to reinforce the values of locally-made and locally-produced instead of overseas; it has the same feel as organic local foods. Consumers are much smarter now too. It is no longer just about “I want this” but also “where and how was it made?” and “how does that affect me and my community?”
Q: How is it transitioning from a group of friends to a company? What has that experience been like? How do you keep those relationships?
IC: It is awesome that you see it that way. I personally struggle with that because we went from three friends in a 10x10 workshop to thirty employees in a 12,000 square foot warehouse, and it gets harder to keep that family. But we did a few things a few years back. We made sure to evaluate our values and look at our team, most of whom have been with us for 5 years or more. We have 4 real values: authenticity, generosity, craftsmanship, and purpose. We want everyone to share that same value system and show those values in their work.
We have craftspeople who do the day to day work. We have teams who market. We stay in line for our families and purpose.
We want to grow, sure. But we are more interested in sustainable growth, not growing for the sake for growth. It is more about legacy. I am not in this for the short term and not interested in growing to sell. I want it to be something I turn over to the employees or my children. There was a time when the older brands had legacies. Sometimes they still do, but they all started from a place of longevity. And perhaps that’s bold.
Q: What is next for Rustico?
IC: We want to branch out a little bit in terms of creativity, materials, our format, and our base medium. We love leather, no doubt, but there are other quality products: wood, stone, wool, and canvas. They all resonate the same way leather does because they are high quality and naturally long-lasting. We are transitioning from Rustico Leather to just Rustico to increase the product line and expanding both out of men’s accessories and deeper into it. In 3 to 5 years we would like to establish our own retail space, expand our reach and our brand recognition nationally and internationally. To do that, we will have to expand our brand offering. It will be exciting that we will be doing stuff we haven’t done before. We have a lot more creativity to help inspire all our customers and see how we do.
Q: Isaac Childs, what is your quinstance?
IC: Hmm…well you know, that’s kind of easy. For me, I have a good book-leather journal with me all the time. It comes with me everywhere, and it was our number 2 product. I record events, quotes, advice, thoughts—anything and everything of value. I am picking up and learning on the way all the time. It is in a briefcase or in a backpack or in my hand; in some way it is always with me.
I like that word, by the way. Quinstance.