All posts filed under: The story of db clay
December 3, 2008
November 6, 2008
A few months back I did a post about my pinkies going numb. Well, they have remained numb since then, and to avoid long term damage I decided to go in for a doctor’s diagnosis. Initially my thought was that I had carpal tunnel. But due to my symptoms and the location of my numbness, my general doctor advised me otherwise. To be sure, he referred me to a neurologist for further testing.
This morning I went and visited with a doctor at some Neurology clinic in SW Portland. He was a specialist and I explained to him the feelings my hands/arms have been having. He had me manipulate my hands in a variety of positions, he tested the strength of my fingers and grip, he asked questions, and to conclude my visit, he hooked my arms up to a machine… connected by chords affixed with a gelatinous adhesive. He sent a variety of electrical shocks into my wrists, elbows and fingers. It was a weird sensation. Not painful, but odd. He would give me a low voltage, record the numerical data (i.e. the time it took for my nerves to respond) and then he increasingly ramped up the voltage. So much so that my fingers and arms were convulsing with each shock. I laid on my back as tests were performed and I contemplated how I got to this point:
I told the neurologist I have made about 30,000 wallets by hand in my life. I told him I have scripted at least an equal number of emails (I type a lot). I also told him that I was amateur arm wrestling champion in 5th grade. All contributing factors to my current ailment.
The goods news is that, according to my shock results, he doesn’t think it is carpal tunnel. He seems to think I have endured mild damage to my ulnar nerve in my elbow. No treatment is immediately necessary, no surgery just yet. Which is good news. He simply told me to “be nice to your nerves…”
I don’t quite know what that means? I don’t think he does either. I am probably going to pursue a second opinion via eastern medicine, next, to possibly relieve my symptoms. Probably going to see an acupuncturist in the coming months to hopefully remedy my numbness and loss of strength.
While in the waiting room, I drew the above image of my pinky on a manila folder.
October 28, 2008
Lately (in my mind), I’ve been listing off the lessons I’ve learned over the last decade or so while building a wallet brand. I’ve been thinking upon what I know now vs. what I didn’t know then. Over the years I’ve been exposed to various arenas such as global distribution strategy, inventory management, merchandising, contract formation, and of course, the beast that is full scale manufacturing and all that comes with it… including monitoring Quality Control.
Though there is a lot TBD and lessons learned in life just yet, tonight I felt compelled to talk about certain hurdles I’ve faced in recent years past while I’ve been building db clay. I’ve learned some good lessons and looking back, ideally, I won’t face these same issues again as I know more now about prevention- now with proper systems in place prior to high diving I may be able to avoid belly flops. In particular, one topic I’ve learned by fire: the monitoring and prevention of defective product during the manufacturing process
Due to the highly technical nature of our wallet manufacturing processes, we have had to constantly monitor quality control during assembly. Our process is new, and our method’s waters uncharted. Thus, we’ve had to mitigate our ideas for innovation while considering reality. We’ve spent a hefty amount of time on R&D with our team overseas and together we’ve chosen to establish a certain manufacturing acceptance criterion. This allows us to keep an eye on what’s going out the door. I’ve come to realize this is important.
Below are examples images of certain areas we focus on: stitching, printing, poofing and warping
Table full of defects, ouch for a young wallet company. We’ve been burned but it’s ok we’ve learned.
October 26, 2008
Me refrigerator magnets… come on, we all have ‘em don’t we?
All soft rain & the favorite dream is blue air.
We will and must bloom.
Hard as our winter though snow taste ripe.
More wild but his skin never like.
This or that.
The word “once” tags my kitchen table. Lets be honest, I draw on most things. My car, my hand, my yellow kitchen table. Nothing is immune from black pen fueled by rambling.
Me silverware drawer.
Let’s be honest, I only need about 3 forks and 4 spoons.
I need sharper knives.
Back when I cared about cordination, I had a brown/orange/ochre color scheme going for my kitchenware. I made these geometric backdrop pieces to accompany my dishware. Me bowls have seen a lot of cereal. I use about 365 coffee filters a year.
Spider outside my front door. If he stays outside, fine. He lives. If he or any of his friends come inside, they die. Period.
Right now this ol’ inmate is carrying the Dammasch wallet.
My prized possession… Uncle Frey.
In me short and narrow life I have sold wallets from behind a street booth a billion times over. In terms of conversations about wallets (at these booths), I have probably done that a trillion times.
When someone would walk by one of our displays, the colors and/or signage blooming from our booth usually was enough to cause a double take, in which case, I’d ask the question, “Hello, have you ever seen our wallets before?” This simple query often spurred a rapid response and soon, after a few minutes of Portland wallet related dialogue and refined wallet salesmanship, the person would either buy or walk away. Regardless, they heard the name db clay and they saw the product festering table top. We made contact and frankly, that be all that mattered.
For the large-clocked majority of db clay’s life, we have always made our product available at direct retail booths: art/craft fairs, street fairs, warehouse sales, holiday events and the like. Every one we did was different. Every venue unique. Every customer encountered in the scope of our street market base was sovereign, yet, subject to the undeniable tug that derived from the curiosity surrounding a single question… “Have you ever seen our wallets before?”
Images below are from a sample sale we did several years back in a warehouse underneath the east end of a water archway; crammed under the Burnside Bridge:
October 21, 2008
When we transitioned from selling our products at street markets to more of an attending wholesale-type-Tradeshows model, we definitely caught ourselves trying to figure out the application process (the application to get accepted into the show). Each show had a different form to fill out, of course, and we soon got quite use to it. Borderline clockwork.
We attended our first Tradeshow in 2005, and at the time we got accepted mostly with imagery, as we had very little tangible product to show. We were way behind. As part of the application process we always sent in some brand/product related shots. Images below are an example of what we’d send. Quality product photography is key… luckily, we knew a good one personally who made our products look juicy. Cheers to Steve Steckly, Portland’s finest product photographer. To accompany Steve’s wallet photos, I always like to compile the messy collages (pictured in the middle) to offset Steve’s clean product photos.
October 20, 2008
I always love receiving a fresh shipment of product. It provides a feeling of accomplishment considering most product lines are the result of several months/years of prelim work and several people are involved in the process. I like to see the process go from idea generation, to tech pack formation, to overseas factory visits, to product sampling/discussion, to mold set up, to construction, to completion… shipped and placed on shelves. I’m the type of fella’ who likes to watch “How they make it” type shows on the Discovery Channel. It’s fun to witness the process of creation and work with a team to get something done. Images below outline the series of events surrounding an arrival of inventory:
Line all the boxes up and do a wallet head count
Tyler and me rummaging through boxes
Open up boxes, look at wallets, inspect stitch quality, usually overall good
Pink thread? Was supposed to be Navy Blue… oh well, it doesn’t matter
Tyler numbers all limited edition wallets…
with a white paint pen and perfect numerical penmanship
Ship out to stores in custom printed db clay cardboard stationary.
Thank you to everyone involved in this multi-tiered process of unique wallet formation.
To further document the building we were stationed in 2006-2008, I wanted to do another post about our office building. The best part about it has been the big windows- they wrap the parameter and I can’t tell if they, or the brick, takes up more wall space in terms of surface area coverage. Below are some shots we took from inside our building looking out, and contrarily, outside our building looking in.
Outside looking in at night- Mural by Bettina shines
Yellow cookie factory backyard
Yellow cookie factory backyard (it’s big)
View out window from my desk at dusk
Back of building where we do lots of stenciling
Tyler playing git-box on his lunch break rooftop
Over the years, we’ve operated out of many a studio. For the last few years, we have been hunkered down in NE Portland. Our backyard is a yellow cookie factory and our neighbors to the left have pitbulls and drive navy blue minivans. Our street is lined with roadkill- mostly squirrels and rabbits. The neighbors to our right have a rooster. If the outside of our building wasn’t enough, the inside of our office has offered a jungle all its own as pictured below:
For the most part, we mostly only made wallets. However, there was this one time back in 2006 when we offered up some hand printed card cases. They were a bit interesting- it was our first time. Made from stitched together black gaffers tape, rubbed down with paint and screen-printed with our signature Dammasch Print. We offered them in about six colorways and made about 50 of each color. These were printed pretty hastily if I must say so. The intent being making them look a little stone washed. To do this, we took a dry shop towel, dipped it acrylic paint, and rubbed it into the canvassy-like surface of the card case’s exterior. This produced a quaint, vintage, beat up and stoned washed look. They were for him, her, both, etc.