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Details Magazine | Conversation with Jason Gregory of Makr Carry Goods

January 3, 2012

In the third installment of my collaborative efforts with Details Magazine I sat down with my friend Jason of Makr Carry Goods. Here’s the uncut version including some bonus material.

Jeremiah Simmons of A Headlong Dive & Makr Founder and Design Director Jason Gregory Make Conversation

I have a good friend who has two first names who creates strong and imaginative goods of the highest quality. His design studio is an artist filled, aromatic leathery haven that beautifully reeks of newly made wares that never disappoints in odor or ambience. His name is Jason Gregory and he is the Founder and Design Director of Makr Carry Goods.

A Headlong Dive: Makr is one of those unique brands that’s items are revered for their quality and durability yet are also sought after for their design and aesthetic. How does Makr find that delicate balance between fashion and function without sacrificing either?

Jason Gregory: I think that nice proportion will always be appealing to people. The “fashion” aspect of what we do is there but what it really comes down to is that it’s just an aesthetically simple, proportionately sound object. Function is essential to the products we design because their main goal is to carry something, without this there is no product.

Where I hope our products become interesting is in the patterning and construction. The moment that someone realizes how a seam dies into another, or that the bag can convert into something else with very few steps is what I think gives value. It shows that we have really thought about each piece and removed any non-essential parts.

AHD: Obviously Makr is renown for making the highest quality leather and canvas accessories. What other products would you hope Makr to be known for in years to come?

JG: We are starting a Furniture and Home Goods section to the brand. Beginning with what has already been established in the “Studio Goods” division, we will be developing objects in our new fabrication shop that has just been renovated. A 5-Axis CNC machine was purchased as well as many traditional wood and metal working tools. This second space will be entirely focused on making hard goods for our website, stockists and private accounts.

There will also be some contract work done through this avenue that started with the design of the new UNIS store in Los Angeles. There are a few other projects on the horizon that will push us/me as a designer. We are very excited to be able to expand into this realm and that we have added a few new people to the team to make it happen.

AHD: It’s always shocking to find out just how locally focused Makr Carry Goods actually is, not only the design process but also in the production. Patterns for each piece are laser-cut in-house and your small goods are mostly hand-sewn in the Makr Design Studio. All other goods are made locally, which allows you to have your hands on every piece before being packaged and shipped directly from the studio. How important is it to you to continue forward with keeping Makr a locally sourced, locally manufactured brand?

JG: Relationships are really important to what we do. Not only do we work all day together but we look forward to hanging out after work as well. The guys in the studio are truly a family. This respect and desire to do a great job for everyone’s benefit is held in very high regard and it transfers over to how we deal with our factories and vendors.

It’s necessary to have that human connection with the people that are making our product, it lets them see that you appreciate their work and in turn makes them want to work harder to produce beautiful things for you. Keeping the quality of our objects high because workers are prideful of their output is a really wonderful thing to be able to do.

AHD: Makr is the quintessential American brand and is known for using some of the best materials available, almost all of which are sourced from the US. Yet Makr seems to be one of those special brands whose items can be seen not only at American storehouses but a has a worldwide following and can be found internationally. How does Makr continue to foster and expand its brand on a global scale?

JG: In all honesty, we don’t do much. There is no advertising or intense brand strategy to what we are doing. We make things we think are nice and try our hardest in design/production most of the time it seems to work out. There are definitely certain pockets of the world that are interested in what we are doing more than others. Australia, Singapore, Japan and Canada are very kind to us.

The US is still our largest customer base but closely followed by these other countries. Our International shipping charges aren’t very high, this might help in getting our items overseas as well. We have partnered with a distribution company in Japan and are about to work with one in Germany as well. Uwe, our German contact/owner of a company called Amtraq has become one of our favorite people that we work with. He spent a few days with us at the studio and absolutely won us over.

AHD: Makr’s humble beginnings from first designing and creating from your garage is always an inspirational story to other folks looking to break into the world of design. What advice would you give to someone looking to begin their own journey in trying to create a product, develop a brand and get it in the hands of patrons?

JG: I have a tough time with this type of question. I feel like every moment of my life led me to this point. Learning to draw when I was very young, becoming obsessed with photography in high school, and learning design and drafting in college were all essential to me starting this business. It takes a long long time to become skilled in making, it also takes a certain type of person to bring those products to market.

All I can really say is that it takes a ton of work and determination and that you should simply “jump in”. Immerse yourself in design and images, make things, don’t be afraid to make mistakes, all of the typical inspirational jargon. Try hard and be kind to people, don’t take shortcuts because they are easy to spot. Learn to do EVERY single task involved in what you are making. I Hope that helps. Oh yea, don’t copy others, try to find your own vision and if you can’t then maybe you aren’t supposed to be doing it.

AHD: On the Makr Blog you feature your items in artistic juxtaposition, showcasing captivating images, enchanting landscapes and alluring women. What is your creative process when curating the Makr Blog?

JG: The blog is the least considered thing we do! I just save images on whatever machine I’m on and put them in dropbox. Once there seems to be a good collection I do a post of randoms. For the “Studio Days” sets, I typically shoot all of the images in one go, I decide to document what’s happening in the studio that day and get something posted to the site.

I’m drawn to certain images or photographers and feel that the “Randoms” collections are a great representation of how we live or want to live and the type of environments we would like our work to be featured in. It’s a refreshing process compared to the labored aspects of design/production or running a business. It’s recess.

AHD: Makr has defied convention and avoided social media on every level (other than Instagram under the name makr_ ). Anyway Makr will ever join in on Twitter/Tumblr/Facebook?

JG: Never. Tumblr is fine but the rest of those outlets are way too word heavy. I have a tough time wanting to read haphazard comments and off the cuff nonsense that appears on those outlets. Probably the same reason I don’t have cable.

I do love images and find that Instagram is a great way to let people in without being preachy or advertising heavy.  Makr being a lifestyle brand should be represent in that exact way. Seeing what we do at night or getting a preview of the development of new products allows people to get closer to the brand and the people behind it.

AHD: Big thanks for taking the time. Looking forward to what Makr Carry Goods has up its sleeve in the coming months.

JG: Thank you!

- DJS

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5 Comments leave one →
  1. January 3, 2012 3:09 pm

    Great interview Jeremiah. And very nice to learn more about Makr- I’ve always loved their work. Cheers.

  2. January 3, 2012 4:56 pm

    Well done!

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