menu

How Can Brands Better Collaborate With The Maker Community

How Can Brands Better Collaborate With The Maker Community
Advertising

PSFK chats with TM1985's founder to discuss the brand and Brooklyn's DIY community.

Plus Aziz
  • 6 march 2013

Boutique designers and makers are typically very guarded when it comes to interfacing with big brands and retailers. In order to alleviate the friction, both parties must define and align their objectives until a sound partnership evolves. In order for this happen, bigger companies need to better understand the underlying values and attitudes of smaller businesses.

We met up with TM1985‘s Tielor McBride, who’s boutique focuses on leather accessories (bags, wallets, cases) to get a deep-dive into the values and ethos of Brooklyn’s maker community. In talking with him, one comes to realize that his core goal is to change the relationship between customer and product. He achieves this by crafting accessories that can last a lifetime. This sentiment, which stems from ‘slow fashion’ is prevalent amongst boutique entrepreneurs (e.g. Byronesque’s guerilla campaign).

Many big brands are aware of DIY culture and the maker movement. What are key things for them to keep in mind when it comes to approaching boutiques?

The maker movement is about rebuilding the relationship between maker and customer, and bigger brands have trampled over that. The buyer has no idea where these things come from and the seller has no idea where it goes afterward. But we see it differently, the relationship between buyer and seller continues because of the product: when we’re done making it, they go on using it. We love to hear about the journeys they take these pieces on — it’s not so detached for us, it’s not like “All sales are final.” We’re interested in our customers not only for revenue, but for feedback. We can improve based on what they have to say about us and our products. The relationship still exists.

Big brands need to understand our approach to that relationship. And they have to emphasize personal communication — with boutique brands, you’re dealing with a person, not an email address. That’s what’s real. In the past, my experience selling to big retailers has left me feeling frustrated. I only got automated emails and it was so difficult to get the buyer on the phone to actually talk to them. It made me feel like, if you don’t want to deal with me, I don’t want to deal with you. In any good business relationship, they should be willing to talk to you on the phone and meet face-to-face.

Tell us about the Brooklyn maker community. What did you need to accomplish to establish a reputation for TM1985?

I first started making bags and wallets in my bedroom on a tiny sewing machine I bought from NYC’s Garment District. I wasn’t even conscious of Brooklyn makers as a community, but by putting my stuff on sites like Etsy, I realized many others have the same mindset I do. They weren’t going to resign themselves to what was out there. They were industrious enough to create what they imagined for themselves and fulfilled their own wants. I have a huge appreciation for that attitude and approach.

A reputation for a brand is a long-term achievement, it’s a work in progress and I can’t even say I’ve made a dent in that. I started with reaching out to other designers in Brooklyn. I work to have my reputation include quality and endurance. I think quality comes from your materials – my search started with the best materials on the market. It’s always easier to start local, when you look for inspiration, it’s often something right around you. There are a lot of really amazing family-owned quality suppliers in the NY region – I was lucky enough to be introduced to some of them early on. From there, I focused on utility – practical and functional accessories that couldn’t fail you.

Your perspective as a maker is deeply rooted in your family’s history. But you’re also fascinated by history in general. Tell us about this obsession?

My love for history comes from objects and pieces that have lived on to tell their story. It’s a privilege to see into the past and gain insight from the way people lived in a real, day-to-day sense. The things that survived are the things that worked. For instance, my first sewing machine came from generations ago – from 1941 — and lived in the Garment District for 60 years. I’m sure it’s seen thousands of garments – it carries with it the understanding of process and products.

All this might sound nostalgic, but I respect the dual nature of history – you can research it all you want but you have to be creative and fill in the gaps yourself. You never get a clear idea of what actually happened, because even memory has its mysteries.

Tell us about how you translate research into a finished product. What does your process typically entail?

My best designs and ideas are based on human observation. I’m influenced by what I observe every day – people going about their daily lives, seeing what their routines are. When I see someone overloading a backpack with textbooks, stuffing a yoga mat into a tote bag or lugging groceries in a wet paper sack, I think, what bag would make their life easier? Because of that, my designs focus on utility — how people really function and what would best suit them. I sketch out ideas and make a rough mock-up for my manufacturer. From there, we develop a solid sample. Even after we put it into production, I tweak the design with improvements from everyday usage.

If you could change one thing about the way the fashion and/or retail industry work, what would it be?

Constant consumption. The industry should be based on longevity. Sales-based trends come and go so quickly and quality has suffered because of that. People would easily be able to spend more up-front if they knew it would last. If you knew it’d last you 20 years and look just as good, you’d fork over the dough. Classic, simple, functional – those things should be driving the fashion industry, but they’re not. That’s what I see as my contribution to the industry today, because I guarantee that.

Thanks Tielor!

Trending

Machine Printer Uses Coffee Drips To Create Intricate Portraits

Arts & Culture
Technology december 2, 2016

Why Nest Doesn't Get The Holidays

PSFK founder reacts to the damaging effects of poor email marketing

Children december 2, 2016

Robots Could Be Joining Dubai’s Police Force In 2017

The real-life RoboCops can salute, shake hands and collect traffic fines

Trending

Get PSFK's Related Report: Future of Retail 2017

See All
Travel december 2, 2016

Parka Hides And Charges Portable Devices

Bolt is a jacket that lets people carry and charge their various electronics without the need for an outlet

Related Expert

Carter Jensen

Experiential Advertising, Technology

Food december 2, 2016

Yelp's New 'Yelfie' Feature Lets Diners Take Selfies

The update is designed to encourage people to attach a selfie when they share their experiences

Design & Architecture december 2, 2016

Build Your Own Savory Cheese Advent Calendar

A British food blogger has created a guide to building a different kind of holiday surprise

Fitness & Sport december 2, 2016

Floating Gym Concept In Paris Is Powered By Your Workout

The proposed design from Carlo Ratti Associati lets passengers ride a stationary bike as they travel through Paris along the Seine River

PSFK LABS REPORT

Future Of Retail 2017
Transformation Strategies For Customer-First Business
NEW

PSFK Op-Ed november 22, 2016

Digital Strategist: Why “Big Sensing” Is Key To Retail’s Future

Bud Caddell, Founder of NOBL, shares why the most capable and useful asset in any retail environment is the workforce

PSFK Labs december 1, 2016

Retail Spotlight: Home Depot Reimagines How Employees Conduct Tasks

The home improvement retailer puts the customer first by initiating local fulfillment centers and simplifying freight-to-shelf inventory management

Syndicated december 2, 2016

What Does The Future Of Android Look Like In A World With The Pixel?

Google’s decision to make its own phone might have looked like a blow to the likes of Samsung but the reality is much more interesting

Retail december 2, 2016

Customer Service Expert: Why Offline Retail Has Better Data Than Online Retail

Healey Cypher, Founder and CEO of Oak Labs, shares why we should be thinking about the physical store as an e-commerce site

Fashion december 2, 2016

Alexander McQueen Designs A 3D-Printed Umbrella

3D-printed fashion arrives in time for the winter season

Work december 2, 2016

Why Training Associates To Be Advocates Is Key To Retail Success

In our Future of Retail 2017 report, PSFK Labs discusses strategies to prioritize customer service, which begins with associate advocates

Media & Publishing december 2, 2016

Netflix Creates Binge Candle To Celebrate A New Season Of Gilmore Girls

The streaming service developed a special layered candle that creates candle with episode-specific smells

PSFK LABS REPORT

Future Of Work
Cultivating The Next Generation Of Leaders
NEW

Arts & Culture december 2, 2016

Interactive Film Tells A Story About Living With Cancer

A moving song written by a father of a cancer patient comes alive in a 3D environment

Automotive december 2, 2016

Audi And LEGO Exhibit Autonomous Vehicle Installation

The installation at Design Miami explores the 25th hour, which represents bonus productive work or play time

No search results found.