- Buyer's Guide
5 Minutes with Bless Handcrafted Goods (Giveaway)
It’s always cool to speak to younger crew about carry, but it’s even cooler when they’re actually making their own stuff. Enter Elliott Houha, the twenty-year-old founder of Portland-based Bless Handcrafted Goods, and maker on the rise. His small start-up is just over a year old, its unique aesthetic paying homage to the Native American culture he admires so much. Their simple, yet logical way of life and history of leather-craft is something that epitomises what he’s trying to do with Bless. So we reached out to learn more about his brand, his influences and his plans for the future…
1) Besides your passion for Native American culture, what key insights drive your stuff?
I believe in the simple notion of function over fashion. This way of thinking may not seem to leave much room in the way of aesthetics, but I believe that, as a rule, function is fashion. There is nothing more appealing than an object whose design has been refined to pure simplicity, leaving no question as to what it’s meant to do. Simplicity adds to a product’s structural integrity and creates an aesthetic of its own.
The term fashion is often viewed synonymously with design; however, I view them as two separate entities of a product, with fashion often subtracting from design. Fashion follows trend and undoubtedly changes with each decade. As a new era approaches, products from the previous era are quickly forgotten and labeled as dated, while companies desperately design new products that appeal to the new idea of what’s fashionable. This way of thinking only fuels the perpetual cycle of creating and destroying. The idea that one needs to buy the latest product to be a part of the latest trend has turned our society into one that believes everything is disposable.
However, good design is timeless and survives this cycle of create and destroy. One must only look at the Eames Lounge Chair or a pair of Converse to see an example of great design that has withstood the test of time. What these products share is a combination of function, durability, and being true to the materials. These traits are all equally important and are the top priorities when designing Bless products. Using durable materials and functional designs my intention is to create quality products that will not only withstand the test of time, but look good doing it.
2) Who else is doing rad things in the world of carry and why do you think they’re important?
I have the strongest respect for the products and company beliefs of Mission Workshop. With so many carry companies mass producing low-quality bags overseas it is a relief that Mission Workshop, even with its great success, has never given up quality for profits. All of their products are made in America at their headquarters in San Francisco.
Topo Designs, based out of Denver, Colorado, is also doing a great job. Founded in 2008, Topo has taken the market by storm and has become wildly popular amongst the outdoor community. Their gear is extremely durable and functional and is also made in America at their headquarters in Colorado.
Choosing to manufacture domestically here in the States not only speaks to the character of these companies, but also sends a message to other companies that success is still possible without outsourcing production.
3) Are there any things other brands do that you think are great or could be improved?
Heritage. Heritage. Heritage. The so-called “heritage trend” has gained quite a large following over recent years and only seems to be growing stronger. The appeal of heritage-inspired products is their simple, vintage design and the durability that presumably comes with their simplicity.
However, many companies these days, such as Poler Stuff and Herschel Supply Co., are focussing solely on meeting the image of the latest trend rather than the quality and functionality of their own products. As a result the world of carry is being polluted with vast amounts of similar looking, cheaply made bags that won’t last more than a couple years.
It’s one thing to design a product in a way that might appeal to a current trend, but no company can justify the sacrifice of quality in doing so.
4) What’s next for you guys?
This coming August I will be moving to New York City to attend Parsons School of Design. Until then, the plan is to establish a strong foundation here in Portland before the big move. This will mainly involve finding more Portland-based stockists as well as hiring new employees who can help manufacture Bless products in Portland while I provide oversight from New York. Some manufacturing will be done in New York for East Coast sales, though we will remain a Portland-based company.
Aside from all that, there are always new products and collaborations in the works! You can always stay up to date with Bless by finding us on Instagram @blesshandcraftedgoods or by checking out our lookbook on Tumblr.
5) What do you carry daily and how? Can we see a pocket dump?
On the daily I carry:
– The Bless Bifold Wallet, iPhone Sleeve, Key Lanyard, and Headphone Wrap
– A Gerber “Suspension” multi-tool
– My iPod
– A Pentel “GraphGear” mechanical pencil
– A Sakura Micron pen
– And most importantly, Burt’s Bees chapstick
To keep the awesome string of giveaways going for this month, Elliott has been kind enough to offer up this sweet little bundle of Bless Handcrafted Goods accessories for the Carryology clique to be won by one lucky son-of-a-gun…
3) Key Fob
How do you win??
Tweet this post, tag @Carryology and let us know why you should be blessed!
Share this post on Facebook, tag us and let us know why you should be blessed!
The winner will be announced on the 12th of June.