Glad to have you with us for another insightful instalment of ‘The Brands…’ edition of the 10@10.
This week’s going to be slightly different here @clobbercalm and the reason being is this week we will focus both of our features on the cool, beautiful, mega Miss Jess Murray!
Yeah, tonight we will focus solely on her talents as a craftswomen and her rock solid contribution to the denim world by way of her heritage yet contemporary/stylish products. From bags to belts or key fobs to kimonos, Jess is throwing denim into the world on a daily basis. Designed for life and with the ability to catch all kinds of patina Jess’s products sink to the depths of craftsmanship that we love to discuss, use, fade and share.
Tonight we focus on her one-lady brand @aegishandcraft and Thursday sees us talk to Jess herself as she becomes the first @clobbercalm ‘Woman Behind The Menswear’. Yes lads she’s killing it on the denim scene and carries some badass threads that you can see daily over on her feed!
MEET THE BRAND BEHIND THE MENSWEAR
NAME: Jess Murray
POSITION: The Big Cheese / Maker
BRAND: Aegis Handcraft (Pronounced like Ages Handcraft)
ESTABLISHED: June 2011, technically though I didn’t really get things going until 2012.
LOCATION: Alameda, CA
SIZE OF TEAM: 1, just me 🙂
SPECIALITY/COMPANY FOCUS: Handcrafted denim bags and accessories.
1. Straight forward, please tell us, how did your company Aegis Handcraft start out? (For people that don’t already know)
Ooft. Ummm. Well, it was a negative that turned into a positive. After my fair share of unpleasant work experiences, I really believed that in order to continue on in the ‘fashion industry’, I had to forge my own path. I really wanted to start something from scratch, focusing on what it is to build a brand with the ‘maker ethos’ in mind, and being honest about the process involved in making a single good. So, with that goal in mind, I freelanced and picked up odd jobs during the day, and hustled on Aegis Handcraft overnight, until I hit that “now or never” moment and had to take that leap of faith. Luckily it all worked out, because I’m now on my second year in on running this one-girl show full-time, and I still can’t believe it’s my “job!”
2. Tell us. What does a day in the life of yourself look like? What’s your daily work routine?
I’ll try to keep this exciting, because it is to me, but describing it might sound dull. I tend to start my day in the shop a little later, so I handle any shop questions and emails over breakfast, and head to the shop around 11am. Because I tend to work till I drop, the shop is usually a mess upon arrival. I’ll spend a few minutes tidying up, come up with a few sketches and form a to-do list. And then I get straight to cutting, sewing, waxing, hammering, dyeing, or whatever else until I can no longer work, which is usually around 10-11pm. And then it begins again the next day, and the next. It sounds boring, I know, but it’s a dream! It really is, and I love it!
3. What are your top 3 bestselling items? And why do you think this is?
There are a few items that are in a tie, but as of today, my top selling items are, of course, my totes (I make a lot of those), the indigo dipped watch cap, and the backpacks. (It could be that it’s because it’s what I make the most of, and they cover different price points? But, I’ll keep you all posted if this list changes after I post the duffle bag, and messenger bags, I’ve been working on to my shop.)
4. What’s your personal favourite garment when it comes to the items you manufacture?
I love a good backpack, so my daypack is my current go-to. I’ve been lucky enough to travel with it few times, and it always amazes me how much I can jam into it.
5. What are your thoughts on the rise of Instagram fashion and the chaps that post their clothing on there to help spread the word of their fave brands?
I love it. It’s the next best thing to hanging out with like-minded people in person. You get first hand reviews and raves about the brands we love, discover new ones, and often get to inspire brands to create something they now know we’d love. It has become the place to go when you need to relate to others, from all over the world, on topics and things we are passionate about, and can learn and discover new stuff easily.
6. Has it made an impact on your business at all, do you think?
Yes! Because of how easy it is to connect with others through IG, it’s the platform I use the most when sharing about what I’m working on, and when things are ready to be posted to the shop. I also get to share the process in making something, and often get pulled out of a creative block with suggestions and advice from others. (Honestly, from a business perspective, it’s free advertising!) Every brand should have one, and I feel lucky enough to have started Aegis Handcraft just as IG was picking up. And while it took a bit to find my voice, and really tune in, and figure out just how much and what I wanted to share, it worked wonders on being able to share my work and personal style with other Instagrammers from all over the world.
7. Is there any feeds on IG that you particularly like to check-in on regular. What brands are you fond of on there? What menswear feeds to you like to peruse?
This could get lengthy real quick, but I really like to check in on other brands, and makers, that started around the same time I did. I love being able to witness their success, share the struggles of starting a brand, and celebrate together when things take off. Folks I check-in on are @odinleather (We are both often working late, through the night usually, at the same time, and I find comfort in knowing there’s another maker out there that doesn’t sleep either, haha), @beastorgod (His work is perfection, and seeing the finished piece is always a treat.), @gurodesigns (She’s a fellow lady denim-wearer, that makes really cool bags, and is always hustling hard. And even though she just got started, I’m excited to see her brand continue to grow!), @kristinamicotti (Her work is so much fun, I’m always guaranteed a laugh when I catch her posts.) and there’s also larger brands like @railcarfinegoods (I love being able to see how the stuff I wear is made. Especially when you also get to see who makes them.) @kirikomade (“I want all the things” is what goes through my mind when I go through their feed, so much goodness.)
+ I could go on, and on! There are so many talented brands, makers, and menswear feeds, I love to follow and connect with – these just so happened to have currently popped up at the top of my feed. 🙂
8. A quick one about you. Other than the business, what passions do you have in life? What flicks your switch and helps you relax?
I’ll head out to Tahoe and ‘shred the slopes’, or trek an obstacle course 90ft up in the Redwood forest, to challenge my fear of heights. (I’ve shared on my feed about my dealings with anxiety and depression, and so with the help of knowing I’m not alone and can relate to many others on the subject, I now really love to push and find new boundaries. Push the limits and challenge my fears.) Or I’ll go paint balling, on a motorcycle ride, or a comedy show, as a way to relax and let go of thoughts that weigh me down. I’ll hang out with my S.O., our friends and family, as often as I can to keep myself rooted and positive. I’m sure others can relate, but when you’re running a business, there is never really a moment when you can truly ‘take a break’, so finding ways to keep yourself happy, motivated, and focused are always nice, and should actually be mandatory. 🙂
9. What do you consider to be the best thing about your business and why?
As the Big Cheese, I wear all the hats involved in running this one-girl operation. I go through each product from beginning to end, imagine and create each bag, and stick to only making goods I really love. And because of the materials I use, even if all the bags I made were to be identical, once they leave my shop and go on to their new forever homes, they all become unique. They leave a little “unfinished”, ready to earn the wear, their individual story. That’s the best part of it all, this sort of collaboration between myself, the bag, and it’s new owner. 🙂
10. And Lucky Last, You’re going to be stranded on a desert island and you can take 1 outfit (4 items) only with you. And 1 choice of drink.
What would they be? And Why?
– Roy RT1002’s, my current rotation is too big (denim head problems) and so I don’t get to wear these as often, but the fit and quality of these is always treat. They’ve gotten pretty hairy at this point and are just so easy to wear.
– Railcar Chore Coat, when this beauty showed up at my doorstep I had to send Steven a message. (It read: Holy F***.) The fit is perfect, and the construction is impeccable. (It also doesn’t hurt that you for sure get a whole lot of bang for your buck with this one!)
– Perhaps a bit of self promotion on this one, but this is seriously my go-to bag, my Aegis Handcraft Day Pack. I use it everyday to carry around any daily necessities, and a must for collecting and storing materials on a desert island!
– Truman boots. It’s hard to find a good boot in my size, or without it being a “feminine” take on a men’s boot, where they add a heel and use soft leather. Luckily! Truman offers smaller sizes without giving up on the quality and leather weight they traditionally use on the men’s sizes. I needed a heavy duty boot to wear to work, ride around on my motorcycle with, and not have to worry about them falling apart with daily wear. I’m not very kind to my shoes, and these babies have checked off all of my expectations and more! These have to come with if I’m every stranded on a desert island.
As for the drink, a cider is usually my go to, though if there’s ever a Michelada on the menu, that’s easily “the one.” So, I’ll go with a Michelada! Cheers!
Thanks Jess. 🙂
Reading your interview again made me smile and also a little jealous…I have a brilliant and creative job but there is something about working with your hands on a day-to-day basis that really cannot be beaten! You made it happen for yourself because it’s your passion and for that the @clobbercalm hat (currently a burgundy beanie that belongs to my 11 year old son) is taken off out of respect.
So anyways, now we’ve finished the questions swing on by Jess’s feed and check out what it is she’s doing. There is so much goodness happening in that workshop that anybody who appreciates the impressive work one womans’ hands can achieve with a slice of raw denim and a sprinkling of horween leather can’t help but be impressed! Your wallet may end up a little lighter mind but it will be worth it!
Have a top week folks and see you Thursday so stay close.