Allow Me To Introduce: Redwood Quality Goods

There is a new little corner of the Internet that just launched, and it seems like it right up our ally here at Red Clay Soul.  Joe from Redwood Quality Goods reached out a while back to let me know about his new venture…and what a great story: they focus on providing a curated shopping experience by selling high quality, American-made goods.  I preach and preach about buying quality over quantity, as the lifetime value proposition is much higher.

Joe and his team are doing it right.  They have quite a selection of apparel, denim, accessories, and home goods, and there is some stuff for the ladies.  Redwood has done a great job of finding small batch brands who’s products are made in the USA.

Joe as nice enough to do a sit-down with us to give his side of the story:

What is the history of Redwood Quality Goods?

Redwood Quality Goods was founded in 2014 to provide a curated shopping experience to customers who truly care about the how and why of their products. We couldn’t find the quality and craftsmanship we were looking for so we decided to create it ourselves!  We were also looking for a way to showcase some of these great small-batch, American brands we felt were being left behind, buried in the mass-market “fast-food” apparel culture that seems to be taking over.

What is your history?/What made you want to start RWQG?

I’ve always loved high quality denim, but I first started getting into raw denim about ten years ago.  At that time, the Japanese brands really dominated the market for raw and selvedge denim. Again, for us, one of the big selling points was the quality and craftsmanship of the products.  It was obvious to me that someone was really thinking about the whole product experience: the looms, the type of cotton, the indigo dying process, and types of machines used, and all the care that went into making the brand unique. But I found it ironic we were buying denim produced in Japan based on American vintage work wear.   

In the last few years there has been a revival of American heritage brands, and smaller artisans have started producing their own take on vintage American fashion, but trying to find these small brands that produced limited runs was always a challenge. Often by the time I found something that I thought was super cool, it was already too late; they were sold out, or no longer making the style I was looking for.  There was never a place where someone could visit and discover all of the unique products being produced by American manufacturers. Our goal with RWQG is to be that place; to provide our customers with a one-stop shopping experience they can count on to provide, well, to provide quality goods.

What does ‘Made in America’ mean to you, and why is it important?

My grandfather was a first generation immigrant who spent his whole life working on a dairy farm.  When I was younger, I would hear all the stories about how he used to have to take the containers of milk to sell to different grocery stores — each one was a personal relationship that had to be cultivated.  And he enjoyed it!  It was a community in those days: the butchers, the bread-makers, the dairy guys- all of them.  I also grew up working in our family-run business. It just reinforced what I had learned from my grandfather’s stories: in order to be successful as a local business, you are dependent upon the community and those around you.  Today so many of the products available are mass-produced overseas and I think that the product loses a lot of its character and uniqueness.  We don’t want to be part of a disposable economy.  Again, I think it is very important for a business to be involved with the community, and that sense of community is certainly changing with globalization.

Who are your style inspirations?

I have eclectic inspiration I think, and I came to it on my own in many ways. It’s important to find the things that make you feel good, not just the things everyone else is wearing. That said, my father was always a very stylish guy but he’s more into the high-end beautifully made suits. He definitely taught me to appreciate fine fabrics and good tailoring — those things make a real difference!

What kind of guy is a RWQG customer?

First and foremost, our customer truly cares about the products they use on a daily basis.  They are interested in the story behind the product.  I also think that our customers are looking for items that are unique.  It means a lot when the artisan making the product is pouring his hear and soul into a piece.

What is your favorite piece in the catalog?

Honestly it’s a toss up between the 18oz waxed canvas duffle bag and the leather briefcase — both from Red Clouds Collective.  The duffle bag is a great piece that you can use everyday or for a weekend trip.  The briefcase is definitely a conversation starter.  It is stylish, refined, and something that no one else is going to have.

What’s coming from RQG?

The site has just recently launched and we are going to be adding new brands. We’ve been working really hard to find these smaller artisans and that’s what really differentiates us from everyone else.  And in the same way, we want to help our vendors differentiate themselves too.  We want to provide a forum for our creators to help educate the customer on what makes them special. We’ll be launching our own blog soon and we’ll be interviewing some of the people behind the brands to give a better understanding of the how and the why.  I think it is important that people really can connect with the product and the brand.

And finally (you knew it was coming), what’s on your Spotify playlist?

I wish I could say that my music was all-American too; but I think music you have to go International!  I do listen to a lot of Johnny Cash and Waylon but lately I’ve been listening to a fair amount of Milky Chance.  And you can never go wrong with classic rock.  Also, that Hozier is record is great!

Be sure to check out the Redwood Quality Goods website…let us know what you think below.

The Perfect Business Casual Shoe?

A good buddy of mine is about to start a new job where he is going to be working in a “business casual” environment.  He asked me: “What shoes should I get for work?”.  Great question…  While I think there are pros and cons of just about any option, this might be the perfect pair of business casual shoes:

These are the Dylan wingtips from Grenson.  To be honest, they go with everything except dark charcoal and black pants (who really wears black pants anymore?).  They look good with jeans, the natural sole gives it an updated look, and the pebbled leather keeps it sporty.

What do you think?  What would your advice be for the perfect pair of business casual shoes?

Social Primer Spring 2015

So Spring is in the air. It’s supposed to hit 70 degrees here in Atlanta next week, which is an excellent departure from the 20s and 30s over the last few weeks.  True to form, a few snowflakes clears out every Kroger and shuts down the city for those horrific 24-36 hours until we are rid of that hellish quarter inch of snow.

But the breath of fresh air that is Spring is getting very close…I hope you golfers are doing push ups and stretching, and I hope you ladies are picking out bikinis…

One of the best parts of Spring is the new growth on the trees, in the lawns, and in the flower beds.  The rebirth of Mother Nature’s beauty is a welcome sight.  That’s exactly what I thought about when I saw my dear friend Cooper’s new Spring line of ties.

The good folks at Social Primer are good friends of ours, and they continue to amaze us every season with their playful designs that are full of Charleston soul.  This season does not disappoint.  The bright checks, the florals, the paisley, the seersucker, ad the gator(!) help reminisce about the upcoming warm weather:

 

It’s hard to pick a favorite, right?  Get over to Social Primer’s website and get on it, folks.  Whether you are getting ready for Easter Sunday, the Carolina Cup, a formal, or a Spring wedding, you can’t go wrong with one (or two) of these.  Pair it with a khaki suit or a Seersucker sport coat and you are set to jet.  The biggest problem you’ll face is to go bow or to go long.  Either way, it’s a win-win.

Spring Refresh: Bags

For me, Spring starts on the Monday practice round at The Masters.  It doesn’t matter what the calendar says, when they start poking it around Augusta National, it’s Spring.  That said, we’re all still neck deep in ‘hunker down’ mode…avoiding the cold, staying in, eating an extra serving, and re-watching season one of “Game of Thrones.”

Here’s an idea: get ahead of the game while you have some time.  Besides getting in the gym for an extra few sessions, or passing on that extra Samoa, start doing a little refresh in preparation for Spring.  We’re going to cover a few different non-health aspects that’ll have you ready for warmer temperatures.

First, let’s talk about your bag.  I don’t care what you do for a living, you have to carry stuff around with you.  Whether it’s your computer or tablet, files and folders, or books and research materials, there are certain things that your fanny pack won’t hold.  This is the bag that you carry more than anything.  Next to your wallet and watch, it’s the most important accessory that you have on your person.

If you are happy with your current getup, then take an hour and give it some love.  Condition the leather, clean the canvas, ensure all the hardware is in good working order.  These bags take a beating every day, and need to be shown the love.  Next, dig in.  Clean it out.  Old pens, receipts, papers, junk, etc.?  Get rid of it.  Stay organized.  Third, assess the functionality.  Your work bag should work for you.  What type of job do you have, and what are you required to carry around?  If your network is cloud-based, then why do you need a big bulky bag when everything is accessible from your laptop?  On the other hand, if you are a “red pen” person, and like the feeling of hard copies, then a larger bag may the the route to go.

Here are a couple rules for your work bag: First, make sure it fits your work culture.  Second, make sure it works for your work.  You shouldn’t need a second bag to compensate for your bag’s shortcomings.  Here are a few examples, with examples:

From top left:

1. Tumi Harrison Leather Briefcase:  The utility player.  The brown leather briefcase is great for just about anyone, except those in an extremely casual environment.  Then it looks like a gift.
2. Jack Spade Dipped Slim Leather Briefcase:  A good slim option for the tech savvy.  Plenty of room for devices and chargers, and that’s about it…because that’s all you need.  This bag is for the New Balance with wool trousers crowd.  And horn-rimmed glasses.  An irony.
3. J.W. Hulme Co. Editor Briefcase:  Similar to #1, but in black.  One of these has to be on the list.  This option is for worker bees that rarely wear anything but high quality black shoes, and tolerate the subway, but would rather have a driver.
4. Filson Original Briefcase:  Another utility player, that will span about 80% of work environments.  This will work for the seasoned executive that has probably had his for 20 years, or for the new analyst that just got his for graduation.
5. Rag & Bone Derby Briefcase:  The business casual version of a briefcase.  Very utilitarian, but good quality and works in a variety of situations.  For the guy that gets his loafers re-soled every three years, and his Barbour re-waxed every two years.
6. Barbour Tartan Leeboard Bag:  The brighter the briefcase, the more casual it is.  This tartan version is for those that live in cooler climates with lots of rain, and wear jeans to work everyday.  And is starting to re-think his beard.
7. J.W. Hulme Co. Freemont Tote:  For the worker that carries a bunch of stuff, but is organized.  Organization is key, otherwise this tote bag becomes more like your significant other’s purse.  And you DO NOT want to treat your tote bag like a purse.  Ever.  Totes are great for guys that wear a sport coat everyday, as you don’t carry them with the shoulder strap.
8. Filson Zip Tote:  “I have stuff, I need a bag”.  Very utilitarian.  Serves the purpose.  For the guy that brings his lunch to work everyday.
9. Orvis Businessman’s Backpack:  The hands-free option for those that live on their phones, two-thumb style, especially while traveling.  This bag is for workers that spend all day traveling or in a courtroom.  Plenty of room for anything needed for a 12-hour workday.  Built to last, just like you.

Me?  I’m a Filson 257 guy with a Jack Spade zip-tote (similar) on overflow days (rare – about 2-3 times a month).  I do have my camera with me quite a bit, and I carry that in a Filson Medium Field Bag with a DOMKE padded insert.

What are you carrying?  Why?

Saturday Conversation: Scotty Cameron – Refinish or Not?

I’m looking for your opinion.  This is my Scotty Cameron putter that I’ve used for years (and years).  I love it.  I feel very confident with this putter, and have no plans to ‘upgrade’ any time soon.  I am debating sending it in for a refinish.  Nothing other than a tune up – repaint to the original look and clean up some of the dings.

What do you think?  Should I send it in, or leave it as is?  Leave a comment and let me know what you think…

In the Kennedy Style

It’s no secret that I’m a big thrift store guy.  Luckily, my better half is as well.  She has a knack for finding incredible things: knick knacks, vintage glassware, and coffee table books.  She recently found an excellent copy of In the Kennedy Style, a book about parties the Kennedy’s hosted during JFK’s Presidency.  The book is simply amazing.  Beyond the fact that Jackie and JFK are archetypes of American style and grace, they knew how to throw a hell of a party.

The book features pictures, details, and recipes from some of their parties, from the lavish galas in the White House to the casual get togethers around town.  It is a facinating look into a different time when hosting parties was a talent all it’s own.  I highly recommend the book.

One party that stood out was an event they held at Mt. Vernon, President George Washington’s residence, hosting the Belgian Prime Minister and his wife.  I won’t get into too many details, but there were some nice touches at the event.

One of those touches was a nod to our first President.  I agree that every party should have a special cocktail, and apparently I’m not the first…in his honor, they served mint juleps using the same recipe that George served…notice the measurements: it includes one CUP of Bourbon:

I imagine this was a wild night…

Mad Men: The End Draws Near

…getting pretty excited, and sad, for the April 5th start of the last of the Mad Men episodes.  Still, images like this are the cream of the crop:

Image: The Hollywood Reporter