The Story of Momentum’s Impeccable and Impressive Quality Production
There’s a funky pizza place here in Friday Harbor, WA, called My Cousin Vinny’s Pizza and Tanning. Yes, tanning. If you get a chance ask Vinny how he got to Friday Harbor. Pour some coffee (best Italian blend ever, from NY, and that coming from a hardcore Seattlite) because if he feels like it he’ll tell you and it takes a while. If you play racquetball with him, you’ll lose (the game, or your temper).
We ordered pizza and our favorite Vinny salad, and as we ate and juggled kids, here comes Clark, an island marathoner who lives the running lifestyle. He runs all over the island, waves at anyone who drives by, figures no one hits someone they just waved at. Clark carries an awesomely cool leather satchel, which, on that night, caught my attention immediately. A MAN that carries a BAG in FRIDAY HARBOR – a most rare and unlikely combo. When asked, he told us all about Saddleback Leather bags, how they’re for adventurous people addicted to quality. I fawned all over it’s design and leather goodness, discovering quickly that it’s the best construction in a bag I’d EVER seen, no small feat. A lot of worldly adventurers carry them and post pictures and stories on the SBL FaceBook page. So I Googled them and trust me they are everywhere. Their tag line is: “They’ll fight over it when you’re dead.”
That night I sent SBL a quick email, something like: “You folks wouldn’t consider producing my handbags, would you, oh I didn’t think so, but your product is over the top, thanks anyway, just thought I would ask. My number is, 360.317.8373 Love, Winnie.” A few days later Jonathan, the brother of SBL’s el Presidente, called and talked to me for over an hour, which was great but honestly I could NOT stop thinking “Why is this important guy talking to me for so long?” as I unpacked our Huge Vision for Momentum. A few more days and the owner, Dave, one of the coolest guys ever besides Steve, called to talk to me for ANOTHER hour – longer, actually – and took the opportunity to teach me all this super valuable stuff about his experiences with growing his company as an on-line pure-play (not available in stores anywhere), and how he’s been able to support charitable causes because it’s working out nicely, and that’s how they roll, they give back a lot.
I unpacked my own give-back-dream, and after an hour asked if he would consider producing Momentum bags, and his response was exactly this: “Well, yes, but it’s important that you understand: We only associate with companies committed to products of superior quality.” Which naturally works for me, and BTW of course they said it was perfectly fine if I told everyone that their production company makes Momentum bags. BOTH SBL and Momentum bags are perfectly constructed. In fact their designers made numerous improvements to my stuff, seriously.
Today, I have a sweet emotional attachment to their designers and admins, some of the most stellar people with whom we’ve ever had the privilege to work. We SKYPE to go over details, and if I make a suggestion about a technical aspect or way that I might reinforce something, they strain to look into the camera, trying to see what I mean and get super jazzed about it. They are masterful. It’s awesome. Isn’t this a cute pic of “the boys”? They’re goofing around in Leon, Mexico. They BREATHE leather. And here are pix of the factory team.
We also hired Chuck Bowen, CEO of SBL and an awesome business coach. I asked him at the beginning, “SO, CHUCK, WHAT IS THE SINGLE MOST IMPORTANT PIECE OF ADVICE YOU’D GIVE US TODAY?” His answer was this (in a really cool southern accent, which holds more weight for us because on the island we have moss, no accents): “My advice to you, Winnie, is to have fun and don’t get ahead of yourself!”, which has taken about all my willpower and self control, another reason why I married Steve, Mr. Slow Steady Wins the Race.