Last year I featured a story on a Kickstarter campaign by Austin McAdams of McAdams Co for his unique wooden tie bars. Later, I was to learn it was a very successful campaign. A few weeks ago I was so excited to receive from Austin a sample range and I am in still in awe at how beautiful they are. They really are a work of art. Hand crafted in San Diego, the wood is spectacular in both the American Cherry Wood and Walnut. The finish is smooth with a satin clear finish and come in two sizes – for the traditional width tie (2″) and a skinnier width tie (1-5/8″). Along with the wood looking and feeling amazing, it is also water resistant. The wooden tie bars are unique on the market and as such, are patent pending. I love seeing new product that is fresh and something that I haven’t seen before. Austin has designed a product that is simply beautiful. I had been in contact with Austin since last year about the campaign and since caught up a regularly on the progress of the range. He was kind enough to share some of his inspiration and thoughts on the whole process.
TMHS: I absolutely LOVE the tie bars. You were kind enough to send me a sample of each. Being able to hold them and feel the smoothness of the wood, it really took my admiration for the design and function to a higher level. They are so beautifully made and a work of art. How was the design process for you and what inspired you to create a wooden tie bar?
AM: The wooden tie bar simply grew from my own selfish need for a product that was missing in the market. I felt there were little to no appealing options in the marketplace and when I searched online, I found nothing refined and slender enough for my taste. I had full access to a woodshop as a senior in a furniture design/woodworking program so I thought, “I’ll just make my own”. Instead of buying a stock spring clip and glueing a piece of wood to the front (like you see all over the internet), I wanted to design one that was shaped like the classic curved slide clasp. When I realized I could steam bend veneer tight enough to create a clip like that I knew I was on to something. Much of my process the last couple years was designing and building better and faster ways to streamline production so I could make several hundreds in just a few weeks within my shop. I wanted to keep all manufacturing in house so I could experience every aspect of my business and oversee the quality. I still can’t believe how much work it has been for such a little product but I have learned a lot about many aspects of business, production, and fashion trends.
TMHS: You had a successful project on Kickstarter to fund the Wooden Tie Bars. It was the first feature I did on a crowd funding campaign on The Man Has Style and I was instantly drawn to the tie bars. How was the response to the project? Can you tell me a little of your experience with this?
AM: Kickstarter is such a great outlet for us little people trying to start a business. It was a nerve racking month neurotically watching my funds slowly reach my goal. Near the end I had over $1000 left to reach my goal and I thought it may not happen. That last week my funds increased about $2700, I was beside myself. After that was the hard part, getting all of the orders produced and shipped out. My packaging took much longer and cost way more than expected. So at the end I had no money to pay the $800 of shipping cost to get my backer’s products shipped around the world. That was truly frustrating. Most of the orders went out 2 months later than expected, and I was biting my nails the entire time. It was definitely a hindsight 20/20 sort of situation. It did give me a chance to streamline the production and shipping processes so now I can move forward with business much stronger now. Thanks to my Kickstarter backers I was able to make this small dream a reality and I can’t thank them enough…and thanks to The Man Has Style for the post to help raise funds.
TMHS: What can you tell me about the wood that is used for both the Cherry and the Walnut tie bars?
AM: I source my veneer from a prominent supplier out of New York named Certainly Wood. I use American hardwoods because it is local-ish, and is more sustainable than exotic woods. Also with aiming for a more refined look I wanted to use woods like Walnut, Cherry, and Maple with a more subtle grain patterns than most of your exotics. I am also toying around with some dyed veneers to add some color, so look out for those soon.
TMHS: Tell me more about your background into how you became a designer.
AM: Thinking about myself as a designer is a relatively new thing. I have spent my first ten years as an adult working behind a bar. Seven years ago I was accepted into Virginia Commonwealth University’s School of the Arts Sculpture program. After a few years, I began taking some classes in the furniture design/woodwork program to learn more about wood as a medium for my sculptural work. Once I made my first piece of furniture I was hooked. Soon after, I transferred my focus out of sculpture and into furniture. Since then, I moved out to San Diego to pursue my Masters in the field at San Diego State University. Up until this point I was making more one off type furniture that was more concept driven. After an accident and unsuccessful surgery with my wrist that happened after my acceptance with graduate school, I began to rethink my future as a furniture maker. I have been thinking about furniture in aspects of design with the possibilities for production, and actually feeling more at home with it. I enjoy designing mostly furniture and can spend all night with my pad and pencil sketching ideas fully content. Even with my bum wrist I am never happier than when I am making a sketched idea come to life so I will continue to keep my hands in the business as much as possible.
TMHS: Your craftsmanship is impeccable with the tie bars. Do you design any other products? How can we see more of your work?
AM: I have a lot of products in mind but I find myself beginning to think more and more about furniture ideas. I have made plenty of furniture in the past but I now am thinking of making my own line to sell in short production runs. I am thinking I may begin expanding the McAdams Co line into other aspects of household/lifestyle design soon, but I need to get several more months down the road to decide where I want to take this project. I will also be releasing a few wooden collar stays and some new tie bar styles soon.
TMHS: For readers who are want to purchase the McAdams Co wooden tie bars, where can they buy?
AM: The best place to go for sales is my website www.mcadamsco.us . I also sell them online at www.etsy.com, www.scoutmob.com and an online Russian store, www.welovestyle.ru .
TMHS: Where can readers find out more about McAdams Co?
Note: To read the story on The Man Has Style from last year about the McAdams Co wooden tie bar and the Kickstarter Campaign, click here —-> www.themanhasstyle.com/2013/12/02/kickstart-monday-mcadams-co/
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