San Francisco Bazaar Recap

Last weekend we joined over 200 artists, designers and local food makers at the San Francisco Concourse Exhibition Center’s East Hall for the 7th Annual San Francisco Bazaar (formerly known as Bazaar Bizarre).  We saw a few old friends, made some new ones and sent a bunch of .retool. items off to new homes. Here’s a recap in photos.

Oh – and if you missed us, don’t despair! We’ll be back at the Concourse Exhibition Center (East Hall) next weekend (12/21 & 12/22) for the Renegade SF Holiday Show.  Hours are 11-6 both days. Perfect for some last minute holiday shopping!

For more goodies from the other shops we mentioned, check out these links:

Bugs and Monsters

Cynically Delicious

The Beast is Back

.retool. photo shoot

I recently finished up a new crop of M-7 messenger bags with tonal stripes. You can find the new bags in the Seat Belt Bags section of our Etsy shop here. To mark the occasion, we decided to do a special photo shoot. We got creative and went to a local park. Here are a few photos. Some of them are pretty cool; others are a bit weird. Enjoy!

 

Hello, World

.retool. expansion

We’re excited to announce that we are expanding our presence outside the SF Bay Area! We recently sent off bundles of wallets to a couple of really cool looking shops. We just wish we could have made the deliveries in person (did we mention the shops look cool?).

  • City Bird was founded by a pair of native Detroiters (and siblings). In addition to their line of Detroit-themed goods, they feature work by over 200 independent artists, designers, and makers.  You can find them in the Cass Corridor in Midtown, Detroit.
  • Made is located in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. The store features an eclectic mix of art and handmade goods. They describe their aesthetic as ‘hip, functional, and unique.’ The owner is also an artist and makes glass belt buckles (awesome!).

We’re happy (and a bit proud) to be included in their collections.

Want to see which other retail stores carry.retool. products? Check out the full list here.

The Big One

New Prototype – Large Wallet (aka The Big One)

Work is well under way on our latest prototype and we wanted to share our progress with you.

This one is for the folks who have a lot to carry and want to keep it all organized.

Interior view.

Interior view.

The Background

It’s relatively easy for us to design mini wallets, because that’s we tend to want to use. However, we fully realize that not everyone is looking to cut down on what they cart around every day and that’s just fine with us. The challenging part for us is to try to design a larger piece that fits within our aesthetic.

We’ve been working on a large wallet for ages, (an embarrassingly long time, in fact). Nothing we came up with felt quite right. Our test versions were either too bulky, didn’t seem to have a good mix of features, or the proportions just seemed off.

We think we finally have it figured out and our prototype is ready for field testing. We’re excited!

The Breakthrough(s)

The welt style zipper pocket is lined with ripstop nylon and has a slot behind it.

The welt style zipper pocket is lined with ripstop nylon and has a slot behind it.

We recently had a request for a custom passport wallet – the customer wanted to add a zippered pocket. I played around for a bit and decided to form a pocket on the outside by folding the seat belt webbing and stitching up the sides (she loved the results, by the way – yay!). I liked the design, too and thought it would scale up nicely (our passport wallets aren’t quite long enough to hold paper money unfolded).

The next issue was the interior of the wallet. I’ve been experimenting with bag linings lately and that really came in handy. I decided to essentially line the wallet with a long strip of Cordura® nylon. Then I added a bunch of pockets and slots to the ‘lining’.

The current test version features one lined zippered pocket on the outside perfect for a smartphone, a bunch of change, small cables, some lipstick, or even some pens. There is a slot behind the pocket for tucking notes.

The interior has 6 card slots that will each hold around 3 cards, a lined zippered pocket with a slot behind it for paper money or receipts, and an additional long pocket for paper money, receipts, or even a checkbook.

Two large slots for paper money / receipts plus another lined zippered pocket.

Two long slots plus another lined zippered pocket.

Six card slots help keep your cards organized.

Six card slots help keep your cards organized.

Stay tuned – we hope to have it ready for production later this summer!

Backpack progress

Weekend Challenge: The Backpack (part II)

Image

The front of the bag with 2 zippered pockets.

When we left off last week, I was about halfway done with my new backpack. The back and sides of the exterior of the bag were mostly finished.

Next step was to make the front exterior panel. I wanted a couple of zippered pockets on the front – one large one for easy access to a notebook and one smaller one for snacks, pens, and my iPod.

The top pocket goes all the way to the bottom of the bag and is lined with red Cordura® nylon. The bottom pocket with the gray zipper has a gray lining (go figure).

I attached the front of the bag and added the flap and a small handle onto the back to complete the exterior of the bag.

Lining is now attached to exterior

Lining sewn to exterior

Time to make the lining! I used international orange (aerospace) 200D nylon. It’s bright, but not too bright.

I put another zippered pocket in the lining. Because it’s hard to have too many pockets, really.

Once the lining was attached to the exterior, the moment of truth had arrived.

Patience!

Patience!

It requires a bit of patience and maneuvering to turn a padded backpack inside out through a hole in the lining. I finally got it turned and everything was in the right place – the flap, straps, and handle were on the outside where they were supposed to be (it kind of sucks to turn a bag and realize that you’ve sewn the flap inside the lining of your bag. Not that I would know from personal experience or anything…).

I sewed up the hole in the bottom of the lining and the bag was done.

All packed up and ready to go to class

All packed up and ready to go to class

On to field testing!

So far, my new backpack has been on trips to the library, a wallet delivery run, and, of course, to class. It’s performed well so far and has gotten a bunch of compliments.

There are a few minor things I am planning to change for round 2, like making the bottom outside pocket deeper and making the bag flap shorter.  I may also play around with a roll-top bag so there’s no gap on the top sides. Overall, though, I’m pretty pleased with this as a prototype.

Thank you Maker Faire!

retool booth at Maker Faire 2013

Here’s a photo of our booth on Saturday.

Maker Faire 2013 recap

Well, Maker Faire Bay Area 2013 is over and we have just about recovered from the long days and hot sun. We had a great time. A few folks stopped by to show us the wallets they bought from us last year (we’re almost getting used to people taking out their .retool. wallets and waving them at us in public places).

One of the fun things about doing a big show is interacting with people and helping them find the wallet style best suited for their needs.  We love helping folks replace blown out wallets – we take our mission as a wallet rescue squad rather seriously.

This year we saw binder clips, rubber bands, and a hair elastic used as ‘money containment systems’. Our favorite by far, though, was this one made out of an old PBR carton:

Homemade wallet from PBR carton - front

Here’s the front…

Image of homemade PBR wallet

…and here’s the back of the wallet.

It’s a basic sleeve style credit card holder covered in a layer of protective packing tape.

The only problem is that it was almost impossible for its owner to get the cards out. We were lucky enough to witness the process, which involved a considerable amount of shaking, tapping, and pounding.

And now the guy who made the PBR wallet is sporting one of our new Micro Mini Credit Card wallets with a flap that wraps around the cards. To get the cards out, you just pull on the flap – no shaking or pounding required.

The only thing that would make Maker Faire more fun is if we could actually get a chance to explore during the weekend.  Fortunately for us many of the cool vehicles were slowly roaming around the grounds and eventually made their way around to us. Here are a few photos of what we (mostly) missed.

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Getting ready for a show

It’s (almost) show time!

Vending at a large event can be a lot of fun. Plus, it’s a great opportunity to watch people interact with what you make and to collect valuable feedback from customers.

Not surprisingly, getting ready for a big show takes a lot of work.  Making sure you have (more than) enough inventory is just a small part of it.  You also need to figure out how to attractively display your wares, get everything to and from the event, and bring along everything else you’ll need (receipt book, price cards, tape, pens, sunscreen, chairs, and snacks to name just a few).

We’ve been doing shows for a few years now and we get a little better each time.  Here’s a look at some of the preparations for our next show. We’ll be part of the Bazaar Bizarre Craft Marketplace at  Maker Faire Bay Area 2013 on May 18 & 19.

We made new money aprons with a zipper pocket for large bills, 2 main cash pockets, and a pen slot.

We’re bringing a full complement of keychains, including ones made of rubber and car upholstery vinyl.

New product display boxes – the outside is seatbelt webbing (of course!) and the inside is billboard tarp.

Webbing samples for our Design A Wallet experiment

Webbing samples for our Design A Wallet experiment.

Made new hangtags for our seatbelt messenger bags

New hangtags for our seatbelt messenger bags.

Small batch of nylon wallets made just for the show

Small batch of nylon wallets made just for the show

A new sign.  Still needs to be ironed!

A new sign. Still needs to be ironed!

Billfold wallets - standard, ID, chain, and zipper pocket.

Billfold wallets – standard, ID, chain, and zipper pocket.

New display stand for wallet chains and keychains.

Updated price cards

Updated price cards.

Small chair for the booth (it's not quite as small as it looks in the photo)...

Small chair for the booth (it’s not quite as small as it looks in the photo)…

Tiny Wallets, or Hooray for Minimalism – the Evolution of the .retool. Credit Card Wallets.

Minimalist Wallets

Here at .retool. headquarters, we occasionally talk about how ironic it is that we are working toward making a living selling things when we neither of us really likes to participate in consumer culture.  We don’t like acquiring stuff just for the sake of having it.

We do, however, both greatly enjoy objects that are well-designed and well-made. We like simple things that work and that are pleasing to the eye (and hand). We keep these concerns in mind when we design our products.

We also happen to have soft spot for small things.  So we have always liked having a line of credit card wallets in addition to our billfold wallets.  Credit card wallets are great if you don’t (or don’t want to) carry a ton of stuff around.

We started with a couple of basic designs.

Round 1: The Classic and the Slim Mini

Classic

The Classic Card Holder – this wallet holds a surprising amount of cards (15+) and can still fit in your front pocket.

The Slim Mini Card Holder - thinner than the Classic with a slightly smaller capacity.

The Slim Mini Card Holder – thinner than the Classic with a slightly smaller capacity.

Then we came up with two other variations.

Round 2: The Classic Mini and the Slim Mini Deluxe

The Classic Mini has a smaller footprint than the Classic. Plus, it has an elastic band closure.

The Classic Mini has a smaller footprint than the Classic. Plus, it has an elastic band closure.

The Slim Mini Deluxe Card Holder. We got a number of requests for a card holder with a coin pocket. We were happy to oblige.

The Slim Mini Deluxe Card Holder. We got a number of requests for a card holder with a coin pocket. We were happy to oblige.

After those two additions to the fleet, we thought we were done with credit card wallets. Recently, however, we got a request to  make an even smaller version.  So we came up with a few ideas and started prototyping.

We had two clear winners .

Round 3: the Double-Sided Micro Mini and the Micro Mini with Flap

Double-Sided Micro Mini

The Double-Sided Micro Mini is approximately 3 3/4″ by 2 7/8″ and less than 1/4″ thick. It has one pocket on the front and one on the back and holds about 8 cards.

The Micro Mini with Flap is approximately 3 3/4" X 2 7/8" X 1/4". It has a pocket with flap that wraps around your cards. Pull on the flap to lift out your cards.

The Micro Mini with Flap is approximately 3 3/4″ X 2 7/8″ X 1/4″. It has a pocket with flap that wraps around your cards. Pull on the flap to lift out your cards.

So now we make 6 different credit card wallet models – a little something for everyone.

.retool. wallets are handcrafted in San Francisco. For you.