M.V.A.D Maker Feature: Lumber Juan, Carlos Naude by Amy Cherie

Lumber Juan handcrafts unique reclaimed wood furniture in the heart of New York.  Founder, Carlos Naude, recalls that it all started as a test - a test of his "manhood and loyalty to [his] macho Mexican blood."  You see, his lovely girlfriend was in need of a dining table;  instead of purchasing an over-priced, under-designed table like a nice, normal, boyfriend, Naude took it upon himself to build his "woman" a piece of furniture with his own bare hands. The result? A kick-ass, custom table, one happy lady and countless boyfriends put to shame.  And right in that very moment, Lumber Juan was born. 

"My style of building furniture comes from using reclaimed wood and other mixed materials such as steel, concrete and iron pipes", the 30 year-old, creative director says. Originally from Mexico, Carlos has lived in the Caribbean, Madrid, Malmo, Stockholm and currently resides in New York where he puts full-time hours into an ad agency where he is creative director.  

Lumber Juan started as a reclaimed wood furniture business on the side.  He used his graphic design and branding skills to work and turned his first product (the dining table mentioned above) into a full-fledged brand. "All of a sudden, a few orders started coming in", he says.  "I saw the opportunity of not only doing furniture, but making a lifestyle brand - selling other products".  Carlos has a degree in marketing but says that he has literally done a little bit of everything [I find it very easy to believe him].  Dude's done anything from construction work, painting and gardening to graphic design, film-making and branding - now, furniture.  Hey, why not? 

He "loves any shape or interpretation of creativity" and is really into photography.  Oh, and he runs...  and he skydives...  and he travels.  I think the he may actually be "The Most Interesting Man in the World".   I bet he doesn't often drink beer, but when he does...  never mind; you get it. 

I note to Carlos that his endeavor seems relatively new.  "Yeah, I started about 1 1/2 years ago and we have seen pretty rapid development of the brand.  We are thankful for that."  He tells me that his idea really started to take shape and become reality, "To be honest, from the day that we launched our website, things took a pretty good route.  We used to share a shop with another wood worker, but since February of this year we moved into our own shop."  Lumber Juan is located in Brooklyn, New York and they ship all over the United States. Carlos continues to tell me that "the most ambitious vision I have for Lumber Juan would be to at some point create physical stores."  Imagine the restaurant Chipotle if you will for a moment.  You walk in, you decide what you want, you watch it being made quickly and efficiently.  Now imagine a place where "you can order a piece of furniture and see it handcrafted on the spot, customize it and take it with you the same day".  Not only that, Carlos would offer other products in-store such as his merchandise and coffee - perhaps even a small selection of vintage trucks.  Yes.  Vintage Trucks. 

Right now, Lumber Juan sells the majority of its products online.  They don't have any immediate plans to open a storefront due to the astronomical costs of doing so in Brooklyn / New York, but according to Carlos they "are working on a couple of deals to start selling wholesale through some partners". "Right now we sell through Etsy and we just launched our fully customizable collection available on our website with only a few clicks".  For custom orders, contact Lumber Juan directly via email.  http://lumberjuan.com/ 

Xo,

Amy Cherie

Celebrating National Park Centennial w/ Parks Project! by Amy Cherie

Parks Project and  M.V.A.D partnered on March 22nd to celebrate the national park centennial. Parks Project is an adventure with a purpose. "Together", we own 84 million acres that need our attention, action and funding. Parks Project serves as a steward and reminder to promote, preserve and engage these spaces. Living with the rule, "leave it better than you found it" attracts like-minded individuals and champions of the great outdoors. M.V.A.D's on board, are you? 

Parksproject.us

Crushin' hard on Conway Electric by Amy Cherie

Conway Electric believes everything deserves great design.  As an emphatic backer of that statement, I wanted to learn more about this innovative company and its beautiful product.  I had the opportunity to chat with the founder (dreamer) of Conway Electric, Kevin Faul, and couldn't help but be impressed by his dedication to craft and design, as well as his commitment to quality, American-made products and overall refreshing business philosophy.   It is clear that this is a man that 'gets it' - he practices what he preaches and the results are exceptional.  I first ask Kevin to tell me a little bit about himself and his company. 

"Conway Electric was born from an idea I had about creating better electrical products and I was lucky enough to find factory partners who put faith into my vision and committed to working with me. I was raised 40 miles [northwest] of Chicago in a little town called Wauconda, Illinois in a vertical log cabin surrounded by fields and woods.  [My] father had his own business and there was always a lot of tools in his shop. My parents taught my siblings and I to be curious and how to use tools to make things."

Kevin is curious and interested in almost everything.  He loves old cars - especially the Tucker.  He has spent years studying architecture and design on his own and loves physical art, technology and has a real interest in business.  This former, semi-pro climber has adventure in his blood and a love for the outdoors.  Dude does it all - surfs, trail-runs, bikes and sustains life by literally traveling off the beaten path to seek inspiration.  Family is very important to him and he considers the duo of his four-year-old nephew and six-month-old niece as trusted, product development advisors.  He fondly remembers his own childhood, saying he realizes now that his parents showed him an analogy for life so far, "You are given tools of all kinds and if you're curious you can figure out how to make things.  I'm just trying to figure out how to use the tools, trying to make cool things." His company, Conway Electric, is an American Design and Manufacturing company for home and personal electrical accessories. They truly make everything in the United States using their own supply chain and exclusive partner factories and are putting some serious design around the most important technology ever harnessed (Electricity!) and bringing joy (Yay!) to people everywhere. If Kevin had his way, our great country would have National Electricity Day. 

Clearly enthused, he asks me, "Have you ever seen an extension cord that you actually liked?"  I think about my 30 foot, orange and kinked extension cord hanging on the wall in my shed.  "Something that looks great, but also functions well?  They don't exist!"  I'm thinking about that ugly, dirty, frustrating cord...  "Electricity was harnessed in the United States by incredible minds like Franklin, Tesla and Edison. Did you know Benjamin Franklin actually killed and cooked a turkey for dinner using Leyden jar batteries? It's incredible to think that the technology underlying all modern technology was first harnessed by these guys - great, American minds.  We treat electricity like an outcast, and I think that's horrible. We should herald electricity. We should make electricity the national symbol of the United States. We should not put cheap, 'made-who-knows-where' extension cords in our home. It's just awful how we've reduced our appreciation of electricity down to a footnote.  I want to change that." He may do just that.  

Kevin has acquired a broad background and professionally, has had leading roles in product development, business development and finance. He's commercialized over 75 consumer and professional products for large companies, along with a few software products.  The business process is not new to him, but starting from nothing to build something is.  He says he is still a tiny company finding his way through the landscape of great consumer products and sustainable businesses, but considering he founded Conway Electric in Boulder, Colorado in 2013, I think he has covered a lot of ground in a short amount of time.  It's quite remarkable, really. Kevin likes to say that Conway Electric was born of frustration.  "It was founded by a need for better electrical accessories in my own home.  I had built an industrial cast cement and welded steel floor lamp for a loft apartment I had in Boulder - the type of apartment that is clean and modern.  I [had] furnished it with industrial furniture mostly made myself [sic]. I went to get an extension cord at a chain-hardware store and all they had were horribly ugly, cheap, overseas extensions and power strips - the kind we all hate." It struck him immediately that something needed to be done, so he built his idea for a great electrical extension and the design caught on.  It's easy to see why - have you been looking at these images?  These products are beautiful.  He goes on to say, "Thankfully our retail partners share our vision and believe in what we're doing; so we're making progress.  The more successful we become the more people around us will succeed: our factory partners, our future employees and our local and regional communities through give-back programs like our 1% For Power and our donations to Facing Homelessness (Homeless In Seattle). If you can't give back while building something, why build it?"  That is a great question. Like I said, Conway Electric hasn't been around too long, but they currently distribute through almost 50 stores across the US and Canada and open new retail store partners every week.  Though they prefer to sell through their retailers, they do have a website for ecommerce www.conwaygoods.com.   I'm altogether blown-away by what Kevin and Conway Electric have been able to do with such a simple, great idea in such a small amount of time.  I ask him where he sees his company headed.  "I want Conway Electric to bring electrical accessory manufacturing back to the United States. If we had deeper pockets, like the founders of Shinola, we'd do what they're doing; build our own factories right now and start producing awesome products that everyone needs. As we become more successful we hope to do just [that]: invest in machines and infrastructure that bring jobs and manufacturing back to the United States.  We put our money where our mouth is and so far, that's exactly what our long term vision is: make amazing electrical accessories here in the United States."   -A

This is Ground = Get Organized by Amy Cherie

 

"560 Alpha Bravo, this is ground", are the words Mike Macadaan often used to communicate with his pilots while in his early twenties working at what he affectionately calls his "blimp job". Mike is now the Creative Director for This is Ground, a Los Angeles-based life-style product company focused on personal organization (think "Trapper Keeper" for the 21st century), but it wasn't too long ago that he lived the life of a nomad, travelling from city to city, part of a blimp tour. Compelling, right? I know!

Mike likes to say that the history in This is Ground is rooted in two parts - his obsessive need for organization and his love for the Los Angeles maker community. FP MAG can stand firmly and steadfastly behind ideals like that, trust you us. His organizational compulsions all started when he was part of an airship, or blimp tour, in the twilight of his youth, traversing the country with 15 other crew members. As an important member of a team responsible for the transport of cameras and equipment for sporting events, Mike would move from city to city every two weeks. Of course there was the A/V equipment, but that speaks nothing of all the 'gear' associated with travelling the countryside all zeppelin-like. I'm talking helium tanks, hoses, generators and loads of other stuff that can only be described as 'strange blimp equipment' (SBEs). In addition to the A/V + SBEs, there was, of course, each crew member's personal gear. Can you start to see how organization may not only be nice, but an absolute necessity? Yeah, me too.  

Mike says that growing up he was rarely in one place for a long stretch of time and quickly started a love affair with adventure, realizing there is so much to explore out there. As he's grown, so has his [personal intimacy] with his gear - oft-used journals, favorite pencils, headphones, cells and tablets - and, of course, all the associated cords and charging equipment. While, obviously traveling meticulously has played a big part in how This is Ground came to be and continues to grow, Mike has also found inspiration in the LA-based maker community. Get this - one day, after enjoying a meal of deliciously simple tacos near his home close to the fashion district in downtown LA, he was asked how he might create a new way to organize cords. Instantly an idea was conceived, and with grease still drying on his chin (you're right, I am embellishing that part) Mike started right away, tinkering with tinfoil and cardboard until the first Cord Taco was born! He enjoyed hand-making the unassuming leather goods, but quickly realized the need to reach out to his community for manufacturing partners.

He recalls the laughter as he enthusiastically described his first ideas for the Cord Taco to the Latinos at the first factory he visited. They welcomed him and appreciated his passion for the combination of his ideas with their craft. "When you see the hands of the people that make our goods, it's almost like taking a trip through time - the scars and the wear and tear are clear. It's more like a genuine expression, than [an actual] tattoo - it's the physical DNA that represents how these masters are wired... What goes into a hand-made zipper or precise cutting and stitching is overwhelming." This is Ground started with the Cord Taco, but a peek at their website today shows a plethora of organizational products that are as useful as they are stunningly beautiful. If you are anything like me, once you have your hands on a Mod Mobile, you will never leave your house without it. As a designer, I also enjoy the Bandito, but there is something here for everyone. We all have the clutter - the ephemera that comes along with the components of a modern on-the-go lifestyle. Why not get and stay organized and look good doing it all at the same time?

http://thisisground.com/