Nokona Athletic Goods: the world’s finest baseball glove.

Posted on Apr 12, 2016 in Journal | No Comments

The decision for Rob Storey was both difficult and personal. Nokona Athletic Goods Company, the company that his great- grandfather ran in the 1920s, where his father had worked, and that he now led—would give up its long-standing football line and concentrate on what it had done since 1934: make the world’s finest baseball and […]

Steinway and Sons: six hundred thousand pianos and counting.

Posted on Mar 22, 2016 in Journal | No Comments

For a company to last 160 years, it must learn to innovate. But the surprising thing is not that Steinway and Sons engages in the common social media practice of “crowdsourcing”—asking customers for feedback to improve the product—but that it first started doing so more than a century ago. The legendary company started during the […]

Maple Landmark Woodcraft: made in Vermont.

Posted on Mar 8, 2016 in Journal | No Comments

The regulars who frequented the Rainvilles’ general store in Lincoln, Vermont, knew young Mike’s story. His parents had given him a corner to sell the small toys and knickknacks he built after school. In junior high, bored and restless, Mike was given a block of wood by his mother and told to make a cribbage […]

Optimo Fine Hats: Classic Americana.

Posted on Mar 1, 2016 in Journal | No Comments

Graham Thompson’s friends in high school thought he was crazy. He would frequent Johnny’s Hat Shop on Chicago’s South Side, not the sort of place teenagers typically spent their free time. But Thompson was an old soul trapped in a young man’s body. He loved not only the idea of wearing dress hats—something he picked […]

Chuck Lee Banjo Company: from plumbing to playing music.

Posted on Feb 24, 2016 in Journal | No Comments

Chuck Lee was tired of waiting for his banjo. In the mid-1990s, Lee, a plumber since high school, did a job for a music store that paid him with instruments, which he gave out to his seven kids. But he kept the banjo for himself. Now he wanted to learn old-time music’s “clawhammer” style of […]

Rising Sun Jeans: the reason we’re here.

Posted on Feb 17, 2016 in Journal | No Comments

Mike Hodis’s moment of clarity came when his daughter was born fourteen years ago. Hodis, then a design executive for a clothing company in Los Angeles, considered how the decisions he had made in life had been driven by financial concerns instead of personal ones. “I started thinking about life beyond working for a typical […]

Henson Broom Shop: you’ll always have a job.

Posted on Feb 9, 2016 in Journal | No Comments

Richard Henson remembers well the last words his grandfather spoke to him. It was Thanksgiving 1981, a few days before Rollie “Bootsie” Henson would pass. Rollie had opened a broom-making business during the Great Depression, and he and Richard’s father had been making brooms ever since. Richard had taken a different route with his life. He was a principal and basketball coach […]

Sorrell Custom Boots: the art of the boot.

Posted on Feb 2, 2016 in Journal | No Comments

Lisa Sorrell spent decades becoming an overnight success. From the age of fifteen, Sorrell sewed for women in her small Missouri church. She got married, moved to Oklahoma, and took up boot making as an apprentice. Then in 1996, when she was two months pregnant, she opened her own shop. Three years later she was featured in the influential book […]

Danforth Pewter: hundreds of years in the making.

Posted on Jan 26, 2016 in Journal | No Comments

When Judi and Fred Danforth finally hung their shingle—that is, when the pewtersmiths first opened a shop in an old Colonial-era Vermont barn—they told no one their secret. In 1975 the couple had just moved back to the states from Nova Scotia, where Judi (pronounced “Jude-eye”) had been apprenticing. Upon returning to the United States, […]

Acadian Accordions: family, heritage, craftsmanship, and authentic Cajun music.

Posted on Jan 19, 2016 in Journal | No Comments

As a young Marc Savoy looked at the accordion he had made by hand, he knew he could do better. He had nursed the idea of building an accordion for years, ever since he was twelve years old, when his father bought him an accordion, a Hohner 114, from a department store. He cherished it, […]