A&H: How did you get started in the world of luggage?
Upon returning stateside, I looped in my friend, and longtime business partner, Alex to help in the planning anddevelopment. Alex and I have been working together since we were in Elementary school. At the time, he and I were both living in Philadelphia. I think our first business venture revolved around selling Pogs (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pogs) in our neighborhood. For the past 15 years we have been working together on different projects and businesses. We both share the same drive and vision for how to build a great business and rely on each other’s strengths to help grow the company.
While we started developing the Worton Weekender, I thought long and hard about what I wanted this new found
luggage company to represent. What our mission was. I came up with this: make the best bags in the world and offer legendary customer service to our clients. That mantra is what keeps us going at Blue Claw. Through this business ethos, our customers have stayed in contact long after their transaction is complete. Our base will send us notes and offer feedback for new bags they would like to see. They will even send us pictures of their Blue Claw product in action. This customer appreciation is what motivates the Blue Claw team to put in long hours.
A&H: What a pleasure it is to meet another Pog seller, I thought I was the only one who hustled cardboard circles and slammers. I read that a trip to Argentina inspired Blue Claw. How is that?
AB: Beyond my immediate need of getting some new luggage, Argentina, Buenos Aires is such a culturally rich city I attribute alot of my Blue Claw inspiration to living in South America. Combine a European-like city with young and attractive residents, wonderfully delicious,yet inexpensive steak and wine, trendy shopping, a bustling nightlife and beautiful weather and you get Buenos Aires, the cosmopolitan metropolis. Having the chance to live in Buenos Aires, arguably the cultural epicenter of Latin America, afforded me the chance to focus on my vision for Blue Claw and served as my muse to begin development on the Worton Weekender.
A&H: Is traveling still important to you? If so why?
AB: Of Course! I travel any chance I get. As Buenos Aires served as such a fertile launching pad for the inspiration of the Worton Weekender, it wouldn’t be fair to stop traveling. Its something I am truly passionate about and value. Going to another country, especially one I’ve never visited before, gives me the most real and true perspective. I live by the adage, “do as the locals do.” It is then when you can really begin to understand the subtleties of different countries and cultures. By doing so, not only can I gain new experiences (and practice my Spanish when appropriate), but I can use these experiences to help build a brand that appeals to all cultures and communities because at the end of the day…everyone needs a well made bag.
A&H: What’s at the top of your travel bucket list?
AB: I would love to visit Reykavik – I have heard wonderful things about the city. I recently watched the Bon Iver video Holocene and decided I must see Iceland! The Northern Lights, the geothermal spas, the amazingtopography…oh and I think it might be “the nightlife capital of the north.”
A&H: Why does every man need a good bag and what are some guidelines to choosing a bag?
AB: At Blue Claw Co. we view our luggage as an investment…something you will have for the rest of your life. We work to painstakingly analyze each aspect of the bag to make sure its made the best,strongest and most stylish way possible. We can honestly say that every stichon a Blue Claw bag or accessory has a purpose. We continuously test our bags to ensure they can withstand the test of time. Our bags look good when you carry them, but are also sturdy enough to not fret when you toss it in a trunk. Here Are three simple questions to ask yourself when shopping for a new bag:
Is it durable?
At Blue Claw, our entire line is made from thick, tough synthetic materials – either ballistic nylon fabric or waxed canvas. The term ballistic takes its name from its original intention as a bulletproof material to protect from flying debris caused by bullet and artillery shell impacts in WWII. This military grade nylon is water resistant and will last for 1,000,000 miles. Each bag is also equipped with YKK zippers and100% reinforced durable hardware. Lastly, we use a heavyweight, bonded nylon thread when constructing the bags. This is an extremely durable thread that will ensure sturdiness for decades.
Does it look good?
The leather we select is a water resistant full grain leather to go along with the ballistic nylon and waxed canvas. It comes from the top layer of the hide, which has all of the grain. The natural surface of full grain leather burnishes and beautifies with use. The combination of leather and nylon/canvas is truly unique and is what makes the bag best in class.
When buying a bag with leather, it is important to remember that leather can under go complex treatment processes in order to create numerous products. Many of these treatments may result in weaker leather that will not wear as well. At Blue Claw, we use full-grain leather because of its minimal treatments and it’s uncompromising durability.
Where is it made?
Every aspect of Blue Claw Co. is manufactured in the United States. From the merchandise, to the hang tags, to the product sheets, to our call center, Blue Claw Co. stands for American Made products, 100% of the time. By manufacturing domestically, production is monitored on a more granular level ensuring the highest quality of craftsmanship. Every piece of luggage is carefully hand built, not mass-produced, by American craftsmen in fair working conditions. This not only gives each bag its own personality and story, but also helps our American economy as a whole.
A&H: Whats the most important thing when starting a business?
AB: I think that the most important thing when starting a business is to remain lean and resilient. As with all new companies…it takes time to generate traction. Its important to remain resilient and adaptable when first launching a product or business. The start-up world is a roller coaster ride and its important to maintain your beliefs and conviction. I am not saying to not evolve — because thats a huge part of being an entrepreneur too, but its really just finding that balance.
A&H: Whats next for Blue Claw Co. ?
AB: It is an exciting time at Blue Claw! We just launched 30..yes 30 different bags. We are currently exploring some new types of materials for our next line as well as modeling different styles of bags. We are really excited about the Urban launch so the next few months will really be about creating Blue Claw awareness however we do already have some really exciting products on the docket for future release. Be sure to check out our Facebook, Twitter and Newsletter to get the most up to date news about Blue Claw.