When Merida decided to start manufacturing in southern Massachusetts nearly twenty years ago, we saw the potential in the rich textile manufacturing community present there. Today, the town of Fall River is on the verge of a design manufacture renaissance, and Merida is proud to be spearheading that movement.
We’ve put together a list of four like-minded companies that we admire. These makers are helping fuel a resurgence of creative expertise and manufacturing excellence in each of their communities.
At the core of Shinola’s beliefs is the idea that “products should be built to last, and they should be built in America.” They make modern handcrafted watches, bicycles, leather goods, journals, and other accessories in Detroit, a city with a rich manufacturing history. They stand for “skill at scale, the preservation of craft, the beauty of industry.”
Shinola is committed to manufacturing as much as possible by hand and in America, to keep quality at the highest level, and to ensure top-notch quality control. They source from exceptional partners such as Horween Leather in Chicago and Hadley-Roma in Florida. Their bicycles are fabricated in Wisconsin and assembled in Detroit.
The heritage of Detroit is integral to Shinola’s story. Utilizing the iconic brand name of a former shoe polish manufacturer, the company is working to help revive a tradition and community of craftsmanship that was once common among American companies and industries. Assembly of Shinola’s watches and bicycles happens in their Detroit factory, and their goal is to “cultivate a cottage industry of suppliers who will move their operations to Detroit.” Detroit’s “once great” history as a manufacturing city is well known, and the positive effects of companies like Shinola will hopefully help spark a design manufacture revival.
The Urban Electric Company was founded in 2002 when very few companies were crafting high quality goods in America. Founder Dave Dawson believed that the interior design and architecture market would welcome a company focused on original design, craftsmanship, and service. Thirteen years later, Dawson is a leader in the industry, and The Urban Electric Co.’s innovative approach to quality manufacturing is thriving.
Each of the company’s products is bench-made and hand-finished at its 65,000 sq. ft. headquarters in Charleston, South Carolina, which houses its talented teams of engineers, sales and marketing professionals, designers, craftsmen and artisans. The company prides itself on manufacturing processes that secure the growth and sustainability of artisanal craft for the future by using modern techniques that enhance and refine the hand-build approach as opposed to replacing it. The Urban Electric Co. also offers one of the most extensive custom programs in the industry.
The company services an international client base of top interior designers and architects in the residential, hospitality and contract segments. The Urban Electric Co.’s catalogued collection includes nearly 300 interior and exterior fixtures designed by in-house Creative Director Michael Amato as well as several outside collaborations with some of the most renowned architects and designers in the industry including Darryl Carter, Steven Gambrel, Amelia Handegan, Mark Maresca, Richard Mishaan, Amanda Nisbet, Tom Scheerer and Nickey Kehoe.
Established in 1865 in Faribault, Minnesota, Faribault Woolen Mill Co. is the oldest manufacturing company in the state. fifth generation craftspeople take raw wool and create blankets, scarves, throws, and accessories. Century-old machinery stands side by side with modern technology in their “new” mill, which was built in 1890.
It is one of the last remaining mills in America producing goods from raw wool to finished woolens all under one roof. For the last half of the 20th Century the mill produced over half the wool blankets made in America. Since the 1890’s it has supplied millions of blankets to America’s armed forces.
After four generations of family ownership, the mill was acquired by a new ownership group and then shut down for 18 months in 2009. Cousins Paul and Chuck Mooty stepped in to purchase the mill, investing in equipment and infrastructure and bringing the valued employees back to work. The mill employs craftspeople with 30, 40 and even 60 years of experience. The company was inspired by its rich 150-year-old archives as it returned to its roots of making the highest quality woolens. As growth continues, the next generation of craftspeople are being recruited and production is expanding.”
Faribault has partnered with FEED by Lauren Bush Lauren to provide meals to families in America with each purchase of a FEED + Faribault product. They have also recently partnered with Billykirk out of Los Angeles, and Target, whose headquarters is also in Minnesota.
A neighbor and friend of ours in Fall River, Matouk, state that their purpose is “to enrich the lives of our customers and their families by creating the most beautiful and beloved collection of bed and bath linens.” Founded in 1929, Matouk is a family-owned full service luxury home textile source.
The founder, John Matouk, moved his fine linen business from Italy to the United States during World War II and settled in Manhattan. In 1985, George Matouk Sr. moved the company to southern New England because of its tradition of American textile production and community of skilled craftspeople. These traditions are alive and well today, and Matouk is an integral part of continuing to build that community.
The company has core beliefs detailing their commitment to their customers, partners, employees, and the quality of their manufacturing techniques. Matouk emphasizes innovation in design and creative approaches to problem solving at every level of the company. They believe strongly in their employees: “… a company that takes care of its employees and employees who take care of the company and each other. We treat our co-workers as individuals and consider employee impact in all of our business decisions.”
Matouk’s factory and headquarters are now located in Fall River, just up the road from our own weaving facility. Along with winning several small business and economic impact awards, Matouk recently completed a state of the art expansion of its Fall River facility with a Cambridge, MA based architecture firm. The company also has a collaborative collection with designer Lulu de Kwiatkowski.
All images (c) Shinola, The Urban Electric Co., Faribault Woolen Mill Co., and John Matouk & Co.