Thursday, January 31, 2013

Q+A with Jonathan Shaun of Nonetheless Garments

Late last year Team Drum sent out a few Q+As to companies that we found interesting or inventive or just down right fun. This short 13 question interview with Jonathan Shaun from Nonetheless Garments is the first in a series of such interviews that we will publish in the 2013 calendar year. Thus, keep an eye on the ol Drum blog for others who were kind enough to spend some time sharing their thoughts with us. Enjoy!

1: For those that are unfamiliar with the term, how would you best describe "cradle to cradle" manufacturing?

A phrase invented by Walter R. Stahel in the 1970s and popularized by William McDonough and Michael Braungart in their 2002 book of the same name. This framework seeks to create production techniques that are not just efficient but are essentially waste free. In cradle-to-cradle production all material inputs and outputs are seen either as technical or biological nutrients. Technical nutrients can be recycled or reused with no loss of quality and biological nutrients composted or consumed. By contrast cradle to grave refers to a company taking responsibility for the disposal of goods it has produced, but not necessarily putting products’ constituent components back into service.

2: You have relocated to California, correct? Why the move and how has this influenced your design aesthetic thus far?

No. We did not relocate to California. I was looking at strategic partners and investment at one time. I found the solution and it’s right here in Chicago. It would have been bittersweet to move from the best city on the globe.

3: I understand that your clothes are manufactured in Chicago; what sort of standard do these facilities need to pass before they produce Nonetheless appear?

I am very strict about all aspects of my business pertaining to responsible engineering. My factory has an open door policy. It’s a family owned business. I consider them good friends. They do mostly Military uniforms – so the quality is amazing. When I first started Nonetheless Garments in 2009; people said my technical menswear could not be done in Chicago. The research and development was a painstaking process and took a long time to get it dialed in. I am well on the way now and proved all those negative creeps wrong.

4: Do you have a Favorite frame builder/bike? If so, why?

Hell Yes I do! Adam from Stanridge Speed Bicycles in Ohio. He built the “Molloy” for me. His innovations are flawless down to every last detail. Everyone should check them out. If you buy a custom bike from him… you will never leave the saddle.

5: Do you see Nonetheless having a continuous line of clothing or do you see each piece changing organically between each manufacturing run?

We will always have the staples. However, I am engineering and developing more products to round out the line for a wider-range. To date this has been a self-funded business. Most individuals don’t realize it’s been just myself running the business for over a year now. My highly talented business partner and good friend, Neil H. Molloy, suddenly pasted away last year of Ammonia. It hit me very hard but I am running on all cylinders and healthy again.

6: Anything new and exciting coming down the line that you would like to share?

We have a lot of potential business news to share but I can’t talk about it now. As for products, I reinvented our Trench Shirt/Jacket. It’s very exciting to see such innovation taking hold. I am a textile geek. We will be innovating there in many ways. We have uni-sex accessories on the way. You will need to follow us to see in real-time other innovations.

7: Other than your eco-friendly manufacturing practices are there any other things you do to help the environment?

I separate my beer cans and bourbon bottles for the homeless to collect and sell. They go and get the cash to live on. It saves waste from the landfill. A win… win.

8: One of the major reasons we here at Drum decided to try out your garments was the fact they were not only made in the USA but in Chicago. Is the plan to keep everything manufactured in Chicago for the foreseeable future?

We are keeping all options on the table. We will always have goods made here though.

9: What do you do for entertainment when not slaving away at Nonetheless HQ?

I am a father to my beloved 5-year old son. Spending time with him is absolutely amazing. I like to cook; it’s therapeutic in so many ways. Of course, riding my bikes and traveling are favorites.

10: Best moment at Nonetheless thus far?

A highly loaded question. Our highly versatile garments have been called the Rolls Royce of Pants and went Alaskan bear hunting for 10 days straight. They’ve been cross-country skiing in Canada through intense conditions. These garments have been through countless city commutes both on and off the bike. They are worn every day inside offices thanks to cutting edge technical attributes. Point; this is working out well.

11: How would you describe your experience with funding a commercial venture through crowd sourcing (Kickstarter)? Instead of traditional investment backers? What did you learn and what advice would you give to other thinking of using such methods to start their business?

I was invited to KickStarter early on before open to public domain. It was mostly all of my die-hard clients that successfully made it happen. So, I think my experience was much different than some others thus far.

12: Best movie of 2012 and why?

I am not a film guy at all. Though, Larry Clark films are my favorite. Marfa Girl was just release on-line only (a first the way he did it). Set in the eponymous Texas desert town, the new work focuses on the culture clash arising from the area’s mix of Mexican Americans, ranchers, border patrol police and a creative scene founded by minimalist artist Donald Judd, who moved there in the 1970s. It’s interesting and Mr. Clark did a good job with it.

13: We can only guess that commuting via bike in Chicago was your inspiration for Nonetheless but give us your view where the inspiration came from.

I started a small Snowboard outerwear line in 1994 and sold it in 1999. Then, I designed private label lines for a few retail companies. Then I went to work as a Marketing Manager for Nau 1.0. After the first Nau went under in 2008, I co-founded a retail shop called Connect in Chicago. There are many problems in the industry and have solutions. It was apparent I needed to start designing, developing, and manufacturing my own line. Since then, I have never looked back.

And don't forget to check out our review of the Nonetheless Dispatch Rider pant and our soonish-to-be released review of their Weatherproof Commuter pant.  Hint, Hint that's it pictured above.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

On the route: Heritage General Store

Upon crashing the mother ship on the north side of dear ol' Chicago, we at Drum were in search of four things:
1: Day Job
2: Bike
3: Bike shop
4: Quality java joint
One and two were pretty easy to acquire, but three and four turned out to be much more of a challenge than we had imagined.
We were not looking for a bicycle shop that was a drop-and-go place, that would do all the wrenching for us. OH no, Team Drum is a bunch of tinkers*, dreamers, and thinkers that like to get dirty... though the thinking ain't always the clearest thing known to man.... What we needed was a shop that had good parts and a friendly, knowledgeable staff of straight shooters that didn't mind informing us that our dreaming and scheming might just add up to a pile of poop.
Now, in the realm of coffee we were looking for a shop that can pull a good shot, heat our milk without scalding it, grinds a quality bean, and has (again) a super friendly staff. Living in a city of 3 million+ you would think that shops like this would be common place, but you'd be wrong. We were.
From the first time we wandered by Heritage, it made us want to stop in. Really, we had no idea it was a bicycle shop when Mrs. Drum pointed out the slick rigs in the window. For all we knew it was another coffee shop with clever signs and and hip employees, but the magic of google would clear this up later in the evening. It was then that we discovered that they loved bikes + coffee, so we decided they couldn't be that bad, and was worth a visit during operating hours.
Upon entering the joint we get a good vibe from the vintage and re-purposed decor. The chicks and dudes working over at the coffee bar, which takes up over 1/2 of the room, are hip, well dressed, and make a mean drink with some tasty beans from Stumptown coffee. Our favorite part is that you get all this magic without being treated like week old gum stuck to their shoe. No, Dorothy, we ain't in Logan Square anymore. As you wander towards the rear of the store you find have the bicycle repair(right) or bicycle accessories(left).

Since we here at Drum consider ourselves outgoing and personable extroverts, we chose to go straight into the fray and talk to the bicycle repair guys first. There we met Arlan (head mechanic), and then Alan (manager) the duo that run the repair side of the Heritage World. Right off the bat we learned that this was a place we could ask stupid questions and not have a 12 year old look at us like we just wet our pants. It is a place that would sell us good parts at a good price and even add the particular item to their next order without making it seem like we were putting them out. A place where one of the techs is also a tinkerer!

The other side of the bicycle department is for the merchandise. Most of the bicycle parts are stored away out of sight, but it is here you can find a nice Abus lock, Nonetheless clothing, racks, baskets,  and many other super sweet additions to your rig. On top off all this fun Heritage's owner, Michael Salvatore, also produces a bicycle made here in Chicago... yep, not only American made but as local as local can get for us Windy City Dwellers! These steeds are simple, clean lined, post-fixie rides and are perfect for those who are looking for something cool but don't want to drop the coin on a fully custom job.

 Now, the next time you need out of the house, need a part, want to get some some work done, a good cup of joe, or just to sit and enjoy a nicely designed space go check out Heritage General Store. Just be warned it may ruin you on other so called bicycle/coffee shops.***

* Drum has a brother blog The Old Speed Shack where we tinkered and explored the ins and outs of the 36hp aircooled VW motor all while holding down a day job in an aerospace machine shop... tinker... tinker...tinker.
***To our knowledge this is the only one in Chicago. This is not to say that other coffee shops don't have bike hipsters as clients that will chat you up on the finer points of a tall bike but they don't have a working bicycle shop in them.
Photos are used courtesy of a little photo studio

Monday, January 28, 2013

Coyotes are into bikes.

After reading a recent NY Times article we in the Drum think tank have been wondering if Coyotes may also be interested in cycling to work during these lean times.  Or perhaps these super adaptable critters see early morning cyclist riding in the sticks of NY state as their next snack? Either way, it would be another step in the world conquest by Mr. Wile E. Coyote.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Spoke Spotting #1: Life was meant for two.

When you find your one true love its pretty special and you need a special bike just for these moments. Today we came across a Ranger tandem bicycle that would fit the bill! There is something about old tandems that we here at Drum fine beautiful. Perhaps its their long gangly shape, or the sense that they are so fucking unwieldy that you might just die at any moment while pedaling around with Miss or Mister right that gives us goose pimples when we come across one.

Here we have a Ranger which seems to a "brand" that had their bikes made by other cycling companies, then popped their badge on the head tube. Not a bad way to keep manufacturing costs down, although we doubt they were on the cutting edge of biking technology! From what we've been able to dig up it appears Ranger was purchased and sold on multiple occasions, and unlike Schwinn or Raleigh, that means there isn't a good central database available online for this brand. Since information is sparse we will leave the history lesson at that.

On closer inspection we realize that this tandem has had more than a few romantic couples take it for rides during it's life time. The seats are sun baked, torn and tattered. It's front lantern points toward the ground as if to signify that it is exhausted from the late night rides home. There is a rear rack (yes, a rack on a tandem seems like a grand idea!!) that has become rusty but is still sturdy, and can probably still hold up to hauling all those picnic baskets and wine bottles out to the beach.
From years of service this Ranger has acquired two different shoes. On the front there is a slick tire for optimal control in the corners. While the rear is equipped with a knobby tire that we can only assume is for those loose dirt Chicago back roads and traction on those romantic sandy beach rides.
A small hint of whom may be the current owner comes from the disengaged front brake. Common sense tells us that not having a front brake on a bike that weighs this much is not a particularly good idea. And we also know that hipsters love their bikes to have no real means of stopping at high speed, and 2+2 is 4 so perhaps a hipster is looking to make this into a fixed gear tandem?*

The saying "rode hard and put away wet" was invented by this here tandem and we're proud to have the pleasure of meeting it.
*(see fixie)

Monday, January 14, 2013

Introducing Spoke Spotting.

Since relocating the mother ship to jolly 'ol Chicago we've seen sooooo many cool bikes chained up all over town. This got us to thinking, which can be dangerous if not supervised closely, and we decided that it would be cool to share some of these rigs with you, the reader. Thus the serial "Spoke Spotting" was born while visiting Team Drum's Appleton branch. Now with that out of the way we will start snapping some photos of what ever bicycle catches our eye, give a little blog or blurb about it, and perhaps some history on the bike, the brand, or what makes it unusual. And, we encourage everyone to add info in the comments section on each post. It's always fun to learn new things! You can even send in your own pictures and blurbs, and we will post 'em (crediting you of course...but only if you run spell check first).

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Day at the beach

Our memories of the last few warm days of fall have turned one to dreams of spring rides in the rain. Winter riding is fun but it's hard to beat those first few April days.