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.

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