SPOTLIGHT ON: Alex Frankel of Mount Vernon Book Co.
Mount Vernon Book Co. offers a variety of gorgeous leather journals, card cases, and more, seeped in a dedication to keep things simple, durable, and beautiful. With a few new ideas up their sleeves and MVBC’s upcoming feature in Philadelphia’s Natural Process show coming up, we caught up with cofounder Alex Frankel to talk about what MVBC means to him.
RYE & RIVET: When and how did you start creating your products?
ALEX FRANKEL: We started making our goods in late 2009 with zero experience and no plan for what we were doing at all. I trusted my friend Dan’s ability to make things given the materials and the plans and he trusted me to design and market the goods so that’s how it started. We began and still do make all of the products on our massive kitchen table.
R&R: What three words would you use to describe your brand’s ideology?
AF: Three words: quality, design, and affordability. Three-word phrase: trim-the-fat. We didn’t pursue any unnecessary extravagance because it seemed superfluous when we could make the same quality item for less money and sell it at a more appealing price. It doesn’t mean we cut corners by any stretch of the imagination; all of our materials are in the top tier of quality. It just means we designed things to be as durable yet accessible as possible.
R&R: What does “Integrity” mean to you in terms of modern production?
AF: Making a great product. If you’re selling crap people will catch on pretty quickly which is only a piece of it. You can’t slap a gold star on bullshit and think that anyone will want it but from a humanistic standpoint you can’t intend to trick people into buying something they think is great but really is junk. The other piece of it is to make sure your product is built to last. If I buy jeans, made in America and selvedge and all that business, and the crotch blows out after 6 months of normal wear I’m gonna’ be pissed. If someone bought my product and after a year of normal wear the stitching came loose or the leather ripped, I’d be pissed because it means I screwed up. The consumer trusts the producer to make something that’s really great and when the producer fails to do this everyone gets let down.
R&R: Who is an inspirational icon for you at the moment?
AF: I need to find a new inspirational icon. Mine aren’t doing it for me these days.
R&R: What’s your drink of choice?
AF: If not a beer, an Old Fashioned sometimes substituting in rye for bourbon.