SPOTLIGHT ON: TAWNY GOODS
Photograph: Anna Linduska
Kickstarter can be overwhelming, but sometimes, sandwiched between earbuds made from buried treasure and hand-tooled tea cozies, a project with genuine style shines through. Tawny Goods is exactly such a project. We caught up with William Schwing, one of the minds behind Tawny– a collection of sharp, sophisticated handmade footwear built to last–to ask him about his inspirations, ideas, and (of course) favorite drinks.
RYE & RIVET: How did Tawny Goods get started?
WILLIAM SCHWING: Jared and I started Tawny Goods after I spent some time living in Guatemala. We had been college roommates and friends for a couple of years before I left. Just outside of the city I was living in, I found this little town that does leatherwork, and specifically leather boots. Jared and I always had an interest in menswear, and so I started working with the guys in this little town trying to see what shoes they could make. At first, it was just for me and some friends back home, but then the interest grew and we realized the potential. That was more than 3 years ago, and the journey, so to speak, has definitely taken us to some interesting places.
R&R: Describe the ideology behind Tawny Goods in 3 words.
WS: Quality, style, affordability. That’s been our mission from the start, and the question, “How can we make a quality pair of shoes, that we want to wear, at a price that’s more affordable?” is something we’ve asked ourselves constantly.
R&R: What sets you apart from other neo-heritage brands?
WS: Our partners in Leon, Mexico have been in the shoe and boot making business now for four generations. Leon itself was founded by tanneries and cordwainers. The concentrated experience and knowledge that revolves around the making of Tawny Goods is something that is extremely hard to find anywhere else. Also, and this is not to say other brands don’t feel the same way, but we have a deep curiosity and excitement for what we do–we ask a ton of questions all the time, just trying to explore our boundaries and whatever else might be beyond them. It is what drives us to make better products.
R&R: What does “integrity” mean to your brand?
WS: Well, everything really. It means having a personal relationship with the people who make our products, we know their names, we ask about their families, and we work hard to make sure they are happy with the work we’re doing together. It means knowing our product. We know where our leathers come from, we know how our shoes are made and with which materials. It also means sharing this information with our customers. Nothing is hidden, partly because our customers deserve to know what they are buying, but also because we’re proud of what we’ve made.
R&R: Who is someone that’s really inspiring you at the moment?
WS: I’d have to say that my grandfathers are a big inspiration for Tawny Goods at the moment. They were both entrepreneurs, but as we were starting Tawny Goods they taught us valuable lessons– particularly that we could build something great while still being human-centric. Business school teaches you about the bottom line, that pure profit is king, and [our grandfathers] taught us that that doesn’t have to be true. Although neither are alive to see us launch Tawny Goods, we hope to maintain that same philosophy.
R&R: Finally, what’s your favorite drink?
WS: A Manhattan, no question about it. Of course other classic cocktails are great too. Jared is a fan of the Brooklyn as well, and I like almost anything with Campari, but a Manhattan is definitely our go-to drink. In the winter I like to swap the Angostura for some Fee Brothers Black Walnut bitters.
Thanks again to William and Jared for answering our questions. Head on over to Kickstarter to back Tawny Goods ASAP!