American Made: An Interview with Ball and Buck
The do-it-yourself, homegrown maker movement is in full swing. And let’s be honest, there’s a lot of great gear on the market, but it just feels better to buy from the ethical companies in your own backyard.
So we were thrilled to get in touch with Mark Bollman, the founder of Ball and Buck, a men’s lifestyle company passionate about American-made goods. Ball and Buck has a storefront in Boston, Mass. and not only sells high-quality items, but also offers repair services–and, yes, even has a barber shop.
Learn more at www.ballandbuck.com.
Bollman: Before this Nation was founded, she faced plenty of challenges. A much weaker and less experienced country with the odds clearly stacked against Her. Her most defining moment was when, instead of taking the easy road and settling for the status quo, she stood up and fought for what she believed in, and won.
Now America has fallen to a place where outsourcing and poorly-made products flourish. Manufacturers are squeezed so tightly on price that it’s nearly impossible to make products that prioritize quality over cost. Now, not unlike a time in America’s past, it is time for us to start a Revolution. It’s time for us to show each other that we haven’t lost appreciation for goods of the utmost quality, goods that start by first and foremost focusing on quality, design, and value.
I founded Ball and Buck to create products like this. Products that are the best of what America can offer, and are therefore the best in the world. My hope is that people will join me by standing behind what they believe in and join me in ensuring that we don’t completely lose the art of craftsmanship that this country was founded upon.
AllOutdoor: You held a successful Kickstarter fundraiser last year for The Perfect Wallet. Can you tell me about that process?
Bollman: We had a lot of success with our first Kickstarter project for The Hunter’s Shirt. We got a lot of great feedback from our backers and supporters that we took into account before launching the fundraiser for The Perfect Wallet. In terms of the process, it was a long one. We wanted our wallet to stand out, so a lot of time went into not only designing it, but selecting the best possible materials in America. So far it has been an exciting success. We reached our funding goal within the first 48 hours after launching. It was a really exciting moment for the whole team.
Bollman: Having a greater purpose beyond just selling things has helped us tremendously. We’ve had a vision, a clear goal, and good intentions. Our products are ones that people can really get behind. They are purchases that can be justified.
AllOutdoor: I think it’s great that everything made by Ball and Buck is made in America. What are the logistics of this? How do you ensure the quality of your products?
If we can’t build the best here in America, we don’t make it.
Bollman: All of the logistics are factored in during the design process. From a solely economic standpoint, there are larger profit margins when you manufacture products overseas, but in terms of quality control, there is no comparison. I personally visit all of the factories that make our products. Many of them are right here in New England. Because we guarantee all of our products for life, ensuring quality from the beginning is extremely important to us.
AllOutdoor: You also offer repair services. Do you find that people are more willing to invest in quality items that can be repaired instead of buying new things?
Bollman: The economic climate is driving people to be more conscientious consumers, and subsequently there has been a big shift in consumer purchasing decisions in almost every sector. We’ve seen this shift in the grocery store with the organic, whole food, farm to table model. Places like Chipotle, for example, selling fast and fresh meals are clearly starting to appeal to mass market. People want the premium organic grass fed beef raised at John’s range 150 miles away. Quality is driving people to spend a bit more, and to us, that’s very exciting.
It’s not just about how much people can get for a dollar any more. Consumers are questioning what it actually means to own something and want to know the story behind it.
Bollman: We’ve found that because of this, our customers are really drawn not just to our lifetime guarantee but also to our mission. They’re not afraid of spending a little more because they know that their dollars are going towards providing American jobs, that the product is going to last a really long time, and in the event that it fails, our team will be here to take care of them and fix the problem.•