Posted by & filed under The Voice of Saddleback Employees.

Nick-Spring-2
by Nick Bridwell (Customer Service)

Spring is in the air and that means it’s time to hit the parks, beaches, and music festivals. Wherever you’re headed, it’s probably a good idea to gather up your Saddleback gear. Here are 5 pieces that are picture perfect for your Spring 2016:

 

  1. Saddleback Leather Front Pocket Backpack

 

This bad boy is custom designed for the wayfaring soul. Not only do you get the awesome convenience of a comfortable backpack, but you get three exterior pockets that are perfect for compartmentalizing your travels. Headed on a camping trip this spring? You’ll love having the ability to store essentials–clothes, hygiene products, a first aid kit, a reserve of your favorite spirit–all safely and separately in the Front Pocket Backpack’s main pack and pockets. Personally, I think this is great for day-trips into town, too. I can store my chargers, laptop, sketchpad, books, pens, and whatever else I decide to pick up once I get where I’m going.

 

Nick-2

 

  1. Saddleback Leather Moleskine Cover

 

Holy Moleskine, this thing is smooth. Our world runs on words and if you’re anything like me, your words are your life. If you use Moleskine notebooks, this Moleskine Cover is the one for you. Not only does it protect your musings, but it’s a quality piece of leather for your quality thoughts. Anyway, if I’m out and about in the spring, I like to throw my books in these covers so that a.) I have something a little heartier to write on and b.) I don’t leave the books lying around because, I mean hey, who is going to forget about this cover?

 

Nick-3

 

  1. Saddleback Leather Dog Leash

 

Taking that pup of yours for a nice walk in the park? Look, I’m not going to pussyfoot around here with you. You’re basically your dog’s wingman. He’s looking to meet the ladies and the competition is getting groomed and shampooed and all sorts of fancy stuff. Your alternative? The Saddleback Leather Dog Leash. Let your dog let his lady know that he has a rugged and refined taste. Oh, and if your dog IS a lady, the leash works just as well. She’ll want to look dapper for her walk about town. Just because your dog is a dog doesn’t mean he/she has to dress like some sort of animal.

 

Nick-4

 

  1. Saddleback Leather Gadget Bag

 

Hey, the flowers are blooming, the songbirds are chirping, and the whole family is ready to barbeque. That means it’s picture time! For those of you fine folks who opt for the full-fledged camera instead of the cell phone, this bag is perfect. There’s enough room for camera and lens, plus extras. If you’re not a camera person, this makes a great lunchbox! Nom, nom, nom. Leather so nice people can eat out of it!

 

Nick-5

 

  1. Saddleback Leather Chess Set

 

Some of those spring days are just straight up rainy. For those, you might want to sit back and play a classic game of wit and strategy. This game requires no screens, no batteries, no wires, and does not receive Facebook messages, Tweets, or Snapchats, BUT it’s perfect if you need to tuck under a gazebo to wait out an hour-long spring shower. It’s the simple things in life that sometimes bring us the most satisfaction. This leather chess set is one of those things.

 

Let us know what Saddleback Gear you love this Spring ‘16 by posting pics to our Twitter account @Saddlebackbags.

 

Nick is a writer and journalist, whose debut novel, The Ties That Bind, came out in 2014 and is available in paperback and as an eBook here: http://amzn.com/0990573702 .

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Posted by & filed under The Voice of Saddleback Employees.

Blog-1

 

by Sarah Farver (Public Relations)

 

Life is full of lessons. Some are sweet, and others are hard and raw, but when you see someone make choices to love someone sacrificially, it communicates volumes about that person. I have seen it in parents who feed and dress their 23 year old son day-in, day-out, after his car was broadsided and he suffered extreme brain damage. I have seen it in a faithful young husband who cares for his chronically ill bride. I have seen the loss of parents when they lose a child. Loss wears a lot of different faces.

 

When the right person hears a story, they want that story to impact others the way it impacted them. That’s where Joe comes in. Whatever story he sees, he tells in his own way.  I have had people ask why Saddleback has a filmmaker-in-residence and why a leather company feels the need to tell stories.  The truth is, stories shape us and cause us to evaluate what we hold as important. By telling stories, we are sharing a bit of what we value, and letting that shape our thinking.. Telling a story is something unique to humans and letting those stories move us and reevaluate what we hold dear is a significant part of their value.

 

Joe met Kwasa Liste and told his story in a film called Life After Death. Kwasa was on his mother’s back when she was killed in Rwanda’s genocide and his life has been a journey of figuring out his own response to that horror. It impacts the man he has become, all these years later. It’s a hard story, but there is beauty in it, too.

 

Later Joe tells the story of Grace and Patricia, who daily navigate life with Type 1 diabetes in Midnight,Three and Six. Patricia is Dave’s sister and Grace is his niece. It’s a story we know well here, but one thousands of people have to live with daily as diabetics. It’s an important story about a mother’s ferocious love.

 

Most recently, Joe got to know his fiancé’s grandparents. After being married for 63 years the husband faithfully goes to see his wife at an Alzheimer’s care facility and comb her hair. Because sometimes following through on a commitment of “til death do us part” looks like this, and it’s  beautiful.

 

My goal in making this film was to capture this simple act of love at the end of life, “ Joe said. “I believe one of the most basic acts of love is just to keep showing up, always and unconditionally. Sometimes the best you can do is to let somebody know they are loved, not alone, and not forgotten.” Check out Late December as featured by The New York Times. 

 

Stories help us look at the world through someone else’s eyes. I think that’s part of why we love a good story– it moves us and stirs us in our core. Looking at all that is broken in the world today, maybe that’s something we could use a bit more of.

 

 

 

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Posted by & filed under The Voice of Saddleback Employees.

Blog

 

 

by Nick Bridwell (Customer Service)

Congrats to my brother and sister-in-law. My kid brother will soon be having his second son. That’s TWO for him and ZERO for me. This got me thinking: What would a real Saddleback Leather aficionado want to name his/her baby? Here are 3 boy names and 3 girl names inspired by the people that inspire Saddleback Leather: Also, feel free to use them to name your SBL gear, too.

Boys:

  1.     Barnes – My favorite Ernest Hemingway protagonist is Jake Barnes in The Sun Also Rises. The character, like the author, is an adventurer and a fellow who has been to war (Spoiler: he makes a very noble sacrifice). A smooth sip of the book takes place in Spain and has to do with bullfighting and drinking wine and walking down the street to where two men are standing, as men who are friends often stand, so that each holds in account the other as a third man takes in the vista of the mountains and the cattle at the foothill grazing on grass the color of absinthe. That’s my best Hemingway impression there.
  2.     Redford – Robert Redford is an American icon. He is constantly classy, he carries himself like a champion, and I’ve never seen him in a role he didn’t take seriously. When he took a role in the last Captain America movie, I kept thinking, “Robert Redford is Captain America.” Check out his role in Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, his work in the Sundance Film Festival, and anything else you can find on the internet and you’ll see why he’s a celeb I admire.
  3.     Teddy – Teddy Roosevelt was a man’s man. He actually rounded up his friends to go fight a war (real hobbyist that one), delivered a speech after he was shot, and still managed to make huge contributions to the field of conservation in between his other extracurricular activities (Oh, just becoming the President of the USA and presumably wrestling lions for fun every morning before breakfast).

Girls:

  1.     Amelia – Amelia Earhart was a pioneer of aviation and a real icon for women of the early 20th century. Her accomplishments and her disappearance have left an eternal impression on the American psyche.
  2.     Ada – Ada Lovelace was Lord Byron’s daughter. Not content to be the unappreciated daughter of the world’s favorite dead poet, she focused on her own interests, chiefly mathematics. Ada was able to pioneer one of the earliest models for a modern computer…Over 100 years before Steve Jobs was born.
  3.     Robyn – Robyn Davidson was the lady who made a solo trek across Australia. See the movie Tracks for more on her. Her tenacity and free spirit should inspire all younglings to carry on despite obstacles and to stay steadfast in their convictions.

When my wife and I get around to having some little ones of our own, I know I’ll be doing a lot of soul searching. There’s a lot in a name. I might gift my son with the strength of Clark Kent, the poetic genius of Bob Dylan and Dylan Thomas, the soulful conviction of Atticus Finch. I might bestow upon my daughter the pedigree of Eleanor of Aquitaine, or the class and allure of Audrey Hepburn. There are plenty of options, but we are given one name by our parents and it should probably be a good one.

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Posted by & filed under The Voice of Saddleback Employees.

Blog-1

 

By Herndon Hasty (Digital Performance Manager)

When people talk about the beauty of Shakespeare, it’s always about the language. The stories he told were usually someone else’s from antiquity or from just far enough away that no one would likely notice, and the twists he added weren’t especially groundbreaking.

But the way he told them, the turns of phrase he created and even the words he brought into existence were what marked him out for praise and high school hatred 500 years later.

Hillary Mantel’s Wolf Hall was good enough to win every literary prize in the UK it was up for for similar reasons. The story is one that many people are familiar with: Henry VIII’s quest for a male heir, Anne Boleyn’s rise, and the cast of characters around them. However, it does add an interesting twist as it centers around Thomas Cromwell, an individual who’s usually a side character during this saga – and a shifty, hated one at that. Bringing new biographical facts to light, the genius that allowed him to successfully navigate a tough situation in a very dangerous time is much more center stage. His background as a banker – a rare trade in that day – and merchant add a businesslike atmosphere to the proceedings.

Our household is a little biased on this matter. As it turns out, he’s an ancestor of my wife, and as it turns out he famously had an ancestor of mine – Thomas Moore – beheaded during this time period. Thanks, Ancestry.com!

The unique perspective, though, is only a scant piece of the book’s brilliance. The approach is unusual – written in the same perspective as stage directions, it might take reading about 20 pages just to get a feel and momentum – well worth it, in order to get to the stark but rich language that Mantel brings to Wolf Hall and its sequel, Bring Up The Bodies. Out of respect . fear of copyright laws, I won’t pour out the full measure of quotes that I’d love to, but for a sampling, check out its Good Reads page.

Around this time last year, if you’re a person who even occasionally finds yourself on PBS, you probably started hearing about the TV series of the books. Much like a work on the opposite end of the spectrum, The Hitchiker’s Guide To The Galaxy, the true beauty and humor of the work is in how the story is told and what cannot be said, only described. You can watch the show, too. But do not miss the books.

So, in winter’s waning days when you still might have long stretches of staying in from the weather in front of you, I can’t recommend enough picking up Wolf Hall and Bring Up The Bodies – if you start now, you’ll have time enough to get in a good, satisfactory second reading in time for its third installment The Mirror And The Light to arrive in 2017.

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Posted by & filed under The Voice of Saddleback Employees.

Blog

 

By Herndon Hasty (Digital Performance Manager)

My wife and I embarked last year on a renovation project at our house that, amongst other things, getting our home more energy efficient. Just passing it’s 60th year in existence, there were plenty of gaps that needed filling, window glass that needed to be replaced, and insulation that needed power-vacuuming in.

Now, we doubled the size of the house in the process, so the effects we saw on our energy usage were kind of tricky to determine – pro tip: your bills do not go down when you add that much new space.

But from what we could tell, I’m convinced that nothing had the effect that adding Nest thermostats did about a year and a half later.

We first heard about Nest in the kind of nerdy articles we read about home automation: Controlling things in your home via an app, getting appliances to talk to each other, and the most up-to-date ways to both make your home more efficient and confuse your pets. It could act as a first step to making things happen automatically by being the gauge of whether someone was home or not, which could in turn tell the lights to turn off (or on, if you needed to seem like someone was home), the security cameras to start rolling, and even the dryer to toss your clothes around every 15 minutes or so to keep them fresh.

The asides about it managing the temperature in your house to use less electricity seemed cool, but farfetched. We’re conscious of our electricity usage, we do what we can to keep the A/C from coming on when we don’t need it to, surely that’s all it takes, right?

As it turns out, nope. Taking about 20 minutes to add a temperature schedule to three thermostats, and telling them to hang loose whenever we’re out of the house was enough to drop our peak summer electricity bills by 20% in the first month. In boiling-hot Texas, that’s a fair bit of money back in your pocket.

But that’s when the gaming piece of Nest’s equation kicks in. It plays around with temperature levels by a degree or two to save electricity when you might not notice, and alerts you when adding a degree or two could result in big savings by rewarding you with a leaf on the screen. It automatically adjusts for high humidity days. You get a monthly email telling you not just how much electricity you saved, but compares it to everyone around you who’s also using a Nest. The rest of Fort Worth earned an average of eight energy efficient leaves this month? By God, I’m gonna earn ten next month! That’ll show ‘em!

Those triggers were enough to add another 10% after the first month – enough for them to pay for themselves easily in less than two years, and keeping a little more coal soot out of the air in the process.

At $200 – $250 apiece, they can make the most economic sense in places that have really hot summers, or if you have electric A/C and heating units in a more temperate space. If your goal is energy efficiency for efficiency’s sake, of course, it’ll still make a difference, but if you can do so without resorting to adding a semi-permanent Ramen Wednesday to your dinner plans, all the better.

You’ll also need to have them installed. While they do come with instructions, and Google claims that they can be installed by non-electricians in an hour, if you’re like me, I’ll happily tinker with a lot of things but electricity and an HVAC unit are not amongst them. I will, however, make great use of the nifty magnetic phillips + flat head screwdriver that comes with the thermostat.

You may need to poke around for electricians who will install a thermostat that they didn’t sell you, or you can use Amazon Home Services for installation services that are for situations exactly like this.

Once they’re installed, they can be made to communicate with other Nest products, other products specifically built to talk with Nest, or anything that can connect to a service like IFTTT, which can make a lot of things act based on changes seen at another thing, website, or online service.

The energy and money saved by going Nest has inspired us to get solar panels installed this Spring, and the automation we’ve enjoyed is going to extend to the smart plugs and home cameras that are on their way to the house as I type this. So, more adventures in electricity and home automation coming!

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Posted by & filed under Quality.

Bird-A

Dave recently interviewed Master Penman Jake Weidmann to get some insight into what makes this amazing artist tick. And if you have never seen any of Jake’s work stop reading, go to his site, and then come back to read the interview. Enjoy!

 

What is a “Master Penman”?
“A Master Penman is a vintage title given to those who have honed the art of calligraphy and is proficient in each of its major disciplines. Me and 12 others who have been given this title follow in the footsteps of the world’s greatest ornamental penman. In the process of becoming a master through IAMPETH (International Association of Master Penman, Engrossers and Teachers of Handwriting) I executed my own certificate on calfskin vellum and carved my own frame for it after being mentored by the calligrapher of the White House and having my work under a microscope of the other masters. The entire process of being introduced to calligraphy and mastering it took five years.”

 

When did you become aware of the uniqueness of your gifting as an artist?
 “I’ve been drawing for as long as I can remember. It was in the first grade when my teacher, Mrs. Kay, called my talent out by entering my portrait of a parrot in the school-wide art contest. I realized I had a gift in the eyes of others. My small drawing went on to win the school’s art competition. It was then that I began identifying myself as an artist.”
 

When did you think, “I think I can sell my art and actually make a living?”
“When I was in college, getting my degree in psychology, I started getting a lot of requests for different art projects on the side of my school work. I never attended art school, and wasn’t admitted into the art program at my school and was seen, “unfit for the program.”  Art requests grew in size and frequency, until one day, I was asked by a professor at BIOLA to carve his family’s crest into a trophy set of Yukon moose antlers. It was a commission that extended far beyond my skill that at the time, but I rose and met the challenge and acquired the skill necessary to fulfill his request.  It was in those moments I was carving these antlers on the deck of my dorm that this was something I could do for the rest of my life – and make money at it. My art career bloomed unexpectedly out of dreaming, doing, constantly testing and growing my skill set. To my greatest surprise, these side gigs would later grow into my full-time profession. “

 

What gave you the guts to follow your art?
“Choosing to step full-time into art and try to make a living was a daunting task, especially with a mound of school loans for a degree in something else entirely. I knew that what God had given to me in art wasn’t to be kept to myself, but to be explored and shared. And so in faith, I followed that calling on my life. The favor in my art has taken me to places I couldn’t have dreamed possible.”
 

How often do you throw away and start over?

“The tools, materials and context of my work demand the utmost of my skill and attention. With hours of practice in between final pieces, I hardly find myself starting over. Mistakes are made, but part of my practice is knowing how to fix anything that might go wrong.”

 

Are you a perfectionist in every way ? Is there an area of your life that it doesn’t apply?
“I cannot say no. In general, I am your typical “messy creative.” I become so enthralled and focused on my work that I neglect the conditions of my living/working environment. In its final form, my art is a thing of order and beauty, but chaos is left in my creative wake.”
 

What about you drives your wife crazy?
“Read the last answer again. My wife is the one standing in the havoc of my creative wake.”

 

What do you want people to know about Jake Weidman?
“As an artist, I want people to know that I’m not just a one-tune band, but that I have a wide range of talents and interests. It’s one thing I’ve been ironically criticized for. The art world spins on the axis of artists who execute one type of art and do it well, over and over and over again. I never want to be that kind of artist. I will always put my hands to multiple crafts. Having numerous artistic outlets keeps me loving my work, and honestly, keeps me sane.
As a person, art isn’t my entire life. I have many interests outside of it. For instance, my wife calls me a gym rat. I love to work out and do all-natural body building.”
 

What do you carry with you when you leave the house?
“I never leave the house without my sketch pad and pen. I always have a million different projects floating around my head that I’m constantly sketching them out and uncovering my next big idea. “
 

Can you do a pocket dump?
“Pen nibs, Saddleback leather wallet, fountain pen, pocket knife, chapstick, receipt from Woodcraft.”
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Posted by & filed under Quality.

Clint-Harp

 

What pulled you from the business world to carpentry? I was living a lie.  And by lie I don’t mean I had a second family stashed away in another state, or that I was a school teacher by day and world famous Meth-maker at night.  It doesn’t have to be that drastic.  It can be that you’re waking up in the morning, kissing your wife and kids goodbye, and setting out to do something that you know in your heart you never wanted to do.  That was me.  I never wanted to be a salesman. Ever.  I had even tried it before with copy machines years before and it lasted for 3 months and I knew I never wanted to do it again.  Yet I found myself in Houston as a salesman.  And although I worked for a great company I was still waking up everyday thinking how I could convince people to like me…and at a best a version of me I didn’t even like.  After digging deep into my soul with a mentor over the course of a couple years, I knew I had to let go.  I was the only one who could make the change I desired.  If being me meant we didn’t have a lot of money and that life was going to be less predictable…I was all in, because I was tired of living a lie.

 

Was your dad a carpenter? No, but my Grandad, Verner H. Martin, was! He built colonial style homes all around GA for the last 40-50 years of his life. He sent me $1250 when I was 25 and I bought my first tools which ended up being the same tools with which I built our company Harp Design Co.

 

What made you decide to go out on your own and do your own thing? I grew up hiking in the mountains of GA and NC.  Since I was a kid I have never liked trails.  I have always jumped off the trail as soon I could because I love to explore.  I wanted to find out what was over there, under there, up that hill, around that corner.  No trails!!   

 

What gave you the guts to do this? I didn’t have guts. I was scared out of my mind.  I was just dumb enough to try.  And I also have the most amazing teammate in my wife Kelly, and with her I feel like we can conquer anything.

 

Did you have a huge amount of savings so you knew you could do it safely or did you just do it?  Depends on what you consider huge.  We had enough in savings to last us approximately 4-6 months if I didn’t make any money at all selling furniture (which I didn’t!).  But I couldn’t use any of that money for tools or wood or that timeframe would decrease quickly.  We also had 20k in cash wrapped up in our house that we planned on using once we sold it.  Due to the struggling housing market we got an offer that meant we would loose 15k of that 20K…but it was the only offer we received in months.  We took it and walked away with 5k to pursue our dream.

 

What scares you?  Dying in the middle of a lie.  I’d rather fall flat on my face being exactly who I am and let everything else play out as it will.

 

What do you want people to remember about you? That with the life I was given, I went for it. And that I Loved, I Built, and I Ran.

What do you carry with you at all times? My phone, a knife, and my Saddleback bag of course!!  And I always travel with running shoes.

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Posted by & filed under Uncategorized.

WALLET-blog

 

We’re giving away a mountain of Wallets this week! To enter, post a NEW photo of your crappy, velcro-stricken, genuine “leather”, held-together-with-bubble-gum wallet and use #TakeMyCrappyWallet on Twitter, Instagram, or Facebook. 30 of our favorite entries will be chosen to exchange their crappy, velcro-stricken, etc., etc., wallet for a rugged slab of full grain bovine beauty. Their poor taste in wallets forgiven, five of those 30 winners will also receive a $100 Saddleback Gift Certificate!

You’ll also want to keep tabs (get it?) on our social channels for a thorough review from Dave on these shameful currency carriers.

 

 

Recap:
  • Must be a NEW post on Twitter, Instagram, or Facebook. (Don’t have an account on Instagram or Twitter? Sign up!)
  • Use #TakeMyCrappyWallet in your post
  • 30 winners get to exchange their wallet for one of ours*. Of those, five winners also get a $100 Saddleback Gift Certificate!
  • Dave and Joe are shooting a video, so stay tuned
  • Post as many times as you want
  • We’ll pick winners one week from today
  • Talk to us on our social channels if you have questions
  • Bonus points for making us laugh

*doesn’t include the Big Wallet or the Long Trifold Wallet

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