The Ledbury Launch Fund introduced us to some extraordinary people. One of those folks was Jordan Childs of Shine Craft Vessel Co. His commitment to craftsmanship and the passion behind his brand earned him a place as one of three finalists. It’s been a while since we caught up with Jordan. I headed over to his retail development studio at Eastern Land Collective in Richmond’s East End. Eastern Land Collective is a place to develop brands, products, and art. We spoke about Shine Craft Vessel Co.’s latest moves and their new creative space.
How has everything been going since we last caught up?
We’ve been very busy. From an internal perspective of the Launch Fund, it made me start planning. When you’re put into a position where you have to explain what you’re doing and why you want it to grow, you’re forced to start making decisions and start thinking about the larger game plan.
Even though we technically didn’t win, there’s not a loss to be spoken of. We’ve gotten a ton of inquiries for wholesale, but it just takes time to figure out what that model looks like. We’re trying to find that happy balance where you’re giving someone who wants to support you a really good price per unit, but you want to make sure that you’re continuing to make money. Shine Craft vessels are now available in Huckberry, a new site that just launched in Brooklyn called Purible, and Scout Mob.
We’re in a place now where we can’t keep up with demand because you get to the point where all of your resources are wrapped up in inventory. It’s this cyclical thing where you have to get above that in order to continue to develop product. We have a complicated supply chain that is as domestic and local as we could get it. It gives a great conversation piece, but we also have to think about ways to streamline the supply chain and look out for inefficiencies. We do a ton of figuring out where we are as a brand but also the operational stuff, which takes up a lot of time.
You’d have a greater profit margin if you completely produced the growlers abroad. Why was it important to you to conduct the production process as local as possible?
There are some companies that basically say, “This is the product I want to end up with and I won’t spend over $20 to make it.” Then everything gets shoehorned in. Making sure that we have a quality product and not taking shortcuts is really important. With the retailers that I’m with now, they completely understand why our complicated supply chain process is so important to our brand. They’re on board and they get it. For example, Huckberry took the time to know the brand and did a ton of back and forth with us to make sure that it would be a proper fit.
From a brand perspective, everything I’ve seen from Shine Craft seems thoughtful and consistent. What are your thoughts on branding and how can this make or break a product?
First and foremost, a product needs to do what it says it’s going to do. If you’re going to make something, it has to perform that function. Equally important to the product is the story – the story of the product, where it was made, and why the product matters. I don’t think we’re in a time where the brand can dictate certain fundamentals of what it’s going to be. What people start to gravitate towards and where the hype starts to come from is not necessarily the same direction. Sometimes that’s really good, but sometimes it can be really bad. In our case, it really has been about the quality piece of what we’re doing and ensuring it’s that that is going to take the lead. Product always comes first, and then from there, we continue to tell our story.
How did you begin your partnership with the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition (NSAC) and why was contributing to something greater than your brand important to you?
From a brand perspective, nowadays, you really can’t have a well-rounded brand without some sort of social component. The most important thing about our vessels is the beer that goes in them. So we thought, what could we do that not only furthered this, but also made us think larger? I was introduced to the NSAC through our friends who used to work there. I pitched the organization and said that I couldn’t guarantee cash goals or anything, but I would pledge to give them 5% of what I made and do some limited edition growlers. As Shine Craft has grown and our contributions to them have increased, we now talk every month on a regular basis. We did a limited edition line for them, just so we could raffle it off and spread awareness for the organization and help grow their e-mail base. We partnered with them from not just a marketing perspective, but also to do something that you could see a tangible result from.
Could you tell me more about Eastern Land Collective?
We’ve been here since March. It’s almost like a retreat to get out of the city and away for a little bit, but at the same time, you’re not so far away. There are a lot of interesting things happening in Richmond’s East End. As a studio, we want Eastern Land Collective to be as close to the center of that as possible, and to play a role in helping to develop a reputation for whatever may be coming out of this area eventually.
In addition to having a space where you can work, hangout and lounge, is that it’s a completely open studio. We all spend the day talking about what we’re working on, getting feedback, and sharing projects. The cool part about starting Shine Craft Vessel Co. was coming in and working out of this place with the amazing partners. This is a studio where people can work on projects together, but at the same time, completely jam on their passion projects. My wife Kim is here and her vintage store, Rare and Worthy is doing really well. Elizabeth, of South of Belmar, is doing a ton of graphic design work. Drew is behind Roaring Pines and he’s about to launch an online store of completely all U.S. made goods.
We certainly want to have more people working here, but we scrutinize because we don’t want this to become just a coworking space. That’s not the intent. It’s about developing a tight knit group of people that can work as a full spectrum studio when it calls for it, but also independently on our own projects. Getting the chemistry right is a really important aspect of it. That’s a big goal of mine, to continue getting people in, but making sure they’re the right people.
Moving forward, what are your future plans for Shine Craft Vessel Co.?
The long-term objective is to take, what is right now, just a single product company and expand it into a bridge category between bar ware and specialty outdoors. You have the Shine Craft vessel that you can take anywhere and I want to do the same thing with flasks and wine canteens – no one is really doing that right now. You see more-and-more people drinking wine off tap and there really hasn’t been a vessel that could own that. We’re working really hard to develop those products, and at the same time, develop some outdoor gear like insulated growler bags and backpacks that are purely based on day hiking, day drinking and things like that. We want people to enjoy these really well designed premium products from a domestically supported supply chain. The objective is for Shine Craft to be an experiential brand that’s centered on wanting people to go out and have drinks with their friends – whether at a park or at a dinner party. It’s just making sure that the vision is followed through, both from a brand and operational perspective.
It’s always a pleasure catching up with Jordan. For more information on Shine Craft Vessel Co. visit their website here. Make sure to also follow Eastern Land Collective and keep up with their work.