We are super excited to announce the collaboration with Inside Line Equipment (ILE). As we were looking for partners that could make a custom, high quality bag for our Bundle Kits, we found a lot of companies that make amazing products. We chose ILE because everything is handmade in Berkeley, California with USA-sourced materials, and designed with strength and simplicity in mind.
Check out this interview with Eric Fisher, the founder and owner of ILE to get a sense of the passion, pride and quality he infuses into his bags.
Why do you make your product here in the USA?
We focus on designing good products, and we like having control over the production, including the sourcing of the materials because it ensures that they are the best quality. We enjoy building relationships with our suppliers. This seems to work well for us on a small scale, and we are excited to grow with this commitment to quality and local production.
What are you most proud of as the founder and owner of Inside Line Equipment?
I really take pride in making all our products in-house. It makes prototyping and product development seamlessly transition into small-batch production. We are a small team and we all enjoy taking part in the R+D. Having everything under one roof – sewing, photography, shipping, wholesale and retail ensures efficiency, cohesiveness and pride in making good products.
As a small business, you must have had some hurdles. What have been some of your biggest challenges?
Cash flow is the hardest part for any self-funded business. But having the freedom to make quick decisions and not having a bank on your shoulders keeps it fun. In the beginning, it was more difficult to source materials, but as we have networked and established good relationships with suppliers and textile mills, we are gaining access to some really cool fabrics, trims and high-quality materials.
What inspires the design of your products? Do they come from customer input, other industries or just making stuff you want to use?
Most design influence comes from friends that use our products – sometimes it’s a direct suggestion, and sometimes it's as simple as seeing someone use their bag differently than what it was intended for.
You must put in brutal hours and mindshare as the owner, so what do you do to clear your head to stay fresh?
Riding my bike in the morning or after work keeps my head clear. Another favorite is sitting down with a beer and a notebook, sketching designs and details that are bouncing around in my head.
We asked and you said “yes” to collaborate with us on a custom Dopp Kit. What was interesting to you about this project?
I find dealing with other small business owners always informative. How they make decisions. How they project their brand. Where they invest their time and resources. It's fun to work for someone who appreciates quality and thoughtful design. It’s great that Life Elements makes their products in California, and helps people get outdoors and enjoy the wonderful place we live.