I recently interviewed half of the Sturdy Bothers‘ team, Benjamin Young. Located in Thomasville, GA, Benjamin and his brother Spencer have created a company based on products they themselves have a need for, like a dopp kit, apron and tool roll. They wanted to make things that could handle day-to-day use and stand the test of time. The brothers aren’t interested in trendy products; they favor functional items that are quality-made and showcase their craftsmanship.
In part, they are looking to recapture the quality and craftsmanship that were synonymous with manufacturing in the early 1900s. An example of this: the number 9 copper rivets that are used in their products are all hand-hammered.The name of the company came about when the brothers were looking for durable material to use for an apron. After deciding on waxed canvas, they let the material dictate the name, “Sturdy Brothers.” That apron got them launched on Kickstarter last February, which Ben said was a great experience.
Their waxed canvas products are durable and don’t require a lot of maintenance. Just be advised that the aprons and tool rolls will get dirty and, given that waxed canvas isn’t easy to clean, be ready for your apron to collect its own unique patina/characteristics that reflect your craft. If the wax coating breaks down over time, the brothers will work with you to recondition the it and do repairs.
The Sturdy Brothers’ workspace in Thomasville is sectioned off so that the front third serves as a brick and mortar shop. In addition to their own goods, they carry products from other local businesses and try to promote a sense of community. If you are ever in the area, stop by, check-out the finished products and ask for a tour of the work space…you won’t have to walk very far.
Spencer still owns a coffee shop in town and Ben has relocated from Raleigh to work full-time at their company. They have one full-time employee and just hired another part-timer to meet the growing demands.American-made is really important to them. Ben told me that he wanted to have a craft/trade and have a flourishing small business supported by the public and helped by the Internet. Wherever possible Sturdy Bothers tries to source local components and materials.
I asked Ben what new products they were working on and he said that they will soon be introducing leather goods . Due to debut this week is a snap wallet and, by the end of the year, they hope to be producing tote bags.
So who are the typical customers? Despite the emphasis on “guy-stuff,” their buyers are women. As Ben put it, “They control the money, seriously. They are buying gifts for their husbands and boyfriends along with a very popular tote bag for themselves.” Baristas also make up a large part of the clientele, due to the awesome aprons, while shop workers are frequent buyers as well.
Ben made a point of saying that they feel blessed to be in a small town where people pull together There are local crafts people all around and the brothers’ grandfathers were both handy men.
Finally, If you want to get a sense of what motivates the brothers, consider the passage on one of the tee shirts they have for sale: “Make it your goal to live a quiet life, minding your own business and working with your hands.”