Featured Maker- Wax + Cloth
Rich stumbled upon Paul's work on a procurement mission- a mission to find a well crafted, durable and stylish bag that was- let's face it, cool enough for a lumber jack but cute enough for his wife. Enter, Wax + Cloth. We fell in love with the clean and beautiful materials that highlighted the simple, modern and functional silhouettes. I distinctly remember being giddy while we wrote our order- and when it arrived, it was like Christmas day. There is true craftsmanship in every piece that Paul produces and his attention the the details makes this a bag you'll carry for a long, long time. Wax + Cloth is what American Made is all about, quality, hand crafted and freakin' cool.
Your name: Paul Kwiatkowski
Business name/ brand name: Wax + Cloth
Tell us everything, how did you get your start?
Not all that long ago I bought a cheap sewing machine with the intention of tailoring some shirts and pants. I got inspired before it was delivered, and decided to try designing and making a jacket for my first project. The jacket turned out alright, but I quickly became interested in making a backpack for myself. After a few months or prototypes, half-finished projects, and lots of trial and error, I was encouraged to sell what I was making. I opened my first website mid-September 2013, and after a great reception have focused more and more on design and products ever since.
We walk into your workspace studio and the first thing we notice is….?
The big yellow “Powermatic” table saw in the middle of the floor! I moved from Raleigh, NC where I started things, to Winston-Salem, NC at the end of May. I grew up in Winston, and my dad has a big woodworking shop that he’s been a little too busy to use lately. Taking over that shop has meant I’ve been able to dramatically speed up creation, and work on many more items at once. It’s also meant that I no longer come home from the office to the “apartment factory” that I had for a while.
What sets your product apart?
I can’t point to one big differentiating factor that makes my stuff special, but I think a lot of smaller things work together to set my work apart. The first of these is that I make things I want, and not just products for the sake of products. This affects quality, design, materials, and price, along with pretty much any other component of my pieces. Basically if I wouldn’t buy it, I don’t sell it.
If you were any flavor of ice cream, you would be a double scoop of…?
Moose Tracks! Plenty of varied ingredients working together to make the whole thing better than each part.
What has been the biggest support in the growth of your business?
I’ve been lucky to have awesome and passionate customers, and I’m constantly awed by how great they are. I’ve been able to improve designs, upgrade my materials, and tackle new ideas thanks to them. If not for the wonderful people who get as excited as I do about the things I create, I’d still just be tinkering with personal projects, and certainly not be working with you guys.
Why American made [go ahead, preach]?
Being in the position I’m in, I know exactly how critical supportive customers have been for my continued creativity and product development. Thanks to the support of everyone who has gotten excited about my creations, I’ve been able to pursue making Wax+Cloth something I do instead of working at the office, not something I do after the office. Knowing that I could be helping someone else in the same way is more than enough motivation for buying from other creators, makers, and small businesses.
What is your best advice for an aspiring creative entrepreneur?
Try everything, and don’t let yourself be discouraged when things don’t always work. Look at mistakes as lessons, and make lots. I’ve ruined, damaged, and broken loads of things in the past few years, but each failure is a lesson in how to succeed the next time. Practice is as important in creativity as it is anywhere else, and even imperfect creations have some value.
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