Featured Maker - Native Sons
When we stumbled upon Native Sons we were immediately intrigued. The product was beautiful, packaging impeccable and the story hit close to home. Brandi makes her ties in the name of her heroes, her grandfather and father. “The men we come from inspire our work ethic and tradition of quality. Our fathers and grandfathers were no high society gentlemen, and I suspect that neither are you.”
Each tie is beautifully handcrafted in her Albuquerque, New Mexico studio. They are packaged in a change tin- as she described her father using the contents of his change collection to get him “out of a jam or two.”
Hand crafted for her honest, blue collar heroes that “work hard, play harder, and love the most.” We hope that you will fall in love with Native Sons just like we did.
Your name: Brandi McLaughlin
Brand name: Native Sons
Q: Tell us everything, how did you get your start?
A: I’ve been sewing and making things since I was a kid, clothes mostly. I didn’t have a lot growing up and the easiest way to get something new to wear was to make it myself. I would stay up all night in high school making something new to wear the next day. It wasn’t that I was desperate for new things, as much as I just loved doing it, and when I was in the process of making, I didn’t want to stop.
In about 2011 I had been working on my Masters of Architecture when I realized that I just didn’t want to do that anymore. I decided that I was going to change my path. I learned pattern drafting and did a lot of work in costuming for theater and film. There was a lot of work, but also a lot of down time between gigs, sometimes months. I had made bow ties for work and for my kids. A couple of years ago I had a gap in work and decided to start producing ties after getting a request from a friend.
Q: We walk into your workspace/ studio and the first thing we notice is….?
A: I really wanted a great answer for this, but the truth is nothing fancy. A shelf full of fabric, and my tools: my sewing machine is probably the biggest one.
Q: What sets your product apart?
A: Great Question! I come from a blue-collar background and I know that most guys aren’t the “Gentlemen” that every tie company is marketing to. The men I know work long hard hours in not so pretty environments and want things that reflect the nature of who they really are.
The way I see it every man has occasion to get dressed up once in a while, maybe even once a week, and when he does he wants a tie in casual fabric that he can wear out with his date, to the local bar, and also to a wedding or any event. My ties really are for everyman!
Q: If you were any flavor of ice cream, you would be a double scoop [lets be honest, one scoop is not enough] of…?
A: I keep it humble and classic: dark chocolate or mint chocolate chip.
Q: What has been the biggest support in the growth of your business?
A: The movement to go local, we are in a renaissance of bringing production and manufacturing back home. I really want to be a part of that, people are beginning to understand the importance of making and supporting local and American made. Its been really inspiring to see greater interest in what I am doing simply because it comes from my hands. There is a quality associated with American made that people trust.
Q: Why American made [go ahead, preach]?
A: Well there is the obvious stuff: Fair wages, safe working conditions, child labor laws and knowing who is profiting. When you buy American Made, your conscious is clear. It would be nice to see our country become more self-sustaining in terms of producing more of our own goods.
Q: What is your best advice for an aspiring creative entrepreneur?
A: My business is still very young, the only thing I can say is, if you have a quality product, then define your customer, package your product well, and work hard at it. I’ve always come at this from a perspective of not forcing it, letting my self learn and grow as the business does, taking that organic approach has worked well for me.