F. Co Spotlight: J. Stark
In the digital age, it is important to not lose sight of the value of products that are durable and keep functionality at the center of design, and J. Stark is a company that prizes the process and imagination that goes into constructing high quality goods. The brand name is taken from the film Rebel without a Cause, after the character Jim Stark played by James Dean, while each product name is a reference to various streets in Cleveland (founder Erik Holmberg’s home town). This kind of narrative touch represents a larger trend in the company, one of detail and personalization. Whether it is waxed canvas that will age uniqley with each owner or antique hardware, these pieces are constructed with care and attention paid to artistry that we think makes them a cut above the rest.
Stark bags are hand stitched in Charleston, South Carolina. Holmberg has perfected aspects of the Sentinel Backpack and Prospect Briefcase, both carried at Felding Co. Their design incorporates functional features (pockets for storage without being hindering in using the bag) alongside stunning fabric and leather. Felding Co has also brought in their Clark Dopp Kit, and we appreciate that the quality of their brand is seen in every product they offer, not just the big ticket items. What follows is Holmberg’s answers to some questions we hope will continue to archive ideas for future creatives as well as provide background about this company.
-When did you start J. Stark? What motivated you to start your own company?
March of 2014
I was motivated to get out of the tech world and make something physical with my hands. I also realized that when you work for yourself, the options are limitless. When you work for someone else, there is a ceiling.
-What's one of the biggest breakthroughs you've experienced along the way?
Opening a retail store. I wasn't planning on doing retail, but my workshop flooded and we were desperate to move. The space we got for the workshop happened to be perfect for retail.
-Any advice you'd give other makers looking to start their own venture?
Know your cost of goods sold before you try to do anything. Whatever your business, make sure there is something about it that stands out from others.
-What are some ways you keep yourself anchored? Or how do you avoid burnout in your demanding field?
Anytime I feel like things aren't moving fast enough or problems present themselves, I focus back on the craft. If I keep working on the craft it will get better and people will take notice.
-Where do you find inspiration for your designs?
Military bags, clothing, and vehicles.
-If you weren't at J. Stark, what other profession would you like to explore?
Business Consultant for Makers
-What are you listening to right now (music/podcasts)?
Drake - Scorpion
-What are you reading right now (books/blogs)?
The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay
-What are you watching right now (TV/film)?
-How would you describe your personal style?
Simple and classic. Jeans and white tee, Jack Purcell's.