"When you give up a lot to start something, it sometimes feels overwhelming and daunting as if the only way out is back, but the best way is always through"
These are the words of Andrew Livingston, co-founder and co-owner of Knickerbocker Manufacturing Co. NYC - and they are words to which we at Pickings and Parry can most certainly relate. If there is one young brand that inspires us with their creativity, attitude and story, it's KMFG - So, here's a little background on the Brooklyn based company to hopefully show you why...
Having left San Diego with a partial scholarship to NYU, AJ Livingston had intentions of pursuing a degree on his arrival in New York City. But, things took a different turn as his entrepreneurial spirit took hold and he started a brand focussing on deconstructed vintage and printed illustrations.
The search for a factory to help produce some custom headwear led him to discover the Watman Hat Co. in an old telephone directory. With no working phone line and no website, he decided to just show up and see if the place was still operating. What happened next is rather a good story.
"I ended up being their last client. The owner had taken the factory over from his father; because his kids didn't want to continue with it, he began pressing me to take over. Only 20 at the time, I evaluated my current business and made the decision to sell my shares and take on this new opportunity to do something greater. With the money I made from my previous business, combined with a successful Kickstarter campaign, we opened up shop."
And so Knickerbocker Manufacturing came to be. AJ and two friends, Kyle Mosholder and Daniel McRorie co-founded the business and got the old machinery up and running again to produce American made clothing and accessories in Brooklyn, NYC.
In our world, being offered the opportunity to take over a factory full of hard to find vintage sewing machines, hat blocks and associated equipment is something that just doesn't happen everyday. It's hard enough finding an affordable space near the City to run a business from, let alone finding it full of the right equipment. But, the boys did the right thing and went all out to make it happen on their terms. They even built a skate ramp in the workspace, which has to a be dream for many people, in our opinion.
They tell me the ramp doesn't get some much roll time these days, as the workload increases and every moment is spent developing the brand and it's products. This is evident in the ever improving output we're seeing from Knickerbocker. The devotion to classic, yet absolutely current design, and the commitment to in house manufacture is something which resonates hugely with the P&P team. They didn't have to take on a factory and build a brand the way they did, they could have developed some designs and outsourced the work to overseas factories like so many others. But they didn't.
We'll finish with one last quote from AJ, that sums up the drive and direction that KMFG embodies:
"The inspiration to create comes from sources all over. Whether it's past or newfound inspiration I always feel bound to the idea of creating something bigger than myself; taking something that means the world to me and hopefully make something special enough that it means the world to others as well. This could be the actual goods I'm creating, the business itself or even my own story."
Check up the short film below to see more.