Maker Jesse Herbert has the rare distinction of having one of his first products go viral, before he’d even made more than one.
We spoke with Jesse in his workshop, filled with tools of the trade and the intoxicating smell of leather.
One of your best known products is the bicycle wine rack, how did you come up with the idea for that?
Someone sent me a picture of a six pack holder for beer on a bicycle. I thought it was a bad idea – a little too wide and the six pack would just be bouncing around. With carbonated drinks, it didn’t seem like a good idea at all. Then I thought: wine would be perfect. So I made a prototype of it, took a picture of it, and put it online on Etsy. I sent it to a design blog. They published it a week later and it went viral that day.
What kind of feedback have you received since starting to sell the bicycle wine rack?
All kinds of things. My favorite is: “this makes me want to get a bike.” I think it’s fun to support cycling by making it fun and sexy.
Reducing consumption and improving sustainability are fundamental to Oopsmark. Where do you see the future going along those lines?
I’ve been hosting these scrap parties, which is about that. They’re the start of a larger project: taking my scraps and bringing in people and getting them to make stuff out of it. If we create a venue for my scraps that turns them into a product, then we’ve recycled that stream of waste forever.
I think a lot of manufacturers should be doing that kind of thing, thinking how to best use their scrap and turn it into new things.
Your main products actually derive from scrap materials, so you’re making your own mini-Oopsmark within your own company.
Yeah, exactly. It’s fun to work in the cycling industry. Cycling is just beneficial anyway. Due to the sustainability aspect, my products have all shifted in that direction.
The drive for products for me is really just something I want for myself. I’m not trying to make a business. Really I’m trying to make an engine that monetizes anything that I want to make.
That sounds like a good balance between business and life. Is the ability to make whatever your want to make part of the key philosophy of your business?
If you want to be creative and make a living doing it, if you start with the creativity and monetize that, you can have future gains from present moments instead of future gains from current pain.
Under the current model, you work hard and hate your life. And one day when you retire, it’s going to be awesome. Short term pain for long term gain – there’s a lot to be said for that. But I like the idea of future gains from present moments.
I like problems that I can relate to; for me it’s about solving a problem. If it’s not a problem for me then I have trouble investing myself in that process. I get inspired by customizing my life, by making things that I don’t see out there. That’s why I have that drive and passion: because people are looking for something and they can’t find it.