Haute Americana Interviews Tom

Haute Americana’s interview with Tom on design, life, travel, and U.S. manufacturing is up. Excerpt:

Haute Americana: What are your essentials for traveling?

Tom Bihn: I used to manage the youth hostel in Santa Cruz — there I watched what people carried and how they traveled. I realized that the weight of a person’s bag was usually inversely proportional to the fun they were having. With that in mind, I try to travel pretty light, though I always seem to need to carry an extra pair of shoes or sandals. Otherwise I guess I carry the usual stuff – a swimsuit is surprisingly a good idea, as I try to jump into water whenever possible.”

Read the full interview.

Tom Bihn interviewed by Haute Americana | TOM BIHN

Crew Meetings

On February 5th and 6th, we’ll be having company-wide crew meetings, and that means we won’t be answering the phone (leave a message and we’ll get back to you!) or emails (we’ll respond later those days or the next day) as quickly as we usually do. Our Seattle Factory Showroom will also be closed both of those days (if you are coming from out of town and were hoping to visit one of those days, emailus@tombihn.com and we’ll see if we can arrange an appointment that’d work for you and us). Note that orders will be shipped out as usual and won’t be delayed by these meetings.

What are the crew meetings about? It’s a chance for all of us to get together and take another look at the mission and culture of our company — and, most importantly, to discuss it, with the future and our shared goals in mind.

On Backorders

At any given time, you can count on at least some of our bags being available for backorder. Sometimes it’s just a color or two that’s sold out, but sometimes every color option is on backorder. It’s pretty much been this way since we can remember: as soon as we think we’ve increased production capacity to meet demand, you guys demand even more from us. And it’s awesome. And we spend a lot of time thanking you silently in our heads as we get to be busy at work every day doing what we love to be doing.

That said, we realize it can be frustrating to not be able to get the bag you want, especially if you’re going on a trip or have some other time constraint. We’re continually thinking of new ways we can increase production capacity: being smarter about the flow of work through our Seattle factory, buying new/faster/better equipment, hiring more factory crew.

But here’s the thing: if the only goal was to have every bag in stock at all times, there’s choices we could’ve made that would’ve guaranteed that. We know what those are, and you probably do too. They aren’t necessarily bad things or things we pass judgement on — they just aren’t things we want to do.

So, it’s slow and steady, but we’re working on being able to make more bags so that chances are, more often than not, the next time you need a new bag we’ll be able to ship it to you right away. We’re getting the quality right, we’re making more (and more secure) jobs for our factory crew, we’re getting better at what we do. It’s a challenge, but it’s one we’re up for, and we hope you’ll stay with us for the ride.

Looking Forward to 2014

TOM BIHN | 2014 Designs

We don’t really believe in resolutions, but we’re all for reflections, and as we wrote this list of things we’d like to accomplish in 2014, we realized it was something we could share with all of you.

- Thought/Design
You told us you liked the posts on the design of The Guide’s Pack and Founder’s Briefcase and we hear you; we want to work on more posts for more bags that explain the thought that goes into each pocket, each seam.

- Our Awesome Crew
This is something we work on/think about a lot — we’ve got one of the best crews in the business, from design to production to customer service to shipping, and we want to make sure they know they’re that great. We came up with (what we think) were some good ways of showing our appreciation in 2013 (better benefits, raises, more lunch parties) but we want to top that in 2014. One idea: a monitor/tv where in which your tweets and photos and posts complimenting our crew and the fine bags they make scroll past.

- More efficient
As you well know, our bags are often on backorder (demand is greater than production). We think with a few small tweaks (mostly, looking at how things work and stripping away the unnecessary stuff) we can get even more efficient and be able to make even more bags, as we continue to hire more/add to our Seattle factory crew.

- What’s Fun, What’s Not
A rule we often use around here: if we’re having fun doing X, great. If it’s a drag, why is it a drag? Maybe it’s something we shouldn’t be doing. Or, maybe it’s something someone else would be way better at, and we could hire that person to do that thing. Always a good rule to reassess with.

Looking Back At 2013

2013 | TOM BIHN

It sure felt like a busy year, but until we compiled this list, we didn’t realize just how much we’d accomplished.

New Designs:
Synapse 25
The Guide’s Pack
Founder’s Briefcase
Knitting Tool Pouches
Cache for iPad Air
Motto and Pattern Water Bottles
Cafe Bag for Jung’s The Red Book (April Fools)
Utility Strap
1″ Cafe/Ristretto Messenger Stabilizer
Smart Alec Modular Pockets + Gate Keeper Straps
Pilot (design completed December 2013; pre-order January 2014)

Updated Designs:
The Cadet
Synapse 19
Side Effect
Handle Loop

New Materials:
420 Denier High Tenacity “Parapack” Pack Fabric
400d Dyneema®/420d nylon ripstop
Black 400d Dyneema®/420d nylon ripstop

Videos:
Materials Testing TOM BIHN Style
Innovation in Fabrics
All About the Red, White and Blue, While Being Green
One Week in Montreal
How to tie cord zipper pulls
Adjusting the Internal Frame in The Guide’s Pack
The Guide’s Pack and Founder’s Briefcase
Synapse 25, Ristretto, Swift
Three Trips with the Aeronaut
Our Materials
Two Weeks in Japan Part I and Part II
Amy Singer, Knitty.com, and The Swift
The Smart Alec
Packing the Smart Alec Backpack for a Hike
The New Side Effect
Tom on Design
The Tri-Star Travel Bag
How the checkpoint friendly Rails system works
Kieu’s Mad Bartacking Skills
Q-AM Shoulder Strap

Interviews:
The Setup
Modestics Meet the Maker: Tom Bihn

Happy Holidays from the TB crew!

Whether it snows for six days and six nights or twelve days and twelve nights, here’s to you and yours having a good holiday. Merry Christmas from the TOM BIHN crew!

TOM BIHN | Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays

Scarves, Cowls, and Thanks

Last week, Annie delivered three bags full of scarves and cowls to our Seattle factory. A group of knitters nationwide had decided to knit them for our crew. Why? Just because they’re awesome. Well, that, and also because they have our knitting bags and wanted to show our crew how much they appreciate the design and fine workmanship that goes into them.

In the interest of fairness, we put numbers in a bowl and asked people to draw. Everyone got a scarf or cowl and there were even some extras; those will be included as prizes in the raffle at our company holiday lunch.

A big thanks goes to the knitters who made this happen. Everyone here has been working extra hard to make sure bags get made and shipped out in time for Christmas, and what did you did for us means a lot.

Scarves, Cowls, and Amazing People | TOM BIHN

Scarves, Cowls, and Amazing People | TOM BIHN

Scarves, Cowls, and Amazing People | TOM BIHN

Scarves, Cowls, and Amazing People | TOM BIHN

Scarves, Cowls, and Amazing People | TOM BIHN

Scarves, Cowls, and Amazing People | TOM BIHN

Scarves, Cowls, and Amazing People | TOM BIHN

Scarves, Cowls, and Amazing People | TOM BIHN

Scarves, Cowls, and Amazing People | TOM BIHN

Scarves, Cowls, and Amazing People | TOM BIHN

Scarves, Cowls, and Amazing People | TOM BIHN

Scarves, Cowls, and Amazing People | TOM BIHN

Modestics Meet the Maker: Tom Bihn

Modestics Meet The Maker: TOM BIHN

Modestics recently interviewed Tom for their Meet the Maker series.

Modestics: When did you feel like you were a “real company”?

Tom Bihn: It all felt pretty serious, though very small, when I first rented commercial space back in Santa Cruz. Otherwise, our growth has been slow, steady, and mostly self-funded. Rather than owing money to a bank or venture capitalist, our loyalty is to the folks who believe in us enough to buy what we make: still friends and family, just a bigger circle.

Read the full interview over at Modestics.

Holiday Shipping Guide 2013

Use this handy guide to help figure out which shipping method you need to choose to ensure your TOM BIHN order will arrive by or on December 24th. Note that our shipping cut-off time is 12:30pm PST. Need help? Wondering if an out of stock bag can get to you or your loved one in time? emailus@tombihn.com, call us at 1-800-729-9607 (+1-206-652-4123), ask us on Twitter, or on Facebook. We would be glad to help. Good thing to know: our Gift Certificates can be ordered and delivered instantly to your friend or family member’s inbox, along with a personalized gift message.

Orders shipping within the United States:

December 17th: Last day for folks on the East Coast and in the Mid-West to place an order with UPS Ground ($10) as their shipping method with guaranteed delivery by or on Tuesday, December 24th. Don’t worry: you can still place an order and choose expedited shipping ($20 and up) for December 24th delivery up until Monday the 23rd.

December 19th: Last day for those in Colorado, Arizona, Wyoming, and Southern California to place an order with UPS Ground as their shipping method with guaranteed delivery by or on December 24th. Note to East Coast folks: this is the last day to select UPS 3 Day Select shipping for guaranteed December 24th delivery.

December 20th: Everyone: choose UPS 2nd Day Air as your shipping method for guaranteed delivery by or on December 24th. Exception: Washington State, Oregon, Utah, Northern California, Northern Idaho, Western Montana or Northern Nevada folks can still choose UPS Ground.

December 21st:We’re shipping UPS 2nd Day Air, Next Day Air, and International shipments, even though it’s a Saturday — UPS is working and that means we do too. For example: an order placed with Next Day Air shipping by 12:30pm on Saturday, December 21st will shipped on Saturday and received on Monday, December 23rd, while an order placed with 2nd Day Air shipping will be received on Tuesday, December 24th. UPS Ground and 3 Day Select orders will not ship until December 23rd.

December 23rd: Order today by 12:30pm and choose Next Day Air as your shipping method for guaranteed delivery on December 24th.

December 24th: Our Seattle factory showroom will be open 10am – 2:00pm for last minute shopping and we’ll be answering your phone calls and emails. Our shipping department will ship orders as usual, though they will not be delivered until after Christmas. Need a last minute gift? Order a Gift Certificate and have it delivered instantly to your friend or family member via email with a personalized gift message.

December 25th: We will be closed. Have fun — that’s what we’ll be doing! Orders received over the holiday will ship Wednesday, December 26th. P.S. There’s still the option of ordering a Gift Certificate with instant email delivery to your loved one’s inbox.

P.S. This UPS Time in Transit map might also help you plan your order:

timeintransit2013

Orders shipping outside of the United States:

For our customers in Canada, Japan, Germany, Australia and everywhere else outside of the United States: we recommend placing your order by or on Friday, December 13th for guaranteed delivery by or on December 24th. Note that we are adding a couple of days on to the usual 2-5 business day transit time because of customs and high package volume.

Gift Ideas

Someone has a new Guide's Pack...
Illustration by Mason Drumm

Just a few of the things we’re planning on giving this year. If you plan on giving something TOM BIHN and want help choosing the right thing, emailus@tombihn.com or give us a call — we’d be glad to help. Oh yeah: here’s our Holiday 2013 Shipping Guide. It’ll help you figure out when you need to place your order to guarantee delivery by or on December 24th.

Stenlight headlamp
The best headlamp out there.

The Guide’s Pack
An all-season pack for the person in your life who can’t be outdoors enough. It’ll accompany them on extended day hikes and short overnights. Works great as a commute bag in the big city, too.

The Guide's Pack
The Guide’s Pack in Olive

Synapse 19
It’s the backpack of choice for ultralight world travelers and day hikers alike.

Movie gift cards
Don’t know what to get someone? Get them one of these. In our experience, pretty much everyone ends up appreciating an excuse to go see a movie.

Shop Bag
Everyone we know ends up with at least two of these and always wishes they had more. The most comfortable and durable reusable shopping bag around.

Shop Bags Made in USA

3D Clear, Mesh, or Fabric Organizer Cubes
Another one of those “everyone can use one” kind of things. Used to organize toiletries, make-up, socks/underwear, computer cables, snacks, DIY FAK stuff — a million uses and counting.

Carbon Credits
This could be taken as the 2013 version of a lump of coal (or, uh, the opposite?) or as a thoughtful gift from someone that recognizes the recipients care for the environment, so tread carefully. For the right person, though, it can offset any holiday-related consumption guilt.

Pendleton Baby Blanket
Made in USA and timeless: a Pendleton blanket is a classic gift. This’ll be the baby blanket they hang on to.

Vitamix
More appreciation for finely Made in USA items. We even have a Vitamix at the Seattle factory. It’s great for baby food, smoothies, soups, ice cream, bread…

Skookum Dog stuff
It doesn’t get much better than a finely decorated tree, a bunch of friends and family hanging out drinking fine libations, and a dog sleeping comfortably on a memory foam Sheepskin Bed. There’s duffels for people and bats for pups. And something to feel good about: Skookum Dog donates 10% of its profits to The Petfinder Foundation and the National Forest Foundation.

Skookum Dog Sheepskin Bed

Travel Stuff Sacks
Use ‘em as stockings or stuff ‘em in stockings.

Tri-Star
For the business traveler. Checkpoint friendly laptop compatible.

Etsy Gift Card
It’s a great place to find and purchase affordable works of original art.

Time
Everyone we know wants more time. Time to do nothing, time to exercise, time to play with the dog, go on a trip, learn to make pie crust, whatever. Think of something you could help your loved one out with that’d give them more time to do whatever it is they want to be doing.