First, I should introduce myself. My name is Christian Resiak Founder and the guy behind Howl & Hide Supply Co. I'd like to share our journey in building a brand in central Indiana and what better way then to start backwards from the beginning.
Here is a little history of how we came to fruition....
In late 2014 I had the idea to make a bag after seeing a poorly made tote in one of the many shopping malls here in Indianapolis, IN. I was absolutely clueless in how to create anything 3D as I was self taught in oil painting in my youth. I went to every second hand thrift store and purchased every leather jacket I could find and made my first wallet..... it was terrible. I blindly went at a craft with zero knowledge of leather types, thread types, or even how to hand stitch for that matter. Regardless I pushed myself to learn this trade and lost a lot of finger tips in the process.
In February 2015 after numerous requests to purchase goods I was learning to make I started an Etsy store. I brought on an apprentice to help learn this trade with me. Rachel has been an asset to Howl & Hide Supply Co and works with me to this day. Folks always assume that its a one man show but when I refer to Howl & Hide as we and not I it is because of all that Rachel does for the brand. Last year brought so many challenges, surprises, and celebrations and above all my products kept getting better. Most folks ask me how I taught myself this trade and I always say it was simple, which believe it or not is true. Leather working is 100% about repetition once you've learned the basics. Cut, Punch, Stitch, Repeat. Over and over and over and over again. I was fortunate enough to attend American Field, first in Washington DC, and then in Brooklyn NY. American Field is a consumer show that brings to light small batch American Made manufacturers. It was an amazing challenge that I faced as I never wrote a business plan, had zero knowledge of how to sell to consumers on a large scale, and the fact that I was still learning my trade. To sum up 2015 in a few words I would say that this was the time that I truly decided that this was what I wanted to do with my life. I decided this then because I had put enough time in to know the work that it takes to create a brand but I was naive enough to think that I had learned it all.
My Idea was to never create custom bags, rather, create a brand that crafts a collection. So many folks here in the midwest have a tough time separating these two ideas. I have seen a rise in talented artists and designers leave the midwest to seek exposure on the east and west coast. This struck a cord with me because I wanted to stay in our amazing city and start a revolution of likeminded artists to create that seen and to educate people about the business aspect of branding.
In the summer of 2015 I moved into the Pattern Workshop which was a collection of budding designers and artists in a co working space. It was amazing to be in the heart of the city and really gave me the local exposure needed to advance the brand. After 6 months in that space I parted ways with this incubator to seek my own shop and showroom. I wanted to move out of the city to one of our killer historic neighborhoods. Fountain Square is located just south west of the city, about a mile. The neighborhood provided the weirdness that embodies me as a person as well as the artistic culture that could house Howl & Hide. In February of 2016 we found the perfect building.
1656 English Ave is our current shop | showroom located in Fountain Square. I drove by this building for 3 years and always said that it was my favorite building in Indianapolis and once I learned that this was available I moved right in, seriously like the next day I moved in. Our building is a little off the square but is rich in history. Back in the late 1990's and early 2000's this building was a mecca for First Friday art galleries. Complete with an unfinished floor and brick walls it created a place for early artists to show their work. Ultimately once the building was renovated it seemed as though folks stopped showing there. My guess is rent increased and the "starving artist" couldn't afford to showcase their work there. I have brought Howl & Hide to this space in order to keep that sense of local that this city needs to harness. With new developments at every corner and city growth at a high I wanted to create a fingerprint on this city that would not be turned into a high rise.
I made an early decision this year to shy away from attending any trade shows, pop ups, or consumer shows. I wanted to take my second year in business to myself and to refine the brand and organically grow our social media presence. Folks always say that was crazy of me for not doing anything outside of web and in store sales but it was the best decision for me and for Howl & Hide Supply Co. The thought of growing fast and cranking out products sounds like a nightmare. A year of refining my skills and refining the brands identity was just what I needed. I struggled a lot with the immature idea that I needed to have my goods in stores all over the country in order to be successful. Stress overcame me when a retailer wouldn't answer a call or an email and I felt that I was spending too much time stressing and not enough time celebrating the successes that I had already accomplished in my short year in business. With my head down and focus of our current collection of bags and small goods it came to my attention that with hard work people will come to you, or should I say If you build it they will come.
As I am writing this, I reflect on the past two years and how amazing it has been. The constant up and down of running a business is not something I would trade because of the satisfaction I feel when I see someone carrying one of my bags. It truly is infectious. We have a lot coming up that I am so excited to share with you, but why spoil the surprise. Just wait until you see what we are up to for 2017. Thank you all for you love and support.
Howl & Hide Supply Co.