December 3, 2015
1.61 Soft Goods
Where did your business name come from? Is there an interesting history behind?
1.61 represents the golden ratio. The number symbolizes our core focus of all products; the beauty in proportion with an emphasis on the utility and function of its purpose.
Have you always been passionate about design?
Yes, we both studied Product design at college. We like the aspect of problem solving through design.
When/Why did you start working in this particular craft/field?
As we studied design at school, we always liked to make things with our hands. Wes started designing a line of bike bags on the side while having day job. Like a typical startup story, it started from a kitchen counter. Diana joined in her last year of college. We both admire traditional craftsmanship of leather goods and soft goods, but felt that there are lack of modern functionality in them. So we decided to design bags/accessories that fits our lifestyle with traditional craftsmanship quality.
What do you think sets your designs apart from others?
Instead of looking at the trends of fashion, we design based on problems. We identify what is lacking on the design, and improve or make new design from there.
Have you had any major failures? If so, what were some important insights gained?
Yes, with each failure we use it as an experience to gain from. We try to analyze what happened and how to prevent it from happening in the future.
Have you sacrificed anything to create your business? If so, what was it, and do you have any regrets?
Having own business means, there are no weekends. We know that we have unhealthy work hours. It is getting better as the company grows. We miss events and parties sometimes, but no regrets. After all, we truly enjoy making and designing.
What has been your proudest/favorite moment since creating your business?
Customers have come to us and told us that they always carry our products with them. One customer even wrote us an email, he got robbed at a convenience store because he was showing off our product!
How does the city you live in influence your work?
Los Angeles doesn’t have a single identity or quality that defines it as a city, it has many different subcultures, and identities in different parts of the city and that flexibility influences our work. The fast paced vibe of Los Angeles is also very motivating; it seems like great new brands/companies are growing quickly out of this city.
What valuable experience/knowledge did you have before starting your business?
Honestly, I don’t think anything you have experienced in your life will go waste. I feel that I have learned and gained great insights from all the past jobs and experienced I’ve had. Even the simple accounting task or office desk jobs have been valuable when it comes to owning your own business. Also working in different jobs outside of design helped us think about problem solving in different ways.
What made you take this leap into being your own boss?
I think the freedom and responsibility of how successful you are is up to you and that made me want to be my own boss. I also love the fact that I could potentially live anywhere in the world and still make soft goods through my own brand.
What are some inspirations for your work?
Nature, and the ever-changing modern lifestyle. We are also inspired by material itself and how it will age.
What are some tips or suggestions you’d like to offer to fellow makers?
Be organized. Take good pictures. Know what your core focus, don’t get carried away by trends or moods. Make time for yourself, if you don’t make a habit of stepping away from work (something we struggle with) it will takeover every aspect of your life.