Our Journey for the Best Leather April 20 2015, 0 Comments
In just two years, we've gone from knowing less than the next guy about leather, to visiting Italian tanneries and working closely with craftsmen here in the US. As designers, our responsibility is to understand materials as best we can in order to create the best performing products possible. It's been an education and a journey to say the least, and Wally is a better man – er, wallet – because of it.
The very first Wally was a stick-on leather pocket launched on Kickstarter in January 2013. He crushed his original goal of $12,000 by raising $90,472 – go Wally! For the first two production runs we used a vegetable-tanned cow leather sourced from a tannery in Italy, which Nate (the product designer for Distil Union) was lucky enough to visit!
I should stop here and say that there is an entire world of leather out there, and we've spent the last 2 or so years learning about it along the way! We rely on testing and feedback from actual Wally users, along with consulting with some excellent makers and craftsmen who have been kind enough to talk leather with us.
So after a good year of use and feedback, we began researching chrome-tanned leather as we launched the first Wally Case for iPhone 5. While vegetable-tanned was making most folks happy, we weren't able to get the leather as thin as we wanted to for an even slimmer Wally. Turns out vegetable-tanned leather can rip or tear if cut too thin, whereas chrome-tanned is more pliable. This would give Wally more give, or flexibility to better hold a slightly wider range of cards for people.
We learned that chrome-tanned also wears differently with use, without scratching or marring – though since it's made of cow hides, there's still variation from one part of the hide to another, as well as among hides. We're not alone in thinking this variation is one of leather's more desirable qualities – it's nature folks, and variety is the spice of life! We also learned many Italian tanneries get their cow hides from northern climates (less warm-weather bug bite scars!), and that supposedly an animal's brain is large enough to tan its own hide – the original tanning method, and while grotesque, speaks to the heritage of leather tanning and utility this material has afforded us for centuries.
"A large number of different tanning methods and materials can be used; the choice is ultimately dependent on the end application of the leather. The most commonly used tanning material is chromium." – Wikipedia
Here are some quick qualities of the two leathers we've used:
- Develops a patina that deepens dramatically over time
- Character varies greatly on and across various hides
- Will show surface wear; can scratch easily
- Over-exposure to water causes hardening
- In a word: Wabi-Sabi
- Durable; resistant to wear and tear
- Flexible and pliable, with a bit of stretch
- Most popular and readily available leather
- Develops a modest patina over time
- In a word: Versatile
All other things being equal (colors, cost, our ability to source), you can see that the decision comes down to which leather will be best suited for your product's utility and purpose.
One quality of the chrome-tanned leather we especially liked was its durability and high resistance to wear. It will darken and develop a sheen, or patina, though not as dramatically as the original brown vegetable-tanned leather – which for many Wally backers is by now as dark as the black leather!
And although the leather of Wally's iPhone 5 Case was closer to what we were looking for, we found that it swung a bit too far away from the vegetable-tanned leather everyone had grown to love. Too much flex, and leather can feel artificial. Turns out even genuine leather can stray too far, and even if it displays the qualities you're after, one must weigh the cost. With material quality and user experience topping of our List Of Things That Are Important, we knew our search for the perfect leather wasn't over yet. We kept looking, and we found this:
It was for the new iPhone 5 Wally Stick-Ons that we introduced a chrome-tanned leather sourced from Argentina, which we then used on the iPhone 6 Cases (above) and the Bifold and Sleeve wallets. And with great results! The flex and durability are right on. The leather more quickly relaxes and forms around whatever an individual is carrying, which results in an even slimmer wallet after use. On the Bifold, for example, the leather also conforms around the money clip, so the spine of the wallet develops a slimmer profile. This was a pleasant surprise.
What would a vegetable-tanned Wally Bifold be like? It's an option we'd like to explore, and we'll continue to work with our suppliers and craftsmen, not to mention our friends and family on whom we rely for honest feedback from their beta tests. There could very well be more pleasant surprises awaiting us – and you!
Wally How-To Videos April 15 2015, 0 CommentsWe've recently updated our FAQ with more quick and helpful videos, shot by Brian "The New Guy" Stetson. Here's just one example:
Annoyed by a frayed thread? No sweat, a simple clip and burn will have your Wally in ship shape stat. This video and more can also be found on our Distil Union YouTube Channel.
We hope we've done a good job putting answers at your fingertips – search the Distil Union FAQ for answers to other burning questions (har har). And if there's something else you'd like a hand with that we haven't addressed on the FAQ, we're here to help so please give us a shout at firstname.lastname@example.org
Wally Wallets: The Perfect Graduation Gift April 13 2015, 0 CommentsWhether you know a high-school or college graduate, chances are there's a Wally Wallet that would make the perfect graduation gift!
For the High School Grad we recommend the Wally Stick-On iPhone Skin. Available for iPhone 5, iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus (and other phones), not only does this Wally work with the case they already have, but once Wally's in place, your student can keep their college ID and some folded cash hidden in plain sight – right on their iPhone – and never be caught without 'em (because you know they wouldn't go anywhere without their phones).
For the College Grad we recommend the Wally Bifold. With two pull-tab pockets and interior money clip, this slim billfold-style wallet has been elegantly refined from the billfolds of yesteryear. Carry cash, credit cards and business cards in a minimalist profile that's front-pocket friendly. This ensures their back pockets stay free from wear, and they'll always have a business card on them for important interviews and impromptu networking opportunities.
Kickstarter Pledges We're Making (or are Strongly Considering) April 11 2015, 0 Comments
• A compelling documentary called Color of Fire by Dorian Warnick at Charleston's own Lunch and Recess (so you know it's good). They just reached their goal today, yay!!
• The noble efforts of the Lowcountry Street Grocery to get food to those who need it most here in Charleston.
Although the Apple Watch bands are our favorite thing about the Apple Watch, what if you could use any watch band you wanted? Well, there's an adapter for that! It's called Click – coincidentally the sound of watch-band makers everywhere rejoicing.
Absolutely loving the unibody design of the Tiko 3D Printer, but we're still holding out hope for our The Buccaneer.
The SnapPower, a super easy DIY that adds a USB charger to your outlet. Looks beyond easy – Lindsay's favorite kind of DIY.
Last week we were lamenting the last third of the lotion bottle that's always sacrificed to the pump gods, and then BOOM! Here's the Zero Waste Cap simple solution! A cheap n' easy Kickstarter to get behind.
And last but not least, this Best Prank Birthday Card Ever is exactly that. Warning friends, we're considering a few 10 packs... and their new holiday cards...
Finding Design Inspiration at Distil Union April 08 2015, 0 Comments
Not only do we find inspiration from these established design greats but also from our fellow designers on Pinterest. It seems like every time we log on to Pinterest there's a new product that's interesting, unique and inspiring – like the Alex Bottle or the quite literally brilliant T1 Bicycle helmet by Torch, both of which happen to be successful Kickstarter products!
These fellow designers move us to design new, useful and clever products for you. To check out a few more of the products that get us excited, visit the Distil Union Pinterest board: Products That Inspire.
WallyRoos – The Shoe/Wallet Partnership of the Century April 01 2015, 0 CommentsWe're thrilled to announce a partnership imagine what a partnership would be like with Distil Union Wally and KangaRoos – introducing WallyRoos! Nate and I both loved Roos as kids; sure the shoes looked rad, but it's because they made our imaginations ran wild with all the things we could sneak into those tiny little shoepockets – coins, keys, game tokens, paperclips, pieces of nature, a penny for scratch-off cards... but as much as we loved them, it could be tough to get our treasures out! We had such a blast with RunniPad last year for April Fool's Day, this year we decided to take the time to modify our own pairs of Roos with pull-tabs for Wally's well known easy-access action!
We went straight from prototype to final product in one step – because our rule for April Fool's Day products is start to finish in ONLY ONE DAY! As always, when there's glue or sharp objects involved, Pemba the studio kitty hops in to "help"...
Then we hit the streets! Brian Stetson, Distil Union's new Awesome Manager, was the photographer for today's blitz. As with any good April Fool's photoshoot, there was fake blood.
Oh, we need pictures of video games and game tokens? Sweet, time to hit one of our favorite Charleston spots, The Alley! But wait, their machines use quarters, not tokens? NOT A PROBLEM – use this 20-cent Euro coin, I have one right here in my WallyRoo! It's all about creativity and convenience here, folks.
That's a wrap! Thanks for playing along and indulging our funny bones :) Hope you got had by some great April Fool's pranks today!!
This Week in Instagram Photos! March 29 2015, 0 Comments
+ Found out the Distil Union office kitties like bubble tea. Meet Pemba + Louie! Plenty of studio-cat photos sure to follow...
+ Our friend Tall Paul demonstrated how he uses Wally Stick-On - stuck onto his Lifeproof case. Paul's not only tall, he's a lefty – so he pulls his cards out with his iPhone facing him. It was an ah-ha moment for us designers of the right-handed persuasion.
+ Have decided that while on break from designing, an afternoon brew with matching shades is a must.
Follow along over on our Instagram to enjoy similar snazzy DU pics in your feed.
Spring Break! Which wallet will you carry? March 26 2015, 0 Comments
It's that time of year when collegiate minds take a break from months of concentrated studying and venture out across the sea for a quick backpack around Europe or a staycation on one of America's fine beaches. Spring Break!
When traveling abroad, your faux French accent may not be the only thing that's a little awkward... foreign currencies like the Euro are larger in size than the dollar bill, so your everyday wallet probably won't match up. Transition with ease with the Wally Euro. Slim in design but sized for international currencies, the Wally Euro billfold comes in two styles: one with two pull-tab card pockets, the other with a squeeze-lock pouch for carrying coins.
Or if you're staying stateside, the beaches of Miami are always muy caliente! Wally Duo and iPhone Cases made a splash in the Funkshion VIP swag bags this past weekend. The minimalist designs are perfect front-pocket wallets – which as it turns out, is better for your clothes. Since our Spring Break was spent here in sunny Charleston, we'd like to thank @graphographics and our buddy Josh for the images from Miami!
Quote of the Day March 23 2015, 0 Comments"The more you leave out, the more you highlight what you leave in." –Henry Green
Sure Henry Green was actually talking about the fine art of writing fiction – but we find the same thing to be true of your wallet! You don't have to carry around with you every day the receipt from that burrito you got a few weeks ago. There are ways to lighten your load, as we discussed in this post of 5 Tips to Slim Your Wallet and Carry Less. Minimizing your daily carry is what Wally pull-tab wallets are designed to do, so we decided to subtly feature this quote on the inside of every box as an encouraging reminder.
We posted the above photo on our Instagram, but can't resist sharing this outtake: Here Pemba, one of the DU studio kittens, could no longer contain her curiosity...
Feature Friday | Tailored Techies March 20 2015, 0 CommentsThe gentlemen at Tailored Techies gave Wally Case a try on their iPhone, and guess what – they loved it!
This glowing review based on their experience is music to our ears, as Tailored Techies is a men’s style site which prides itself in highlighting "tech and performance menswear, some of the latest information on wearable technologies, well-dressed individuals, and everything else in between." So we're especially pleased that they're pleased. Everyone is pleased! Good job, Wally.
"It’s a rare occasion that a brand has both a quality and fashionable product that catches our eye. Finding a case that is both functional and low-profile at the same time is hard to come by. Good thing we found the Wally Wallet Case from Distil Union." –Steve L. Jackson at TailoredTechies.com
Be sure to check out Tailored Techies, the place where men's fashion and technology meet.
We'll be Virtually Attending South by Southwest March 13 2015, 0 Comments
There's so much greatness happening at South by Southwest Interactive this year. The DU team is bummed not to be there, but we've got our eye on what's in store and are looking forward to being inspired by what comes out of it.
As we mentioned in our recent rant/ramble about the Internet of Things, SXSW has identified IoT as one of the top 2015 Trends. And with the coming release of the Apple Watch, we're curious what those crowds really think about wearable tech – what do the folks who are attending SXSW actually wear and use?! Lindsay would take to the streets with a microphone and reporter's notepad.
Beyond steeping herself in geek research, Lindsay would rush the stage at Courtney Barnett. And take messy notes at the How To Be a More Inefficient Designer presentation by the brilliant guys at The Made Shop. Nate would balance all the techness by watching a bunch of films – especially documentaries. Instead we'll be listening, watching and logging on for some live keynote speakers from the comfort of the studio couch... with the kitties (who will surely start a blog of their own once they figure out how to 3D-print thumbs).
The Internet of Things | What is The IoT, and when will it start making my life better? March 13 2015, 0 Comments
The Internet of Things. It's a phrase that has worked its way into the mainstream vernacular lately, becoming a bit of a buzzword. During the upcoming Interactive week at SXSW, there are more than 70 sessions scheduled that touch on this topic. As with most unfamiliar things, let's consult Wikipedia...
The Internet of Things is the network of physical objects or "things" embedded with electronics, software, sensors and connectivity to enable it to achieve greater value and service by exchanging data with the manufacturer, operator and/or other connected devices.
So, objects that interoperate... what does that mean exactly? It means not just your smartphone is "smart" anymore. How about a smart home? Connect everyday physical items and devices so you can control them from afar, and so they can interact with other devices – a network of your things.
Now you get it – and now imagine the possibilities! Changing your Nest thermostat while you're out running errands is old news. If you and your friends get the Apple Watch, you can capture and share your heartbeats with each other. Because.. well, we're not sure why, but we're ready to admit that there's more going on with the Apple Watch than the average watch-reader is prepared to understand (or need). To see if the kids are brushing their teeth as they should, invest in a new Mother, which comes with Cookies and admittedly ups the IoT's creep-factor even beyond sharing heart beats.
Source: iScoop. Infographic Source: NCTA
The Internet of Things is exploding, popping up in products from Kickstarter to Home Depot – but is the public embracing it? Is it making our lives better, or at least easier? There are some big hurdles for the IoT to overcome. For many, it's hard to wrap their brain around the paradigm, much less apply it to their lives. It often takes a bit of skill to set up and successfully use those curtains that connect to your wifi – so we let the custom installers do it, and now there's something pricey in our homes we potentially can't fix ourselves. Like broken escalators that are still perfectly functional stairs, will we find ourselves fiddling with our Apple Watch trying to get the curtains to close?
Beyond the general public's hesitance or resistance to adoption, there's another speed bump: There's not yet a universal standard for devices and how they communicate with each other. Instead, we have a clumsy collection of separate things solving separate problems employing their own separate apps, all with the promise of connectivity. Alton Brown would call them 'unitaskers' – a melon baller sure does make good balls of melon, but that's all it can do, and arguably they are a poor investment. Many of these "smart" devices use their own hub systems and apps, which could easily end up cluttering our lives and our phones.
Luckily, the smart people already saw this coming, and there are companies out there making strides to create commonality. In fact, a Charleston-based company and friends of ours, ISI Heatworks were sort of a big deal at TechCrunch last year, and this year at CES where they were part of Qualcomm's Internet of Everything. Their revolutionary tankless, digital water heater called Heatworks MODEL 1 uses AllJoyn for connection and automation – for example, saving custom temperatures for each family member's shower. The AllJoyn system enables you to connect and control all sorts of digital IoT devices for customized experiences and smart events around the house and even on the go. Now that's hot.
So for now, the IoT promises more possibilities than clear-cut solutions. Will it be huge? Definitely (and it already is in many industries). Are there potential pitfalls and drawbacks? Again, definitely. But meanwhile we're enjoying this generation's version of the automatic coffee maker that brews your morning joe before you open your eyes. Why set a timer when there's an app for that! Just make sure your operating systems are up to date and you've synced your latest bean-grind settings to the cloud. Oh, and that your internet is working *shakes fists at Comcast*...
Flashback Friday | Connecting to Capital March 06 2015, 0 CommentsIn early February, we participated as panelists on the Connecting to Capital workshop hosted by Lowcountry Local First. The workshop was a wonderful opportunity for locals to learn about a variety of funding sources in a one-stop-shop setup. As proud Lowcountry Local First members, Distil Union was there in full force (both of us!) to represent crowd-funding and share our experiences across four successful Kickstarter campaigns. Many thanks to our fellow panelist for their insights -- and thanks to the attendees for their great questions!
Wally Jr | The Universal Stick-On Wallet March 04 2015, 0 Comments
Don’t have an iPhone, but want in on the secret wallet party? No sweat, Wally Jr Stick-On has you covered.
Samsung, Nexus, HTC, Blackberry, LG, Sony, Nokia , Xiaomi – name most any smartphone and Wally Jr loves 'em all! Easily adhere him to any smartphone with a flat area the size of a business card. So, unless you have the uber tiny Zoolander phone, Wally Jr will most likely work for you.
Feature Friday | "This just might be the perfect men's wallet." –Slate.com February 27 2015, 0 Comments
Recently Will Oremus, writer for Slate.com, shared with the world his love for Wally Bifold. How'd we get so lucky to count Will as a fan? Well, I'll tell you: Lots of people shop on Amazon, including Will. While searching for a slim wallet, he discovered Wally and was impressed with its glowing reviews. After ordering one for himself, he enjoyed using it so much that he reached out to us for an interview. Now that's investigative journalism! Watch Will explain Wally Bifold better than we ever have:
Talking with Will about our design process was a delight because it was clear that he was genuinely interested in how this thing he held in his hands came to be. As designers, this kind of dialogue is a dream come true – which is exactly why we love launching new products on Kickstarter. We're grateful for the chance to chat, any time. And hey, if you don't have time to call us up, you can read Will's interview to feel like you did!
Q: Which Wallys do YOU use? February 26 2015, 0 CommentsA: We get this question a lot, so here's the answer – in Instagram form!
Nate = Wally Case in Ninja Black | Lindsay = Wally Stick-On in Cowboy Brown
Music to Design By | A Distil Union Playlist February 20 2015, 0 Comments
Inspiration can come from many different sources. When the DU team is creating (or taking things apart) we've usually got some tunes playing to help fuel the process. Some encourage focus, while others keep the energy high – it's great to have an irresistible excuse to get up out of our chairs!
Beck Say Goodbye
Johnny Delaware Primitive Style
The Black Keys Fever
Shovels & Rope Coping Mechanism
Jason Isbell Different Days
Great Book of John Ashes Over Manhattan
Dr. Dog* Lonesome
St. Paul & The Broken Bones I'm Torn Up
Father John Misty* Only Son of the Ladiesman
Feature Friday | The Wally Round-Up! February 20 2015, 0 Comments
Feeling indecisive about which Wally's right for your phone? While our Which Wally infographic may be helpful for a big-picture wallet decision, Vincent Tse over at excessorize.me really dug into the question for smartphone users. He's created a hands-on video for all three smartphone Wally options to help demonstrate the differences across the range. Check out his blog review – complete with videos and snappy gifs for each Wally!
Case. Skin. Universal. He's taken the time to explore them all – and all the options in between! Thanks, Vincent!
Now in Stock: Wally Case for iPhone 6 Plus February 17 2015, 0 CommentsWally Case for your iPhone 6 Plus is available now in pure Black! Frost/Brown and the new Frost/Gray are expected sometime in March – sign up to be notified.
Celebrating National Inventors' Day! February 11 2015, 0 Comments
"Who likes taking things apart?" -- Apparently all of the 4th graders!
It's not just Thomas Edison's birthday today, it's also Inventors' Day! Our morning started early with Mrs. Frailey's 4th grade classes at the Charleston Day School. For the Invention Convention next month, the kids have been developing their own solutions to problems that they encounter in their daily lives. Nate answered questions about the product-development process, and wowed them with a 3-D printing demonstration.
We learned a little something, too! When brainstorming a solution to a problem, try the SCAMPER technique:
Maximize or Minimize
Put to Another Use
Eliminate or Elaborate
Reverse or Rearrange
Their inquisitive minds are such an inspiration :) What problem would you solve? Happy inventing, everyone!
Distil Union at NY Now Market February 09 2015, 0 Comments
♥ → Save 20% OFF 'til Sunday ←♥ February 06 2015, 0 Comments
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Let Wally help you show 'em the love this Valentine's Day February 03 2015, 0 Comments
Guys. Valentine’s Day is right around the corner, let’s talk about gift giving. We’re all for a box of chocolates or a dozen red roses, but do you really want to give her another mini teddy bear wearing a t-shirt that says “I love you bear-y much”… (answer: nope).
This Valentine's Day, woo and wow your sweetheart with a Wally and show her what a thoughtful head you have on your shoulders. Show her the love with a Wally Case for iPhone 5/5S in red leather, currently on sale for $39.99 – an out-of-the-chocolate-box choice for a Valentine's Day gift. Feeling extra lovey? Follow one of Nick Offerman's Romance Tips: Before you wrap Wally, insert a tiny card that you've handmade just for her... and prepare to earn bonus points that'll last 'til Valentine's Day 2016.
And ladies, you can return the thoughtful favor – consider a Wally Wallet for your man. The new Wally Duo is reversible (and currently on sale). If you know he likes to coordinate his look daily, or you don't know him well enough just yet to be confident in which color to get him, Duo is the perfect Valentine's Day gift for him. Added benefit: When he uses his Wally Wallet every day, he'll think of you – awww #bestgiftever
We at Distil Union would also like to share the love: Get free shipping for all orders shipping in the U.S. via 1st Class. Simply enter FREE1STCLASS at checkout and give the gift of Wally Wallet this Valentine's Day.
xoxo, Distil Union
We Heart the Octopus Card | Public Transit and Wally January 29 2015, 0 Comments
Not only do we travel a lot for business, we love getting out of the office and exploring other cities whenever we get the chance (join us on our adventures on Instagram!). We just got back from Vegas for CES, and we're about to hit the road again – this time to New York City for the NYNow Market to share a booth with the guys at ACGears (a design shop you should check out next time you're in Manhattan).
Good thing we like to travel because we find ourselves in Hong Kong a few times a year, meeting with our partners to develop new products. It's one of our favorite cities, full of inspiration and delicious food that we miss the instant we land back in Charleston! Something we absolutely love in Hong Kong is the Octopus card – a card that you tap to get onto the subway. But it's oh so much more than MTR rides – this same card can be used at thousands of locations in Hong Kong to pay for things: 7-Eleven, grocery stores, coffee shops, stores, restaurants, buses, movie theaters... the list goes on. You can even link it to your checking account to reload it whenever it gets to certain level so you never run out. Just tap and go – what's not to love about something that handy and simple?
Octopus card is a life saver – and not to mention a fat-wallet slayer! Here at Distil Union we're big fans of things that help reduce the amount of cards and cash we have to carry when we go out; in fact, the dream of a minimal everyday carry was the inspiration behind the original Wally wallet. We can't wait to see if some other services *cough*Apple Pay*cough* will prove as valuable here in the states – or wherever the wind may take us!
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