AUTHENTICITY

 

We long for authenticity: something that feels real, consistent ,honest, transparent, trustworthy, original, genuine, sincere and true. This applies to both the people we engage with, the experiences we have and the stuff we buy.

For thousands of years people were agrarian- living off the land, farming and living with relatively few possessions. Then the industrial revolution hit and maximized the production of stuff. After that we moved into a service based economy: plumbers to fix the faucet, McDonalds to serve hamburgers, landscapers to rake the leaves and trim the hedges. Then we moved into an experience economy. This reality is marked by a desire to consume products and services that are experientially driven.  Think about how your favorite coffee shop engages the whole person and creates an experience. They aren’t just selling coffee- they are selling, as Starbucks has said, “a third place” (not home, not the office). They offer products and services but with an additional component that feels like it engages us more deeply.

In a post-industrial world we have enough stuff. We’ve moved from scarcity to abundance. Now we search for meaning in all of that. Its sort of like, “now what?”

But products, services, and the experiences around them are not enough these days. We want to feel more integrated, more connected. We have enough stuff, now we want the stuff to mean something. But stuff can’t mean something unless it is true and authentic. We need it to mean more. So thats why we see the swing back to local, handmade, heritage, etc.. We want to feel connected to the local butcher or or baker–to the community and to ourselves. Consuming is not enough. Filling our lives with stuff is not enough. We want more, but not more stuff. More meaning, more truth.

Origin Story

There are lots of great origin stories out there about how different brands were started. Some brands have a long and storied history and deep roots in a family trade. Benchkraft, however, doesn’t share that story— I’m not a third generation leather craftsman and didn't learn the craft from my grandpa. It seems like a lot of brands these days are nostalgic for some era in the past. That throw-back vibe is popular, but not what I am after.  

Benchkraft is about living in the present and celebrating the simple things--everyday. This is something I have trouble with, and maybe you do too. In a digital culture where time seems to speed up, it feels important to actively cultivate a life of presence in the moment. This includes actively appreciating the objects around us. Cultivating this presence is tough, but it can can keep us grounded and human. 

The reason I started Benchkraft was to make stuff for everyday life that I could fall in love with. Thats it. It was about simple pleasures and sharing that journey with things that mean something to me. 

To me, it doesn’t make sense to be nostalgic for the past simply because it seems romantic. But I do think its valid to long for the past if that means reconnecting with values that we've lost. Simplicity, family, and slowing down are some values that perhaps were more native in times past. Its good to reconnect with those things, because it helps regain some of our humanity.  It takes hard work to live out values that go against the tide. It takes an active pursuit for most of us. 

So thats part of why I make stuff. The other part has to do with the creative work of building a business and working with my hands. But I’ll dive into that more later. 

Celebrate the moment-

Jon