Year in Review: 2017 at Winter Session
Happy New Year! As we head into 2018, we'd like to take a moment to thank each and every one of you for your continued support. You make our world go round! We are grateful to have such an amazing extended community of customers, retail partners, fellow business owners and makers near and far. You inspire and challenge us to do our best work and to be our best selves, and we look forward to continuing this journey with you in 2018.
But first, a look back at 2017:
It was our first full year in our new, larger work space. Working in a big warehouse is way different than making bags in our quaint little workshop on Welton Street (or our storefront live-work space in Chicago, where we first started Winter Session). Our warehouse has plenty of space for, well, just about everything. We now have separate work areas for every step of the bag and wallet making process, which makes it a lot easier to work on projects simultaneously, and we have ample space at the front for our retail shop and showroom. It’s also a lot to manage and keep track of… and a lot of floors to sweep! Totally worth it though -- you should come visit!
Our community continues to grow and change, but also stay the same. We feel so lucky to spend our days with such a solid team of talented, engaged, curious, and hard working individuals. Many of our team members have been with us for several years. It’s amazing to see their (and our) collective skills and knowledge deepen as we continue to make our way along the long road of refining our craft and building a sustainable business.
This year we wished one of our head sewers (and fabric cutter) Ashley good luck as she left to pursue her passion of costume design and production -- at the Opera! And this month we are wishing our longest-running team member (4 years!) Whitney along with her partner (and jack of all trades at WS) Joel farewell as they start a new life chapter in Minneapolis. And we’re also wishing good luck to longtime sewer (and wellness advocate) Cher who is embarking on a new adventure in the Denver Public School system this year. We’re grateful for each of their numerous contributions and will miss their good company, and as we say goodbye, we’re gearing up to take on the new year as team of seven!
It was our first full year with friend and filmmaker Sam Pike as our co tenant. His generous approach to storytelling has always inspired us and it’s been so cool to watch him take his filmmaking to a new level. Best of all, we got to collaborate on a super fun video together, featuring our waxed canvas Roll-Top Pack. We also took an exciting trip together to learn more about a new material we’re excited to experiment with, and which we’re excited to tell you more about in the springtime!
This year, we also wished our friends at Penrose Coffee farewell as they left to pursue new projects in New York, and we welcomed Spur Coffee as they took over the roastery to help fuel their super cool family-run cafe in Littleton. If you've ever visited our warehouse and detected a hint of toasty coffee in the air, that's why!
We continued our longstanding run with the Denver Flea, popping up across Denver, indoors and out. It’s always a treat for us to get to meet customers face-to-face, to share the story of our products and process, and to connect with the extensive community of creative small businesses in Denver. We also enjoyed sharing our story as part of the Denver Flea x Velorama festival last August: watch the full video HERE.
And our insatiable love of canvas led us to supplement our roving booth display with the protective addition of a canvas tent (also made in Denver!). Credit goes to our friend Matthew of Jorgensen Stoneware. He did it first. Apparently we’re not the only ones who were excited about our tent -- this pic of our set up at the Denver Botanic Gardens Winter Market became our most liked photo on instagram, ever.
Apparently we like to collaborate with companies whose names end in ‘Supply’. It was great fun making waxed canvas tool pouches for Neighbor Supply, releasing two military-inspired waxed canvas and leather bags with our friends at Forth Supply, and creating a trio of knitting-tool-friendly accessories with Fringe Supply. We also furthered our experimentation with combining canvas with other materials -- like soft plaid flannel -- in our Day Pack collab with Grayers.
We introduced a new bag: the Utility Tote. It was our first foray into using heavyweight waxed twill, and also our first time experimenting with a hinging tote handle. We loved the results! Look for more of both in 2018.
We expanded our collection of Roll-ups with the Utility Roll: a home for chargers, cords, bike tools, and small portable essentials. Made from heavyweight canvas and finished with a spiffy brass buckle, the Utility Roll has become a favorite among photographers (for storing extra accessories).
We brought back our Long Wallet, this time with a snap. Our favorite is probably be the Horween Tobacco Dublin leather (cuz it’s just so smooth and buttery) but the Black Dublin (also from the wizards at Horween Leather) is a close second for its sleekness factor. And we’ve had a surprising amount of customers hop on the patina wagon and go for the Natural veg-tan leather option. And, after receiving lots of requests, we also introduced the Slim Wallet: a horizontal version of our Slash Wallet with an additional pocket for tucking cash and cards.
We indulged our longtime love of plants (conveniently timed with a resurging mainstream obsession with them) and designed a simple hanging Canvas Planters -- made from canvas, of course -- which was so well received that we’ll be releasing more colors and other styles in the springtime. Stay tuned (and trimmed! and watered).
We played around with leather a bunch. We’ve continued to tweak and improve small details on our Leather Garrison Bag and Leather Tote, and we’ve got a new collection of small leather goods (desktop and organizing accessories) in the pipeline for 2018. Stay tuned!
We continued our behind-the-scenes collaboration with restaurant and coffee communities by making custom aprons for a bunch of talented folks, including the Yacht Club, Hudson Hill, Two Rivers Coffee, Stowaway Coffee + Kitchen, The Cherry Bean, Hampton & Hudson, Spur Coffee, and Tavernetta. We even fulfilled our longtime (and well caffeinated) dream of making a Travel Kit with Corvus Coffee.
We got cozy with our Craftsmanship Guarantee. Really cozy. As in, we had to seriously consider exactly what we mean when we say ‘we guarantee your bags for the long run. We’ll stick with you.’ Canvas and leather are both natural materials that will wear at a rate proportional to the degree of use. Now that many of our bags and wallets have been out in the world for several years (many of them used daily, to our delight!), we are hearing from customers who need things repaired.
We got a lot of requests for slightly smaller totes, backpacks, and crossbody bags. We hear you, people! And we’re working on it. We promise. It just takes time to work new products into production, as we’re just a small handful of people doing all the things.