FINALLY. I’m psyched to bring you all the second edition of my favorite section on this website, Behind the Seams. For those unfamiliar, BTS grants us access to the thought leaders and decision makers behind our favorite brands.
Today’s feature spotlights 11 Industries‘ founder and designer, Deon Douglas. Deon’s minimalist accessory brand has been speaking to me lately as I’ve been trying to simplify everything that I carry. In addition to simple, smart wallets and dopp kits, 11 Industries has also been introducing new tote and weekender bags that are completely handmade of boast some v. nice luxury accents. But the real reason speaking with Deon is a treat is because this guy does EVERYTHING. Think about what you did your entire weekend. Deon does all of that before you even wake up and dry heave in the shower on Saturday morning. He’s a digital marketing aficionado, manager for the Hood Pope himself A$AP Ferg, and the day-to-day maestro behind the Trap Lord clothing line. Do you feel bad about yourself yet? You should.
Let’s not stall any longer and just get right into it.
To get things started, can you tell us in eleven words or less what 11 Industries is all about?
Beautifully-constructed everyday carry goods for men, all handmade in America. HA! Nailed it.
We’ve made numerous friends over the years who have started their own product lines. As someone who’s going through something similar, what kind of advice can you share with someone who’s considering making a product themselves? Is there anything you would tell an earlier version of yourself to watch out for?
I’d tell my earlier self to allow more time for the learning process. Especially in manufacturing. It’s not as easy as I previously thought. I had to fail a couple of times and make mistakes to produce what I truly wanted. It took some time to find the ideal partners to bring my products to life. My biggest piece of advice would be to stand by your vision, BUT don’t be a stranger to making changes along the way.
I think it’s safe to say that you fit the textbook definition of an “entrepreneur.” In addition to owning a digital agency, you’re also the manager for A$AP Ferg and a partner in his clothing brand, Trap Lord. With 11 Industries now coming into its own, do you find it difficult to give each project your attention? What’s the best way to handle so many things at once?
Each project has their own needs that are all different. I try to designate specific days to each project, but I’m always constantly thinking and planning for all of them. On top of that, I have an amazing leadership team around me. Sashea, Kevin, and Ty help me execute and they do it better than me on most days.
How has your experience in the music industry influenced your personal style? Has this also bled into the designs for 11 Industries’ products?
Interestingly enough, it hasn’t impacted it much. My personal style has always been simple and clean. Most of the time I’m wearing a black t-shirt with black jeans. The 11 Industries products are for a mature audience and I want to stay true to that.
This is going to be a tough one to answer: At the moment, which would you say is the 11 industries release that you’re most proud of?
It would definitely be the minimalist wallets. The entire brand was built on solving a simple wallet problem I had. After that, our backpack that’s launching in January. We put the most amount of time and testing into that product. I believe it’ll be our most successful launch to date.
“The end goal is to have 11 Industries products available around the world so people can enjoy it.”
Here at TTV, we’re big believers in striving to become the best version of yourself. One of the ways I think we can define ourselves is in what’s in our Everyday Carry (or EDC). Can you tell us the items that you don’t leave your home without?
Hmm… I always have my 11 Industries minimalist wallet, my iPhone, and my keys. I’m really a minimalist in almost every aspect of my life.
As 11 Industries continues to build a customer base and drop new product, what do you think will help to grow the brand? Are you thinking about maybe a brick and mortar retail store or looking into more branded partnership opportunities?
I definitely want to collaborate with a few of my favorite brands. The end goal would be to have a couple 11 Industries retail stores, but most importantly, to have 11 Industries products available around the world so people can enjoy it.
And now, let’s get into a few rapid fire, finish-the-sentence statements we’re calling Unfinished Edges. “My favorite piece of clothing right now is…”
“The one men’s fashion/streetwear trend I wish would just die already is…”
Men’s fanny packs.
“The song I can’t stop listening to is called…”
“Caught Their Eyes” by Jay-Z.
“In 2018, we’re going to see a lot of guys wearing…”
Replaceable band watches… Sh!t, I don’t know? Let’s go with replaceable band watches.
“The best vacation I ever went on was…”
Jamaica in 2002. My wife and I went on a one week vacation and stayed for two years!
“If I wasn’t making wallets, running a clothing brand, managing a hip hop artist, OR running a digital agency, I’d probably be…”
I’d be making wallets, running a clothing brand, managing a hip-hop artist, and running a digital agency. I’m literally doing all the things I love.
“If I didn’t live in New York, I’d live in…”
We’d like to give a huge thanks to Deon and his team for collaborating with us on such a fun piece. Stay tuned for another feature soon, and if you haven’t yet, check out Deon’s latest collection at 11Industries.com.