Interview with Tom of Mosher Originals
Tom Mosher is the owner of Toronto-based Mosher Originals. We worked together last month to release a collaborative fanny pack. He's launching our "bummer bag" along with the rest of his fall line of backpacks and bags so I wanted to take some time, see him at the studio, and ask him some questions.
NF: So I guess first of all - who are you and what do you do?
TM: I'm Tom Mosher and I make textile based things when I'm not chasing a toddler or doing freestyle sports.
How long have you been doing that? I know Mosher Originals isn't your first foray into making bags and accessories..
Yeah, I learned how to work with textiles and industrial machines over the five years I spent being part of growing a different bag brand. With that knowledge I started making coats for my dog almost three years ago and now that has evolved and grown into a much more diverse brand. Going forward I'm way more motivated to make human stuff so who knows how long we'll keep making dog stuff.
I met you when you were just starting to make the dog gear and am only googling your name for the first time now- all I can find are fixed gear bike tricks and hackey sack videos - what's that about? And how does being a master of all things "freestyle" influence your product designs?
Damn, it has been that long eh? I just get off on learning tricks of all kind. It's an endless stream of challenges and subsequent new trick high, a life of chasing that dragon. And I have no bias, all tricks on all platforms are valid. I'll leave it up to you to reveal or hide my dirty little secret new obsession. As for how this applies to design, it all kinda feels the same to be honest. There's a very similar process of analyzing the challenge, taking a crack at it and then picking out which bits worked and which didn't then moving forward.
What obsession? Rollerblading?
Yeah man, it rules. I've done every dumb extreme sport and finally stumbled upon blading like six months ago and fell in love. No shame, deep pride.
Fair enough! You had an extremely impressive brand launch earlier this summer through your Kickstarter campaign, tell me about that.
Yeah, that went a little too well and we've been swamped trying to get all those bags done. In all it was over 200 backpacks to make, definitely both a blessing and a curse. I'm grateful that I was able to get all the machines I need to make this stuff properly, but then I owed people a damn mountain of bags. Big time learning experience, I wouldn't do it again but I'm glad I did it once, you know what I mean?
Definitely! At the same point, 200 bags aren't going to just drop out of the sky- I've gotten the impression that not a lot of people realize that you're designing and manufacturing this stuff all in-house?
That's right, we're literally hand crafting every product we offer in our tiny backyard studio. No factories, no ships, we just pour ourselves into fabricating every piece. Since we're bothering to go to all this trouble we figure we may as well do it to the highest standards possible, only using the best materials we can find and cutting no corners.
That makes sense to me- and I think it really shows when you get one of these bags in your hands. How's the new east end studio been?
I love it, both the space itself and our new side of the city. I'm the type of guy who's happiest alone in his cave chipping away on some project, so this is ideal. I don't miss the throngs of hipsters the west end boasts, as long as I have a skatepark nearby and my loner studio I'm set.
What have you been working on in there? You're releasing a few new bags for fall and we did our No Fun x Mosher "Bummer Bag" collaboration, what's up next?
Well we're still drowning in Kickstarter reward fulfilment, but at the same time taking on new challenges that will ultimately become our next few moves. The collaboration we did was super fun, it was cool to have you in the studio putting in work and actually seeing what goes into making even the simplest product. Tonight we are doing a small launch event for that fanny pack as well as our own two designs and a brand new fancy backpack. I've been quietly honing the shit out of them late late every night. I'm really terrible at settling, I just keep revising prototypes until they're finally satisfying.
When you're doing that kind of design revision and prototyping what are your general 'design rules' for making the choices you make? When we were laying out the 'Bummer' bag I really wanted to keep it simple for good functionality, but what do you do personally like? How do you know when you've made something better?
For me, function always leads my design choices. There's nothing in my work that just looks good without having function. The best case scenario is that each individual ironed out bit combine to be one smart product. Sometimes they work great but are ugly so you have to step back and figure out how to make it work the same but look better. And to me, improvements are a combination of better function and more efficient fabrication.
Got any shoutouts?
Heck yes, my crew! Brian Bennet, Kendra Pegg, Ange Jay, Conrad Gluch and Sarah Curtis. They all bust their asses and move mountains and I am forever grateful! My wife Marnie and kid Hella are also my biggest source of motivation and inspiration, I'd be lost without them. And to you for being one of my good buddies I can always shoot the shit with about small business, and tunnel exploration! Thanks for the support homie!
No, thank you!