It’s tough to know where to begin here, I am a "maker" far more than a web designer, copywriter, or marketing expert, so please forgive my rambling in the knowledge that I am entirely boot-strapping this. Feel free to skip to the heading you care about most below.
The idea for Finley Outdoor Goods in its current form was born in the spring 2020. I was reading Horace Kephart's Camping and Woodcraft and in the spur of a moment on a cold and snowy day, I hijacked my wife's hobby sewing machine and grabbed an old canvas drop-cloth, determined to whip up a simple haversack to try out when the weather improved.
At the time I had no expectations of making a career out of it, but I couldn’t help but notice how similar sewing felt to my day job doing custom carpentry work. Material layout and cutting, concealing structure within the design, a steady hand and attention to detail--all skills that transferred over directly from what I was already doing on a daily basis. On top of the skill set, handling fabric was far easier than 100lb sheets of plywood that were slowly destroying my back. There was no sawdust, no hearing-damaging tools, no risk of losing a finger if I lapsed attention during a moment of daydreaming. It was an "ah-ha" moment in that I knew I had hold of something that resonated with me, but I wasn't exactly sure what it meant. As I thought about the project I'd done, and the other things I was realizing I could create, the gears began to turn, and a vision of what I wanted to do began to form.
Since I was young, I have been a bit of a gear-hoarder, specifically older military surplus, vintage hunting and fishing equipment, and old-school camping gear. Being that I am a practical person to the extreme, the simplicity and ruggedness of previous eras of equipment that were purpose-made for the outdoors, resonates with me. Add in my fascination with history and a large helping of love for nostalgia, and the mix is right for an imagination full of modern adaptations of quality, but traditionally styled outdoor goods made to last for generations.
I was fortunate to spend over a decade in the sporting goods industry with a fantastic family owned company, where I learned far more about the world, business, people, the outdoors, and wildlife conservation than I could've hoped to have collected through any schooling, or of my own pursuits in learning. During that time, it also became apparent to me that the newest, shiniest, and most revolutionary products didn't appeal to me the way I expected them to. I found myself gravitating towards classically styled products, things made of wood and steel, canvas and leather, and old books on frontiersman, indigenous peoples, scouts, explorers, and backwoodsman, and traditional methods of outdoorsmanship and woodcraft. And the more I settled into these interests, the more I found myself yearning to build skills in self reliance, and using my own hands to create useful things.
In 2016 my wife and I made the hard decision to leave companies we loved, to move closer to her family in Kansas City and kick off a new chapter in our lives. Her, to focus on raising our new baby boy, and me to pursue a career in residential construction. Five years later, I had fine-tuned my professional craftsmanship skills, started my own home improvement and custom carpentry business, had a fine list of wonderful clients, and was wondering "what's next?".
From the outset of our move, I found myself yearning for work having more to do with the natural world in some way, and as I would grind through construction projects and did enjoy aspects of what I was doing, I felt that my calling was close, but not yet achieved. When I sat down behind my wife's sewing machine, I knew I had clicked with something that could send me trekking in the right direction. In retrospect, jumping ship on an established career and business path that I enjoyed may have been foolhardy, but as Hank Hill so wisely stated, "Find out what your niche is, that leads to riches." And when we moved back to Bend Oregon in the summer of 2021, I was determined to quit dreaming about what I wanted to do, and instead, work to make it happen.
What am I doing?
As I type this, I'm learning about how to build a website...which is not coming as naturally to me as I had hoped. But what I aim to do is simple: make my own interpretations of packs, bags, pouches, containers, and personal kit that have fallen out of use since our grandfathers and the generations past last used them. Expect to see products in the style of pioneers, scouts, woodsman, and the men and women who laid the foundation for the outdoor products we see today.
Just as a handmade self-bow is not crafted to compete alongside a carbon-fiber compound bow, my products are not made to compete with gear you'll see in the kit of Antarctic researchers, or Thru-Hikers, where pinnacle performance is the only thing that matters. Rather the things I make are for weirdo's like me, who enjoy the nostalgia and aesthetic of the gear as much as the function, and take pleasure in adapting to their gear in the same way that previous generations supplemented any shortcomings in their equipment with well-earned and practiced skills. In short, I'm making gear for the old-ways because it's what I like and brings me joy, and I hope you like it too.
I fully realize that far less expensive options exist for the products I am offering, and wholeheartedly appreciate your support and love for not only my designs, but for the hard work it takes for me to craft each and every piece I ship. When you purchase something from me, you can know that in the moment I was making your item, nothing else in the world mattered, and you're holding a piece of me and my time on earth, as much as you're holding a piece of outdoor gear. For that I am grateful to you every day. I hope my creations serve you well, and your decedents and loved ones can hold these pieces and think back on you and smile, knowing that it was something that brought you happiness and closer to the outdoors--and will do the same for them.