Journal — Products

Taking The Guesswork Out Of Product Customization

Taking The Guesswork Out Of Product Customization

Custom work has long been one of Billykirk's greatest strengths. Whether stamping a tray with initials or sewing up a custom card case at the Pop Up Flea, we've always been fans of personalization. But as a small, primarily online company, we've had a hard time translating our custom options to the Billykirk website.

billykirk custom supplies

Of course, at events like the Pop Up Flea, these personalizations are apparent as you literally see Chris and Kirk make it right in front of you! Different colored threads, leather, and hardware line the table in front of the classic Kingsley Foil Stamping Machine, heated and ready to stamp your initials into a card case or luggage tag of your choice. To make things easier at these events, Chris and Kirk created the first version of Billykirk's custom options:

Simple but extremely effective, this sheet of paper categorized the options you could choose from, including leather color, cording color, snaps color, monogram, foil fonts, and embossing options. This simple sheet evolved into the first online versions of the Custom 155 and 92 Card Cases seen below.

While this finally brought our custom card cases to the web, it didn't provide any sort of visual representation of the finished product. When Billykirk first launched the retail website, sites like NIKEiD and Van's Customs were just gaining traction, and the notion of a smaller company paying for that type of software just wasn't realistic.

A year ago, we decided that the Billykirk website needed a serious facelift (which is live by the way!). With that redesign, we wanted to create a more visual custom product experience. We discussed options and began drafting out ideas that would be feasible and affordable. Looking at other custom sites, 3D renders or real product image overlays seemed great, but they were scary expensive. After almost giving up on the project, our designer Connor and I discovered how we could use Scalable Vector Graphics (SVG) instead.

While Connor created the digital illustrations of our 092 Card Case, 155 Card Case, and 146 Luggage Tag, I began working on the code that would allow the user to see the custom options live on the Billykirk website for the first time. The photo of the No 146 Luggage Tag seen above was customized and rendered in real time on its product page, a sight that brings a tear to our sore eyes.

We also began adding visual embossing to our normal product line. This feature overlays your initials directly onto the product in the spot it'll be when you receive your item. Currently it's only on our trays and small leather goods, but stay tuned as we add it to the entire line!

Bringing Billykirk's custom work to life on the web has a been a great opportunity. I hope we'll have the chance to expand the custom line even further with more products. In the meantime, try out the new custom card cases and luggage tag. We’d love to know what you think!

Look good, write well: 4 gifts for writers in 2014

Look good, write well: 4 gifts for writers in 2014

The biggest New Year’s resolution for writers (in 2014 and in previous years) is simply to write. Whether 80 words or 8,000 words, daily writing is essential – and it’s something a writer can only do for himself. But I know plenty of loved ones want to find the perfect way to show support of writers in their lives – and fancy pens seem to be the go-to gift. They’re beautiful and functional, but they’re also arguably one of the least practical, most-gifted items given to writers during the holidays. Anyone who enjoys writing - whether prose or correspondence – should own a nice pen, but no more than one really fancy pen is needed.
There are plenty of nice everyday objects that can help organize and inspire the authors and wordsmiths in your midst. As someone who writes and edits upwards of 3,000 words a day, I looked through Billykirk’s online collection and found four beautiful and functional gifts I think any writer would appreciate to start the New Year.
1. The leather journal holder
A welcome alternate to a book with blank pages, this journal holder adds a nice facelift to the notebook your friend is already working her way through. Sized to easily fit in a backpack, purse or satchel, it’s perfecting for jotting down ideas on a train, park bench or wherever inspiration strikes, and a pen will always be handy thanks to its built-in pencil-holding clasp.
2. The schoolboy satchel
The leather schoolboy satchel looks important, but not pretentious. It has a timeless nostalgia, seeming to be something Hemingway or Anne Patchett would wear with equal delight. And it would look smart on anyone who aspires to be professionally creative. With compartments that can easily fit a portfolio or manuscript, a laptop and whatever magazine or book a writer is reading in a given moment, it’s practical - while also a nice way to dress for the job you want.
3. The pencil case
Great to stash in or on a desk, keep in a leather satchel  (ahem, see gift idea No.2) or tuck away somewhere with a reserve of those aforementioned fancy pens. The pencil case is a simple-but-handy gift, unassumingly stylish in worn-in canvas, which also helps absorb the mess of any ink leaks. Plus, someone in a writing profession is always the first person expected to have a writing implement on hand: He’ll always know where to find this case and look super on top of the pen situation.
4. The canvas iPad sleeve
While I’m admittedly not inspired by the thought of writing on tablets, friends are increasingly citing this as the journal of the future. Especially those working as on-the-ground journalists. Many of my friends who write have put iPad sleeves on their wish lists this year, and I think this olive one is a great option. While I also like the Billykirk version available in leather, the canvas one would nicely fit inside a larger satchel – and it still looks good as a standalone carry item.
These are great tools to add to a writers’ kit, and here are some reflections on writing to get pens moving and keyboards tapping in 2014:

New Year's Day Sale: Leather trays, for an organized 2014

New Year's Day Sale: Leather trays, for an organized 2014

Top New Year's resolutions' lists generally include saving money and getting organized. Our No. 309 Leather Change Tray can help de-clutter, store cash and add a stylish new element to your desks or bureaus for the new year. In honor of 2014, we're marking down the price to $20.14 for all orders placed from midnight New Year's Eve to midnight New Year's Day.
Here's a look at some of our discounted leather trays, available while supplies last. Click for full product details:
 
 
Be sure to check out some of our other American-made leather bags, belts and travel carryalls to give you a fresh look for 2014 with goods you can count on to last for years to come.
Wishing you a happy and healthy New Year, from Billykirk.

Concrete paperweights: Sturdy, Solid Style

Concrete paperweights: Sturdy, Solid Style

Paperweights have been around as long as desks, but the earliest recognized “classic” paperweights came up in the 1840s, and they were generally made of glass. We think today’s standards invite more sturdy construction, so ours are not your traditional floral weights.
We got together with Concrete Cat to cast some of our classic Billykirk wallets, card cases and other compatibles into durable paperweights.
Why concrete?
Just like our leather is sourced to last and age, we find that concrete has industrial strength but can be sculpted for artistry: We promise the casting system we use doesn’t turn out a cinder block. Our paperweights look and feel like real stone, and each one is unique. Concrete Cat is a partner who makes concrete that is reliable, yet somewhat unpredictable: Each weight has its own shade that comes from a unique toning process.
What’s more is just like we can tell you where every inch of our leather comes from, the materials used by Concrete Cat are sourced within the U.S. and Canada. Environmentally sustainable from places with fair compensation standards.
Industrial strength with style
Check out some of our newest homeware items.
Like a good leather bag, these weights will show some natural wear with age that makes them more customized.

Support U.S. made with Billykirk's Small Business Saturday deal

Support U.S. made with Billykirk's Small Business Saturday deal

Support local, support U.S. made this holiday shopping season. As a follow up to our Black Friday sale, we're offering 15% off on our entire website for Small Business Saturday. Shop leather bags, designer belts, women's clutches, canvas carryalls and more.

Our Small Business Saturday deal details: 

  • 15% off on our entire website until midnight, Saturday, Nov 30
  • Use Billykirk disount code SBS13 at checkout

Thanks to those who made our Black Friday sale a success!