In college, one of my best friends (and my favorite person on the planet to argue with) was a very smart cookie named Kyle, from Maine. Earlier this morning, my Facebook news feed helped me to stumble across this article in the Lewiston, ME Sun Journal. The article is about Kyle, his dad, and the re-institution of their company, Rancourt & Co. Shoecrafters, as an independent business from under Wisconsin shoe manufacturer Allen Edmonds. If you're into shoe-making, the article is kind of riveting, and overall very well-written; I encourage you to check it out.
"Rancourt & Co. makes men's shoes by hand for customers such as Ralph Lauren, high-end retailers in Tokyo and Japan and a retail group in South Africa, Michael Rancourt said.
"We buy raw materials from around the world, bring them here to Lewiston and then we cut them, stitch them and hand-finish." he said.
He envisions the company staying unique, and its volume small, but searching out new markets. His son, Kyle, 25, is interested in trying lines that reach out to consumers younger than the traditional mid-30s to mid-60s demographic."
photo credit: Lewiston Sun Journal
As an update, Kyle later informed me of the following:
"The thing that makes me the proudest about what we are doing is that we are manufacturing in the United States! That is so rare today, the people we employ are craftsmen/women, their skills should not go to waste. So we need help from everyone so that American craftspeople and American small business can survive."
Nice work, sir. Seriously, smart guy. I'm not surprised at his success, but it definitely made my heart swell up a bit to see yet another of my friends rocking it out.
It also reminded me how jealous I am of people who make things for a living. I mean, look at him. He's creating things with leather! Leather!!! Don't get me wrong, I super love advertising (obviously), but sometimes I feel like it would be so satisfying to be able to touch, smell, and see the fruits of my labor.
As a planner, what real good am I to society? I was having lunch this week with a friend in the biz, discussing silly things about our jobs. He's a funny guy, and we were joking around, but it kind of hit me right in the chest when he made a comment about how useless we were, as ad professionals. "If the apocalypse comes and I survive," he said, "I have no real skills with which I could rebuild society. I can price the heck out of a center spread, but I can't stitch up a laceration. I can't even sew a button."
Is this why we have hobbies? To feel like we can contribute? My friend Clay wrote a post a while back about strategy and fulfillment that does a much more eloquent job of sounding out the issue than I have here. Basically, he asks the question as to whether strategy alone can ever be truly satisfying. And, I have to agree with him, that no, it can't. Perhaps I am verging on quarter-life crisis, but I am itching to join the ranks of my smart friends who have found a way to make their ideas tangible, be it through hobby or career. In the meantime, I am very happy and proud to be in such brilliant company.
Congratulations, Kyle, on all your success. You smell terrific. If any of my smart peeps want to collaborate on a shoe project, let me know and I'll see what I can hook up.