This meeting was a long time coming. I was in Portland, Oregon a few months back, but I didn’t have a chance to go and meet Aaron Draplin. I’m back this week and I couldn’t make the same mistake twice.
I had a lot of work to do (as I’m sure he did too), but I manage to sneak over to see Draplin today and finally get to meet the man I have admired for so long. Interestingly enough the designer and Field Notes creator is exactly the same in person as I imagined him to be. Friendly, animated, generous, smart, funny and full of life. Draplin is EXACTLY the type of person that ACL was designed to highlight. If you aren’t up to speed on him,. here’s a bit more about him from the ACL archives. I could basically shut this place down after this post, but I won’t.
Two things happen when you meet Aaron.
1. You walk away from the meeting with 100 ideas in your head. Things to create, dreams to pursue and work to be done. 2. You walk away a better person.
You also leave entertained because the man’s personality knows almost no bounds. It’s no surprise to me that he’s so successful. I have a lot of respect for Aaron because when it comes to work, life and the country we live in, he has higher standards. He embraces common sense, he’s opinionated, unpretentious and his humble Michigan roots surface easily.
When it comes to life he wisely values independence, flexibility and simplicity over everything. It’s an inspiring take on things and it made me think of the book Small Giants (which was a recommendation from Ursa Major founder Oliver Sweatman). Like Draplin, the book advocates companies that choose to be great, not big. The world can use more of this type of thinking, and it can use more people like Aaron Draplin.
Draplin is pretty nuts when it comes to buying stuff mail order. Here’s a classic example: he just bought a 150 pound anvil. It came FedEx. Look at the photo below of the packaging (on his phone). Insane and incredible.
Also, Aaron has a massive love, respect and knowledge about the great American trucker hat.