Making it in America: Artifact Bag Co.

There’s an unwritten rule on ACL where I try and make a point of not doing overtly obnoxious blogger things – though I’m sure some find me overtly obnoxious nonetheless. I attempt to avoid posting pictures of myself on this site and I don’t actively post any sort of press coverage that I am fortunate enough to get. Part of the reason I avoid this stuff is because I don’t want this site to be about me per se, I want the focus to be on the truly interesting and deserving people, places and stories that are out in the world. Though recently I have been struggling internally about going against my self-prescribed code to post a video that involves me in a roundabout way. Ultimately, I decided that the benefits for the subject of the video outweigh the possibilities an appearance of a self-congratulatory blogger parade.

Chris Hughes from Omaha, Nebraska struggled himself, though in a much more real way. He grappled with the recession spending the better part of a year being unemployed or underemployed. During this troubling time of his life he started to focus energy making leather goods, bags and aprons on the side. He hoped to transform his hobby into a business and take a massive leap of faith to leave his job with health insurance to work on his company Artifact Bag Co. full time. In December of 2010 he did just that and has been building Artifact ever since. In a TEDx talk in Omaha he recently gave a speech (see video above) about a tweet and our brief encounter that changed his life.

Watching the video I was flattered by his story and the sincere words. Though I don’t really think my tweets changed his life, I think he changed his life. If he didn’t take the initiative to start making things (good-looking things no less) then he wouldn’t have had the opportunity to capitalize on the press coverage and buzz that he received. So while this is me being humble and saying that the success Chris has had is really just thanks to Chris, the TEDx talk is also just Chris being equally as humble and saying that ACL and my tweet are what did it while he deserves all of the credit.

The lasting impression I get from Chris Hughes and his story is the fact that ACL was able to play a small part in the success of an American company that is making things domestically in an honest way. If I have had any selfish motives for ACL and The American List it would be to hear more stories like the one of the Artifact Bag Co. That’s the stuff that has changed my life.



Comments on “Making it in America: Artifact Bag Co.

    Arsen on December 23, 2013 5:40 PM:

    The video is great for inspiring entrepreneurs. I guess it also teaches us to be more respectful of the people who help with “password recover” :P .

    mark on December 23, 2013 8:54 PM:

    Inspirational! Started my business in the middle of a recession and suffered all the kicks and blows that went with it. Wouldn’t have it any other way.

    Will on December 24, 2013 1:19 PM:

    Awesome! I too am thankful for having ACL in my life. Here’s to a healthy, productive and prosperous 2014!

    Bob Corrigan on December 24, 2013 5:35 PM:

    How wonderful. Exactly what I needed to see. Thanks for sharing this.

    David Deviney on December 25, 2013 8:59 AM:

    I want my daughters to see this wonderful story.

    Derrik Ollar on December 29, 2013 4:11 PM:

    I love his comment on the fear of loss of health insurance benefits preventing people from becoming entrepreneurs. I hear that in my friends’ excuses all the time.

    Randy on December 31, 2013 8:46 AM:

    Thanks for the inspirational post.

    I’ve been himming and hawwing about doing my own thing for years. I’m tired of designing things and making a tidy profit for other people. Maybe it’s time to give it a try.

    Ming Ooi on January 2, 2014 1:45 PM:

    I think part of what makes the story so good is that he was completely authentic in his approach to marketing his product. He never once sent ACL an email or pitch, but MW found him through the mutual appreciation of those chairs. Plus, he didn’t immediately shout out his story in his reply tweet – which is rarer still.

    In this day and age of instant gratification and immediate ROI, it’s nice to see a start-up not try to conquer the world overnight but keep moving forward – and finally landing the attention of an influencer like ACL.

    Even better, I think ACL does rightly deserve a pat on the back for being a champion of business and brands like Artifact Bag Co.

    My next bag purchase will be from Artifact … when they launch backpacks.

    Ben Bailey on January 3, 2014 11:18 AM:

    I love this… so great to see how you can genuinely, and sometimes quite simply, influence someone to change their life for the better.

    blackbird on January 5, 2014 10:37 AM:

    I have an Artifact tote bag that is beautiful and beautifully made.
    Chris Hughes is a fine craftsman.

    Peggy on January 5, 2014 11:33 PM:

    I think what struck me the most was his comment about health care. I am Canadian and lived in the States for 2 yrs. In that time I had a few run ins with the medical system and was shocked at the cost and the life and death decisions people have to make everyday about their health. Our healthcare in Canada may not be perfect but I can get on with my life and my dreams without having to factor that in. I can only imagine how much “American Ingenuity” is being hampered by this.

    enrico on January 11, 2014 9:08 PM:

    A great reminder to us all who sometimes forget to or life’s daily pace forces us to loose the time to day dream that a slice from the one in the sky tastes the best.

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