THE JAC HENRI STORY
It all started sometime around 2004 when I was looking for an extra slim wallet. Something that was a little sleeker than the giant Constanza-style wallets that were available at the time. Frustrated and unable to find anything besides credit card holders, I decided to try to make something myself. I headed down to the local leather shop and bought a few pieces of scrap leather and began to play around until I came up with a version that looks pretty much like the JAC HENRI Slim Wallet we are selling today. I hand sewed it and was pretty happy with the results.
YOU SHOULD SELL THESE
You’ve heard this story before… someone makes a product; everyone loves it and starts buying the product from said maker. This isn’t exactly what happened with me. I carried it for almost eight years before selling anything, which in retrospect, was a form of product testing. During that time the wallet developed an amazing patina, and many people complimented me on it, surprised I had made it myself. I never thought of actually selling them. I was working with numbers… in an office.
But the feedback was positive and many people assured me that I wasn’t the only one who wanted a skinny wallet. The world is ready for a high-quality slim wallet they told me. So when
Kickstarter came on the scene, my wife and I decided it might be a good platform to see if there might be a market for these skinny wallets after all. We launched a campaign in 2013 and it was a success. We raised $20,000 selling early versions of the wallet made from a workshop in Marion, Ohio. Of course, much of that was quickly used up filling the nearly 300 orders, but we were very happy and demand for the product was proven.
We launched our website and had a cute little launch party at home complete with a JAC HENRI Slim Wallet-shaped cake and an enthusiastic group of our early supporters (and MVP interns who we couldn’t have gotten where we were without!)
HOW WE MAKE THEM
Once the excitement died down, we were left with trying to find a good producer, while keeping the product MADE in the USA. Many people told me to just go to China, but something in me told me there was value in an artisanal product made in America. This has been a stumbling block, however, as we have tried a number of different producers, taken production back in-house and back again—all while keeping production domestic. There were some interesting challenges and some great finds. We have an amazing vintage monogramming machine from the 1950s. Finding the right sewing machine was not easy. After many broken needles, the third one was the right one. This type of machine is commonly used to sew sails for boats and works well for doing the type of detail sewing I do. Don’t even get me started when I see stitches on other products that are askew- created quickly without love and care.
We also started creating a number of different colors of leathers with contrasting threads and high-quality suede linings. We also branched out trying different exotic skins, including American alligator, lizard, and ostrich in vivid colors.
WE GET FANS
While we were figuring out our production, we had some pretty amazing opportunities—including gaining celebrity fans. After being asked to gift the top food talent at the South Beach Wine & Food Festival, I had the chance to gift a wallet to
Martha Stewart, who not only called the wallet “very handsome,” she also followed up with us the following week to sell them on her American Made site. We were thrilled!!
Other opportunities followed – including the opportunity to make a custom design for the entire Miami Heat NBA team. Former Heat star Ray Allen had a one-of-a-kind shark skin JAC HENRI Slim Wallet and liked it so much that he wanted to gift one to his entire team. This was exciting. And the team was heading toward the finals! Unfortunately the day before, the wallets were finished, the team lost the finals, LeBron had to be carried off the court and no one wanted to hear how JAC HENRI made custom wallets for the Miami Heat. They say timing is everything, well, they’re right. LeBron announced his departure to Cleveland the following day so we’re not sure how long he carried his JAC HENRI Slim Wallet. That said, we know for a fact that Ray Allen loved his!
Lots of great non-celebrities discovered us too. Guys who had always used a rubber band around their credit cards or who were tired of trying to shove their cash into credit card holders. We even made videos on “how to slim your wallet.” Guys who had carried fat, bulging wallets for decades were getting excited about “getting thin!” We heard stories of fashionistas carrying them in their bras during New York Fashion Week, travelers effectively using it as a “travel wallet,” dodging pickpockets by slipping it into the front pocket of their shirt!
Touch Of Modern took notice of us and sold special edition wallets made especially for them.
WE LOVE THE MEDIA
The media have taken note of us too. Ocean Drive called us the “best unisex wallet,” The Miami Herald called it an “out of the box” gift idea (by the way, did we mention we deliver the wallets in very sleek boxes I designed myself to minimize waste while keeping things kinda luxurious?) Bloggers liked us and even an international magazine like L’Official in Germany gave us a shout out!
Now there are a number of thin wallets on the market, but none of them matches the practicality and elegance of my creation. I know because I have bought them and many of them are made with weak thread, nylon, fragile, and low-grade leather. Of course, many of them are made in China and, of course, it’s hard for American workers to compete with their wages.
We still make our wallets in our small, Miami workshops, but we have narrowed down some of the wild color combinations we used to offer to a few classic combinations with one sky-is-the-limit “BESPOKE OPTION.” Under this category, we will build whatever you, the customer can dream up. Of course, these take a little longer so expect 10 business days before shipping,