Making something quality is often a little harder. It takes more time to construct. It costs more money for supplies. The little details all really matter. Noah Guy doesn’t mind. To him, these are the creative constraints that come from making pieces he is proud of. After a career at major retailers including The North Face and Levi’s, Noah started Joshu+Vela in 2010 to design his own line of bags and over the past six years has grown the company from a one-man operation to a small workshop and factory in San Francisco’s Mission district.
The front of the workshop is a small shop that’s open to the public. This space showcases the Joshu+Vela collections, along with complementary items including magazines, home goods, and Noah’s current favorite leather shoes. The shop is open to the workstations where Noah’s team handles business needs on a row of computers, and trims leather at the large cutting table. Partially visible are the more specialized machines that assist the team in hand-making each bag 100% in-house. For instance, each rivet on a bag is made from solid copper and takes five discrete steps to attach to each bag. “It’s a high level of commitment to have great quality,” Noah says, but he credits the high quality of his products to the many repeat customers the small brand has. Maintaining and displaying that high level of quality is why Noah has kept the shop and factory in the same space, creating complete transparency about the products materials and manufacturing. Here’s a tour just for Rue.