During my trip to Michigan at the beginning of summer I was fortunate enough to get the Shinola experience. Residing in the historic Argonaut building, their headquarters sit nestled in the heart of Detroit’s College for Creative Studies. I can just imagine the amount of ingenuity and imagination floating around there! As a sucker for great design, I was immediately drawn to what greeted me at the entry; a beautifully styled vintage glass bookcase full of Shinola goods. From watches to bicycles, to anything leather you can think of… I was in paradise. With a warm yet industrial vibe, the reception area is clean, simple and masculine.. the perfect recipe for this classic and soon to be iconic brand.
For the next couple of hours I was treated to the best guided tour I’ve ever experienced! Peter, Shinola’s brand ambassador, walked us through the corporate office first. Just as their company culture is completely transparent, so are their workspaces. You won’t find any partitions or doors leading to personal space here as they believe in the beauty of vibing off one another. From product designers to marketing executives, everyone’s desk is out in the open. I admire the ability and grit it takes to create that kind of collaborative environment! I enjoyed speaking to various team members about the company vision, how working in Detroit is (especially during the winter, yuck!) and what new products or campaigns are launching soon. PS… I am impatiently waiting for the introduction of the furniture line. Hurry up please!
The next part of our tour was definitely my favorite, walking the floor of the factory. Once stepping foot into the leather goods division… I was taken over with the strong aroma of fresh leather scents. Ahhhhh, I could’ve stayed in there forever. I also had the opportunity of seeing prototypes literally being made and tested right before me. Too bad I can’t show you, just trust me when I say, you’d love them.
It was amazing to learn about the highly detailed manufacturing process, how the top of the line Italian-made machines operate, why the majority of the components are handled with human Shinola love and care… but mostly to stop and chat with the employees. Each of them were charming and proud to be there, you could see it in the way they walked, talked and completed their various tasks. It’s hard to believe that the Shinola brand is just four years young because the spirit that runs through their 30,000 square foot watch factory is anything but undeveloped.
The headquarters tour ended in the back of the house which was lined up with Shinola bikes, many of the staffs’ means of transportation! I love every detail that goes into the quality workmanship of these bikes, I would love one myself. How on-trend are the copper details?! I also love the leather handlebars and satchels.
We then walked into the cafeteria, which honestly seemed to be more of a hangout than anything. I mean… ridiculously comfortable leather sofas and a jammin’ ping pong table were the elements present! Everyone on lunch break was either part of the highly competitive game or enjoying a snack from the wall of goodies. It reminded me of what every EDR (employee dining room) should look like. Happy employees equals high productivity, well played Shinola! Oh and I can’t forget the homemade cola they produce on site, that was pretty cool and tasty too!
In addition to the positive and passionate environment created by the company culture, I was once again drawn to the brand’s aesthetic and style. In true Shinola fashion, the exit hallways were decked out in real vintage items from the original Shinola brand, a wax shoe polish manufactured in the early to mid-20th century. A nice nod to the past, or as I like to say, “hints of yesterday” to remind us of where we started. And how about those gorgeous walnut, brass, and galvanized metal bookshelves? I need them.
Less than a mile away from the headquarters is a retail space where our Shinola hospitality came to a close. The store was just as sharp, stylish, and fun as I would imagine it to be. Again there is a theme throughout all of Shinola’s spaces; everything out in the open, showing you how they craft their products. I loved observing the dial factory in motion, everyone working so diligently. The florist and coffee bar added charm to the store, but most of all the ping pong table!
I couldn’t leave without a piece of Shinola, so I decided on a dark green leather journal. I had my initials stamped right there, talk about service and instant gratification. Shinola will be on my radar for quite some time, I fully support what they stand for and how they accomplish it. Great materials & design + genuine customer service = ME, a loyal fan! A huge thank you to Peter for treating us so well, we had a blast.
Image Sources: all my own