Hammer + Awl located in Madrona, a beautiful neighborhood in Seattle, is known for its fine selection of high quality men's accessories made here in the U.S. We had the privilege to interview, Erin Krohn, the owner of this shop. Read below to find out more about her and how Hammer and Awl became the place to go when looking for those beautifully well crafted pieces.
What inspired you to start this business? Was there ever anything else you thought of doing as a career choice?
Actually, I was inspired to start the shop because of a prior career choice! Well, I'm sort of joking, but there is a bit of truth to it. I am an interior designer and worked in the industry for over 17 years, primarily doing retail design domestically and internationally. Though I enjoyed my design career, I had always envisioned myself owning a small shop filled with unique things that could help define a person's style. The more I thought about it, the more I thought doing a men's version of what I maybe would have done for women would be a more interesting and overlooked niche for Seattle, as there really aren't many boutique shopping options for men in this city.
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October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month and although most of us are reminded of the severity of the disease on a daily basis, this annual campaign is a good reminder of how important early detection of cancer really is. It also gives us the opportunity to help others who are dealing with the disease while also balancing other difficult tasks that life throws at us all every single day. This year alone there will be an estimated 1,658,370 new cancer cases diagnosed in the United States alone. With those high numbers it is easy to say that we all are either dealing with cancer in our own families or know others who are currently fighting it.
Throughout the years there have been so many wonderful organizations that have been developed to help bring awareness and raise money to help those in need. Community Cares is a very special local non-profit organization . They help patients undergoing chemo and radiation treatments by offering everyday services like housekeeping, laundry services, food shopping and transportation for the patient and their family during that critical time in their care. By partnering with local businesses, Community Cares makes life easier for woman who are currently fighting cancer as well as other illnesses. Life can be stressful for anyone, especially a mother who is not only receiving cancer treatments but also has to worry about things like making sure her family is fed and the house is kept clean. Community Cares helps families by providing these services, relieving them of these worries so that she can focus on getting better.
This month General Knot & Co. is just one of the many businesses that is helping to raise money for these much needed services. We will be featuring our very own “Pink Collection” consisting of Neckties, bow tie and pocket square. 100% of the profits made on these products will be donated to this amazing organization.
By supporting local charities, we can each make a difference in our communities and help those individuals that need so many different levels of care.
While looking through your shop online I came across so many great items (I personally love the PF Flyers). Can you express some of your thoughts or criteria when choosing these products for your shop?
Mostly I look for stuff that stands out, and by "stands out", I don't necessarily mean a bold print or loud colour, but can be something that's beautifully made or a carefully selected fabric, yet the design has to have timeless and enduring qualities, both in style and construction. PF Flyers are a great example of that. They're really well made, comfortable, will genuinely never go out of style & everyone looks good in a sneaker like that.
How did you come to find General Knot and how do your customers respond their custom products?
I feel like I knew about GK beforehand but I actually ended up walking by their booth at the Capsule trade show the summer before I opened the shop and met Andrew & Ann. They showed me the line, gave me a bandana and by that fall we were working together.
People really dig the General Knot gear, not only because its nicely made, but the fact that there's most often an age to the fabrics and as they are vintage/deadstock/rare they're also limited. Add to that, we only bring in one of each fabric- mostly because they're too cool and unique to end up going to a party and having some other guy sporting the same tie/square etc- so for Calgarians its likely they'll be the only person in the city who has one!
While visiting your shop in Calgary, where would be a great place to get something to eat?
For cheap eats, right by the shop I'd tell them to go to the Delightful Cafe, which is a great family run diner that does great Vietnamese, Chinese and American, which I highly recommend their Pho & Curry Chicken. That being said, Calgary's food scene is burgeoning these days, so you would be hard pressed to have a bad meal. A few of my personal favorites- which run the gamut, price wise- would be Model Milk, the Brasserie, Native Tongues Taqueria, River Cafe, Aida's Mediterranean Bistro, Wasabi Sushi, Tubby Dog, Anju & Inglewood Pizza.
Are there any upcoming events in your area that people should definitely check out?
We have an event we're planning right now in the summer to bring a bunch of like-minded local businesses together for a day of shopping, snacking and booze but it's still getting worked out at the moment. We'll also certainly be throwing a big 2nd year anniversary party in Mid September, at which we'll be launching some great exclusive products, so that's something for which to look forward!
I noticed by reading your blogs that your dog, Doug, is a big part of NAQP. How long as Doug been part of your family and how does he interact with your customers?
Funny thing is Doug isn't our dog at all, he just comes to visit for a few weeks a year when his owners go away on Doug-less trips. He is by far the most calm, patient and gentle dog we could ever have at the shop! Although he's not ours for keeps, he's been a part of our fam since we opened, really. We get to enjoy his company probably 4 times a year, maybe more sometimes and each time is better than the last. He's a really funny dog, as he's not incredibly social, yet enjoys the company of people. Although you might not know it. Some people don't even notice he's in the shop because he's so calm and quiet. Every once in a while, he'll quietly sidle up to greet customers, but for the most part, you won't notice him until you almost trip over his sleeping carcass in the middle of the floor. He's a magical once in a lifetime kind of pup.
Follow North American Quality Purveyors on Instagram and on twitter @northamericanqp to keep up to date with all their happenings. They would love for you to stop in if ever in Calgary but if not you can always visit their online shop at shopnorthamerican.com
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