Shane & Melissa Douglas of Douglas & Co. Detroit
Photography by Jesse David Green
Douglas & Co., a company based out of Detroit, was started by husband and wife team, Shane and Melissa. The business blossomed from a passion for creating leather goods. We are so thrilled to share more about their craft, company, and creative lifestyle.
can you tell us more about your work, company and what you do?
It started from a dream my husband, Shane, had to work with leather goods. His dream, now my dream, cultivated a deep desire and curiosity to learn about this craft. After some time it evolved into a business idea we launched together as husband and wife in November 2014.
Shane and I create limited run products, usually less than twenty per series. The Tuck & Sew Bag is our flagship design, although recently we've added smaller items such as wallets, key chains, bracelets to our line-up. It takes a great deal of time and patience (and snacks!) to fine-tune a leather product. We want to create a connection between our hands and the hands of our customers.
Even in the short time since we've launched we've learned and re-learned how to create a business model that honors and grows our marriage. We don't want every one of our conversations to be about Douglas and Co., so I try to talk Shane into the occasional rave, and Shane tries to talk me into the occasional block of cheese. We both agree on dessert.
What is it about leather-working in particular that fascinates you?
I begin a project with a vision, formulate a design and then through personal interaction with the materials you end in a beautiful resolve. When I step back I feel immense gratitude to be part of the experience.
What does your typical day look like?
I take my mornings slow, with some mix of coffee and meditative practice. Typically, I get to our studio space by ten o'clock when light fills the space. Basil, the studio kitty, often curls up in my lap, while I work on re-fining our small product designs (ie. belts, bracelets and wallets). I take lunch mid-afternoon and often head to a local coffee shop to tackle the administrative parts of the business.
By early afternoon, I'll head back to the studio to finish up my morning projects and plan for an evening session with Shane. Once he arrives at the studio, we'll clear a space to eat and pitch ideas to each other. Around nine or ten o'clock we'll head back home, a small house nestled in a neighborhood of Detroit.
In all honesty, we haven't had a typical day yet. It changes day-to-day, week-to-week depending on production schedules, local events, and store collaborations.
what inspires your work as creatives?
Detroit is a city overflowing with creatives. I am continually inspired by the streets I drive, the buildings I enter and the people who stay. This city is bold, resilient and alive.
how do you come up with ideas and designs for your products?
Functionality drives our designs. For example, one Saturday afternoon while working in the studio, I asked Shane to make me a bag and a few hours later we had a preliminary design for what we now call the Tuck & Sew. Our focus is on how the product will be used in an everyday setting for both men and women, alike.
outside of work, what sparks your creativity?
Exploring other places! We really enjoy traveling together and take every chance we have to go to new places. Recently, we've explored Austin, Atlanta and my personal favorite, Oregon. Some of our favorite local spots include Astro Coffee, Red Hook Detroit and Trinosophes. We spend long hours in the studio, and I've realized just a simple change of scenery can do wonders for the creative mind.
did you grow up in a creative household?
Not exactly. While my mother is a natural artist, she worked long hours in the hospital growing up, and didn't have a chance to hone her gift. However, she would always help with school projects and drawings for certain classes.
Shane grew up in the jungles of Mexico and spent his teenage years in Russia. Traveling around with parents of whom were both creatives in their own regard, inspired his own creative journey.
What are you currently listening to?
Currently we're looping Deptford Goth, Ben Howard, Seryn, Josh Garrels, Housefires, and the Civil Wars.
how do you find balance in your life/work/combination of both?
Work and life seem to be the same thing for us in this season of life. Since Shane still works a full-time job during the day we spend most of our week day evening and weekends working in the studio together. We've had to create intentional margin in our day-to-day lives. We are still discovering how to find balance in our relationship as a married couple and as business partners.
Any advice for readers wanting to start their own creative business?
Partner with other local creatives! We have discovered a new depth of generosity among other artisans in our city. It was intimidating at first, but we found so many of them are willing to share ideas and skills.
what is your intention when you create?
We believe there is a strong connection between our hands and the hands of our customers, so each piece with this is mind. We hope our customers can experience the joy we had creating a product in every stitch.
We recently hired an employee, a huge development for our business. We are also working on our Lifestyle Product Line and partnering with other markers. Soon, we will be releasing a Signature Series. We're not sure on the release date, but you can stay in touch with new development by signing up for our newsletter, also stay connected on Instagram!
View other maker profiles here.