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Noticing Neighbors Foxtrot Studio


What started with fixing one broken belt, has turned into a leather working studio featuring products that last. Jordan Fox is the owner of Foxtrot Studio, a café and mercantile located in Rosedale. Through pressing die cuts and attentive hand-stitching, he’s created a space that showcases his studio leather products, as well as other items made with intention and thoughtfulness. And yes, handmade leather belts are included.

In this sit down conversation, I got the chance to ask Jordan about Foxtrot Studio and the stories behind the storefront.


Hayley:

For readers that may not know, could you talk just a little bit about the Foxtrot Studio? It’s such a neat place.


Jordan:

Yeah, for sure. So in the early days, it was known more exclusively as a leather goods studio. We still do quite a few of our own handcrafted products, but it's morphed over the years to be what I consider more of a lifestyle shop—especially with the new addition of the café. Hayley:

Love Meta Coffee! Jordan: The way I describe it to people is that it's a café and mercantile. We still create our own products right there in the shop, and then we curate a selection of stuff that we really dig personally and want in our own lives.

Hayley: What are some examples of those things? Jordan: Home goods, apparel, designed objects, just things that we really find fascinating and want to have a conversation around. Discussing what value they hold in our own personal lives, and having a space for craft in general. The craft of coffee and the craft of making things by hand are two things we want to create a conversation around. So there's no real easy way to describe it, and over the years I think it has become a place for people to come in and get a view into things that we are really appreciating, and things that we're making. We want people to be involved in that process with us.


Hayley:

It's really interesting you say that word “curated,” because it's all coming from a certain perspective. It seems to me when I come in the shop, that these feel like things that have been picked with the intention of using it for a long time. Like the quality is going to hold up, which is something that I think is really needed. This wallet is going to last you, the function of this cup or each thing is going to last you. Have you always been that way or where did that come from, do you think?


Jordan:

I think it came about through a number of just life experiences. Maybe being disappointed by the quality of something that I've owned, and getting a view into it by sort of like dismantling it and seeing that we've all been duped in a lot of things in our lives—whether it's a piece of apparel, or it's electronic. There are many well made things out there, but I just want to create a space to dive into that a little bit more. Not in a way that throws it in your face, but allows you to pick up the object and inspect it yourself.

I'm there to answer questions, especially if it's something that I make. I think people can appreciate that the person who makes stuff is there to chat about it, but yeah, definitely. I really appreciate you saying that, and I think it's something that I struggle with to not stand on a soapbox every day and say, “Can you not see what's going on?” Like, it’s just difficult to really know what you're buying these days.


I think having this forum as a space is really helpful to me, at least, to feel I can bring people in and have a conversation over coffee about something. It means a lot to me, and I appreciate you bringing that up.


Hayley:

Sure thing. Was there a first product that came from that perspective, where your lane kind of clicked for you? Do you know what I mean?



Jordan:

Yeah. Believe it or not, I was getting interested in woodworking before any of this. When Emily and I moved to Kansas City 2014, I was fiddling around in our garage and getting interested in woodworking because it fit all those models for making something with your own hands. You have ownership in that, and it can last a long time. You can pass it down to your kids, or whatever. There's value in that, and it's really honest. Integrity is there because you've put all your time and work into it, so it went from there.

The real first thing was a belt that was actually gifted to me by my mom when I was in high school. I had it for a long time, all through college. When I graduated, and was kind of thrust into the real world, it busted on me. Hayley: Oh! Jordan: Something had broken on it. As I was looking into it, I saw that the inside of the belt was made of cardboard particle board. I just couldn't believe I had no idea that this is how they made these things. Hayley: That’s so interesting. I wouldn’t have guessed that.


Jordan:

It also wasn't real leather. I looked at the bottom and it said “Genuine Leather,” which sounds really great, but that's just a marketing term. It opened up the rabbit hole for me to look into, what is it that we're buying? And what is just a marketing term to kind of pull the wool over our eyes? It set me off on this path of thinking, well, I can make my own belt. I could probably figure this out. I found some forums, found a leather working kit, and set out on this path to start making a few things that I think will last a long time.


Hayley:

What types of tools are you using when you're working with leather?

Jordan:

We use a mix of old school and new school. So old school being that there are still really simple tools, like chisels, hammers, mallets and sewing needles. I still sew all of our small goods like wallets by hand to this day.


Hayley:

Oh, wow.


Jordan:

Those are very simple, basic tools that have been around for a long time. Then I also employ a hydraulic press for pressing with our die cut system, where I punch out pieces to sort of be more precise. It also speeds up the process of making a product from start to finish. Then we use a bit of the new process with die making, which has really taken a hold in a lot of industry these days. It just means punching out pieces and then stitching them up together to get a more uniform and precise product. But yeah, still stitching and sewing and all that by hand, like we've always been.

Hayley:

That's nice, the idea of having a wallet that was stitched by hand and put together this way. I've heard that when you have something like a leather wallet, it does change over time. What is happening there? Why does it look different when you've had it for five years?


Jordan:

There's a mentality that's really fun to get into where you’re accepting the leather changes. Because when you have something real, it will go through changes. Like a leather patina, or the way a really beautifully handcrafted, solid wood table is going to get dings over the years. Your kids are going to spill stuff over it, and it's going to gain this character that's unique to the story that you've been telling with that product in your home or your life.

So with a wallet, I use natural vegetable tan leather, which is pretty well known to immediately take on everything that is going on in your life. It's pale in color because it's pure. When you get this leather in, you can't even sneeze next to it because it'll change the look of it. The story starts as soon as the person unwraps it, or gets it in the mail. Sunlight, oil, all these things create the leather patina that's very unique to the exact person that has that product.


Hayley:

I love that you say the story starts when it's in the mail. It tells the story of how you're living your life day to day. That's a neat thought.


Jordan:

Yeah.


Hayley:

This article is part of a series called Noticing Neighbors, which just means looking around at our neighbors and seeing the positivity in our local community. As the owner of Foxtrot Studio, how have you seen goodness in the community and neighborhood that you're in?


Jordan:

I think it starts with just trying to do your own thing and bring other people alongside, which for me is by opening up a space for others. I think that's a good segue into, like, what we're doing with Paulina upstairs in the studio.

You are a product of the people that you're around. My motto is that I always want to be challenged by others, and I think challenges make us a better person. I particularly love to surround myself with people who I'm almost intimidated by their talent, or their goodwill, or what a quality person they are. I think that will bode well for the future, because if we all look out for each other, we all band together. It’s also this particular neighborhood. There's just something here in Rosedale. It's like a grit, and it's a steadfastness. It's not changing rapidly due to trends or anything like that. It's got a mix of old school industry, with old bungalows. There's just something here that I really can't put my finger on, but we felt that it was a place for us to live.

Hayley: Thanks for describing it. That says a lot about the area.


Jordan:

It also just kind of happened that there was a building next to our house, and our friend asked if we wanted to do something with it. So now here we are. After being given that opportunity, you want to see if there's a way to pass that goodwill on. My friend Caleb, who also has a studio upstairs in the building, is a talented photographer and wears many hats within our business framework. Then with Paulina’s studio upstairs, I think it just adds to this nature where there's art in the neighborhood coming from people who have faith in their work. We try to make a place for people to come in and see what they're working on, and open up the door to conversation.


Hayley:

You mentioned earlier you are trying to stay off your soapbox, but I’m asking for you to fully use it. I’d really like to hear your answer. Why do you think mentally, emotionally, everything—why do you think it's good for us to use things that last and have a history to them?


Jordan:

I think it goes into the thought that if you have something with integrity, it'll be there for you. Whereas if you only have things that aren't made well, it affects how we see life. Even in our intentions with friendships or relationships, I think it seeps into our lifestyle. If you do something with intention and you put your time and effort into it, and live slowly in that thing—whether it's a relationship or a product or whatever—it'll pay you back in the long run. So with the things we're making, yes, I acknowledge that maybe the price tag is a bit more. But it's just going to pay you back, and you're going to see the value in this thing that you invested in just like you would a good friend, or a neighbor. It all comes from using time and intention.


Keep up with the latest from Foxtrot Studio through their website and Instagram. All media originally published by Foxtrot Studio via their online platforms.


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