Update: as of May 2019 (one year after this interview), Jackson Wayne no longer produces all of their products in the USA. They outgrew their factory and started to produce some of their goods in the Dominican Republic. The products featured below are still made in the USA.
We discovered Jackson Wayne when we were searching for the best leather bags made in the USA. After testing out a few of their bags, we knew that we had stumbled upon something special. This level of quality, craftsmanship, and customer service all in one package is hard to find at a fair price, but Jackson Wayne seems to have found the secret recipe. We had to find out more. So, we reached out to Andrew Lynch, the founder of Jackson Wayne, to uncover their story – and here it is. We had the pleasure of chatting back and forth with Andrew over email about his history, their production process, top selling products, and what the future has in store for Jackson Wayne. Our questions are marked with an “AAR” label and Andrew’s responses are denoted with an “AL” tag. Before we hop into the interview, we’ll give you a little background on Jackson Wayne. Enjoy!
History and Overview
Jackson Wayne produces high quality, full grain leather goods that are all 100% made in the USA. Sidenote: we do a ton of research on leather products, so be sure to check out our guides on belts, wallets, and handbags. Bags and briefcases are their bread and butter, but they’ve also expanded to produce wallets, notebooks, and other smaller items. Andrew founded the company in 2015 and runs the business out of Franklin, Tennessee. One thing we love is that he and the rest of his employees are incredibly transparent about their values, business model, and how they make money, which is very refreshing and contrary to other major leather good makers. They come straight to you, the consumer, right after the production process with no middlemen, so you get a great price on a quality product without all the markup that typical retailers put you through. We’ll let Andrew give the rest of the details about how he got started in his own words.
AAR: Give us a taste of the history of Jackson Wayne in your own words.
AL: Jackson Wayne was born out of my frustration in purchasing briefcases when I used to practice law. I had seen some old lawyers’ briefcases that held up well over decades. But it seemed that everything on the market now was either insanely expensive or made of cheap flimsy “genuine leather” that flaked and fell apart pretty quickly. So I set out to learn what made a quality briefcase like the ones from decades past. My goal was to create that level of quality, with a few modern features, and sell directly to customers at a fair price without the typical retail markup. And that’s what we’ve done.
AAR: How many U.S. based employees do you have and in what locations?
AL: We contract with a couple of U.S. factories experienced in leather goods to produce our products. This was the most efficient way to structure our business so that we could attain the pricing we wanted for our customers. Much of our production occurs in the West and some here in the South.
AAR: Why do you choose to manufacture in the U.S.?
AL: I’ve always liked the idea of manufacturing in the U.S. I like doing my small part to contribute to the economy. And it just seems more efficient to produce locally/regionally rather than ship everything from the other side of the Earth.
But I also knew that I couldn’t expect customers to pay for a significant “Made in USA” markup. Ultimately, I needed to find a way to create heirloom quality products at a fair price. To do that, I needed a high level of skill, accountability, communication and an ability to scale production. After a truly exhaustive search, I was able to find one of the few factories remaining that could provide all of that.
Jackson Wayne has over a dozen products in their catalog thus far, and as you’ll read later on in our interview, has plans for several more! Below are some of their most popular products, along with a few words from Andrew on each one.
AL: This is a classic double-gusset briefcase with old school design cues and a few modern conveniences for good measure. It’s a real head turner and customers love it. Full grain, vegetable tanned leather. Solid antique brass hardware. Finished edges.
AL: We think this is the perfect sized weekend travel bag. Not only is it made with full grain, vegetable tanned leather that is truly stunning, but the inside is where the magic really happens. Most duffles use a cheap nylon lining. We’ve chosen to use an American made heavy duty army canvas lining in pine green. It’s water repellent and thick enough that you could actually make the entire bag out of it. We also use heavy duty (think: overkill) American made antique brass zippers. As of this writing, we’ve never had a zipper jam or break. It just feels so much stronger than most zippers on the market.
Field Notes Journal
AL: This one is form and function at its best. Field Notes is a great American brand and we’ve built something that is ruggedly durable yet convenient enough to fit in your back pocket. An integrated discreet pen holder sets this one apart from the rest.
Jackson Wayne: Quality Above All Else
AAR: What do your customers love most about you and your products?
AL: Our customers love the rare, premium leather we use and the clean/minimal design aesthetic that reminds them of old school bags. I believe there’s something powerful in achieving a design that is pure, functional and beautiful at the same time. So that’s what we try to do.
We’re a growing company, but we try to bring that small town “Main Street” experience to the online world. Our customers love that they can dialogue with me before and after their purchase. I’ve actually become friends with many of our customers and learned a lot about who they are and what made them identify with our brand. We typically provide a hand written thank you when someone purchases a bag. And we always respond to emails. Basically, we just try to provide good old-fashioned customer service and people love that because it’s so rare these days.
AAR: What makes your product unique vs. the competition?
AL: I think I’ve hit on that above. But to put it differently, as far as I can tell we are one of the only brands producing this level of quality, using this level of materials, and selling direct to customers at a fair price without typical retail markup. And we’re doing it using a U.S. factory.
AAR: What gets you excited about the future of Jackson Wayne? Where are you headed?
AL: We’ve been so fortunate to have great relationships with our customers. So we get many repeat customers. As a result, we’ve experienced significant growth and I’m more excited than ever about our future. We’ve got several more products in development that should help us continue that arc. Our biggest challenge is just getting discovered and educating customers about our products. Once people learn what we’re doing and how we’re doing it, there’s really not much “selling” involved.
We couldn’t agree more with those thoughts. It was an absolute pleasure talking to Andrew about the growth of Jackson Wayne and their great American made products. We wish him and his business the best of luck going forward!