To us at Frost River, innovation is coming up with new gear using the tried and true premium raw materials that we’re known for, taking what we build with and figuring out new ways to use it. You hear from us all the time that we make the stuff by hand in Duluth, MN, and all of our new products are designed, prototyped, tested and produced right in our shop on West Superior Street. For our new product introductions in 2015, we released new designs every week for the first 15 weeks of the year.
What does it take to come out with new designs every week for fifteen weeks?
It starts with hours of thinking and dreaming, creating out of thin air, drawing inspiration from gear that worked and paying attention to gear that didn’t. It took those midnight ideas, those shapes and bags that pop into your head when you’re driving south on Highway 53, north on 61 to Grand Marais, or Highway 1 to Ely. It takes rolls of TP (you’d be surprised where and when inspiration hits) and endless pounds of whole, locally roasted coffee beans.
Even then, that’s just the start, it’s still just an idea.
It might be on paper, but certainly not in waxed canvas, brass and leather. Drawings, drafts, measurements, angles — they all come together before the canvas is even cut to begin building a prototype. Sometimes the prototype came out perfectly. Sometimes we had to make a couple more before we were ready to share the finished product with the world. Either way, we sewed the waxed canvas, binding, webbing and leather all together, putting in solid brass hardware to make the first finished product.
From there, our in-house marketing team set to work, photographing and writing, creating studio images and photos of the new gear out and about in the wild. We shot over a thousand photos in 15 different locations, spending over 30 hours in photoshop to make 48 gigabytes of images and graphics. Rick Kollath painted more than 15 new beautiful watercolor illustrations and we published over six thousand words in new newsletters and web copy alone. Were we busy? Heck yes. Was it worth it? Absolutely.
Since that cold and snowy January morning in 2015 when the 15 weeks began, we made 37 new designs in 10 different product categories. In those 15 weeks alone, we cut 35 miles of waxed canvas to make packs and gear for all our orders, spent thousands of hours on sewing machines and riveting tables, and shipped hundreds of packages far and wide.
None of that’s new, it’s what we do. We are Frost River, and we make the best waxed canvas gear you can get — every day.
Lately, We’ve been busy prototyping, testing and working with the new product introductions for 2016. This year the format will be a little different; we’ll be launching new products based on different themes around the 16th of each month in 2016. We’ll have new waxed canvas gear fit for use in every corner of the world, built for folks of all different sorts who appreciate our Reliable Softgoods. So keep a look out, because every month this year, we’ll be coming out with new stuff, starting this coming week. Watch our Facebook, Twitter, and instagram for details and sign up for our newsletter. We’ll keep you up to date with the latest!