Sponsor Sprints: Inside the Mind of Schon DSGN
In our Sponsor Sprints blog mini-series, we’re profiling some of this year’s race sponsors via personal interviews. In today’s feature, we’re chatting with Ian Schon, a longtime friend and teammate of B2C2, and an entrepreneur who launched Schon DSGN to follow his design ambitions. Schon DSGN is best known for their expert-designed and manufactured pens, which we will be showcasing in primes, raffles, and prizes throughout race day. Check out Schon DSGN’s beautiful images and craftmanship on twitter and instagram @schon_dsgn
What is your role at Schon DSGN and how long have you been at it?
I started making pens in 2010 in my parents garage and officially launched Schon DSGN in 2011. I run the company as a sole proprietor wearing hats from design, manufacturing, finishing, logistics, marketing, you name it, i do it :) Chief everything officer.
Tell us about your evolution as a designer and small-scale manufacturer. You had a humble start, launched a super successful campaign with the Pen Project to build a following, and have since launched a watch company. How has your style, expertise, experience, etc. changed since you got going?
My style from the design standpoint has always been to marry clean designs with manufacturer geometries. A tricky dance, but it continues to yield success since all my products make it to market. I was always bummed as a design consultant (when I had a dayjob ) when product designs didn’t make it! The goal of this work is to design and ship. My new studio in Philadelphia contains all the necessary equipment to transform raw stock into the products I sell. This is a big shift from contracting out some of my larger run manufacturing and allows me complete control over my process and outcomes. This required me to train in the art of swiss style turning. I call it an art and not a trade since its really nuanced and there are so many ways this manufacturing process can be done. As my experience grows in this space, the harmony between the machine and the design grows. I love being at the center of that tension and making decisions that span the whole product to production.
You recently moved your shop from Boston, MA to Philadelphia, PA. Can you walk us through that decision and tell us what you're hoping to do with the new space?
I needed more space!!! Boston is great, but there were many spaces I could rent for manufacturing. Easy outside of Boston, but I wasn’t super pumped about being far away from my community. here in philly I am in a great neighborhood with a studio near fishtown. This means its easy to take people for a tour and grab a bite to eat in a really cool neighborhood. Its definitely a big lifestyle shift, but this place rocks. definitely come visit. ill give you a tour and well eat some good stuff.
What is the next big idea coming out of the Schon workshop? You're known for being hyper-focused on everyday carry items. Is there a new product on your horizon that you're working on?
Fountain pens. I am sprinting for some deadlines around these. Big launch later this year :)
You're currently hand-crafting special pens for primes at the Greenfield Crit. Can you share with us a little bit about what people can expect if they're lucky enough to snag a prime?
I did some custom engraving on these pens. A new process I am getting into. Go check them out at registration. If you like them, consider commissioning some as gifts with a name, monogram or your logo :)
Finally, what is the accomplishment you're most proud of with regard to Schon DSGN? I can think of a million ways you've impressed us all with your attention to detail and commitment to design, but I'm curious what you feel most personally proud of.
I am proud of being a first generation manufacturing company. Its really hard to start up a manufacturing company because of all the money it takes to get these machines and ready a space for the type of work I do. Its epic to walk into my facility and think... once upon a time, i was in my parents garage making pens one at a time. Who knew this is where I would end up. Super proud of all the hard work I have put in these past 8 years. Cant wait to push this even further. :)