In times of quarantine, when businesses large and small have come to a standstill nationwide, local entrepreneurs are opening up brand new businesses on Cherokee Street.
Kevin Kelly is one of those creative entrepreneurs, whose manufacturing workplace, Well Made Workshop, began operations for the first time this April at 2623 Cherokee.
To introduce our new neighbors, we asked them a few questions to get to know them and their brand.
Q: What drove you to open Well Made Workshop? How did you get into manufacturing?
A: The events leading up to the opening of Well Made Workshop all started with a little company of mine called Snake Bite Co. Snake Bite in and of itself was an experiment after having grown tired of working in digital marketing and tech for the prior 10 years. I was tired of intangible objects on computer screens and I wanted to make something with my own two hands. The bottle opener (which shares the namesake with the company) allowed me to have a crash course into leather goods and steel manufacturing. After 5 years of slow yet steady growth, I had built up enough funds to purchase the shop where Snake Bite gear had been made since day one.
Q: So we've seen the legendary Jason Momoa sporting masks made by Well Made Workshop. How did this collaboration start?
A: The collaboration with Jason Momoa was only made possible with good friends and powerful local business, So iLL. They became friends with Jason a couple years back while he was filming Aquaman - they worked with him and his trainer to set up a climbing wall to incorporate into his training. I’ve known Dan & Dave Chancellor since we were kids and we’ve been working on little projects here and there that never really took off. Dan put 2 and 2 together after seeing that we had launched our Original Well Made Mask and hit us up. We were able to design, prototype, produce and deliver 4,000 masks to customers in one month via ontheroam.soillholds.com. We’ve made approximately 10,000 masks in our first two months of business.
Q: Do you plan on continuing to sell masks year round? Are other products in store for the future?
A: I do foresee mask business lasting for a while. The move will be towards more and more fashion x function oriented masks since the initial frenzy has dissipated quite a bit. We’ll be launching our own version of the contour design used in the Momoa collaboration/ It will sport the same filter pocket as well as replaceable nose pad area featured in those but with Well Made branding. Aside from that, we’ll be focusing on redesigning and reimagining daily items such as apparel & tote bags while refocusing on leather goods. We like to reimagine simple ideas (like a bottle opener) and try to incorporate some sense of attitude and lifestyle, all while telling a story about making quality goods in St. Louis.
Q: Why did you choose Cherokee Street for your business?
A: The shop had already existed in various forms for the past 5 years and it made sense from a logistics standpoint to not try and move all the gear and workflows to a new location, especially in the midst of a pandemic. More importantly, I’m from here and I've lived in South City specifically for about 10 years; a certain sense of pride and identity is woven into anything I make – I want to be a part of the future success of this city.
Q: How can folks shop for your products? In person? Online? Other stores?
A: Right now we have a bare bones site up at WellMadeWorkshop.com There are, of course, endless plans and ideas that are in a state of flux as we navigate the new normal of 2020. I personally want to build this corner into something special that helps reflect the interests of the immediate surrounding culture, South City and St. Louis as a whole. We want to build a successful business and work with other businesses to help create their own custom goods; the idea of being able to be a valuable resource on Cherokee Street to help all businesses on this street (and beyond) is the main motivation each day.
Q&A by Laura Smith, Cherokee CID Summer Intern
Indoor photos by Evan Endicott