Meet the Maker is a new blog series on The Dapple featuring Q&As with the small businesses, artisans, and makers who are crafting unique products for dogs and dog lovers. Know someone we should include? Email us at email@example.com.
Today on Meet the Maker, we're talking with Becky Fadden, the creator of the new dog accessories line, Finn + Me. Becky lives in New York City with her Labradoodle, Finley (a.k.a. Finn).
Tell us what you make.
Finn + Me is a product line of luxury dog accessories that is ethically produced by artisans in Vietnam and skilled leather workers in the Garment District of New York City.
What led you to create Finn + Me?
I am an artist and come from a fashion background, so designing a line of accessories was an organic process for me. During the summer of 2016, I was traveling throughout Southeast Asia and visited Vietnam. I immediately fell in love with the country and was touched by the kindness and strong work ethic of the Vietnamese people. I met a Vietnamese woman, Ruby, who collaborates with artisans and sells leather goods in her shop in Central Vietnam.
Ruby made shoes for me, and I was very impressed by the quality. The more I spoke with her, the more we realized how much we had in common—especially our passion for giving back to others. Ruby sets aside money from her business each month and visits different villages in Vietnam to bring the residents food and clothes. I have always valued giving back and currently sit the board at The Covenant House, a shelter for homeless youth in NYC. Ruby continues to give back to her community, and I donate proceeds to the Covenant House when customers buy a full set of a leash, collar, and Pooch Purse.
It was special to me to meet someone who comes from the opposite side of the world and who was raised so differently, yet we related on so many levels. Not even a year later, I spent an entire month in Vietnam developing and teaching the Vietnamese how to make Finn & Me products. I was able to spend a couple of holidays with the Vietnamese people in their homes with their friends and families, and I even attended a Vietnamese wedding! It was an amazing experience. In addition to working in Vietnam, we also produce select products in the Garment District in NYC. So many designers have moved their production overseas, I feel it is important to support those at home, too.
What inspires you as a designer?
I am most inspired by traveling—whether it's the crystal clear waters of Bali, the delicious food in Milan, the colorful architecture in the South of France, or even someone I might meet, like Ruby, along the way. Even in New York, I try not to look at my phone while I'm walking—you never know what you might see that will spark creativity.
What’s your process for creating a new piece?
I start by making a mood board with different images or materials that inspire me. Then, I choose the leather and the hardware. For a new piece that's not already in the collection, I'll have a sample made in the Garment District so we can make changes before a production run if something isn't perfect. At this stage, I'll plate the brass hardware in different finishes, such as in the rose gold plated hardware in the NYC Skyline Collection. Once I approve the sample, it will either be sent to Vietnam or my team in the Garment District will begin production.
Where’s your favorite place to work?
Currently, I don't have an office, so I work out of various coffee shops in the SoHo/West Village area of New York. Often I'll go to the SoHo Grand because it's dog-friendly and very close to where I live.
Any exciting upcoming plans for Finn + Me?
We will be making new scarves for the holidays because our customers love the bandanas. I hope that eventually I'll be able to make leather dog carriers. Currently, it's hard to find a good-looking, but high-quality bag to travel with dogs.
What’s your favorite item from Finn + Me right now?
I love the Pooch Purse, especially for us city people! One of my favorite things to do is to walk Finn and grab a coffee. I once lost a credit card because I was trying to juggle everything while also holding Finn's leash and a coffee. The Pooch Purse gives me a place for my credit cards, money, and keys so all I have to worry about is Finn's leash—and not spilling my coffee!
Questions? Think you would be a great Meet the Maker feature? Let us know in the comments or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.