Trust Co. originally started as a few friends restoring USA-made axe heads. Those friends, Gene and Nicholas started refining their craft and producing immaculately restored axes. Trust Co. has since become a successful heritage brand expanding into soft goods. They have designed the ideal adventure pack, a great tote and a log carrier that will make anyone want to explore the outdoors! Trust Co. was founded on the principles that things have become a little too safe, too distant and too disposable. The products they create are intended to withstand the longevity and roughness of an explorer. Handcrafting each of their goods in a made -to- last fashion truly evokes the need to adventure. Enjoy our interview with with the co-founder Gene Lee of Trust Co. and photos of their North Portland industrial studio!
Questions answered by co-founder Gene Lee
1. Why Portland? What was it that drew you to Portland or has kept you here?
I visited on a West Coast Road Trip nearly a decade ago. I knew nothing about Portland, but we had a stop for a couple days. We ended up extending that trip after falling in love with Portland summer's perfect weather, brew festivals, great outdoors, and great people. I started visiting every year and eventually knew I had to live here.
In short, it was to escape the Texas heat and lack of mountains :P
2. What are your favorite things happening in Portland (design or otherwise)?
The Food. The Maker Community. Creative people doing creative things! They all share values of relational, craftsmanship, & local.
(Then, of course the Blazers and Timbers!)
3. How did your brand start?
Two friends drinking beer in a backyard, looking at a shiny object, and searching for a creative outlet.
4. What has been your biggest obstacle?
Maintaining our commitment to USA Sourced and PNW Made.
5. What or who inspires your design?
Tradition and experience. I believe that tradition is time-tested design. Products evolve to remain relevant, but Trust Co believes that the fundamental design is beautiful and should stay intact! Tradition helps guide us to time-tested designs, and then through hands-on experience you start to learn the lessons of history.
The people who inspire me are infinite. I feel that every perspective has value, and I try to be open and learn from unique perspectives.
6.What are your favorite things about Portland?
It is inspiring. Not only do you have access to gorgeous mountains, coast, forests, rivers, lakes, etc, but there is no shortage of inspiring people. People who have embraced their passions and embraced intent in the way they live, design, work and play. It is all at once, intimidating and inspiring.
7. What is your favorite part of your studio?
How well it fits. The size and organization of the space really work well for us. Our metal and wood work can get dirty and NEEDS to be kept separate from the leather and soft goods. We've been able to create a very practical studio space for ourselves.
Plus, the space exudes who we are, and as we settle more into the space, I'm looking forward to see how it evolves with us.
8. Your favorite thing about your workspace?
It's ours. It's contained. It's surrounded by a lot of great energy. It's also close to home :D
9. Tell us two truths and a lie!
1. I'm a Korean prince.
2. I've never broken a bone.
3. Bo Jackson crushed my hand.
10. 5 things you can’t live without.
1. Liz Wolf
2. Exploring the great outdoors!
3. Great friends and great conversations
4. Korean & Texas BBQ
5. My Camera