In Designer’s Corner, we feature extraordinary artists and fashion designers from around the world. Each designer has a unique journey into the accessories and jewelry space which influence their work and is a huge part of their success. We share these stories in this interview series.
Today’s bracelet market tends to lend itself to a heavy saturation of materials such as gold and silvers, but that’s not to say that other materials aren’t viable anymore. Goat and Oaks is one such label that’s looking to revolutionize the bracelet market with their sturdy and environmentally conscious designs.
Can you provide us with some background on yourself, anything you want to share, your upbringings, and what you are like as a creative director, founder, and individual?
We (Bruno & Bob) have known each other now for six years – we originally met each other at a marketing company in The Hague. After that job we, always kept in touch and became better friends through our passion for entrepenuership. We are both interested in the environment, and absolutely love to travel. One day we saw a nice coloured sailing rope and we thought it’d be nice to wear as a bracelet. After a lot of thinking and designing, the first Goats and Oaks bracelet was created – but we didn’t want to just make a bracelet and sell it. We wanted to give something back, and that’s the reason we donate €1 from each individual sale to the Ocean Cleanup Project. This project was started by a Dutch guy named Boyan Slat. At this moment over 5 trillion pieces of plastic litter the Ocean. We both love the sea and wanted to use this project to make the sea a better place again. That’s also the reason we give a free cotton bag with every purchase; we wanted to reduce the usage of plastic bags during shopping. We both love the process; the enjoyment of doing all the things that come with entrepreneurship.
How did the brand launch, what was this process like for you? Can you explain the story behind the name?
We have had many sleepless nights thinking about different names. But after a lot of thinking, we determined that our feelings corresponded the best with goats.
Why? Goats break the rules. Goats follow their curiosity. Goats go wherever they want to go, and they do whatever they want to do. And besides that, they’re just epic animals.
At Goats and Oaks, we want to make bracelets that serve as a reminder for you. A reminder to keep on going. A reminder that you are unique and have the potential to be unstoppable, just like goats. And why Oaks? Well, there’s no reason, it just fits.
Don’t make life too complicated, do whatever you want to do. Act like a goat and wear your bracelet with pride.
What is your creative process and outlet with the brand, how did this process start?
We both love to travel and love the sea. During traveling you are able to think about things you really want to do and escape from the daily grind. This is where the inspiration started. We always have a notebook with us, so we can write down new ideas and draw new designs. Admittedly, we’re not very good with drawing, but luckily we’re still able to explain our drawings to designer friends!
We personally think you have an amazing brand, and are up to whatever challenges are put in your direction. Throughout this entire journey, what has been your biggest struggle?
We are both addicted to the entire process of entrepreneurship. All the good things, the enjoyment, but also the struggle. You always have stuggles, but that’s part of the game. We try to stay positive all the time and see the good things and possibilities, just like goats! I think the biggest struggle for us is the fact that for now we’re only a two-man team, and the production process isn’t going as fast as we would like. When we create a new design, we want to have it made the day after, but that’s not always possible (laughs).
The designs we have seen are beautiful, how would you describe your customers, what are they looking for in your product, and how do you ensure this congruency between the brand and them?
Ther are a lot of bracelets for men, but most of the time you’ll find silver, gold or leather bracelets. There are beautiful designs on the market, but with the product line of Goats and Oaks, we wanted to create a tough bracelet with sustainable parts. We use Olympic sailing rope and reclaimed leather. Our customers are urban/hipster men that love tough and sustainable bracelets.
What are the next steps for the brand in terms of growth and creativity? In terms of product lines, collections, and individual products.
A week ago we expanded abroad to the Netherlands. The bracelets are now available everywhere in the world! Currently, we’re busy with a new design with leather instead of sailing rope. We see a lot of influencers and retailers from anywhere in the world that wanna collaborate with us, and that’s truly exciting for us. For now, we’re only making bracelets, but Goats and Oaks is just in the initial phase – don’t sleep!
Tell us about your travels! Which countries have you been together? Where would you recommend our readers to go?
When we turned 18 (after high school), we made a trip around Asia and Australia for 6 months. We went to Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam, Laos, Indonesia and Australia. When we were in Thailand we made a trip with a boat down the rivers. We saw a lot of plastic waste everywhere. We found this a very sorry sight! But we loved the culture over there and all the stunning places like the Angkor Wat Temple (Cambodia) and Halong Bay (Vietnam). The surfing in Bali was just awesome. We also made a sailing trip around Indonesia; the trip was a mix of days sea fishing and snorkelling. We also saw a lot of plastic waste in the sea, which we felt so sad to see, because the coral was so beautiful. After Indonesia, we continued our trip to Australia and we drove a camper from Perth to Sydney. The best thing about this trip was the late night ride along beautiful beaches and meeting new people at the campfire.
Tell us how you guys have coped with the growing pains with Goats and Oaks. What do you say to our readers who are currently stuck and have challenges in their life/business/career to do?
You really have to love the process of everything that comes with entrepreneurship. When you love what you do, you can handle anything. You find new and creative solutions for problems and challenges with that mindset.
Being a new accessories company – what’s your long term vision for the Goats and Oaks brand and how would you achieve it?
Within 5 years we want to be a big fashion brand with an expanded assortment of accessories and fashion for men, and have our brand selling worldwide in different stores. When it comes to that, we’re still going to place a huge emphasis on remembering the importance of this planet that we call home.