Well Made

Ep. 133 Designing for longevity with Andy Fallshaw

November 5, 2020 · RSS · Apple Podcasts

If you bought a Bellroy wallet when the company launched a decade ago, you're probably still using it. For the past ten years, while they've worked to slim down your every day carry, they've slimmed down their environmental impact behind the scenes.

CEO and co-founder Andy Fallshaw has a unique brand of optimism that's a constant ebb and flow between digging into details, and panning out to see the full picture. On this episode, he's settling into the nuance of sustainability, talking through current and future solutions that adapt and evolve. To build for sustainability, you often have to break a few paradigms along the way. 

“As with most innovation, what you're trying to do is work out which assumptions people have made that are not legitimate assumptions. It's like, what paradigm can you break?”

 Designing for longevity
 Designing for longevity
 Designing for longevity

After catching up on rugby and cricket, Stephan and Andy roll back the clock to 10 years ago, when Andy started Bellroy as an evolution of his blog Carryology (4:28). He talks about why, in the category of modern carry, they believed that wallets were the most important problem to solve. He answers the question, "Why does the world need another wallet (11:20)?"

As their product line expands with increasingly more sustainable materials, Andy lists the criteria that new products and their materials have to meet — each product is a careful balance between longevity and minimal resources (14:16).

Considering the recovery phase of fabrics and leathers is a lot to take on. Bellroy has goals of takeback solutions, but their first step is minimizing the amount of material they're using and the impact that those materials have in production (19:22). Andy walks through the challenges of leather and how an ideal alternative doesn't just swap one challenge for another. Ultimately, a "perfect" material is one that uses the least amount of resources while performing its function for as long as it's meant to. 

When Andy considers sustainability, he's always thinking of the big picture — how different phases and elements affect one another. It's a practice in lean manufacturing and preventing waste before it happens. Among Bellroy's highest priorities are choosing products and materials that are used and loved, avoiding toxins in production, using biodegradable or recycled materials, and reducing waste and energy (34:37).

Andy answers the question, "How do you defend capitalism to those who maybe are disillusioned by it?" and shares how he stays so optimistic (46:14). Finally, he shares a notable list of inspiring books and resources. 


Also mentioned on this episode: 


You can find this and all future episodes on iTunes, Google Play, and here on the Lumi blog. This episode was edited by Evan Goodchild.

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