Rindert Schutten brings beauty and function to the forefront with his company Schuttenworks. His products, wooden iPhone and iPad accessories, are deceptively simple and streamlined disguising an acoustic element that amplifies sound without electricity. I've personally asked my husband for an iPhone Dock in aqua green (and hopefully this will serve as a reminder…..) I love to buy American Made products! Visit SchuttenWorks on Etsy here.
What is your name?
Describe your products.
My focus is on wooden accessories for iPhone and iPad. The beautiful woods I use, I feel perfectly complement these high tech devices. I try to make my designs such that they create a synergy with the design of the iPhone/iPad so that the two of them together create a balance. For the stands and docks for example I try to make them as low a profile as possible, to match the sleek look of the iPhone/iPad. The same holds for the functionality. The location of the speakers on the iPhone for example, matches up perfectly with the acoustic elements of the docks. They are made for each other.
How and why did you open Shuttenworks? Is it your full-time job?
Having been in high tech for most of my life I had gotten burned out. So when the company I worked for downsized a bit, I could either find a similar job (with lots of travel) or do do something completely different. At that time I did not know what I wanted to do yet, except that it would include making things. So I started to design some products, made them and tried to sell them on Etsy. Then, listening to my customers feedback, I started on this continuous improvement process and gradually expanded the product line. Yes, this is the only job I have, apart from walking our dogs (two West Highland terriers). It's not just making the products, but shooting the photos, managing the Website, engage on social media, shipping, etc. it all adds up to a lot of time and it keeps me quite busy. The good thing about it is I can't blame anyone for anything, nor can anyone else take credit for my success.
You're selling products in over 25 different countries. How do you keep up the pace in a one man shop?
Actually, selling to all these countries is a lot of fun. It's quite exciting to know that my products are now being used all over the world. Especially when you get repeat customers – that is great. The 25 countries (over 30 now I believe) just happen because Etsy is worldwide, and with their support for international shipping it's as easy to ship to Australia as it to Portland Oregon. The only thing I feel bad about is that I have to charge so much for international shipping to cover the cost. Yes, right now I do it all - designing, making, finishing, most photography, social media, shipping, … . I actually have put a fair amount of effort and investment into the efficiency of the process of making my products. I have, for example, invested in a computer controlled routing machine, so that the various cutouts and slots for the cords and plugs can be done efficiently and with high precision. This is essential for building high quality products and the small tolerances required for the various cutouts. Then I use high quality tools and very sharp bits and blades! A local sharpening service in Portland gets good business from me. Then when it gets very busy, like around Xmas time, I hire someone to help with sanding, finishing and shipping.
Your products are beautiful and functional. How did you come up with the design?
Well thank you! People have asked me that many times, and I never have been able to give a good answer. It takes a lot of time, and being really picky, and doing what you think is right, instead of the quick and easy way. Problem solving is a big part of it, while always having the esthetics and functionality in mind as well. If you balance all these elements right, everything just works. And if it doesn't look right you just tinker with it as long as it is needed to get it right, or when it cannot be resolved to your satisfaction, throw it away and start over. And yes, I made some design and prototypes that went into a friends fireplace.
Describe a typical day.
Well I start of with a cappuccino, make my wife one as well, and catch up a bit of what is happening in the world, and take the doggies for a walk in the neighborhood. Then head down to the shop (in our basement) and see what orders need to be shipped. I always do that first. Then maybe plane some wood, make some products, or do some finishing work. Shoot some photos. Good photos right now are my biggest challenge! Maybe go to some wood stores and see if I can pick up some nice pieces. All the while I am available to my customers because of Etsy's mobile app, so I can respond to questions while keeping myself busy during the day.
What are 3 things many people don't know about you?
Many people, at least those who know me through SchuttenWorks, probably don't know that I was born an raised in the Netherlands. Maybe that is why I love biking through Portland so much because the weather is quite similar. Most people also don't know that most of my life I studied and worked as an engineer. Actually being computer savvy helps me a lot in my current work. And the third thing, I am not great cook, my wife is, but I make the best 'nasi goreng' (fried rice) breakfast in the world!
What are your goals for Shuttenworks in the upcoming year?
For the upcoming year I intend to organically grow the business. I am a believer in the American Made movement, and will continue to focus on making the process of making the products more efficient, so that I can continue to sell my products at very reasonable prices. Then hopefully I can hire someone on a more permanent basic so I will have a little more time to focus on designing new products and take some vacation time.
How can our readers contact you? email, Facebook, Twitter, blog, website
They can always email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. And yes, I invite all your readers to visit and like my Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/schuttenworks. I do have a Twitter account but I don't like Twitter too much, so forget about Twitter. But do visit my Website at http://schuttenworks.com
Feel free to add anything about yourself or your products here.
One more thing I feel passionate about is Portland Made. Portland Made (http://www.portlandmade.com) is newly founded non-profit company that provides a support network for local companies through education and sharing of best practices, to become more successful with Portland based manufacturing. As a board member of Portland Made I hope to be able to make a difference for our local economy and provide opportunities for our local manufacturers.
by MRH, CMO