Brand focus: Appointed
A quick look at what DC-based brand, Appointed, is doing to spruce up the last part of the office that needs a refresher: office supplies.
“I have known the inexorable sadness of pencils,” begins Theodore Roethke in his aptly titled poem, “Dolor.” “Neat in their boxes, / dolor of pad and paper weight, / All the misery of manilla folders and mucilage…”
With just a few strokes, he paints, does Mr. Roethke, a picture of undiluted, office-induced depression, of the greyness and the fog, the slow tortuous ticking of the clock, the cubicled holding cell, the steady draining of life hour after dull hour. It leaves a knowing shudder, this effective little portrait.
Were it not for the tech industry’s more youthful influence, this might have been the standard workspace experience of today. But as Google, Yahoo, and Facebook have made indoor slides, playground color schemes, and preschool-esque napping pods symbols of the Silicon Valley workplace, and with shared workspaces the likes of WeWork and NeueHouse arriving (not to mention the rise of the gig economy), this drabness has been made into something of an antiquated memory.
The only part left to address now is the office supplies. As longstanding men’s lifestyle source, A Continuous Lean (ACL), writes, Appointed, a premium desktop products company based in Washington, DC, has seen to it that office supplies are given a similar remodel. Rest assured, the drab “dolor” of the old office culture is not carried over by this small operation. They do not trade in the staid––far from it; theirs is an optimism infused with modern purpose: a devotion to detail, a sense that things can and should be done better across the board. In addressing the complacency of conventional office supplies, they offer a collection of workplace products reinforced by the company’s mission for classic beauty.
In the brand’s own words, this is a business whose “thoughtfully designed desktop products” are created to “make utility look luxurious.” In the words of ACL founder, Michael Williams, it is simply “handsome.” That single line of praise itself would have been seen as something of a coup for Appointed founder, Suann Song, had she stopped there. But in convincing Mr. Williams to interview her on his site, she did one better. Mr. Williams, having once vowed to never cover a Kickstarter project — “99.9% of everything that I have been pitched from the crowdfunding site is utter garbage” — found himself fully on board with Ms. Song’s product after her great email pitch.
Their subsequent conversation about her decision to launch Appointed as a Kickstarter project in 2015, the preparations leading up to the fundraising, and the creation of the brand’s flagship product (a brass-coil-bound, cloth-covered, heavy-paper-stock, made-in-America notebook), was brief, but illuminating. He was, he said, “Impressed with not only the aesthetics of Appointed, but also of Suann’s approach and attention to detail.” She, meanwhile, revealed her passion for “paper products, specifically”, and her journey during the R&D phase for the prototype. “Even though I’m a business owner,” — she’s run a creative studio in Washington for nearly a decade — “which takes some risk, I’m very risk-averse. If I don’t have the funds, I don’t do it,” she said. “And producing product takes a lot of risk — especially at the scale that I wanted Appointed to be at. So, about a year ago I decided that I was going to see what it would take to get Appointed going, research the market, and just start designing and prototyping product — and I would worry about funding later. Once I had product I believed in; that’s what got me to move forward and figure out funding.” It was a carefully-planned, methodical process. And the Kickstarter, Ms. Song went on to explain, was merely a step towards something more substantial. The end goal carries much more ambition: to be the defining desktop goods firm for the design-driven enterprise.
While we’d be remiss in not pointing out that Appointed’s treatment of product is rather precious — at the end of the day, a notebook is still just a notebook, making it hard to actually “invest” in one, as might be suggested — the intention is certainly in the right place. We think the business speaks for itself though, and given the controlled manner in which the product line has grown since the mid-2015 interview on ACL, it would appear that Appointed is well on its way to meeting its grand ambitions.
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