Hook & Gaff was introduced to me by Jamie Clayton, who shot these photos. His brother, Gash Clayton, is a self-taught artist and designed one of the watch models. His 2nd, 3rd, and 4th are coming out soon. When Jamie sent these, it was mostly to brag on his brother, but I fell in love with the images and the watches and knew they’d make a great feature.
Man in charge:
Spartanburg, South Carolina. I’ve lived all over the state, from the edge of the Blue Ridge to the coast in Charleston.
West Columbia, South Carolina.
This idea transpired because I couldn’t find what I was looking for in a timepiece. Hard to believe! The trend in the industry right now is to go bigger and bulkier, specifically the ones targeting fishermen and outdoorsmen, and that just isn’t my style. I was determined to make a watch that was functional, durable, and had an aesthetic quality that reminded people of a luxury watch. These are built for the boat, but nice enough for fine dining.
I spent several years researching, building a business plan, and contracting others to do design work for prototypes and logos before I had an epiphany to call my buddy Gash Clayton (also from Spartanburg). I knew he was a great artist and wanted his help sketching a logo. He’d spent several years doing graphic design work in Charleston, and to top it all off, he is somewhat of a watch enthusiast. He designed our logo the first night we spoke. We spent the next few days talking business and touching up the watch design for another prototype, and a partnership was formed.
The design for our first watch had to meet our construction criteria. The case is constructed from ultra-lightweight titanium for durability and functionality. The glass is sapphire crystal, extremely scratch resistant, and this keeps our watch looking like new for years. It’s water resistant to 200m for our guys and gals who spend time in the water. We also have flipped the crown to the left side of the watch and we’ll continue to do this for the majority of our models. This is unique, but it became a necessity for me because the right side crown irritated the back of my left hand when I was fishing or playing golf. Our first Sportfisher also features a moon phase mechanism, letting you know when fish may or may not be feeding, especially pelagics. The dial design is a throwback to some vintage moon phase watches that were produced in the 1950’s, but we’ve modernized it a bit and have given it a very classy look.
We are bucking the trend to go bigger and bulkier. Instead, we are targeting active outdoorsmen with this sales pitch: “Hey, we’ve got a watch that is lightweight, thin, but extremely durable. And the best part is, you can wade into the flats wearing it, fillet a flounder, rinse off and wear it to dinner that night.” Our watches are assembled right here in the U.S. Our first Sportfisher is an entirely Swiss made watch, but beginning with our second model that we’ll roll out soon, we partnered with a watchmaker who takes our Swiss movements and assembles the watches in North Carolina. We’re very excited about creating a watch business with production based here.
Favorite spot you’ve fished:
Well now, I can’t reveal my favorite spot now can I? Every fisherman knows that’s a recipe for disaster! I have a few inshore spots in Charleston that I really love. I gravitate towards inshore fishing because I enjoy the hunt. Finding fish is just as fun for me as reeling them in. When it comes to offshore, I’ll have to take you down to Tuna Town – Venice, Louisiana. Venice is awesome. Fishing the Gulf is so much different than fishing the Atlantic. Everything is different, even the style of the boat and the equipment. Fishing the oil rigs versus trolling temperature changes, weed lines, or ledges. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed fishing in Venice the few times I’ve been, and I have to plug my boys at the Mexican Gulf Fishing Company. If you want to put tuna in the boat, they can do it. Love those guys!
Thanks to Michael Sims for the fantastic interview!
Go shop Hook & Gaff.
Poler makes so much cool stuff. I often get lost on their site lusting over all the good #campvibes and wishing I was on an epic adventure decked from head to toe in their gear. So, when Huckberry put The Napsack on sale, I quickly added it to the Back Down South Shop. This this would’ve been (and will be) an essential additional to future Glamp Outs.
The Napsack has zippers at the shoulders, so you can stick your arms out, and a cinch at the bottom so that you can open it up and stick your legs out. Hike it up, cinch it, and wear it like a puffy coat around the campfire (or while standing on a log), and then crawl right back into your tent without ever having to leave the warmth of your bag. Plus…it has pockets, making it the coziest jacket ever.
To quote Socality Barbie (my new favorite Instagram account on the planet): “I just ‘happened’ to bring all my coffee gear on this hike. Might as well make a cup on this mountain top like any normal person would do.” Thanks to The Poler Napsack, drinking said cup of coffee while leaning on a fallen tree was super easy.
LABOR DAY GIVEAWAY
Summer forever, but Fall is almost here. To celebrate crisper air, changing leaves and laughter around fires, we’ve teamed up with Huckberry to give one away!
Head over to this Instagram post and ‘like’ to enter! A winner will be chosen at random and announced (via Instagram) on September 12th.
Photographed in Auburn, AL at Acre
I started a candle company because I have always loved what candles to do a room but never felt comfortable burning a chemical latent, kitschy smelling candle. There is also a gap in the marketplace in regards to men and candles. You either have what folks call “man candle” or “mandles” – which are BBQ, Grass, and Bikini Babe (I wish I was kidding) scented – or you have the opposite spectrum of candles mostly marketed to women. I wanted to create a candle that was both beautiful in design and safe for any room.
The Red Cedar Essential Oil candle. It is a very timeless fragrance and really adds to the room.
Meet Jake Carnley, founder of Great Bear Wax Co. We had the pleasure of meeting him in Opelika recently and bonded over our mutual love of Garth Brooks. We also bought two of his candles – Tobacco Bay and Grapefruit – and they’re amazing. Use code backdownsouth to get 10% off your purchase! Go shop.
To be honest, this collar may be nicer than the majority of Mark’s belts. They’re made with genuine American leather and silk sourced from England. Each collar, leash and belt (for you human readers) is hand-sewn onto each product in Burlington, Vermont. We are truly impressed and continue to be less cool than our dog.
Harbour Island, Bahamas
- Call Your Girlfriend podcast.
- The Devil Wears Prada thanks to the Delta movie selection.
After two months of back to back weddings, it’s break time. This means local adventures together, mostly to our front porch and down to the creek by our house with our pup and cold beers. But adventures always pop up – close and far – and we’re excited to see what fills our empty calendar this month. Got any ideas for us in Georgia?
you y’all out there.
Photographed by Jess Marie (LadyFLASHBACK)
We only had the pleasure of spending 1 evening around John Rich of Oakleaf & Acorn but the man left an impact. Mark and I enjoyed a dinner with him, his brother and Micah of The Old Try. He was the kind of guy who you wanted telling the stories around the table – and he told good ones. He talked a lot about his kids, not in a “please stop talking about your kids that I’ve never met” way, but in a way that we wanted to hear more. In a way that made you smile because you knew how good of a father he was, and that’s always a joy to be around. My heart is so heavy and I only met the man once. That says a damn lot.
Micah has made this print in honor of John who passed away unexpectedly on Tuesday. All of the profits will go to the Rich family who are in our prayers. If you’re the prayin’ kind, send some their way.
Photographed in Atlanta, GA
What most inspires your art:
I’m inspired by so many things but mostly the energy felt when being by the water, and all things that remind me of that. I’m also very inspired by color itself.
I’m working on a new project that I don’t want to give too many details about just yet but is sure to be a favorite. All I’m going to say is that it involves giving back to my dear old friend the Chattahoochee River and I’m very excited to see where it goes.
Meet Maggie Mathews, an amazing Atlanta-based artist. I had the privilege of photographing her and her studio for this great piece on The Love List that you should definitely go read!
Photographed in Eureka Springs, AR
Hudson Sutler Oahu Commuter Duffel (on sale for $85)
I recently chatted with Grant Hewitt, the man beehind Hudson Sutler, and we thought it would be fun to collaborate with a little travel series this summer on Back Down South. Mark and I use their bags on the regular, and I’m traveling quite a bit this summer around the South and beyond. I wanted to photograph their Weekender duffels taking trips with me. This idea grew into one of my favorite oppurtunites I’ve had to date: curating a shop on Huckberry.
Over the next few months, I’ll be adding products to the shop (stay tuned on Instagram, FB, Twitter), as well as photographing some of my favorite ones that go on the trips with me. The shop is filled with items that I think are perfect for summer travels and adventures, so click the image below to check it out and do some shopping!
I found out about No. 4 St. James from my best friend. She sent me to their website and within minutes I was lost in it and found myself purchasing their Texas Works book that same day. A lifestyle brand that showcases Texas makers, writes engaging stories about life in Texas, and shares beautiful photographs from across the Great State? Be still, my beating, Texan heart.
Needless to say, I was extremely excited and honored when they reached out to me recently. I jumped at the chance to have their story told here, and to photograph a few of our favorite products currently for sale in their marketplace. A huge thanks to Vincent Friedewald, their President & CEO, for answering these questions!
Houston, mostly, including some time in The Woodlands for high school. Others on our team are from West Texas and Dallas. And one from Pennsylvania, although we prefer not to talk about that.
Describe Texas in one word:
Inspiration for the company:
Basically the pride that Texans have for Texas, and the curiosity that non-Texans have about Texas. In that, we saw a business opportunity: despite Texas being an international icon, there was no brand attempting to represent her. There are Texas-y brands, to be certain, but they mostly have western wear themes. We were inspired to create something broader, a brand that would reflect the entirety of the Texas experience. From life on the coast, to the Piney Woods, the big metro areas – everywhere in Texas.
Tell us about the name:
It refers to an address in London. When Texas was a Republic, it maintained a diplomatic office (a legation, like a small embassy) at No. 4 St. James’ Street. We were drawn to the name for a few reasons. First, just explaining it automatically tells a story about Texas, and we like telling stories about Texas. It also avoids clichés and imagery that might be expected of a Texas brand; we wanted a name that would be a little bit surprising. We also wanted to signal upscale quality and international reach, and somehow (to us, anyway) it just sounds upscale. And last, although this didn’t occur to us initially, it inspired the perfect tagline: The Address for Texas.
Favorite product currently in the shop:
It’s tough to choose just one. I’m particularly proud of our special leather edition of Elmer Kelton’s The Time It Never Rained. It’s such a great novel, and not just to Texans. We collaborated with Understated Leather to rebind the books in leather. The image on the cover is laser etched; it’s a photo of a dried up lake bed we took while on tour in West Texas, the setting for the novel. It has a great leathery-book smell, and it’s the kind of product that you can keep for a lifetime and then pass on. We have plans on doing similar special edition covers for other Texas classics, so The Time It Never Rained is hopefully just the first of what will be a large collection.
What you want readers to know most about the company:
That we’re just getting started. In particular, we’ll be introducing more original products over the course of 2015. Some will be in collaboration with other great Texas makers, and some will be exclusively marketed under the No. 4 St. James label. We know people will be excited about what we’ve got in the pipeline.
Thanks again to Vincent and the entire team for sharing their story and products!