Awash in a sea of iPhone accessories, Valentine Goods is a step above most. Valentine Goods first caught our eye in May 2012 with a set of premium leather iPhone backs made using an original selection of uncommon skins such as ostrich, stingray and cobra. Now the brand is expanding their attention to cover MacBooks and other Apple products as well, though their focus still remains on materials that certainly eschew commonplace plastic cases and bulky protectors.
Valentine is truly a breath of fresh air for those who see their iDevices as an extension of their personality, rather than just mandatory utilitarian tools. “Before I started Valentine Goods, I never put a case on my iPhone or MacBook because I didn’t want to bulk up or cover up such a nice product with a case,” founder Jamie Clawson tells CH. “My products complement rather than cover up.”
Designed, sourced and manufactured in New York, Valentine products marry a timeless material with modern technology—and not just because of their purpose. Clawson uses both a laser cutter and clicker press for prototypes and production to guarantee precision. As a perfectionist, Clawson tells CH, “I’ll prototype until I’m happy, whether it’s two hours or two weeks. It’s a lot of trial and error, but it’s the best feeling to see a product go from the initial concept to full production even on a small scale.”
For each product, Clawson does rough sketches and measurements before taking it to the laser cutter, where he tests his design ahead of making final decisions. For flat products like the leather iPhone backs, he gets specially-made dies for the clicker press. “The die is essentially a very precise, sharp knife and the clicker is faster and cleaner than the laser,” Clawson explains. “It pushes down on the die with 20 tons of pressure to cut the product out.” All of his products use skins sourced from tanneries in New York, with whom Clawson has developed strong relationships. “The suppliers I work with also work with big companies like Ralph Lauren and Gucci,” Clawson says. “But they know I’m a small business and over the past few years have really helped me and are very accommodating to my needs.”
Valentine Goods has achieved a broad fan base, from design enthusiasts to big names like Rachel Zoe. It’s a result of creating a product that excels in both form and function. Not only do the leather backs look good, but they also add grip to the device—a key element that Clawson says won him a lot of loyal customers. However, it’s their unique style that makes the accessories so popular. “With so many colors and styles available and the ability to remove and reapply, you have the ability to match or complement your outfit,” Clawson says. “There’s also a ‘wow’ factor involved in some of the leathers, it’s pretty cool to be hanging out with friends or a at party where most people have the same phone and you can pull yours out and it has cobra leather on the back of it.” But Clawson believes that it’s his personal touch and passion that really sells; “I think customers get a lot of value knowing that they are handmade to order, and knowing where they come from.”
Valentine Goods accessories for Apple products ($25–$350) are available online and at select retailers. Valentine Goods will also be showcasing at Capsule NYC, 22-24 February 2015.
Images courtesy of Valentine Goods