Immortalized by the saying, “You don’t know s— from Shinola,” Shinola (pronounced SHINE-ola) was originally a company that manufactured shoe polish out of Rochester, NY from the early 1900’s to the 1960’s. Detroit-based Shinola/Detroit LLC recently purchased the name and is now making waves as one of the leading luxury wristwatch manufacturers in the United States.
With its headquarters in Detroit and under the operation of Texas-based Bedrock Manufacturing and Swiss timepiece manufacturer RONDA, Shinola is creating a stunning collection of timepieces, and now offers its own line of luxury bicycles, leather bags and accessories, writing journals, a throwback version of the original shoe polish, and Shinola Cola (which is arguably the best name for a cola… ever). Instead of setting up shop overseas, the company flew in teams of expert watchmakers from Thailand and Switzerland to train new employees, many of whom were former automobile factory workers. The new jobs are certainly welcomed in Detroit, where the unemployment rate is more than twice the national average.
Shinola’s factory is located on the fifth floor of the Argonaut Building, which was once occupied by the famous GM research laboratories. Since making the move to Detroit, Shinola has created 75 new jobs and plans to add several hundred more as the city continues to redevelop. Shinola CEO Heath Carr knew that manufacturing in the US was going to be an uphill battle, which is why Detroit made so much sense.
“We asked everyone to write down ‘top of mind’ US manufacturing cities, and Detroit was at the top of people’s lists,” said Carr. “There was a great energy in the city and great focus on moving forward, with less about the past.”
After starting out with an online store, Shinola now has boutiques in Detroit (441 W. Canfield Street), Kansas City (415 Nichols Road), and TriBeCa in New York City (177 Franklin Street), along with a presence inSteven Alan, Barney’s, and Neiman Marcus. For its next big venture, the brand is going globetrotting.
Despite a 4,000 mile commute between Detroit and Paris, Shinola will be opening a new location this month at 213 rue Saint-Honoré in central Paris with plans to expand into the UK and Germany as well.
Shinola is a company willing to take risks, and has so far been successful with all of them. To quote one of their brazen ad-slogans, “Someday they’ll call Geneva the Detroit of Switzerland.”
Photo Credit: Pinterest & Shinola.com