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Meet the Maker: Michael and Wells of Rogue Industries

In our Meet the Maker series, you hear from our Makers on their journeys as entrepreneurs and how you, The Grommet Community, have changed their businesses for the better.

Michael Lyons and Wells Lyons are co-owners of Rogue Industries–a leather goods business up in Maine. This father and son team began crafting leather men's front pocket wallets after Michael couldn’t find the right one for himself. We recently caught up with Wes and he shared more about what's it's been like running this family-owned business and gave advice for other Makers just starting out.

Meet the Makers behind Rogue Industries. In this Meet the Maker edition, The Grommet catches up with the founders of Rogue Industries, a leather goods business based in Maine. 

What did you want to be when you grew up?
I wanted to be a paleontologist. I've always loved dinosaurs, rocks, and the outdoors. Today I've got a stegosaurus tattoo that's a replica of the first scientific drawing of a stegosaurus that was done by paleontologist Othniel Charles Marsh. I like his illustration because it's all wrong (the number of plates are way off, and the tail spike placement is incorrect) but Marsh went for it–he didn't let the idea of perfection stop him from acting. In business terms, you could say he understood minimum viable product and the importance of getting to market!

So I didn't become a paleontologist–business and law became greater interests. But I still love exploring the outdoors, especially habitats where it feels like a triceratops could be just around the corner.

Meet the Makers behind Rogue Industries. In this Meet the Maker edition, The Grommet catches up with the founders of Rogue Industries, a leather goods business based in Maine.

What three words would you use to describe entrepreneurship?
Persistence, luck, and resilience. I find the harder I work, the luckier I am. But that doesn't mean there won't be enormous challenges that knock you down from time to time. You've just got to make sure you get back up and keep moving in the direction you want to be going in.

Meet the Makers behind Rogue Industries. In this Meet the Maker edition, The Grommet catches up with the founders of Rogue Industries, a leather goods business based in Maine.

What’s one piece of advice you’d share with other Makers?
Start small but be relentless. Track your progress each day, identifying the top three or five items that must get done. Check in regularly to make sure those actions sync to your larger goals.

What other things do you love to make?
I really enjoy cooking for friends and family. Being from Maine, knowing how to make a good chowder is pretty much required. Years ago I took JFK's fish chowder recipe and made a few adjustments to it at Christmas. I was trying to impress this woman I was seeing, and I'd say it worked, as now we're married.

Enjoying cooking is definitely something I've gotten from my dad–Michael's lobster stew is legendary. My brother, Jesse, is the real chef in the family though. He's also The Grommet's neighbor (you can see his house from your office!).

Meet the Makers behind Rogue Industries. In this Meet the Maker edition, The Grommet catches up with the founders of Rogue Industries, a leather goods business based in Maine.

Meet the Makers behind Rogue Industries. In this Meet the Maker edition, The Grommet catches up with the founders of Rogue Industries, a leather goods business based in Maine.

What has surprised you most about starting a business?
Day to day, I'd say we have more fun working together than we ever imagined.

What advice would you give yourself 10 years ago?
Ten years ago, I was 25, living in New York City and going about 1,000 miles an hour. I just wasn't taking care of myself–not enough sleep, hardly any exercise, and I thought meditation was permitted only for Buddhist monks. I would say get more sleep, make time to exercise, and get into a meditation routine. Meditation will help you realize you're not the center of the universe. It will increase your happiness and your focus will improve–all good things.

What has been the most rewarding part of starting a business?
It's so cool knowing that you're making something that people love.

When we get an email from a guy in his 70's or 80's, saying that ours is the best wallet he's ever owned, we celebrate–that's decades of competition we just went up against, so we must be doing something right!

Because our Rogue Front Pocket Wallets alleviate back pain caused by sciatic nerve pressure, we've helped tens of thousands of people feel better. Additionally, a lot of customers buy our wallets because they've got a vacation coming up and they know how hard our wallets are to pickpocket. It's nice knowing that people can feel more relaxed and at ease when they travel thanks to our products.

How has The Grommet community helped your business since your feature?
The Grommet community has been incredible! We've added dozens of new retailers all across the country thanks to The Grommet's outreach, and received great ideas for new products and improved designs from Grommet customers. In every interaction we've had with The Grommet, the people we've worked with have been amazing. It's so nice to partner with a company like yours.

 

Learn more about Rogue Wallets and shop, here.

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