Holger Graf and Daniel Lantz are the founders of Graf Lantz, a Los Angeles-dependent enterprise whose artisanal line of homeware and private accessories is firmly rooted in worldwide vacation and lifestyle.
The Graf Lantz collection—a fusion of German precision, Japanese viewpoint and California soul—builds on and displays the disparate geographical backgrounds of the founders. Daniel Lantz was born in Utah but located himself residing in Japan. Holger Graf was raised in a gingerbread village in Germany right before moving to Munich to pursue his doctorate in structural engineering. The companions now stay in LA.
Graf Lantz products are deceptively basic. Most are handmade of Bavarian Merino wool felt. In addition to remaining purposeful, they’re colorful, eye-catching and invite the feeling of touch. In actuality, the material seems to be addictive individuals buy 1 item and impulsively get an additional.
Forbes.com spoke to Daniel Lantz to locate out much more about the founders, the business, and the affect of vacation on their designs and personal everyday living.
When did the firm start off up?
I achieved Holger, who is a close friend of a single of my associates, when I was on business enterprise in Germany. Ironically, we got into an argument that initial evening. Holger was right and I was wrong but it appeared to have sparked anything. The rest is history.
We put down our roots in California in 2009, and started off Graf Lantz from our condominium in West Hollywood. It was an 800-square-foot room, filled from floor to ceiling with devices, supplies, shelves and people. We are tenacious, 1 of our finest qualities, and we preferred becoming in the center of all the work 24 hrs a working day. But the absence of house ultimately became much too significantly and we looked outward.
We moved our manufacturing unit into a beloved, century-outdated (1912) grocery store in the Silver Lake district of Los Angeles in 2012. The building is in our DNA now and we will never ever go away it.
By the way, the constructive arguments between Holger and me haven’t stopped since they always guide to the greatest selections.
How were being your felt products and solutions influenced?
We created our initial items utilizing a prosperous but mainly forgotten textile, Merino wool felt, which we nevertheless depend on closely now. We selected it simply because it is gentle like Cashmere and Alpaca but with unequaled fiber power.
Germany is planet-renowned as the source of wool felt coasters, typically used in Bavarian taverns. Holger grew up surrounded by them everywhere and later on recognized that no one particular realized about the abilities of the materials. So we seized on the option to carry it listed here.
To colour the felt, we use sustainable OEKO-TEX dyes that are non-harmful and absolutely free of chemical compounds.
What ended up your initial solutions?
We first created wine totes, which are even now a most effective-vendor for us now. They are built of the Merino wool felt that turns out to be a all-natural insulator, and they are trimmed with leather. Whilst the felt is soft, it provides robust protection for a bottle, is obviously stain resistant, and has drinking water-wicking properties. The totes are incredibly well known hostess items.
We then moved on to the Jaunt bag and then Bierfilzl Coasters.
What are your most well-liked solutions?
In terms of sheer numbers, our coasters are most well-liked. We marketed 15,000 sets previous year. Our trivets and placemats have also been in superior need, specifically in the course of COVID which set off a renewed interest in dwelling decor. Around the past 12 months, we marketed 9,000 trivets and 7,000 placemats.
We also offer a good range of seat pads and tissue box addresses.
A person of your COVID masks was lately highlighted in The New York Instances. How did the corporation pivot during the pandemic?
We created a complete line of encounter masks made of organic and natural cotton and European linen that grew to become really well-known because people are anxious about obtaining non-natural elements in opposition to their faces, and are apprehensive about respiration by them all working day.
We’ve marketed more than 300,000 masks and for each and every 1 sold, we have donated 10 meals to Feeding The usa, totaling above 3.5 million foods to day.
Pre-COVID, purses produced up 70% of our revenue but that figure has dropped to 20%. Masks now make up 60-70 per cent of our business and we’ve received about 70,000 new buyers via our mask income.
The most well-liked face mask is the 1 that was described in The New York Times, the Zenbu Natural and organic Cotton Mask. In impartial lab screening, The New York Situations Wirecutter acknowledged it as giving the finest harmony of filtration and breathability (when employed with a filter insert).
We were delighted with this recognition since we intended and created our encounter masks like all the things else we do – with infinite investigate and tests to execute a significant-top quality merchandise we are joyful to place our identify on.
By the way, how did the business decide on its not-quick-to-recall title?
Actually, a lack of creativity and understanding of how firms are named: Holding it straightforward is usually the sport.
Who is your level of competition?
We really do not search at competitors since in standard, we are not aggressive folks. We’re absolutely sure they are out there but we focus on our thing and go away that kind of detail to our amazing workforce.
As significantly as role products go… surely David Bowie. He is often a role design for almost everything. I just know that if he experienced labored in felt, that would also have been amazing.
With the possibility of worldwide journey on the horizon, what are your beloved sorts of vacation?
Holger and I did the long length matter amongst Los Angeles, Tokyo and Munich for many years ahead of at last landing in LA. We actually chose LA mainly because heading anywhere from here is rather straightforward even on a moment’s notice.
We adore vacation much more than anything, and all of the little bits of magic and inspiration that arrives with it: the scent of airports, the way the stars glimpse from unique resort rooftops, even the jet lag. We adore it all.
Holger is just one to dive into investigating all he can about a spot in advance of traveling there, which has benefited us so considerably. There have been numerous times when he’s taken us to a location I wouldn’t have envisioned to delight in and we had the most remarkable time. He is often a block in advance of us, discovering and receiving missing in the sights of anywhere we are. I individually like to just wing it and immerse myself in the society as soon as I get there.
As for destinations… oh guy, we want to go all over the place the moment it is safe and sound to travel. Character miracles anyplace, whenever is how we like to roll. The very first merchandise on my wish record will be heading paragliding in Tasmania or possibly the Alps.
I like that you can just stuff an airfoil in a backpack and fly really significantly wherever in the planet, so that’s my desire of the minute. Holger would most probable be jetting promptly to a smaller city in Mexico that he would like to retain key, to preserve its question. We’re just enthusiastic to have that feeling of boarding an airplane the moment again. Holger will be steadfastly in his aisle seat and I will be at my window viewing it all go by.
Be aware: This conversation has been evenly edited and condensed for clarity.