by micha thomas
Don't be fooled by the name of the company - this one's for the gents AND the ladies. Travis Weaver began Manready Mercantile in 2012 with his neighbor Roby Fitzhenry. Their first call to action was to provide women with excellent shopping options for the men in their life. As a maker already, Travis began crafting items that men either didn't know existed or didn't know they wanted. Products they eventually couldn't live without. That was the plan. Manready Mercantile is now a full apothecary line with several home goods and miscellaneous items mixed in, like their whiskey-soaked beef jerky, as well as a successful brick and mortar store in Houston, Texas.
They just celebrated their first year anniversary at the storefront a few week ago. That's a lot of growth in a small amount of time for a self-proclaimed "small-town boy" from Zephyr, Texas, a four-hour jaunt from Houston. Manready is a true made-in-America heritage brand without having more than a few years of "heritage" to their name. They champion honest, hard work; their packaging is crisp and classic with modern flourishes, and they make axes. Beautiful, functional axes.
As I pulled together my various chats with the store's general manager, Jonny Lackey, and Travis, I found myself wondering: has the Manready team ever read Susan Blackwell Ramsey? Some of her poetry might be right up their alley.
Who is the Manready team? What are your ideals?
We’re a small group of hard-working individuals. We don’t mind working long hours and can multitask our asses off! We base the company on quality products and over-the-top customer service. Honesty, fairness, community support, and always finding a way to give our support to American-made goods are our focuses.
What's your background pre-Manready?
I have a degree in Advertising but found myself working various sales jobs before starting Manready.
What's your buying process for the store and online? Do you need to see it all in person? Gut instincts?
We have several of us handling buying here now. We carry about 125 brands, but we personally test out each product before it’s carried in the store. Everything must be expertly packaged, branded, and of the highest quality to ensure consumers get the best value for their dollar.
What's the most common thing people say when they walk into your store?
We definitely hear a ton of "so and so would love this place"! There's a lot to look at and a lot to talk about in the shop, so it leaves a lot of options for people to relate with.
What's the split in the store and online? For instance, 50% Manready products to outside product lines?
I’d say we’re close to about 30% Manready goods vs. 70% featured outside product lines.
Top-selling Manready item?
Our Bergamot & Teak candle is where the company started and has continued to carry its weight throughout the company's growth.
In travel, where do you draw the most inspiration?
Out traveling on backroads in the country. Stuff in the country is always made well and built to last, everything has a purpose. Everything has a story.
Regarding people, where do you draw the most inspiration?
I like people that do their own thing, people not following what’s trending and popular. People that are actually able to think on their own and come up with their own, unique creative ideas.
What trends in retail and design are you most excited about?
The idea that Made in the USA is gaining traction and that local communities can collaborate in their efforts to grow together is awesome. We keep things simple and functional. I prefer timeless pieces that never go out of style.
Talk to us about collaborations. Manready seems to be built on this despite the proprietary line.
Collaborations with other companies has definitely been full of great experiences for us. By working together we all grow stronger. We'll always continue to support small companies because it's exactly how we became who we are.
Advice you give entrepreneurs, especially designers or retailers?
Keep to your routes and always work through all the hard times.
We're coming to see you next month. What's in "store" for us?
Hand-made old fashoneds, tall tales, and you might even get to meet our shop dog Dylilah!
In 5 years from now...?
In 5 and 10 years we’re hoping to still be trucking along! Opening more stores and finding more awesome brands to work with.
Next time you're in Houston, visit the Manready Mercantile team at 321 West 19th Street. And you can shop their products right here at The MiA Shop.