We had the good fortune of connecting with Austin Stubbs and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Austin, what do you attribute your success to?
In a word, Consistency. Our business has been a clothing repair shop, a gear repair shop, an alterations shop, a custom shop, but for years it was not what I set out for it to be; a clothing brand. I set out to build a handmade, artisanal, small batch denim brand. Through fear and a lack of confidence I hedged my bets and took on every job that walked through the door and before long I wasn’t making jeans at all. I was repairing horse blankets, altering boots, making people’s suits fit perfectly. I was losing sight of my dream and my vision. My wife and I sat down and had a tough conversation about the future of the business and she gave me permission, or more aptly gave me an ultimatum, to either stop taking repairs and build jeans full time or close the business altogether. Since that day we have fastidiously and consistently moved only in the direction of our goal. We have built a small capsule clothing line and are adding designs and products to it at a rate of nearly one garment release per month. We have also distilled our vision for our leather goods and accessories line down to representing the truest and most authentic version of our brand. There are products that we intentionally do not offer despite a demand for them. Every time we have chosen to plant ourselves firmly on the side of making only products that we truly love, are inspired by, and believe in, we have seen our business and our reputation grow.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
I have struggled to see myself as an artist during my life. My mind has always defined an artist in a more traditional sense: painter, illustrator, potter, sculptor. It was not until recently that I have begun to recognize and appreciate what I do as art. There is artistry in building a garment that is meant to last forever and enhance the life of the wearer. I have learned to embrace what I do as art. Whiskey Stitched endeavors to build heirloom quality clothing for men and women that can withstand every bit of abuse they can throw at it, using only the highest quality materials. We are painstaking in our pursuit of crafting the finest, hardest working apparel and gear that we know how. I have worked hard my entire life and I wanted to build jeans and clothes for myself that would look great, feel great, and hold up no matter what I was doing. I am proud to say that today we have achieved that. In any art we can only improve if we remain teachable, ever the student of our craft. I have committed my life to learning and improving what I am capable of so that I can continue to build better and better products. I don’t think that anything in life worth doing or learning will come easy. Some things are innate, but I think it is rare to find fulfillment and purpose in something that we were instantly good at. I have fought tooth and nail to get to where I am today and I continue to fight daily for the knowledge and skill that I possess. Much of what we do at Whiskey Stitched is done in a way that is rare in the modern world. We build our products with an old world quality and craftsmanship that snubs its nose at the planned obsolescence we see in much of our world’s modern manufacturing. Much of what I know and utilize in our business everyday I had to learn the hard way. I had to teach myself most of what I know. On the few occasions that I could find someone with the answers to the myriad questions I have had, they almost always offered their knowledge freely and enthusiastically. I try to carry on that tradition of sharing knowledge. I welcome anyone into our shop that has an eagerness to learn. I show up to my shop every single day with an openness and willingness to learn. I am still surprised all the time with a new bit of understanding in our process that has eluded me up to now. I keep showing up, keep working, keep plugging away. Consistency is everything. I still do things that I don’t understand because I know they need to be done that way. Eventually I will grasp more fully why we do it that way, until then I’ll just keep doing it. There is no substitute for hard work and tenacity. My friend Bill Mitchell owns a jeans company called Billiam. He has supplied me with machines, knowledge and mentorship that I am wildly fortunate to have received. The last time I was in his shop I asked him how I could repay him. He said, “Be successful.”. The only thing he wanted in return for all that he had done for me and for our business was that we be successful and carry on this tradition. I am committed to building handmade, heirloom quality goods for as long as I am able, and I will always welcome the opportunity to pass along our knowledge and passion. I hope that we can one day return to finding the goods we need in life hand built in our own communities. I will keep working towards that end.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
For the sake of this narrative let’s assume that the world is open and functioning as it once did. Since I live in Athens now I will begin with our favorite spots here. I think it would be unreasonable to visit the Classic City and not enjoy a beer at Creature Comforts’ Snow Tire Plant tasting room. The building was resurrected and rebuilt by Character Built and is one of the greatest spaces in Athens today. One can’t miss a meal at The Place on Broad St. Refined Souther fare is how they would describe themselves and they couldn’t be more right. Their cocktail menu is so well crafted that it cannot be missed and their food is just divine. Since we have a week we’ll have to enjoy a bite at Expat, The National, Dessert at Condor Chocolates, Coffee at Molly’s Coffee Co., Poutine at The World Famous, Burgers at Clocked. Basically we’ll just eat our way through town. There is no chance that I have a friend in town for a week and we don’t do everything we can to catch a show at Georgia Theater. There are few greater venues in my mind. Some of my fondest memories and some that I can’t recall have taken place in that building. 24 oz. PBR’s and Jim Beam have been fuel for some great times. With the inevitability of one too many beers had we always like to follow a show at the theater with a late night slice at Little Italy. A walk through UGA’s north campus to Sanford Stadium before lunch and some shopping downtown is a perfect way to exercise the previous evening’s demons. Then into the shop for a custom jeans fitting.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
Above all My wife. Without her fierce and continued loyalty and support my business, and my life would not be where they are today. She may not make jeans, yet, but she is absolutely the reason that I am able to. We have also been supported financially, emotionally and sometimes lifted up physically by those in our community and it has taken the support of many to build the company that we have today. There are too many people to mention and thank individually, but I am ever grateful for every purchase, every kind word, every act of intention that has helped us along the way.
Noah Morris, Lacy Wilhoit, Austin Stubbs, Taylor Ooley