We had the good fortune of connecting with Nicholas Fraley and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Nicholas, what was your thought process behind starting your own business?
After I left the Army, I thought I wanted to be a chef. I went to culinary school and started working for one of the coolest restaurant groups in Atlanta. I was working with people that were celebrity chefs, I found a niche that I was good at. It didn’t take me long to realize that in that industry, the only person that makes any money is the person that owns the business; everybody else works their fingers to the bone just to be poor. I was creating tens of thousands of dollars worth of product every week and barely making enough money to pay my bills. Meanwhile, the business owner would poke his head in once a month, lived in a nice condo in Buckhead, drove an awesome car, etc. So, when COVID hit and I got laid-off, it actually felt like I had been freed. The thought process behind starting this business began with the idea that I was going to do everything possible to never be anyone’s employee, ever again.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
When my mom retired, she bought this huge digital super-sewing machine with a touch screen and everything. She gave me her old sewing machine that she had bought before I was born. It just sat in the closet for a few years. When COVID came along, I suddenly had a bunch of time on my hands and the need for masks drove me to drag it out, start watching some YouTube videos, and try to figure out how to use the thing. I’m a maker by nature, I love to make things, out of food or wood or fabric, it really doesn’t matter. I’m also a bit of a “Geardo”, a person that always wants to have the best military/camping gear possible and has a large collection. Being in the military and having spent a ridiculous amount of time living out of bags, I guess the progression from masks to bags was a pretty natural one. I started making small, drawstring bags to organize camping gear, and then small zipper bags like dopp kits. It was only a few months from the first time that I sewed anything to making my first full backpack. That first one was pretty rough, but I just kept making them and each one was better than the last. I think one of my biggest challenges has been really been analysis paralysis. There are so many different directions that I could take this company and its products, that it can be difficult to choose a path and stick to it. Deciding what to make next and where my energy is best spent is certainly a challenge and I think just trusting my gut and being flexible are the keys.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
My favorite thing about Atlanta is the food scene, this city is full of amazing restaurants. My personal favorites are the ones with craft cocktails, so Dead End Drinks has been a regular spot for my partner and I. Their biscuits and gravy for brunch remind me of going to my grandmother’s house.
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?
While I honestly believe that my success is the success of everyone that helped form who I am today, from my family to every mentor and friend that I’ve ever had, one group stands out more than most and that is the platoon that I went to Iraq with. We spent way too much time together and I’ve stayed in close contact with many of them for over a decade now. I’d like to dedicate this shoutout to the Deathdealers for both their support and their ridicule.