Here at Freewheeling, we have a bit of a confession to make…a shocking revelation in fact. So here goes, I’ll share it with you. I, your cycle correspondent of the blogosphere, regularly break The Rules. Specifically, Rule #22 – Cycling Caps are for Cycling. This obviously means I’ll never be accepted as a true member of the Velominati, but that’s the price you pay when you love a good cap. Caps Not Hats indeed.
If it’s a stylish cap you’re after, then look no further than Walz Caps. Handmade in the USA, Walz have a cap to suit everyone, from woollen tweed, perfect for that Eroica ride, to the ‘Map Caps’ range, where you can show off your allegiance to a host of American states or European cycling hot-beds like Belgium or Italy. And if that hasn’t piqued your interest how about this – that cap you’ve created in your imagination, that design you’ve been doodling in your mind’s eye? Well Walz have it ready to send to you – just log on to http://www.walzcaps.com, click ‘Custom Caps’, and get creating. Yep, that’s right – you can create your very own one-off cycling cap. What could be better than that?
We spoke to Matt, Customs and Wholesale Director of Walz Caps to find out all about the Classic American Cap…Read the interview below!
Describe your role in the company…Currently, my role is Customs/Wholesale Director, which involves inside sales, production, and design.
How did the company start, and what was the vision for Walz in the beginning? The company officially began in 2005 as Walz Caps. Unofficially, it began with the owner’s aunt, Jackie Walz, who used to sew up welding caps for her husband and his co-workers. One day a friend and cyclist, saw the caps and asked if she would tweak the design a bit and make something more cycling-specific for him. She did, and did it so well that word began to spread, and the demand for her “cycling” caps grew. Her nephew and now the owner of the company, saw that she needed help and offered to purchase the cycling side of the operation from here, and decided to name the company in her honor…Walz Caps was born.
Your designs manage to be both fresh, new and exciting, yet fit in with the stylish side of the cycling tradition, how does Walz manage to blend both these features in to the designs? While we are continually striving to come up with bold, fresh, and exciting designs, we always keep in mind the tradition and heritage that is the foundation for the sport of cycling, and particularly the role that cycling caps have played in that. Some caps, such as our classic cottons and our ever-popular wools, don’t need to be flashy…they speak for themselves.
Where does the inspiration for the Walz designs come from? It’s truly a team effort. Anyone and everyone within the company is always welcome to throw new ideas out there. Some stick, some don’t, but no one person is in charge of product development, it’s a company-wide collaboration. We also receive numerous ideas from our customers, some of which have ignited the creative spark that’s needed to come up some great designs throughout the years.
How do you source the right fabrics? We work to locate suppliers we believe are the best at what they do. Our caps begin as raw material, and if that material isn’t the best, there’s no way our caps can be. And as a company who prides itself on making everything in-house, by hand, and 100% made in the US, we seek vendors and suppliers who are located and manufacture in the US as well. That’s extremely important to us, and we’ve been pleased over the years to hear how important that is to a large portion of our customer base.
Describe the Walz ethos and aesthetic….Pride in what we do at all levels. The moment an individual visits our site, contacts us by phone or email, or stops in to pay us a visit, our goal is to make sure that their experience with us is nothing short of exceptional. Of course that experience applies to our products, after all, that’s why people contact us in the first place, but as cliche as it sounds, it’s the relationships that we build over the years that matter most to us. Nothing makes our day more than hearing from our customers how satisfied they’ve been with not only our caps, but our service. We want people to feel as though they belong to the Walz family, that they’re a part of what we’re doing.
How are the caps made and how long does it take to make one? Our caps start out as a roll of material. From there, they’re cut by hand, sewn by hand, QC’d by hand, boxed and shipped by hand. As you’ve noticed, I’m stressing the fact that every single cap we make is carefully crafted by actual people who specialize in their roles here. If I had to put a time on how long it takes to make a single cap from cutting, sewing, and passing QC, all uninterrupted of course!…10 minutes.
The ability for customers to design their own caps is really unique. Do you ever come across some really ‘out there’ customer designs? Similarly, have there ever been any ideas, either customer-designed or Walz designed, that just haven’t worked in practice? I couldn’t list all of those in this interview, and keep it PG-rated at the same time! Most of our customers designs are incredible, and there have been many that have caused some envy with our designers. We always make any design that a customers wants, but we do provide input when we believe that a design may not provide the end result a customer is seeking.
Have there been any ideas that haven’t worked in practice? I’ve never kept track, but many for sure. Personally, I don’t believe that there’s such thing as a bad design, some just work better than others, and more often than not, you don’t really know until you have an actual physical sample in-hand. We’ve created designs that look absolutely beautiful on a monitor, look great after they’ve been printed, and then look nothing like what we were expecting. If it didn’t work, take notes of what needs to be altered, and try it again, and keep trying until you get what you’re after.
Do you have a favourite Walz design? I have many. My personal favorite is the “Triple Cubed”. In the spirit of full disclosure, I “almost” designed it, but it’s not so much the design that I love, but rather how the design came to be. Long story short, I was attempting to create a certain look I had in mind, hit a wrong button in Illustrator, the design went haywire on the screen, I couldn’t recover the original, and after staring at my screen in frustration for awhile, all of a sudden I saw something in that mistake that looked incredible, so I let go and let the cap design itself. I was a bit nervous when it went live on the site, but as it turns out I wasn’t the only one who found the cap to be good looking;)
What can Walz fans look forward to in the future? We just launched a new line of caps, a total makeover of our older line. Our entire line of wool cycling caps now feature a fully lined interior, as well as our entire line of Velo/City caps. Our recently launched Build-a-Cap program has been so well received that every day is a challenge to keep up with the demand. And as always, new designs are in the works, that’s something that will never change around here.
Thanks for taking an interest in what we’re doing, we truly appreciate it!