Just because Christopher Lloyd and HUVr Tech tricked the world into believing they had actually invented the Hoverboard earlier this month doesn’t mean there aren’t real inventors tooling away in workshops around the world creating new and truly innovative products. One such renegade inventor is Justin Heister. Aside from being the co-founder, chief designer, and editor behind the East Coast skate publication, Focus Magazine, Justin has a hankerin’ for tankerin’ (tinkering?) and has recently rolled out his latest invention through his brand MSTRMND Collective: The SLIMplistic Wallet. After honing in on the general need to shrink down the often overstuffed, standard wallet design, Justin dreamed, designed and built a razor thin, elastic wallet sleeve to house all of one’s necessities without the all the extra bulk. I sat down with Justin this week to get the skinny on his skinny new wallet design and the road he took from concept to prototype. Here’s some of what he had to say.
What’s the deal with your latest invention, Justin? What is the SLIMplistic Wallet and how is it better than a normal wallet?
I’m not going to lie—I’m super psyched on this first wallet we’ve brought to market. The unique design of this wallet allows you to carry your essentials efficiently while leaving the smallest possible imprint in whichever pocket you choose to store it. Overall the wallet is just slightly larger than a single credit card and only 1/8 of an inch thick (2 quarters stacked). It has a 2-pocket system—the front pocket holds your most frequently used card, and features a quick-draw thumb slot. This allows you to quickly and easily swipe your card without ever taking it out of your wallet. The elastic backing allows the other pocket of the wallet to expand to carry multiple cards, cash, and anything else you need. The dividing wall between the two pockets is a continuation of the leather you see from the front, it’s just covered in the nylon. This center panel has a notch in the top, so you can tuck your cards in past flush at the top, as well as give you access to easily grab the cards in the middle of the wallet. It’s made from a very high-end Italian leather, which we hand-wax with bee’s wax before we pack and ship them, a premium custom woven elastic, and a utility nylon fabric (used for lining). Each wallet is hand sewn, and except for the leather coming from Italy, everything is 100% produced and manufactured in the USA.
They say that necessity is the mother of invention. Where’d you get the idea to create a new product like this? Did you see a need and try to fill it with an idea?
Yeah, you pretty much hit the nail on the head. There is usually a problem that needs a fixin’ or the solutions that are out there just aren’t quite what I’m looking for. It all comes down to taking matters into your own hands and making something that works for you. Long story short, my friend Jonah (my partner in this venture) and I were kicking it one night and somehow we got on the subject of wallets. We were joking about how fat and ridiculous ours have become. We whipped them out to compare obesity and had a blast laughing at the sore sight of them. From there we looked online to see what else was out there, and saw that all the other options had fatal flaws. From there, well, the following day, I got to mocking up prototypes and designing a wallet that worked for me.
Would you call yourself an inventor?
Although I suppose I’ve technically “invented” some things, I wouldn’t really call myself an inventor. That sounds a little too serious for me. I guess I see myself as more of a creative problem-solver. If a particular solution results in the creation of something new in the form of an invention—then so be it.
I have pie-in-the-sky ideas to invent cool products all the time. How come you actually pursued this one? What’s the difference between an inventor and a dreamer?
As for the difference between an inventor and a dreamer, I’d have to say action. Action is the critical catalyst. You can have the best idea(s) in the world, but you will never see them come to fruition locked inside your mind. You need to add that special sauce called action to put the wheels in motion and make things happen.
What does it take to be an inventor? Do you have a background in design or engineering?
You really just have to have an idea and the guts to take the next step and figure out how to make it happen—whether that means figuring out all the pieces of the puzzle yourself or enlisting the help of those who are better versed in the space you’re trying to work in. I do have a background in design—graphic design to be exact. I’m definitely no engineer, but I am lucky enough to be mechanically inclined and know my way around tools.
What about financing? You’re pretty much a kickstarter success story, right? How’d that experience go for you?
It was a wild ride with a lot of sleepless nights. Honestly it was amazing and draining. From all the preparation, to running and promoting the campaign, to fulfilling all the rewards, it was a ton of work, but totally worth it. If it weren’t for our campaign and all the wonderful people that believed in us, backed our project and helped spread the word, we wouldn’t be here today, that’s for sure.
What’s your next move with the SLIMplistic Wallet?
Our next move is to really promote this wallet to the public. Kickstarter was a great litmus test for proof of concept, but is limited in reach. Now it’s time to get some traffic directly to our site going and really spread the word that we are out here. As we continue to promote this wallet and our brand, we also plan on trying to get into some retailers as well as introduce other innovate products we’ve been working on to the line.