Holger Graf and Daniel Lantz are the founders of Graf Lantz, a Los Angeles-based business whose artisanal line of homeware and own accessories is firmly rooted in global travel and tradition.
The Graf Lantz collection—a fusion of German precision, Japanese viewpoint and California soul—builds upon and displays the disparate geographical backgrounds of the founders. Daniel Lantz was born in Utah but discovered himself dwelling in Japan. Holger Graf was lifted in a gingerbread village in Germany right before relocating to Munich to pursue his doctorate in structural engineering. The associates now reside in LA.
Graf Lantz products and solutions are deceptively basic. Most are handmade of Bavarian Merino wool felt. In addition to being purposeful, they’re colourful, eye-catching and invite the perception of contact. In simple fact, the material would seem to be addictive individuals obtain a single product and impulsively get another.
Forbes.com spoke to Daniel Lantz to uncover out extra about the founders, the corporation, and the effects of vacation on their models and private everyday living.
When did the firm get started up?
I achieved Holger, who is a pal of a person of my associates, although I was on enterprise in Germany. Ironically, we acquired into an argument that initial night. Holger was proper and I was completely wrong but it appeared to have sparked one thing. The relaxation is record.
We set down our roots in California in 2009, and started off Graf Lantz from our condominium in West Hollywood. It was an 800-sq.-foot room, filled from ground to ceiling with devices, supplies, cabinets and folks. We are tenacious, one particular of our best attributes, and we preferred remaining in the center of all the do the job 24 hours a day. But the absence of house ultimately turned also considerably and we appeared outward.
We moved our manufacturing facility into a beloved, century-aged (1912) grocery retailer in the Silver Lake district of Los Angeles in 2012. The developing is in our DNA now and we will under no circumstances go away it.
By the way, the constructive arguments among Holger and me have not stopped since they constantly lead to the ideal conclusions.
How were your felt products inspired?
We made our to start with parts working with a rich but mostly overlooked textile, Merino wool felt, which we still count on closely currently. We chose it because it is delicate like Cashmere and Alpaca but with unequaled fiber toughness.
Germany is environment-renowned as the source of wool felt coasters, traditionally made use of in Bavarian taverns. Holger grew up surrounded by them almost everywhere and later on realized that no one realized about the abilities of the product. So we seized upon the possibility to carry it in this article.
To color the felt, we use sustainable OEKO-TEX dyes that are non-toxic and totally free of substances.
What were your initial merchandise?
We very first developed wine totes, which are even now a greatest-vendor for us nowadays. They are made of the Merino wool felt that turns out to be a organic insulator, and they are trimmed with leather-based. Whilst the felt is gentle, it provides solid safety for a bottle, is naturally stain resistant, and has h2o-wicking attributes. The totes are very well known hostess items.
We then moved on to the Jaunt bag and then Bierfilzl Coasters.
What are your most popular solutions?
In phrases of sheer figures, our coasters are most well-liked. We offered 15,000 sets very last 12 months. Our trivets and placemats have also been in high desire, especially all through COVID which established off a renewed interest in household decor. Above the previous calendar year, we bought 9,000 trivets and 7,000 placemats.
We also provide a excellent variety of seat pads and tissue box handles.
A single of your COVID masks was not long ago highlighted in The New York Moments. How did the organization pivot during the pandemic?
We created a complete line of confront masks built of organic and natural cotton and European linen that turned pretty well-liked mainly because persons are anxious about owning non-organic and natural components from their faces, and are worried about breathing through them all working day.
We’ve sold over 300,000 masks and for each individual 1 offered, we’ve donated 10 foods to Feeding The usa, totaling over 3.5 million meals to date.
Pre-COVID, purses produced up 70% of our sales but that determine has dropped to 20%. Masks now make up 60-70 percent of our company and we’ve gained more than 70,000 new customers via our mask gross sales.
The most popular encounter mask is the a person that was outlined in The New York Times, the Zenbu Natural Cotton Mask. In impartial lab testing, The New York Periods Wirecutter regarded it as giving the best stability of filtration and breathability (when applied with a filter insert).
We have been delighted with this recognition mainly because we built and created our experience masks like anything else we do – with endless research and testing to execute a high-quality product or service we are satisfied to place our name on.
By the way, how did the company opt for its not-straightforward-to-recall identify?
Actually, a lack of imagination and knowledge of how organizations are named: Maintaining it very simple is generally the game.
Who is your level of competition?
We do not search at opponents because in general, we are not aggressive people. We’re guaranteed they are out there but we concentrate on our thing and depart that sort of depth to our fantastic team.
As considerably as function designs go… definitely David Bowie. He’s normally a position product for all the things. I just know that if he experienced labored in felt, that would also have been great.
With the risk of international vacation on the horizon, what are your preferred types of journey?
Holger and I did the extensive length detail in between Los Angeles, Tokyo and Munich for decades right before lastly landing in LA. We essentially chose LA since likely any place from in this article is rather quick even on a moment’s discover.
We really like vacation a lot more than something, and all of the minimal bits of magic and inspiration that comes with it: the scent of airports, the way the stars look from various hotel rooftops, even the jet lag. We love it all.
Holger is a single to dive into researching all he can about a location before traveling there, which has benefited us so significantly. There have been numerous periods when he’s taken us to a place I wouldn’t have anticipated to enjoy and we experienced the most wonderful time. He is often a block ahead of us, checking out and finding misplaced in the sights of wherever we are. I personally like to just wing it and immerse myself in the lifestyle when I get there.
As for destinations… oh gentleman, we want to go in all places as soon as it’s risk-free to vacation. Mother nature wonders everywhere, whenever is how we like to roll. The to start with item on my want checklist will be likely paragliding in Tasmania or probably the Alps.
I appreciate that you can just things an airfoil in a backpack and fly really significantly everywhere in the entire world, so which is my desire of the instant. Holger would most possible be jetting quickly to a small city in Mexico that he would like to hold secret, to maintain its speculate. We’re just thrilled to have that experience of boarding an plane as soon as again. Holger will be steadfastly in his aisle seat and I will be at my window watching it all go by.
Notice: This discussion has been lightly edited and condensed for clarity.