Andrew Willoughby

As a kid, Andrew had a bag. And he is still obsessed with bags today. Only thing different is he gets to get paid to obsess about them with his friends.  

Tell us about 8 to 10 year old Andrew. Pre-teen Andrew (1997 - 1999) dressed up as Indiana Jones any chance he got and could always be found carrying a copy of whatever Tolkien book he was reading at the time in some ongoing variation of a crudely fabricated "adventure bag". He spent most of his Winters traveling the United States with his family and most of his Summers pretending like he was being helpful on his grandfather's Longhorn cattle farm in southern Mississippi. 

Growing up who inspired or influenced you? The biggest and longest lasting influence on my life has been my grandfather, Sherman Boyles, Jr. He was born in a literal shack with dirt floors in rural Mississippi and went on to build one of the most successful commercial roofing businesses in the south-eastern United States. Nobody will ever be as badass as my grandfather. 

As for fictional influences, nobody will ever be as badass as Indiana Jones, Han Solo, or Rick Deckard (in that order).

"Nobody will ever be as badass as my grandfather." 

Why do you call Des Moines home? In 2013, I was traveling West across the country on a camping trip in the back of a shitty car with my three best friends. At one point, Erich (some would say my best friend) out of the blue mentioned that it would be really freakin cool if someday we had a shop all to ourselves where we could carry all the products that we loved and used and got to hang out together all the time designing the best leather products in town. A few years later, we realized that Des Moines was in fact the perfect town for that to become a reality. So Erich moved from Omaha with his wife, I moved from Mississippi with my wife, and we joined Adam here with his wife to open what is now the Fontenelle Supply Co. store.

If you could write the Des Moines area a mission statement what would it be? To provide the creative freedom and business opportunities only dreamed of in other cities.

How would you describe what you are trying to do with Fontenelle? If you could imagine or picture the 8 to 10 year old versions of us hanging out in the backyard, in the woods behind the house, and ask them what would be the coolest shit ever? We would probably say cowboys, motorcycles, and spaceships. And that's past, present, future. That's what we are building at Fontenelle. I can't think of a store that caters to 10-year-old boys with money. That may not be a good business model, but we are going to have a ton of fun! 

If you could grant the Des Moines area one wish what would it be? I have a hard time not saying a Fontenelle store. As unselflishly as possible we know enough people that are doing cool enough stuff that are unable to put it out there that we could help make a difference to showcase what they make.

From one maker to another what is your tip or advice? Don't forget to make money. To be serious, that was a big make or break for us. We can make this stuff and give it away for a year and we did that. But, we would love to get everything we see cool on Instagram on a grocery bager's income. We tried it and was just enough to buy the next cool stuff. 

"Don't forget to make money."

Couldn't help but notice you use Shopify for Fontenelle. Choosing to use Shopify was a huge decision because we did Etsy and a small custom WordPress thing, but then once we decided we are going to be selling at tradeshows, traveling,  and also going to have to sell in-store to hundereds of people per week and have an online shop. We just looked at the top eight competing platforms for ecommerce.  Shopify just made it too easy. They will send you your hardware. You put it on the counter and it's already synced up with your store.

What's your favorite outdoor place and why? My knee-jerk reaction is to say Hitchcock Nature Center in Honey Creek, Iowa. The Fontenelle dream was fostered and nurtured in those hills. Four crusty, mostly vegetarian, skinny-jean-wearin', Why?-listenin', moto-ridin', Whole-Foods-baggin', High-Life-drinkin' punks sat around many a campfire at Hitchcock dreaming about the day we would do something bigger than ourselves. So, it will always be a sacred place to us. 

But recently, we've really enjoyed exploring the other end of Iowa, like Ledges State Park or Papa Murph's sketchy campground just outside Utica. Really, we've found anywhere outdoors in Iowa is a great place to be (except Council Bluffs... unless you're drunk and looking for really great Mexican food after midnight (I'm lookin' at you, Alvarados)). 

What can't you leave the house without? It's always a bag.

Derek JensenMarket Day 2017