Talant Trade Co interview



The first time I came across Talant Trade Co. was on a fashion blog doing ‘research’ for True Icon (shopping). I saw the bag pictured above and although I didn’t know who had made it, I was determined to get myself one. After a quick backwards image search I found Talant Trade Co.

3 weeks later my bag arrived here in the UK – thoughtfully packaged and with a hand written note of thanks from Johnson Benjamin, Talant Trade Co’s creator. These little touches make a big difference.

I was so impressed with the build of the bag and the service I’d received that I decided to in touch with Johnson to say thank you and perhaps, while I was at it, find out a little more about the company. Not only did he write back quickly, he remembered wrapping my order and was kind enough to answer a few questions.

I can’t recommend Talant Trade Co. enough - great bags and a great service from an independent business worthy of your attention.


 The Interview:

Could you introduce yourself and tell us the story of how Talant Trade Co. came about?

My name is Johnson Benjamin, a 2011 graduate of Mississippi State University. I graduated with a Bachelor of Landscape Architecture and a passion for urban design and renewal. This program opened my eyes to the dying industrial infrastructure all around me.  After graduation, I spent several months trying to figure out what I could do to have a positive affect the community around me. Talant was my solution.

What are the ethics and motivations behind your company? How important are they to you?

I began Talant because I saw the great need for a stronger industrial base in my rural Mississippi area. The area  in which I live was formerly home to many garment factories and hundreds of garment workers. With empty factories, rejected equipment, skilled labor, and a rich history at my fingertips it was easy to plot Talant out.  I wanted Talant to stand for ideals and be part of the change in this country- that change being a push for high quality, domestically produced durable goods over imported replaceable goods.

Did you have any prior experience in fashion or textiles? 

My grandfather owned and/or operated garment factories for a large portion of his life all over the southeastern United States.  My father, for a portion of his life, worked with my grandfather and also worked with a very large sewing machine distributor.  Also, many other men and women in my extended family were garment workers. Firsthand though, I have had no experience or training.

Your bags have a fantastic sense of American heritage and are extremely hard wearing. What gave you the idea of designing bags and why do you use duck-canvas in particular?

Thank you for the compliment! Once I established that I wanted to sew, I had to figure out what to actually make. I have always had a passion for military surplus and cool bags (owning a few bags too many). I asked myself, “If I were to design my own bag, what would it be like?”   The material choice was easy, canvas just seemed obvious because of its rich military history and its cotton fibers.  I am surround in the south by a heritage of cotton growing and the slogan “Cotton is king.”  It was important to me to use cotton duck-canvas for my bags over other materials.

How long did it take from having the idea for Talant Trade Co to selling your first product? How did that first sale feel?

The initial idea of Talant popped into my head in Sept of 2011, and by April 2012,  I was selling my first bags. That first sale was relieving. I  spent so  many months developing this crazy idea and that  first sale legitimized what I was trying to do.

Do you have any advice for someone looking to start their own business?

I have two pieces of advice. Firstly, research as much as you are capable of about every aspect of what you're about to do. Second, be honest with yourself, about your passion, and if you are truly willing to make the sacrifices associated with starting a small business.

If you had the opportunity to start the business over again, would you do anything differently?

No, I would not. Every decision I made was the best I could make at the time. Even in bad decisions, if you look, you can find positives.

What can we look forward to seeing from Talant Trade Co in the future? Are there any new products being released soon?

We are always working on new designs and improving our process.  We have right now, a new bag that will debut online in the coming weeks.  My long-term goal for 2014 is for Talant to debut a few interesting garment pieces.

Where can we find out more about you and your products?

Our online store

Talant is on facebook, this is where you will find the bulk of our news updates.

I keep an active personal and business instagram. This is my personal favorite form of social media. You can find me at johnson_benj