Nathaniel Mell is the founder and CEO of Felt+Fat, a ceramic design, and manufacturing studio serving both professional and at-home chefs. Nate Mell started the Philadelphia-based company in 2014 after graduating from the Tyler School of Art at Temple University and working at the world-renown Philadelphia Clay Studio.
Before his foray into ceramic design, Nate gained experience that included working in a variety of media, including glass, metal, wood, and mold-making. The opportunity to design a beautiful line of plates for Eli Kulp’s award-winning restaurant ‘High Street on Market’ oriented Mell towards exploring ceramic design in-depth. In doing so, he came up with the concept for a ceramic design studio catering to the Hospitality industry. The company name, Felt+Fat, came as a nod to the material explorations and theories of midcentury artist Joseph Beuys, one of Mell’s favorite artists.
Today, Nate Mell’s Felt and Fat has a track record of working with over 100 restaurants worldwide, producing more than 30,000 pieces annually, and being featured in the NY Times, the Forbes 30 under 30 list, and many other publications. Timeless design, ethical manufacturing, and intentionality toward relationships are the core values of the ever-growing team at Felt+Fat.
We recently got a chance to interview Nate.
Nate, Thank you for talking with us. What are the projects that you most enjoy working on?
I most enjoy working on custom projects, specifically for restaurants. Great chefs are artists and our mutual respect for craft and the collaborative energy involved in making a new shape or finish is really exciting. When my part is done I then get to see how they interact with the design, plating their food and presenting it in the context of the restaurant elevates it all to another level.
What was your biggest ‘a-ha’ moment?
This was early on. When I started this business I had been working in restaurants for nearly 8 years, supporting myself as an artist, and a chef asked if I could make him plates for a new restaurant. I said yes and initially took it on as a little gig to make a few dollars. Somewhere during the course of that project, I realized that the top restaurant in the world at the time (Noma) was using custom, hand-made tableware and that meant every aspiring chef in the world would be wanting to do the same now, we were on the crest of what could be a seachange in hospitality tableware. It was an exciting realization and what really prompted me to take this much more seriously.
What has been the most important part of your professional journey?
Understanding the importance of planning. I have never been much of a planner, very good at thinking on my feet and getting done what’s right in front of me, but over the years I’ve learned that sustainable growth happens when you pair that ability with solid, diligent planning and execution.
What are some of the risks that your company is currently facing?
We are currently looking at a lot of avenues for growth. Manufacturing means you are always walking that line of demand vs. supply. If you’re over-supplied that means you’re wasting money, if you’re undersupplied you disappoint customers. We have been growing quite a bit but are looking at rolling the dice on some big purchases that will help us up the supply side significantly, but the risk that the demand doesn’t pan out to justify the expense is always a scary thing.
What would you do with unlimited resources?
Create a top-of-the-line production facility with a best-in-class R&D studio bringing in young, world-class talent to create inventive and exciting new products.
When was the last time you totally lost yourself in doing something?
I routinely lose track of time while working on new designs, it’s easily one of the best parts of the job.
What do you do when you’re not at work?
My off time is spent with my wife and dog primarily. We go for hikes, cook great meals, mix cocktails and read aloud together or spend afternoons working on remodeling our small home (currently painting a new ceiling we put up last month).
You and your team at Felt+Fat are already making a positive impact with the “BadThings Happen in Philadelphia” product line. What more do you feel you can do to make a difference in your local community?
The BadThings line of products was a really fun experiment that allowed us to send money to causes we thought were worthwhile, we’ve often found things like that to do over the years but what I am most excited about moving forward is to be working with Baker Industries here in Philly. Baker finds work for hard-to-employ individuals; primarily the recently incarcerated. We’ve just recently hired our second employee through this program and are so happy to be providing jobs for individuals in our community who would have a hard time finding work otherwise. Not only do we get to help the community, but they have also been some of our best staff! It’s a win-win.
How Is 3D Scanning Revolutionizing the Apparel Industry?
Sizing issues are a significant challenge for fashion retailers — especially when customers are shopping online. In general, both parties have come to expect that occasionally buying the wrong size is just part of the e-commerce experience.
However, a new technology may help companies find the perfect fit for their customers. 3D body scanning allows consumers to provide retailers with their precise body measurements — allowing for highly accurate sizing when they shop online. Here’s how this tech has advanced to the point where it can benefit companies and shoppers alike and potentially disrupt the fashion industry.
Finding the right fit can be challenging, especially when shopping online. Customers can use the sizing information retailers provide. Still, it can be challenging to select the right size or visualize how a particular garment will fit without trying on the garment in real life.
As a result, many customers find that the apparel they buy online doesn’t fit well or match their style once they see it in person. Some customers even plan to receive items that don’t fit. They will use “bracketing” — or the practice of ordering the same thing in multiple sizes and returning what doesn’t fit well — to ensure something will work.
Even if every other aspect of the customer’s experience is positive, receiving a garment that does not fit can leave a bad impression. This can ultimately lead them not to shop with a brand in the future.
According to research from Morgan Stanley, product fit and returns are two of the biggest barriers for online fashion shoppers. However, online shopping has become more important for retailers of all kinds in a post-COVID world.
Companies can manage this challenge with a robust return program, but these offerings can significantly cut into profit margins. Free returns require retailers to budget for frequent round-trip shipping to ensure customers will eventually receive a garment that fits properly.
Ongoing supply chain woes and shortages of essential raw materials can make returns hit retailers even harder. Managing reverse logistics becomes even more painful when it’s more difficult to ship goods to customers at all.
3D scanning apps allow customers to use cameras and lasers to capture their precise body measurements. This technology has been around for 30 years, but it’s become much more accessible.
Smartphones have become advanced enough to support fairly accurate body scanning technology. Most offer sophisticated cameras, and a handful of available phones use lasers to provide features like facial recognition.
Several 3D body scanning apps are available, allowing any customer with a smartphone to take advantage of the technology. People can also take advantage of businesses or body scanning tools that have arrived on the market over the past few years.
Customers could export their measurements and body scans to e-commerce sites while shopping for clothes. Retailers could use this information to ensure buyers always receive clothes that fit.
For example, retailers could design online storefronts that either accept these measurements or integrate directly with body scanning apps, then provide filters based on a customer’s unique physique. The storefront could display only the clothes that are likely to fit.
In addition to providing customers with more accurate fit information, these 3D body scans could effectively allow retailers to create virtual dressing rooms. For example, some retailers already use body scanning in product development. This can support design techniques like body mapping, which designers use to construct a garment in line with how the body moves.
These retailers may already have digitized 3D versions of the garments they sell. They could provide tools that overlay these clothes on a model that uses the customer’s measurements, allowing them to see roughly how an appropriately sized item will fit them in real life.
These measurements and 3D models could also allow customers to virtually try on new clothes and visualize how a particular garment would fit.
In practice, virtual dressing rooms that take advantage of body scans, customer photos and garment models could solve the return and fit problem of online fashion shopping.
Even modest reductions in the return rate on apparel purchases could significantly increase a company’s profit margin. According to Morgan Stanley, just a “5% reduction in the rate of product returns could double earnings before income and taxes for an online apparel retailer, all else equal.”
3D body scanning technology could also support offerings like remote tailoring. This allows businesses to personalize the sizing of garments over the web based on information provided by a customer. For example, someone may submit their measurements and speak with a tailor over the web who will adapt apparel to their specific size or style requirements.
It may even be possible to automate this resizing process in some cases. One example is Sizer’s partnership with bra brand Wacoal America. The two companies teamed up during the pandemic to develop an AI-powered app that helps customers find the right bra size within just a few minutes.
Several other companies are also experimenting with virtual sizing and try-on apps that allow customers to visualize a garment’s fit before committing to a purchase.
Experts predict that online shopping will continue to grow quickly over the next few years. Even as customers return to shopping in person, e-commerce will continue to become more important to the fashion industry at large. As a result, retailers will need to contend with the difficulty of properly sizing garments when shopping online. Tools like 3D body scanners can be a powerful way for businesses to ensure customers receive clothes that fit well.
Some retailers have already started to develop virtual sizing and try-on apps for their customers. Combining these apps with 3D body scanning technology could help fashion solve its product fit and return problems.
Why Company Vehicles Are Important
Every penny counts when you run a business, so the last thing you’ll want to do is pay for something you don’t need. This is why it’s so important to weigh up the pros and cons of each buying decision to ensure that what you are spending money on is worth it.
When it comes to company vehicles, this decision-making process is crucial. You might already know that you absolutely need some vehicles to make deliveries or get to clients’ addresses, for example, but if you’re unsure because you like the idea of providing your team with vehicles but don’t know whether the cost is justified, read on; here are some reasons why company vehicles are important.
One of the reasons you might not be sure about running a company vehicle (or multiple company vehicles) is the cost. Not only will it cost you money to purchase or lease the vehicles in the first place, but there are also ongoing costs, such as tax, maintenance, and fuel. This can all add up to a lot and might even mean that investing in company vehicles is prohibitive at the moment.
Yet if your budget can withstand the outlay, there are many ways to make owning or leasing company cars more cost-effective. For one thing, you can use them to offset tax costs throughout the business (an accountant will be able to help you with this if you’re unsure what to do). Plus, if you have good fleet solutions in Texas, you’ll already be able to discover plenty of cost-saving exercises. So, although buying company vehicles might seem expensive at first, there are many things you can to do to mitigate those costs.
If you want to have a successful business, having the best employees is a crucial component. If your team is substandard, the work you produce will be as well. This is why you need to do everything you can to attract excellent employees. There are a number of ways to do this, but the best thing you can do is offer them a variety of benefits and incentives to work for you. Among these ideas is the company car.
If there is a choice between working somewhere that offers someone a new company car and somewhere that doesn’t, it’s likely that the potential candidate will at least consider the company that offers them more and will often apply for the position. After all, although they will have to pay tax on that car, they can also save money on a vehicle in the long term. When you give employees a company car, you’ll have much more choice when it comes to who to employ, and you can find the very best without having to compromise.
Marketing is a tricky thing to get right, and in many situations, it costs a lot of money. You need to be sure that what you’re spending money on is worthwhile and will work – you need to know that people are seeing your advertising.
One way to guarantee that your marketing efforts will be noticed is to have company vehicles that are wrapped in your marketing material. Whether that’s a full ad or simply the name and website of your business will depend on what you need to say, but the fact that these vehicles are driving around all day and will be seen by hundreds and potentially thousands of people mean they are the ideal marketing tool.
7 Essentials For E-Learning Graphic Design
It’s becoming increasingly common for people to rely on e-learning. It can help with school or gain skills for career purposes. If you plan to take an online course, consider eLearning graphic design. With the available web resources, one can learn design on their own. This article will go over the basics of eLearning graphic design.
7 Essentials For E-Learning Graphic Design
- Research the client’s website and business.
Research is essential when designing graphics. Consider visiting both the client’s website and their social media pages. It will give you important information regarding their expectations. Check the type of content the business posts and how they present themselves.
After research, a design team should have an idea of the best approach. For instance, maybe the client’s website mainly uses the colors red, blue, and white. This could be related to their brand when it comes to audience perception. Therefore, mind this when trying to create a graphic design. To ensure consistency, you might not want to deviate from this main design theme.
- Look to current design trends for inspiration.
Every designer wants to take time to develop their own creative design. Yet, it is still recommended and encouraged to draw inspiration from current trends. By their nature, trends have been proven to work well with the public. However, when trying to draw inspiration, avoid outright copying another design. That would be the same as plagiarism for writing. You could prevent writing plagiarized content by using top essay writing sites for your articles. Their experts can create original papers for you.
When it comes to design, stay authentic even when taking inspiration from trends. For instance, if a current trend includes video feedback, you might want to do something similar. You could design a webpage dedicated to customers’ reviews. Alternatively, you might decide to go further by combining both ideas. Go through several e-learning websites to get a good picture of what is trending.
- Discuss the needs of the project with the client.
For a graphic design project to be successful, it must align with the client’s needs. The way to ensure this is to initiate contact with the client. This could be done via a physical meeting or a Zoom call.
Some clients finalize their requirements before contacting a graphics design team. However, some requirements can only be established during an interaction. The demands might be complex, but you can practice simplicity when visualizing them. Ask questions about the project to finalize all the requirements.
- Pay attention to color.
Color has been used historically to communicate messages. For instance, red is often associated with danger or aggression. Some brands have cultural or ideological restrictions when it comes to color.
This is why it’s important to research the client’s website and establish their requirements. Also, when choosing a color, consider how pleasant it is to the eye. For example, many colors on a website might make it look confusing and hard to look at. There are online courses on graphic design that teach proper coloristic.
- Choose good typography.
You want the audience to understand your design easily. To achieve this, you need to choose the right font. When your readers are going through your design, you don’t want any text you share to be confusing. Therefore, stick to a few chosen fonts on the website.
You should consider the size of the fonts – it dictates readability. Most websites use an 11-16 size font. Finally, you should account for how your text will look on mobile devices and desktop computers alike.
- Create and share mockups.
You should create a mockup when you think you have created a good design. Share your mockup so that you can easily identify areas of improvement. Make sure that your client reviews your mockup regularly.
- Constantly lookout for feedback.
When working on any project, it can be helpful to ask for feedback, especially from the project’s stakeholders. At times, feedback might not be delivered professionally. However, if you’re able to separate the feedback from how it was delivered, you might be able to learn a thing or two. Aside from clients, you can also ask friends to share what they think about your progress. You could even reach out to members of your target audience to get some tips.
Final Things To Consider
As you create a website’s graphics design, paying attention to simplicity is important. You don’t want to overcomplicate your design. Avoid conflicting color schemes and unnecessary design elements. Your paragraphs should be short to maintain the interest of the reader. Make sure your design is original yet in line with current trends. Always ask for clients’ feedback as you work. Hopefully, the points shared in this article will help in your next design project!
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