To combat this perceived loss of the perfect conditions to create, Matt decided to pursue a new skill to keep his creative blood pumping. He bought a sewing machine off of Craigslist, a few technique how-to’s, and starting stitching. The original plan, oddly enough, was bow ties. Charismatic, charming, inherently Southern genteel – what could be more Matt, we thought to ourselves. Personality and skill, all encapsulated in that tiny, twisted knot would have been perfectly dandy. So why bags? we asked. Why the switch? “Well, I never actually made bow ties. I started in that direction and then I got intrigued with bags and I don’t really know what caused that, but I started making them and everybody in my family was excited about it.”
The intrigue was their utility. Young and old, man or woman, everyone who has something to tackle in their day can’t get there on just what they can carry in their pockets. “I feel like everybody needs a good one. And I want one that looks good, that I love, that has a story behind it.” The story behind Andover Trask bags is one of integrity. The canvas he uses represents the only American spun and dyed canvas available in the country, and his hand stamped and sewn tags tell of an even more intimately local detail: Made In Atlanta. He recounted for us a story of a stranger who – not bothering to conceal his doubt – asked, “Is there seriously something still made in Atlanta?” Each bag he sells unleashes a story for the carrier to tell, one of a region rich with personality and grit.
If it seems like Matt didn’t have much of a plan, we would say it’s because he didn’t, and continues to not in the best way we’ve ever seen. In so many ways, creatives are high strung perfectionists who would rather work themselves to death before putting out something that misrepresents the work. But they’re also artists at heart who rarely worry about what normal people call a plan. What refreshed us most during our day with him was that Matt took so lightly this relationship he has with what he produces. The pride he took in his work shone through, to be sure, and we were not at a loss for the intricate detail each piece required. But his own role in the story was a minor one. His mentors, friends, beloved family, even workmates at his 9-5 were the real heroes as he told it. Andover Trask seems to guide itself, no doubt hand-held to success by Providence. The way in which Andover Trask snuck onto the scene was no different.
“At that point I still had not sold anything at all, up until last year. Until the Atlanta Journal Constitution, the newspaper here, found out about my bags. I don’t really know how they did – I certainly didn’t tell them, and I don’t know who would have. But they did a little story on it and that’s what really started it. People started contacting me to buy them. So I had been making them for three years before I sold one.” This is the point at which you realize that Matt is not out just to sell bags. It is the point at which, if you yourself are a creative of any kind, you lose your balance a little. We did.