Archives: Featured Company

Our interview with Sword & Plough, a company with a mission

If you follow this blog with any regularity you’ll know that I’m always on the lookout for folks doing interesting work. And recently, I came across a company manufacturing some very cool products that are predominately made from up-cycled military surplus, Sword & Plough.

Bags, jewelry, belts, all sorts of things, but of particular interest to me, are their tie bars and cuff links. The former is actually made from 50 caliber brass shell casings!

To learn more about the company and their beginnings, I reached out to founders Emily Cavness and Betsy Núñez.

[Ryan] First, I’d like to ask you two about the quadruple bottom line — which consists of social impact, environmental impact, purpose, and donating 10% of profit. It seems to drive much of your business decisions. Can you tell us a little bit about why these four items are important to you?

[Emily/Betsy] As a business, what sets Sword & Plough apart is our commitment to a quadruple bottom line: People, Planet, Purpose, Profit. This means that we are simultaneously focused on empowering veteran employment and supporting American jobs, repurposing surplus material, manufacturing in the U.S., strengthening civil-military understanding, and donating 10% of our profits to veteran organizations. Our quadruple bottom line is so important to us because it allows us to sustainably give back to the community that raised us, and the community that Emily went on to serve in.

Here is more detailed information about our quadruple bottom line!

+ Social Impact (People): We support social impact by supporting veteran employment at every stage of our business. This includes the design process, manufacturing, management, fulfillment and sales. Since 2012, Sword & Plough has helped support over 65 veteran jobs through our own company and manufacturing partners. These include positions within our own management team, through our contract manufacturing partners (which are veteran owned or partially staffed by veterans), through our veteran owned fulfillment center, and through our Brand Champion program. Sword & Plough encourages any job-seeking veteran to send his or her resume and cover letter to jobs@swordandplough.com so we can try to help secure an employment opportunity either internally or within our expanding supply chain.

+ Environmental Impact (Planet): Another key part of the Sword & Plough mission is to reduce waste and minimize our carbon footprint on the world. By incorporating repurposed military surplus materials into our designs, we are able to significantly reduce our environmental impact as a fashion brand. We also manufacture exclusively in the U.S., which reduces our carbon emissions. To date, we have repurposed over 35,000 pounds of military surplus.

+ Purpose: Sword & Plough is also committed to strengthening civil-military understanding. Our team knows that veterans are highly skilled technical professionals, problem solvers, and proven leaders who are empowering assets to civilian communities and companies. Through our social media, email, blog and public speaking opportunities, we work to educate others about the value that veterans provide. Our customers love to share the conversations they have when stopped and asked “Where did you get that bag?” or “What is that bag made out of?” Those conversations are opportunities to bridge the divide and increase understanding between civilian and military communities.

+ Profit: Since launching we have made it a priority to donate 10% of our profits to veteran non-profit organizations that align with our mission such as Got Your 6 and Team Red, White, & Blue. We’ve also donated more than $35,000 worth of Sword & Plough products to veteran organizations. These in-kind donations have helped support over 100 additional veteran-related initiatives in areas of employment, education, health, housing, and leadership.

Sword & Plough lookbook

I’m fascinated by how companies find their start. What can you tell us about your company’s beginnings? There was a Kickstarter campaign, right?

Yes, we launched on Kickstarter in April of 2013 with the goal of raising $20,000 to fund our first large production order. We reached that goal in just the first two hours of our campaign and ended the 30-day campaign with over 1500 pre-orders and over $312,000! Just one month later, Emily deployed to Afghanistan. Over the next 7 months, our team communicated over four different time zones, built a large community around our brand, developed a long-term supply chain, and fulfilled all of the Kickstarter orders in time. We knew if we were able to overcome that challenge, we could accomplish anything.

sword and plough worker

What are your favorite products to date and how do you see your product line evolving?

When we launched on Kickstarter in 2013 we had three Signature bags and since then have expanded our line to include more than 60+ SKUs. Our collection now includes leather goods, handbags, purses, jewelry, travel gear, and accessories. Some of our favorite products are the S&P Travel Kits, our recently launched accessories such as our Tie Bar and Money Clip (these are hand hammered from repurposed .50 caliber bullet casings) and our Camo Rucksack because it is made out of the same woodland camouflage pattern that our Dad wore when he was in the Army.

On your website I read that you have repurposed over 35,000 pounds of military surplus since 2012, that’s amazing! Where would this hardware have gone otherwise?

Thank you! As you mentioned, another key part of the Sword & Plough mission is to reduce waste and minimize our carbon footprint on the world. By incorporating repurposed military surplus materials into our designs, we are able to significantly reduce our environmental impact as a fashion brand. We also manufacture exclusively in the U.S., which reduces our carbon emissions. Additionally, we use recycled materials in our packaging!

sword & plough stock

What are some of the biggest challenges facing veterans in the Colorado area? And where can we learn more about veteran non-profit organizations?

Through Sword & Plough, we are working to empower veteran employment and strengthen civil-military understanding which are two challenges that veterans face.

We are very proud to be a Colorado based business because Denver has such a strong and supportive veteran community! There are many great veteran non-profit organizations to get involved with. Here are a few that we support and enjoy being a part of: https://www.swordandplough.com/pages/giving-partners.

Sword & Plough contact:

Like what you see? Here’s Sword & Plough’s webpage and a link to their Contact Form.

Newly engaged? Here’s how to get savvy with your financials

If you follow our work here at Bespoke Edge, you’ll know that we build quite a few custom wedding suits and tuxedos for our grooms. Consequently, we’re always working to create valuable content on style and groom’s etiquette. But the other day I was thinking that maybe we’re missing a key component: What happens after the wedding.

And a conversation that will come up very soon after the wedding revolves around financial planning. Clearly, financial planning is outside of my wheelhouse, but fortunately, I know a lot of the right people! I reached out to my friend Todd Miller, a registered agent with the New York Life Insurance Company, with some simple questions that I think are on the minds of many newlyweds…

1. [Ryan] For a newly married couple, are there advantages to sharing certain financial accounts? If so, which ones? And where would you recommend that people begin?

[Todd] Yes, most of the time you can share in a tax-free savings (for a home, college savings for kids, vacation planning or retirement planning) that will grow at a better rate. Essentially, these type of plans would be used in conjunction with life insurance and the reason for their value to grow more quickly is simply because of the compounding returns with more money being added to the account. Most IRA’s, investments and annuities people set up individually rather than as a couple because the growth is determined by the market rate of return. I always recommend that a couple start with whatever goals are most important for them. That could be any of the types of plans I listed above. Not necessarily a certain plan because everyone has different goals and situations.

2. I think that a lot of folks, especially millennials, don’t give much thought to things like life insurance and long term financial planning. How should people be prioritizing this sort of planning?

You’re right, but the best planning is the planning that is done early. It is very hard to “make a comeback” when they are so far behind the 8 ball. The biggest financial problem I run into with my millennial clients is that they feel invincible. Or that type of feeling that “nothing will happen to us, or me.” Unexpected expenses or life events happen to everyone and without the necessary planning in place people fall behind and have trouble getting back to their goals/planning. If they can prioritize their goals and put the necessary planning in place, these life events can really help to thwart the unexpected expenses. Sometimes it’s as easy as setting up different insurances: like disability ins., life ins., auto ins., home ins. etc. And sometimes it’s more on the planning side of having an emergency savings or debt management.

3. What’s the best financial advice that you can give to a 20-something couple? Is it different from a newly married couple in their 30s?

Best financial advice for a 20- something couple I would say is to not wait to start something. A lot of younger couples think that they aren’t making enough or don’t have enough to really make a difference. I firmly believe that if you do the best with what you can, you will in turn get the best possible results. For couples in their 30s I do think it is a little different. They usually have more assets they need to be covered for in the event of something happening against their plans. The more assets you have the more “safe-guard” protections you should need. Of course, in both of these examples every couple and individuals situation is different. Some have been in college longer, working longer, traveling, have bigger assets etc.

Have more questions?

Obviously, this article only scratches the surface, so get in touch with Todd and ask him the tough questions!

Tel: 406-698-3015
Office: 303-403-5600 ext. 5612

Our interview with Chase Moore, of Trilogy Financial

Over recent months, I’ve had the pleasure of getting to know Chase Moore, a financial advisor with Trilogy Financial. Aside from having a penchant for fine cocktails, we both share a passion for road biking. But when I learned that he used to work in the construction industry in southern Colorado, I knew Chase had an interesting story to tell…

[Ryan] You have a background in construction, right? How did you find your way into the financial world?

[Chase] Yes, growing up, my Dad built custom timberframe and log homes in Southwestern Colorado and I was always running around job sites sweeping sawdust and learning from his example of how to work hard and to do the job right the first time. When I graduated from college and moved to Denver, the construction market was booming, and it was a great place to start my career as a project manager.

My entry into the financial world started when I became a client of Trilogy, the firm that I work for now. My wife and I didn’t have a lot of money left over at the end of the month, but we were motivated to get started early with a financial plan. Trilogy took our motivation seriously, and we got started with a debt repayment strategy and a meager savings plan. Over the course of 3 years, we saw progress in our savings and also became debt free!

Being a construction project manager in one of the hottest new housing markets in the country means two things; good money and loads of stress. The stress of the job was beginning to affect my personal life, and I knew that I needed to make a career change. Project management Is all about looking into the future and planning each step that is needed to accomplish a specific goal, ie: Knowing a solid foundation is needed before the walls can be built. I realized project management was very similar to being a financial planner and with my personal experience of having our lives changed by the financial planning at Trilogy, I wanted to be able to help with this important service for others. I reached out to my advisor and simply asked, “How do I become a financial planner like you?”

What is it about your work with Trilogy that you enjoy the most? 

The most enjoyable aspect of my work with Trilogy is the mentorship based internal structure that we have. Transitioning from a career in construction management and into financial planning, I began a 12-month training program before I ever earned the right to begin taking on my first clients. The 12-month process was full of internal training & skills tests, sitting in on senior advisor’s client meetings, case planning and preparing paperwork. It was a full immersion into financial planning with the collective help of senior advisors.

Once I earned the right to begin taking on my own clients, I continued to work on a team of advisors to ensure that it’s not just my knowledge that is making a financial plan, but it’s a wealth of knowledge working together to ensure that we’re doing our best work for our clients. Constantly being challenged to grow, having access to my team, and being mentored by senior advisors to do my best work has been life changing!

I think that a lot of guys know that they need to be saving more but aren’t sure where to start. On a real practical level, what are some of the big things that men should be doing to prepare for the future, say 10, and 20 years down the road? 

The key to getting started is to create the habit of saving, regardless of the amount. Most guys tend to think, “I’ll start saving once I get this bonus…” or “I’ll make sure to transfer a few hundred bucks to savings at the end of the month.” A few months later, the bonus check got spent on a weekend trip to the mountains, and the few hundred bucks ended up becoming a sushi dinner with friends.

I’m more impressed with someone who saves $50 a month consistently than someone who saves $500 sporadically because of the habit that they’ve created. It can be life changing. Once the habit is in place, when the eventual raises and bonuses come, it’s a natural progression to increase the monthly savings amount.

If you’re someone who already has the savings habit down, now it’s time to ask; “What’s the money for?” It’s great to be sitting on a pile of cash or a healthy investment account, but finding a purpose for the money will help guide your steps for the coming 10 or 20 years. Once you know what the money is for, it will then guide your investment choices, savings rate, and account characteristics to ensure that you’re being most efficient when saving toward your priorities.

What should people look for in a financial advisor? How can we find the person that’s right for us?

The first thing that you should look for in a financial advisor is whether they are a fiduciary or not. An advisor who is a fiduciary is legally obligated to act in their client’s best interests at all times. This is a crucial place to start when trying to find someone who is going to manage your hard earned dollars.

Once you’ve found your fiduciary, you need to establish the expectations of the relationship. Simple questions such as: “How often do we meet each year to review my accounts?”, or “What is your fee structure?” are all very important questions. It’s critically important to know what you’re getting into before you make your choice. At Trilogy Financial, I’ve made it a priority to be transparent and upfront with my clients about how we’re going to work together, what it costs, and exactly what to expect moving forward. By organizing all of my client’s assets into one, simple-to-use place, checking in with them on a quarterly basis, and consulting with them about non-investment concerns such as protection and estate planning, it’s my goal to provide the best planning relationship possible by putting my client’s interests first.

I would advise against making your choice of financial advisor based on the expected returns that they’re touting or if they have a magical product that will somehow solve your problem. Financial planning is about a long-term relationship that helps you make better financial decisions over time, not chasing returns or fancy products.

At the end of the day, it’s the long-term relationship with your advisor, not market performance or a fancy product, that will help you stay accountable to your goals and move closer toward your priorities.

Why is being well dressed in the financial planning industry important to you?

For me, dressing well communicates a sense of responsibility and that I take my job seriously. Wearing a suit that fits, a freshly pressed shirt and accessories that compliment my style all communicate that the work I do for clients is important and I take my role in their life seriously. As a financial planner, it’s important to make a good first impression, but more importantly, to be meticulous in the financial planning that I do for my clients and I want that planning to be reflected in how I am dressed.

chase moore trilogy financial

 

Advisory services provided by TrilogyCapital, Inc,. a Registered Investment Adviser. Separate advisory and securities services may be provided by National Planning Corporation (NPC), a SEC Registered Investment Adviser and broker-dealer. Member FINRA and SIPC. Certain registered representative with NPC are doing business under the name of Trilogy Financial. TrilogyCapital, Inc. and Trilogy Financial are affiliated by common ownership and are separate and unrelated to NPC. Please consult with your representative to confirm, on which company’s behalf services are being provided. The opinions voiced are for general information only. They are not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual and do not constitute an endorsement by NPC. To determine which investments may be appropriate for you, consult with your financial professional. Please remember that investment decisions should be based on an individual’s goals, time horizon, and tolerance for risk.

What you need to know about boutonnieres — Posies and Poms Floral Designs

Recently, I had an opportunity to work alongside one of Denver’s most talented floral designers, Genevieve Metzger of Posies and Poms Floral Designs. She operates the company alongside her sister, Jacqueline, and together they are making quite a name for themselves.

Admittedly, I know very little about flower arrangements. But when I saw the pieces that Genevieve put together at a recent styled shoot, including the boutonnier, I was blown away. Really, really, spectacular work.

I followed up with Genevieve to ask her some questions about boutonnieres, including what grooms need to know to look their best when wearing one.

[Ryan] I think that for many of us guys, we wear boutonnieres only twice in our lives: Once for the prom and once for our wedding. Obviously, we don’t know much about them, can you give us a little background? The history, the best times to wear one, etc?

[Genevieve] It is understandable that men might not know the purpose of a boutonniere since it is something usually done out of tradition rather than a sincere act from the heart. The history of the boutonniere is actually quite interesting! The boutonniere’s creation dates to the 16th century. Boutonniere is the French word for “buttonhole.” Initially, the sole purpose of wearing the boutonniere was to ward off bad luck or evil. The boutonniere was the equivalent of the bridal bouquet, having the same significance and purpose of protecting the bride and groom against odors and diseases.

posies and poms floral

Image credit: Jenna Nicole Photography

Is it up to the groom or the bride, or both, to select a boutonniere?

I am always surprised when I am meeting with an engaged couple and the groom-to-be has a strong opinion about his boutonniere, but this does happen! I actually love it when the groom-to-be has thoughts on the look and style of flowers we use on the boutonniere. Selecting a style of boutonniere should be up to both of them, although the bride makes the decision most of the time.

posies and poms floral

What do men need to know about wearing one?

Hold really still when it is being pinned on! Pinning on these boutonnieres is not an easy task and you don’t want to be poked. Glance down at your boutonniere periodically, especially before picture taking time, to ensure it is still facing upright. Although the boutonniere is significant to the formality of the day, don’t think about it too much. After the group pictures are completed and you are at the reception, the importance of the boutonniere is practically non existent. You can dance the night away without a worry!

How should the boutonniere for the groom be different from that of the groomsmen, if that all?

Many times the grooms boutonniere will be slightly different from his groomsmen. This sets the groom apart and he will sometimes even have a flower in his boutonniere that is also in the bridal bouquet. The cohesiveness of the florals are important and it seems to make the boutonniere more sentimental and meaningful if it mimics the florals in the brides bouquet. This is not a requirement though and we often receive requests to create all of the boutonnieres to be the exact same, especially in our more casual weddings.

Contact information: Posies and Poms Floral

Here’s Genevieve’s website and you can reach her and her sister via this contact form, or:

Phone: (719) 209-3386

Email: info@posiesandpomsfloral.com

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/posiesandpoms/