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Tommy Engstrom

"all glory comes from daring to begin."
--eugene f. ware

When I lived in NYC I worked at a small boutique creative agency and worked with Sean, an incredible designer/art director who also happens to be the founder of MBS, a mens headwear brand based out of Jersey City.  

Since he launched the first collection, I have been trying to resist spending money, to no avail. I'm thrilled to be featuring Sean and MBS on The American Swede today. Please take a few minutes to check out his website and buy a hat or two!



(tas) How did you first come up with the idea of hats?

(ss) The whole thing started as a kind of "Why not"? I've been an art director/designer for about 10 years now, working for various brands and helping to design products that sell to the masses. As you grow older, your style evolves and I couldn't find hats with fabrics or colors that I liked so it's one of those things where you just have to make it for yourself. And here we are now.

(tas) Where do you get your inspiration for the designs and fabric choices?

(ss) Inspiration comes from all over. I'd say my overall design aesthetic is inspired from vintage type design, 60's Ivy League and sporting style as well as the great outdoors. Fabric choices come from what seems to be season appropriate, but I like to try and put a spin on them.

(tas) You've branched out some with credit card holders, and a potential tote bag. Do you think you will stick to these types of items or would you like to develop the brand into something much bigger? Menswear?

(ss) So a lot of these items come from daily needs. I couldn't find a credit card holder that was manufactured using Waxed Cotton, so I designed one. The tote bag came from a need for a daily/weekend carry-all that had a masculine look and feel, couldn't fine one, so designed one. I love the idea of it developing into something much more, but I want to make sure that the brand evolves in a natural way and at an appropriate pace. 

(tas) "Made in America" - this has become more and more prevalent, why do you think people are starting to give importance to this?

(ss) I think a lot of small and big brands are taking note of how things were made in the past and want to bring that mindset to the present. I grew up with a father that was a huge advocate of supporting the small guys. It only seemed natural to me when getting into this craziness that it all should be manufactured stateside. 

(tas) You've had a number of collections since first launching MBS, do you have a favorite hat?

(ss) Ha, I feel like I go through this every time I release a collection. I think my favorite hat to date would be the Varick in Navy from Collection Two. It was a 6.25oz Waxed Cotton 5-panel that has aged perfectly. 

(tas) In addition to MBS, you have a full-time job at Bonobos, how do you make time for it all? Do you ever think about the possibility of turning MBS into a full-time gig?

(ss) This is a good question because sometimes I have no idea how I make time for MBS, ha. I do think of the possibility of turning MBS into a full-time gig, but I'll know when the time is right. I am very grateful to have the support of my fulltime job which makes it a little easier to create a work balance, but we'll see what the future has in store.

(tas) Long term, where do you see MBS going? Any goals or dreams for the line?

(ss) I think this relates to turning MBS into full-time. I see MBS slowly evolving over the next year. I see wholesale growing and me having to make the decision to turn it into full-time. I love the idea of having a small shop in Jersey City, where all this started. I love having it in small boutique shops across the states and being able to support the locals. I've been able to connect with people from all over the world and it's crazy to think that it all started from selling hats. I haven't put any major goals on the brand because I like the unknown. May be different once I go full-time, but for now it's one step at a time...

final notes:

It was a pleasure working with Sean on this post!  I'm always looking forward to what comes next.