The Sticking Place

Posted by Lance Atkins on May 25, 2012 2 Comments

We nervously launched Blackbox Case the day before Thanksgiving, 2009. From there, it was off to the races: learning how to make a continuously cool product, learning how to tell you about a cool product, learning how to deal with crazed-Christmas-gift-givers, learning how to run a business, learning, learning, learning. It’s been a hell of a lot of work, many thousands of cases, and a lot of fun. 

Blackbox Case was founded on the idea of hand-making a no-compromise product in America and being damn proud of it. It has worked and it has been hard. There have been struggles with profitability: America is an expensive place to make things. Sometimes making a thousand cases will make you pull your hair out and start swearing. In the end I hope that Blackbox Cases have retained their original soul, their prideful design, and I think they have. Through the struggles, I’ve definitely taken a blow to my idealism of taking the world by storm with a, well, solid ideal. Sometimes it feels like the river is going the wrong way. It’s freeing to tell you that chasing that ideal has me feeling beat down.


You all are in more than 65 countries enjoying Blackbox Cases. We had never made a product before. We learned how to. We were scared shitless launching a new, unheard of product. We got over that. We got a lot of love-letters from you all. We introduced a product so unique it inspired hundreds of articles within a week and many copycats thereafter. We made a ton of mistakes and learned more than possible in a classroom. We risked, went (for) broke, and did it. We brought a product whose design we were incredibly proud of and we didn’t budge.

So what’s happening? Blackbox Case is taking a hiatus. I (Lance) will be moving with my wife to Cairo, Egypt, as she is going to become the world’s greatest first  grade teacher at an international school. As such, I have chosen to park Blackbox Case for now. I’m excited for a lifetime of projects and inventions and it is time to proceed.

We will be fulfilling orders, catching up on orders, and selling/making a very limited quantity of cases for the next few months. If you’re waiting on an order that hasn’t made it to you yet, I am sorry. Those should all be shipping in the next week or two.

Here’s what I want you to hear and I really want future Me to remember: Stick to it. If you are proud of what your life produces that’s worth being stressed over. Failure is scary, so get over it. Take your ego out of and put your heart in. If you’re in it for the money you’re missing it. You need to try “it.” People will think you are wrong but usually they are wrong. You will not get it the first time so get back up. Have fun. Risk.

But screw your courage to the sticking place, and we’ll not fail.” -Shakespeare


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Brand You or You Die

Posted by Lance Atkins on November 17, 2011 4 Comments

There’s a lot - a LOT - of articles on how to “brand” your business and yourself. Apparently you’ve gotta do it, or you and your business and your life and your wellbeing are just plain sunk. You need to put out the right vibe to make the people come running...

What if the products - the output - of your life were so you that you don’t have to re-brand who you is? What if the inventions, the ideas, the messages, the friendships that come out of your head were so unedited and so you that they did the branding of you for you?

Man, that would be fun. I could be, like, one person. And I could be who I want to be. It’d be like writing an inspired blog post without having go back and edit it.


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Is The Fear On Your Shoulder?

Posted by Lance Atkins on November 06, 2011 0 Comments

Gosh, creating stuff is scary. It might not work. People might tell you what they don’t like about it. In fact, they might even judge you. You might fail, go broke, and end up in the ghetto gutter. What is your spouse, friends, and dog gonna think about you then?

And damnit, they don’t even give you a manual of how to do it. They make everything go wrong and make it difficult and expensive. Creating doesn’t come with an insurance+retirement plan and it sure doesn’t come with a security clause.

It’s almost like you’ve gotta pull it out of thin air. It’s like you’ve gotta get on google, drive to Home Depot, risk cutting your hand off, and risk being wrong. You need to believe in yourself and you really can’t ever stop. The fear of creating will sit on your shoulder and it won’t leave 'till you teach it you don’t care. 


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The Knife Maker

Posted by Lance Atkins on November 06, 2011 1 Comment

"I think that some folks getting into the handmade world think that there’s this great opportunity, that the streets are paved with gold. That couldn’t be farther from the truth…

Where the currency is really rich is in community. It’s in the friendships you develop. The fact that you get to do what you wanna do and, for the most part, not be bossed around. That’s where it’s rich, like, in quality of life it’s rich."

Made by Hand / No 2 The Knife Maker from Made by Hand on Vimeo.


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Designing Beauty - An Idea Worth Spreading with Richard Seymour

Posted by Lance Atkins on October 28, 2011 1 Comment

What makes an object beautiful? Designer Richard Seymour implores that it's a "gut" thing (and the "gut" feeling is backed up by a ton of work and talent.) If you're interested in the creed of truly good design, This talk is well worth your time. So interesting.


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Remembering Steve - and Laser Beams

Posted by Lance Atkins on October 25, 2011 1 Comment

Our world was deeply affected October 5 with the passing of Steve Jobs. His unbending genius and willingness for risk have hugely changed the world we live in. Steve taught us a lot about stepping into the unknown and following a hair-brained idea.

In the 20 days since Job's passing, we've put a lot of thought into how we can learn from his life. We've concluded that it's time to make great art. Let our products, and life, be an artform unlike any other. As a company without a cranky HR department, nor pesky bean counters, we basically have unlimited creative freedom. It's time to go. No time is better than today. And so we press upward.

"You can’t connect the dots looking forward. You can only connect them looking backward. So you have to somehow trust that the dots will connect in your future. Believing that the dots will connect down the road, will give you the confidence to follow your heart. Even when it leads you off the well-worn path. And that will make all the difference." ~Steve Jobs

We're super proud to announce custom laser engraving. As a group of artisans, we're excited to team up with You... yes You to make your case a piece of art. Any Blackbox Case is now your blank canvas. So this is where it gets fun! Let's put your crazy art, logo, name - anything you can think up - on a Blackbox Case. Are you an artist? Imagine a limited art series...
We're thrilled about this holiday season. Orders are piling in, so make sure to order any Christmas gifts now to reserve your spot - (and ensure your boyfriend has a case with your face engraved on it.) We're pressing into exciting new ideas - new inventions - new everything. We can't wait to see where it goes. Oh, and come say "hi" on Facebook, it's a great way to keep up with our daily shenanigans (jumping the belt sander off the roof?)

Here's to the journey,
-Team Blackbox 


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Happy Tuesday

Posted by Lance Atkins on October 25, 2011 0 Comments


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Duckhunt is Back

Posted by Lance Atkins on October 20, 2011 0 Comments

Stunned! The greatest game of all time is back:



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I Want To Be You

Posted by Lance Atkins on October 20, 2011 0 Comments

Jennifer Garner struts her stuff past the genius physicist who is watching the new Terminator movie while wishing his fortune was as large as Bill Gates' on the news. The teenage girl adores Kim Kardashian, all the while Kim wishes she could be a girl again. And watching Avatar for the third time leaves your average life feeling bland and boring.

We're exposed to a lot of larger-than-life stories these days. It's tempting to compare our seemingly insignificant life to the grand story of Harry Potter (among others) and be disappointed with our day-to-day.

Remember to also consider your own life a great story. Your life is one worth being jealous of, and one worth fighting for. Yes, it might look different than a Hollywood production, but it is great, all the same.


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School vs. The Learner

Posted by Lance Atkins on October 17, 2011 0 Comments

 As a child, my teachers, well, hated me. I didn’t really excel in school. I just put in my time. They told me “you’re better than this,” and “you’re gifted and lazy.” What they didn’t see was that I couldn’t wait to go home and start really learning. Legos, paper airplanes, building my own potato gun, welding, and digging holes all awaited me. The things, and intuition, I learned from that creative space in my life is priceless to me. School was school. Life was learning. Then, some day, it began to change. School is learning and Life is life. It’s as if we reserve a 20 year chunk of life for learning at school, then go out and expect to use that learnedness.

When did creativity become less important than biology? And when did college become the only way to the promise land?

I’m not here to completely rag on school. I think it’s a great thing. But I do think we often use school for our self esteem and a paper certificate more than we use it to learn. I’d prefer to question the system:

  • What if you quit your MBA program and started a business that teaches you how to run a business? Would that be cheaper than your student loan bill?
  • What can you learn by exploring your weird invention idea? (uh... a LOT)
  • What ways were you creative as a child? Where did it go?
  • What could you learn, while having fun, with a stack of books in a coffee shop?
  • What impossible idea do you have that would require you to learn your way out of it?

Maybe creativity, confidence, and curiosity are your new tuition.


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