Posted by Greg Hydle on September 05, 2016 — 0 Comments
Blackbox Case lasered up some awesomeness for the High Fives Foundation 2nd Annual Colorado Golf Tournament this past week! Pictured above is a 15" Natural Bamboo Wood Case for and Apple MacBook Pro Retina, a 13" Carbonized Apple MacBook Pro Retina Case in the middle, and a 12" Natty MacBook Bamboo Blackbox Case on the bottom. As a team, we shot 20 under par at the super elevated Copper Creek Golf Course and only finished in 4th place overall ... which didn't result in any awards coming our way, but technically it's ok because we also made the awards!
Blackbox Case is looking forward to releasing a High Fives Foundation + Blackbox Case partnership in the very near future, so you can get your own hands on a High Fives branded Blackbox Case while supporting such an amazing cause! If you take a minute or TEN below to watch and learn about the awesome work Roy Tuscany and High Fives does with mountain sports inspired athletes, you will completely understand why we love their mission so much.
Just watch High Fives' newly released video and go full screen on this masterpiece:
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
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.
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
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.
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."
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.
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?)
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.
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.
Posted by Lance Atkins on October 14, 2011 — 2 Comments
Our friend, Bryan, makes an extra income by selling clothing on eBay. I enjoy selling on eBay about as much catching the black death, so I was quizzing him on how he does it and why he enjoys it. I wanted to know why he didn’t expand his operation, didn’t sell more items, didn’t use some extra money to buy more products. His answer?
“That’s when it stops being fun.”
Something clicked for me. He’s found the trick to sustainability... He’s learned how to truly enjoy something. Enough is actually the Best. We live in a culture of BiggerBetterFasterMore and I think, some day in the foreseeable future, everyone’s head might explode.
We're learning our version of keeping it fun: inventing, good design, bamboo, beers on Friday, new friendships, handshake-deals without lawyer-contracts, writing weird blog posts... And we've found it's now more fun to go to work on Monday.
Posted by Lance Atkins on October 13, 2011 — 2 Comments
It’s a cool, relaxing Saturday night. With a glass of scotch
at my side and surrounded by friends at the dinner table, I’m handily winning
(probably not) the board game we are playing. I’m building my railroads to cut
off Daniel (making him angry is one of the best parts of the game) and exerting
my strategy for total domination. All is right with this world on a dreamy
Then. It happens like it happens a hundred times a day. I
subconsciously disconnect from my friends and board-game-domination to pull out
my iPhone and check my email. Why? I don’t know. You do it too. I know you do.
I’m confronted with an irate, long winded email from a person
in Bulgaria who is angry that his package, about a week after mailing, hasn’t
arrived. Mentally, I’m quickly taken from my friends and into my head, worrying
about someone’s anger. It bugged me for the rest of the weekend.
So I came up with an experiment. I took my business email
account off my phone. If I’m gonna do work, I’ll have to be at my computer. Instantly,
I started noticing things: the sky was beautiful blue, a drive in the car
became a fun escape again, and I started really being with people more. I now will often turn off my phone for a
whole day. The feeling of getting off the hamster wheel is great.
Technology is here to stay. And yes, I think technology is a
really awesome thing. I enjoy my
iPhone and MacBook Air. Hell, we make cases for
them. But at what point does technology burn us out? I hear people talking
about how they loathe their email and, seemingly, their life. Wasn’t email
supposed to be a helpful thing ten
Remember when it was okay to wait ten minutes to answer an
email or text message? Remember when the stress of something couldn’t electronically follow you to
dinner with your spouse? What if you took the Facebook status out of your
sunset, the emails out of your crisp-aired morning drive, and the text messages
out of your face-to-face friendships?
We’re big fans of 1) People and 2) Creating really cool
stuff that we believe in. But #2 should never be moved to #1… what if your
iPhone’s case was purposefully - and beautifully - designed to be a small barrier between your
family dinner and your e-everything? Ha!
Posted by Lance Atkins on October 12, 2011 — 0 Comments
After doing some work on taxes a while back, I found that I had been over-billed $110 by TurboTax. I hunted down a customer service rep who fixed the problem. I got a survey from them yesterday and here is what I wrote back to them:
"The lady that helped me was very helpful, prompt, and knowledgable. If you guys don't give her a big ol' raise, you're stupid idiots. I was a little pissed about my TurboTax bill (an extra $110?) and she took care of the error like a bat-outta-hell. She actually made my day and I was happier in the end, after she corrected the problem, than if my bill was correct in the first place. Hooray TurboTaxLady! As for you guys: make your billing more transparent so I don't have to leave you for - gasp - someone else. Thanks!"
I was actually happier after needing - and tracking down - someone to correct my problem. I know, it doesn’t really make sense to me either. But I think, just think, that maybe we all just like having other people around, especially when those other people are enjoyable. Maybe we will change from “customer service” to “People Time.”
Posted by Lance Atkins on October 11, 2011 — 1 Comment
You don’t have more time. You’re getting older. You’re
giving birth to more children and buying more cars and more houses and more
What are you - Yes You - a genius at? Yes. You do have it.
You have what it takes.
What do you want to create? A women’s shelter? A
whopper-doodad-invention? A community of people that take care of each other? Want
to learn how to paint? Dig up your dreams. Big or small, they are equally
Your fear doesn’t want you to create. Fear has teamed up
with your TV, your job, your broken fridge, and all those little details to
keep you going in circles for the next 100 years.
You vs. Fear. Who is stopping who?
Blackbox Case started in my small woodshop. I wanted to make
a hardshell wood MacBook Pro case for myself so I could quit crushing my
laptops while traveling around. It turned out great. The first one! Then I got
to thinking maybe I should make these for other people too! Then fear – my
perfectionism – set in. What if one breaks? What if I screw something up? What if I fail? What if
people don’t like it? What if…?
Fear almost killed it. Blackbox Case almost didn’t happen.
But we kept going. It was scary as hell and still is sometimes. A mentor from
my childhood, Daryl, told me once, “What’s the worst thing you can do when
driving your car through a mud pit? Stop. A stuck car is the hardest to get moving.”
What if You confronted Your greatness? What would that look like?
We're not gonna be bashful. These new MacBook Air cases make us laugh. They're simply amazing. The detailed figure of the bamboo. The epic, flawless finish applied by Anthony. The 2 degree "wedge" shape to custom fit the MacBook Air. The crisp laser engraving. Here's an 11" we made for our friend Dave over at Path:
Posted by Lance Atkins on August 30, 2011 — 1 Comment
Running a business sucks. Sometimes you just don’t want to fix that broken saw. The credit card gateway breaks because it, well, just decided to. Wood shows up the wrong size. Fraudsters decide to turn a huge profit on you with a stolen credit card. Nothing works. It’s always like swimming upstream and never just “calm.” You never know if what you’re doing will work, you have to make decisions and stick to your guns. It’s scary and exposed out there.
Then you get an email from someone inspired by your story and ambition. You meet new, like-minded friends every day and see like you’re a part of a growing family. You started something big... then talented and caring people start coming out of the woodwork to help you along the way. You hear how your dreams inspired someone, set them free, to dangerously chase their dreams. Then you look back at the past year: You learned how to run a business and woodwork better and invent and file taxes and hire people and a whole ton of stuff. You grow as an artist, engineer, designer, inventor, businessman, and... person, all at the same time.
I think learning is the greatest thing on earth. Never stop, because the inconvenience of it all is maybe, just maybe, where we find those really great things.
But isn't that the fun? Taking that difficult thing and failing and failing until you create something great? Thomas Edison kept failing and now we have light bulbs. I don't know how many times experts have told us that, "bamboo won't work for what you're doing." Yep.
We are proud to announce an entire new generation of Blackbox Cases. The full line of Bamboo Blackbox Cases is now here. And for you patient owners of a MacBook Air, we've got a case for you too!
Through our Kickstarter project, we are preselling all Bamboo Blackbox Cases. Here's the skinny:
Free brewery tours, Colorado Adventures, T-shirts, and hand delivered cases... They're all in there.
We're really, really excited for the new MacBook Air cases.
Cases are preselling for $10-20 less than they will retail for after the project.
Limited edition number set. We're punching the laser-cut leather straps starting with K001, K002,...K999.
There are a limited number of iPad 2 cases on deep discount.
Colors? Natural and Carbonized Brown. The brown smells like hot-n-sour soup when sanding it. Not even kidding.
Project runs for 30 days.
All cases will be delivered by November to guarantee that any gifts are happily under the Christmas tree.
Bamboo is cool. It's a grass. It grows like a banshee. It's sustainable. It's lighter and still super strong. The finish goes on like butter.
Greg made a great video. Check it out to see what we've been up to.
So, what the hell is Kickstarter? It is a project based funding community. You pre-order a Bamboo Blackbox Case (don't forget that free Coors Brewery tour and Colorado adventure) and we, in turn, raise funding for launching a great product. This is our way of making our journey part of the product. We really love what we do and we want you to be a real part of that a part that. It is time to take our operation to the next level. We need to write the CNC programs, order the pallets of bamboo, make these cases more efficiently, and live our dream: produce a high-end, made in the USA, commercially viable product that is also a piece of art...
Welcome to the family, guys. We're pretty proud of this one.