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Gavin's Underground

Lake Of Salt

by Gavin Sheehan
- Posted // 2008-11-16 -

Looking for a nice pair of shoes? There's a local company putting out some mighty fine designs right out of a downtown art studio.

Lake Of Salt has been running out of Captain Captain Studios for a short time now, providing the local fashion scene with very colorful and decorative ninja shoes and the occasional t-shirts of various design. Turning an old hobby of messing around with clothes into a well run business. I got a chance to chat with LOS owner Patrick Munger about how he got started, the process behind the creations, thoughts on the scene and a few other topics here and there. Plus I stopped by the Captain to take some shots of his studio and the beginning of work on a big shipment to Japan.

Patrick Munger

http://www.lakeofsalt.com/


Gavin: Hey Patrick. First off, tell us a little bit about yourself.

Patrick:
My life right now is shoes, shoes, shoes, my two cats Sam and Brenda, my family and friends.

Gavin: For those who are unaware, what is Lake Of Salt?

Patrick:
Lake Of Salt is the company I started in my kitchen using my sink, pots, pans and big dreams dyeing shoes. We are currently just focusing on our hand dyed canvas shoes. Originally we worked with local artists on some shirts and bags, hats etc. but right now it's all about the shoes.

Gavin: Where did the idea come from to start up a shoe company?

Patrick:
It really didn't start with a focus on doing shoes. It started with my desire to not serve tables anymore, haha. As a kid my mom dragged me around to craft stores constantly. She'd bribe me with buying me projects at the craft stores. That got me into using beads, sewing, knitting, you know, the usual boyhood activities. One of the things I really got into was dyeing my stuff, hats, shirts and shoes. In high school I had a pair of classic Vans and a hat I bleached and re-dyed probably twenty times. Seven months ago I had wanted some different colored canvas shoes for myself and thought other people would to. It all started there.

Gavin: How did you get set up at Captain Captain Studios, and why that particular art space?

Patrick:
I have been friends with the guys down at Captain Captain studios for several years. I sort of fell into my space though. My friend Cein Watson took this crazy bicycle trip from San Francisco to Vancouver. While he was gone I sublet his studio and have stayed ever since. I now share the space with Cein and James Randle. I definitely can't picture working anywhere else though, which seems a bit strange since I am dyeing shoes and all the guys and girls down here are painters and printmakers. But there is something that fits with the process. When there are over hundred pairs of shoes laying out drying, ten different colors, it makes more sense. I have never worked in a more fun inspirational environment. If someone is thinking about starting a business I highly suggest getting away from "business minded people," you know like cell phone kiosk types, and gravitate towards artists. They understand the creative process a business needs more than anyone.

Gavin: Was it pretty easy or difficult to get everything set up?

Patrick:
To be quite honest nothing has been more easy to do in my life. It's not so much that what I am doing is easy, I have just never enjoyed doing something so much, which makes waking up everyday and going to work something I look forward to. In fact I sort of dredge having to sleep at night!

Gavin: So what's the process and amount of work that goes into a pair of shoes?

Patrick:
It's actually pretty time consuming to do these shoes from beginning to end. From taking them out of the packaging, to dyeing, to drying, to tagging, to mailing them off takes about fours days per pair. Obviously the key then is to do as many at a time as possible.

Gavin: Was the choice to do canvas shoes done for price or more nostalgia?

Patrick:
The first reason was because I wanted them myself. In fact I have been wearing my shoes for the past seven months and still get excited when I do a new color and grab a pair. My favorite color right now is the plain white with colored laces. The price is another big factor. I wanted to make sure I could do something that had a hands on feel, looked great, but was affordable to people like my friends and I.

Gavin: What was the reaction to them upon release?

Patrick:
The reaction was great right off. At first I was just selling them to friends and friends of friends. Then I got them in the store model.citizen. Matt Monson is bad ass and took a chance with a new company. By our second month we were selling fifty pairs a month and almost hundred pairs our third month. They are still doing really great at his store which also sells our shirts and bags along with a bunch of other really great clothing.

Gavin: I know you're putting out massive orders now. Does the demand shock you or do you take it in stride?

Patrick:
This month we will sell 2,000 pairs of shoes! That's about 500 more pairs of shoes than I have sold in the past seven months. I have a store in San Francisco, Michigan and just got accounts in Japan. I wouldn't say I'm shocked as much as humbled. Maybe humbled is not the right word. It's more about appreciation. I feel so lucky that in the process of this company I have seen the pay off of working really hard for something that I believed in. I also believe in the idea that if you desire something and expect it, you can manifest it. Man I sound like Steven Covey sometimes, haha!

Gavin: How do you react to the idea that locals view them as a must-have fashion item?

Patrick:
It makes me very happy if someone likes what I'm doing. I appreciate all of the support.

Gavin: Speaking of which, how do you view the local fashion scene?

Patrick:
I actually sort of don't know what that means. Salt Lake is certainly staying up on everything. My favorite styles have always been people who are themselves and feel comfortable wearing whatever. Mike Brown for instance has had the best style for years. If you don't know who he is you will. He's consistently putting out the best and funniest zine in Salt Lake "The Leviathan." Check it out if you haven't. With the people I hang out with, and what I do, it's not really about fashion or being cutting edge or something. It's about producing things you want to see in the world. Right now I want to see a ton of brightly colored canvas shoes on people's feet.

Gavin: Aside from shoes you also do T-Shirts. Was that more of a side project, or did it just make sense to start making those?

Patrick:
The shirts have always been a side thing, and certainly fun to do. Ultimately though I just don't have time to do more right now. I just hired my first employees and when things get settled and we get into a groove, I will be doing more things like the shirts. My friend Patrick Weeks, who is a local artist, is working on this design that we can't wait to do. The shirts will be similar to the shoes. Hand dyed American Apparel shirts with silk screens done by the artists or me.

Gavin: What are your thoughts about local retailers and how they deal with local products?

Patrick:
I have only worked with two local retailers Model Citizen and Disorderly House. Both have had their enthusiasm and interest in local products. I have a lot of respect for those guys because of that. Also I know that Frosty Darling is another store that sells a lot of locally produced goods and they are simply amazing. I honestly think Frosty Darling is one of the most beautiful stores in Salt Lake with the most creative stuff. Which also reminds me of Leia Bell's new store Signed & Numbered. Another great store that sells local artist goods. I'm sure I'll think of more later.

Gavin: You recently got some reviews in SLUG, and even a visit from Fuel.TV. What do you think of the media attention you've gotten over the products?

Patrick:
I'm really appreciative of those opportunities and am happy people like what I am up to.

Gavin:
Being a part of the art community, what are your thoughts on the local art scene, both good and bad?

Patrick:
I am blown away everyday by the people in this city and what they create.

Gavin:
Anything you believe could be done to make it bigger or better?

Patrick:
Everything is a process that people create. I don't think bigger or better really means anything. It's more about people just doing what makes them happy which will be reflected in a community. I think this is happening in this city.

Gavin: Are there any plans to expand beyond what you've got going now, or are you mainly sticking to shoes and shirts for now?

Patrick: I have a lot in mind for the future. My future interests include working with musicians, working with writers and printing local publications. For right now I'm fueled by what is going on and I'll do it until it gets boring and then I'll do something else.

Gavin: What can we expect from Lake Of Salt next year?

Patrick: Next year you can expect more colors for the shoes, more shirts and who knows what else. I'm excited to see how big I can make this thing.

Gavin: Is there anything you'd like to promote or plug?

Patrick: On the Friday after Thanksgiving I am giving away a bunch of shoes and other giveaways at Urban Lounge as a thank you for all the local support I have had. Vile Blue Shades and Ted Dancin' will be playing. It's also just another excuse to get together with all my friends. Thanks!

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