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Phillip Moorman

A wallet carries your life within its pockets and folds. Your cash, your credit cards, identification, and perhaps even those mementos you don’t want to go without: a photo of your child or a sweet note from a loved one (or that punch card from the burrito place down the street). Few people go anywhere without their wallet.

On a day-to-day basis, most of us carry thick, heavy wallets that are bulky and awkward.

Bulky and awkward is not functional.

Bellroy was created in 2010 when founders Andrew Fallshaw and Hadrien Monloup recognized the flaws in the way we carry our everyday items. Aiming to minimize bulk and increase functionality, they took an item that hadn’t been redesigned in years and reimagined it.

In the process, they not only designed a better product, they effectively created a whole new niche industry around carry items.

So just how did Bellroy come to own their e-commerce niche?

1) Identify a Problem and Solve It

Both avid surfers, the founders had difficulty finding the right wallet that would transition seamlessly between their active lifestyles and work. Sports-style wallets, while functional and thin, lacked quality and beauty, and professional-style wallets were bulky and not practical for adventures and activities …

They knew that there had to be a better way to carry all your essentials.

Having backgrounds in art and design, Fallshaw and Monloup recognized the need for a better product and they set out to remedy the problem. In doing so, they found their niche.

Their first project was to take a traditional men’s wallet and redesign it, cutting out the bulk and creating a thin, sleek, functional-yet-beautiful product. The focus was on functionality, minimalism and aesthetic, while using sustainable, high-quality materials and keeping a reasonable price-point. They didn’t want to charge the ridiculously high prices like that of high-end fashion, they wanted their products to be available to everyone.

2) Reach Out and Create a Community

In the beginning, there was no place you could go to discuss wallet, bag, purse and backpack design (now deemed ‘carry’ items, thanks to Bellroy) and the desired features of such items. One of the first actions taken was to discover and bring together a community of people who were looking for the same features in carry items.

From this, “carryology” was born.

A place to share insights and learnings, to read about and review products, and to discover the very best carry items on the market, the carryology community took off. It was a way for the founders to assess the need for the products they were designing.

Not only did they find that the need was real, but they were also able to tap into the budding minimalist trend before any other brand. Before carryology was created, there seemed to be little interest in slim wallets or in carry products that effortlessly blended work and adventure.

Once people were given a place to voice their opinions, desires and needs, it was clear that this niche market was not being fulfilled. Being at the forefront of the community, they were in the perfect position to offer products that fit the communities needs.

3) Build It Better (and Show the Value)

Monloup says that “a deep desire to make something better, rather than making something original or perfect” is the most important quality in a designer.

Which is the basis of their products. It’s not about creating a whole new item, it’s about making that item the best that it can be. It’s about streamlining them and making them more usable.

That’s one of the reasons Bellroy’s products are so great – they don’t have that ‘star’ designer – they have a team of people who work together to design the finest product. “Most great design in this world has been made possible by a group, not by a single person.” Says Monloup.

Take one look at their website and you’ll see how Bellroy products compare to traditional products. Their unique yet simple marketing technique puts the outdated styles right next to the sleek Bellroy products.

It’s obvious that the old-school, thick “burger” wallet is fat and bloated once loaded with cards and cash, while the craftsmanship of the Bellroy wallets allows you to carry the same number of items, yet it stays thin.

From their stop-motion videos, to their interactive website, Bellroy’s marketing technique is as minimalist and sleek as their collections, further representing who they are and the ideals they embody.

Their approach not only shows the value of the product, but also how it’s built and what materials are used. You get to know the product before you ever lay hands on it, which is extremely important to the online shopper.

Looking Forward

It’s easy to see why consumers are so willing to purchase Bellroy products.

Since they introduced their first wallet in 2010, they have expanded their product catalog to include over 60 functional and high-quality items. With over 100 employees, they are working passionately to re-design more everyday carry items to fit their customers’ busy, active lives.

What’s truly impressive is how they started up with just the seed money from the founders. They didn’t have investors. Thanks to the carryology community, the company was able to support itself from the get-go.

In an interview with The Business of Surf, Fallshaw says that “when we found traction, the business was able to support the rest of our growth. That’s not a situation most high-growth companies get to enjoy!”

While the quality and craftsmanship tend to speak for themselves, you can delve into the inner-workings of their design process, material selection, and minimalist lifestyle by checking out their journal.

To put the icing on the cake, they are also a Certified B Corporation, which means they uphold only the highest standards and practices for social and environmental performance and awareness.

It seems that the minimalist movement only continues to gain traction. Between their sustainable practices, sleek designs, functional products, and unique marketing techniques, it seems there is no stopping Bellroy.

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