In a lot of ways, the rise of crowdfunding sites like Kickstarter has democratized product development. Theoretically, it allows anyone with an elevator pitch and internet connection to appeal to the World Wide Web for micro investments to turn their dream into a reality. Of course, not all new ideas are created equally—as evidenced by such lemons as “Twerk Island,” dog treats you can both eat, and Paul, the “sexiest smartphone charger on the planet,” replete with retracting anal, errr, (power) plug.
Since its inception in 2009, Kickstarter alone has seen more than 310,000 projects started, with 110,717 of them raising more than $2.2 billion and becoming successful. Yet with thousands of live projects to dig through at any given time, it can be daunting to sit down and start digging through them to decide which ones deserve your support. We decided to save you the hassle by spending some time finding the most stylish—and unique—projects seeking backers.
SUSTAINABLE, STYLISH BAGS
Utilizing military surplus materials, Brit brand What Daisy Did’s founders Daisy Hardwick and Ozric Vondervelden work with a local charity to employ homeless and vulnerable people to manufacture their Wayfarer line of stylish, rugged bags. With multiple designs, from a classic duffel and roll top pack to a messenger style shoulder bag and a large volume rucksack, the clean lines and nostalgically militaristic feel straddles the line between military surplus and hipster camping brand. Best of all, the canvas tent fabric they use is densely woven and waxed for durability and waterproofing, and they claim 95 percent of the materials they use are recycled.
PENS MADE FROM WWII BATTLESHIP DECKING
Yeah, you read that correctly. Some dude with woodworking skills named William H. Burger (just Bill on his Kickstarter page) had the chance to come upon the decking of the USS North Carolina, the most decorated battleship in World War II, and he went for it. Now he’s crafting that historic teak wood into pens, cufflinks, and razors, each one accentuated with antique pewter, bronze, or copper. Our favorite is either the Bolt Action Pen ($70) or the razor with its own stand ($115), and any can be laser engraved with the name or message of your choice.
HARD CIDER HOMEBREW
Everybody brews their own beer now, so how about stepping it up a notch with your own countertop craft cider maker? For $299 you can get your hands on the super simple Alchema cider mill, which makes turning apples—or other fruits—into an alcoholic treat about as difficult as making coffee in the morning. All you need is the patience to wait two weeks, which is just enough time to start farming that hipster mustache you’ll want to be twisting as your friends sample your eclectic cider recipes.
THE LAST, BEST SCISSORS YOU’LL EVER OWN
Too much of our household stuff is just disposable crap these days. Luckily, the folks at Ernest Wright and Son remember a time when things were crafted with pride, and something as simple as a pair of heavy scissors could stand alone as a piece of art. Made in Sheffield, England, the home of stainless steel, these heavy-duty shears follow designs Wright and Son have been making for more than a century. There are a few designs to choose from, but the Kutrite is our favorite, a steal at $67. Plus, the makers feel so strongly that these are the strongest scissors you’ll ever need that they offer a lifetime guarantee.
MAGIC LEVITATING SMARTWATCH CHARGER
Your Pebble or Apple watch is a piece of modern, high-tech art, so why not display it as such when you aren’t wearing it on your wrist? Taking advantage of wireless charging and using an induction system inspired by Tesla, the Lift Anti-Gravity Charger makes charging your device truly a 21st century experience, for under $200. As an added design bonus, when it isn’t getting your watch ready for another day at the office, the Lift doubles as a low-profile lamp.
THE ULTIMATE STANDING DESK
It’s common knowledge that you should be standing at your desk instead of sitting. Hell, Hemingway did it, so why aren’t you? Now the ergonomically designed Gaze Desk takes away any excuses you may be harboring, with multiple memory functions, a two tier, wood-tone design, and even full control from an app on your phone. And yes, you can lower it and sit down if you have too much Chinese food for lunch (or have flat feet) and just can’t even. But brace yourself—the Gaze also tracks your health and calorie loss, so you’re going to pay for it later. Actually, you should pay for it now—early backers get a reward of 55 percent off.
YOUR NEW FAVORITE BOOTS
First of all, if you’ve never treated yourself to a pair of custom leather shoes or boots, you’re missing out on one of the great joys in life. Second, now you have even less of an excuse, because these Aussie designers at Orca Leathercraft are launching Bulvier: high-end tailored boots for a fraction of what they’d cost if you wandered into a cobbler’s shop. Tooled from premium leather (or vegan leather, if you’re into that) and featuring a hand-stitching technique employed since 1928, each classic-looking pair features modern memory foam insoles to keep you comfy all day long. There are a few styles to pick from, but the Liberty checks all the boxes for a do-it-all boot design for us, and is a heck of a deal for under $200.