Tuesday, June 20, 2017

An Interview with Ryan McDonald of Finn

As we were driving downstate on our last morning in Vermont, I sent a text message to Ryan McDonald of Finn to see if he'd be around the shop for a quick stop by.  When we arrived, he and his daughter greeted us outside and we spent a few minutes checking out the new space, talking about current and upcoming products, and snapped a few images while there as well.

I've long appreciated the work and gear that Ryan produces at Finn and it was stellar to see where it all takes shape from design to finished product.

I asked Ryan if he'd mind answering a few questions for a short interview to accompany the photographs taken during the shop visit and appreciate him taking the time with his responses.

You and I have known each other for a number of years but for those reading this interview who may not be unfamiliar, what is your story and background?

"I started a fly fishing company about four years ago called Finn.  I grew up in New England, worked for a hand full of larger companies (Burton, Adidas, and Carhartt) and have always traveled with a fly rod in my hand."

How did Finn come together and who all is part of the crew now? 

"Finn started with an idea to build high quality classic hand crafted fly fishing product in the U.S.A. 

Jake and I show up for work, this is how it comes together.  As you may understand a business is a trusted network of thinkers and doers.  Whether it be the forward thinking mentors or the good people that supply our high quality materials, we are all a crew that believe in Finn."

I noticed a several vintages packs and other fly fishing gear in and around the shop that fortunately out date the both of us.  Where do you draw inspiration from in the design of your gear?

"Yes, old gear is inspirational, often times old military bags have cool design solutions, especially stuff from the Alps.  Outside of all the old gear, Jake and I have a smart collaborative energy.  We sew up a sample, test it, and redesign and sew another.  Drawing on paper is good in the early phase but if you have a bag to test you really have something to think about."

The new shop is located on the outskirts of Richmond, Vermont and it seems to be in the process of renovation all while work is being done at the same time.  How do you think this space will evolve in the coming years and what are your plans for it? 

"Work is the only rule and this space is no exception.  I feel it will evolve over time and become a hang out, whether it be a Trout Unlimited meeting and beers or coffee and some fly tying with local Veterans.  The river is only a couple hundred feet away making a fishing break the norm."

One of the things that I have always appreciated about the gear you make is that it seems to already have a story just through the process of it being built. What is the one thing that you want someone to think about when considering a purchase?

"That's a very insightful question Cameron, and not an easy one to solve. I would want them to think about how the gear was built to be brought to life when it gets used.  We have pride in what we do and love fly fishing."

It was neat meeting your daughter when we stopped by the shop.  How has becoming a father changed your perspective with Finn and beyond? 

"Becoming a father changes everything.   I don’t really think I can do the question justice.  I can say she likes helping out around the shop and tying flies."

And just to lighten things up to finish, what is likely playing on the radio to get you through the day and what favorite brew do you search out to end the day at the shop?

"Online radio is our go to start the day with KEXP “John in the Morning" on KEXP followed by KCRW and “Morning Becomes Eclectic”.  In the afternoon we might put on a Boiler Room mix or some LCD Sound System or Bach if it’s snowing.  What beer to drink in Vermont?  That’s a hard one…so many.  Lost Nations Mosaic is this week's choice."

For more, please visit the Finn website and consider following along on Facebook and Instagram for the latest shop news. 

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