Updated: Jun 30
When we were approached by Marshall Mizrahi, Vice President of Handcraft Manufacturing, to make a film he could show to prospective licensors and retailers, I wondered how we could a find a story in the basics that we wear daily, but that no one ever sees. While film includes visual media, we know that a film has to be about more than just the seen, in order to move people. You have seen - and probably own - Handcraft's work. They manufacture the socks, underwear, and basics that you see in Target and WalMart, with characters from the likes of Disney, Nickelodeon, Marvel, Star Wars, and Lego. Marshall wanted a film that would introduce Handcraft to licensors and retailers alike, for use on the website and in marketing.
In talking with Marshall and hearing the story of Handcraft's 75 year history, it was clear to me what the angle of the film should be. Some of his team members have been working there for 40 and 50 years, and the staff in both the office and in the warehouse create a surprisingly tight-knit family, the likes of which you really don't see nowadays, especially at a big company, and especially in New York City. I thought this was something unique. This is the story we would tell in our film.
Because we didn't want to make this film to be primarily about the product they were manufacturing. I wanted to tell the intrinsic story about how Handcraft was founded and run by a family, and is making products for families. In today's market, it's not enough to have a shiny, perfect product. We buy into a company's identity. Why do you drive a Lexus or a Porsche or wear Nike and Adidas shirts? It's most of the time not price or convenience. You buy an identity. And with today's strong social justice focus, social media and transparency it engenders, companies need to show who they are on the inside, not just what they produce. In the end, a company is made by people. And we as consumers want to know what a company, and its products, stand for. Handcraft's story is so powerful because there is hardly any turnaround in terms of its employees. Nora, for example, as of filming, has worked for Handcraft for 50 years and three weeks. Others have also worked there for decades. Handcraft's company culture is such that people feel at home at work, and like a family - glued together and passionate about working there, so that the products they create reflect that passion and that love. Through this focus on the internal culture at Handcraft, licensors and retailers get an idea of the experience they will have partnering with Handcraft. Besides the technical stuff, like having all the efficiencies and pipelines in place to mass produce licensed socks, underwear, and basics, the experience for the people working with Handcraft is like an extended family experience - warm, responsive, and attentive to their needs. If I can share any advice with you today about making promotional films for companies - focus not just on the product, but also on the people. Because this will tell us the complete story. It's so much more compelling to slip into undergarments that stand for something good, treating people with respect, and stopping at nothing when it comes to designing and manufacturing quality that your whole family will use on a daily basis.