In the early days of Simple, our Creative Director Ian C had a dream: deliver something unexpected with every Simple Visa® Card. Naturally, he landed on a wallet. In the beginning, we sent new Simple customers a love note written on chipboard. But it was more than it seemed. With one satisfying snap, the board would break in half, releasing the card, and a little card wallet. The resulting DIY wallet remains one of our customers’ most appreciated—and photographed—items. Now, thanks to an unlikely partnership with another design-forward Portland brand, the Simple wallet just got a facelift.
For years, Ian tinkered with different ideas for an enhanced wallet, including one pseudo-origami design made from durable paper. This idea sat on the shelf for a couple of years, until Ian had an inspiring meeting with Sam Huff, founder of Tanner Goods, an iconic local leathercrafting studio.
Tanner Goods is renowned in the Portland makers’ community. With a factory based in the heart of the industrial district, and collaborations with the likes of Pendleton and Danner Boots, Tanner has firmly cemented itself as the best leather goods company in the Pacific Northwest (and the country, if we do say so ourselves). They’ve crafted custom leather designs for everyone from John Mayer to Airbnb, but working with a banking technology company presented a unique opportunity.
Pairing old and new
The Tanner Goods factory harks back to a more traditional time; the workroom is stacked wall-to-wall with heavy duty machinery and tools that leather crafters have been using for generations. While the company uses modern technology for everything from design to sales and marketing, Tanner’s home base is a far cry from the sea of Macbooks visible in every corner at Simple’s homebase.
“It’s an interesting partnership of old and new, of analog and tech,” says Sam. “We appreciate technology and use it day-to-day, but a lot of stuff that we do is a little bit more old school and analog.”
Ian says that while his work is entrenched in technology, there are things about Tanner’s philosophy that resonate with Simple’s values.
“Neither company is interested in the short term or ephemeral. We value the time and effort it takes to create the things we do, and we’re willing to put in the hours to ensure that things are done right.”
Putting it all together
Tanner is known for its quality finishing details: stitching, riveting, and fastening that all stand the test of time. So how would they handle a DIY wallet design that requires Simple customers to put it together themselves?
“This is the first time we’ve ever produced a flat-pack item that has to be constructed,” says Sam. “We spent a lot of time analyzing different ways that we could pattern something that would—without overthinking it—make it easy for the consumer to put together.”
Their solution? A single piece of leather that easily binds together—an adaptation of Ian’s shelved origami concept. Ease of use was paramount to Ian and Sam, since we’ll be sending the wallets to customers to assemble themselves.
A relationship built to last
Today, we’re launching our first-ever referral program. Know someone who might enjoy Simple as much as you do? Log into your Simple account through the app or on the web, and invite them to join. Once your friend opens an account, we’ll send both of you an email, then you can each pick which wallet you want. Each customer you refer will receive a wallet (but we’ll send yours just the first time).
Ian says, “I think the relationship works because we’re both companies built on carefully crafted products, not quick, cheap gimmicks. Tanner makes quality items that people can use for their whole life, and Simple wants to be alongside customers for every phase of their life.”
Sam says he’s happy that his company values of quality and longevity are upheld with the partnership, and loves the juxtaposition the relationship presents.
“We’re at two ends of the spectrum, meeting in the middle to blend, and create something together,” he says.
How to get yours
If you’re a Simple customer, and you know someone who might love Simple too, sign in to your account, and send your friend your personal Invite Friends link. In the mobile app, tap the “Invite a Friend” tab in the menu, and share your personal link. Once your friend opens an account, we’ll send you both an email, and you’ll each be able to choose which wallet you want: leather or felt (although please note, if you’re choosing leather, the shade of brown leather you receive may vary due to availability). The leather and felt we chose are of the highest quality, capable of holding onto your most precious items for years to come. We hope you and your loved one enjoy your gifts as much as we enjoy working with Tanner Goods. Think of it as our way of reminding the world that relationships are one of life’s most carefully crafted experiences.
Learn more here.
Hey! Welcome to our disclaimer. Here’s what you need to know to safely consume this blog post: Any outbound links in this post will take you away from Simple.com, to external sites in the wilds of the internet; neither Simple nor The Bancorp Bank, our partner bank, endorses any linked-to websites; and we didn’t pay/barter with/bribe anyone to appear in this post. Sam Huff is not a Simple customer. And as much as we wish we could control the cost of things, any prices in this article are just estimates. Actual prices are up to retailers, manufacturers, and other people who’ve been granted magical powers over digits and dollar signs.