News Feature

Not so Doomed in NYC



April 11, 2017 | Photos and Text: Rahoul Ghose

What’s really in a name? On first impressions DOOMEDnyc, and its borrowed tagline – ‘life will be the death of me’ – appear to offer a rather bleak outlook on life.

But for artist, industrial designer and creator Rachael Inman, the handmade leather bag company’s philosophy is quite the opposite, an ironic statement on not letting life pass you by … of embracing and focusing your creativity, and living up to your potential.

“I think the brand can come off as this negative, down thing … like ‘doom and gloom.’ But it really is not what the meaning behind it is, … at least for us,” says Inman in a recent interview from DOOMEDnyc HQ in Greenpoint, adding the original concept came from her now-husband and business partner Jason Goodrich, a photographer by trade.

“I think that what the message was for him – ‘I'm doomed to be an artist.’ – that was very much what rang true for me as well, because I tried the whole corporate thing,” Inman says. “I tried to not be an artist, ... not only was I working too much, it was also that I didn't have a voice. I'm such a creative person and see the world so differently that … I was like ‘I can't do this anymore. This is killing my soul, literally.’"

The heart of DOOMEDnyc, now three years old, lies in the use of high quality materials and unique designs derived from a ‘need’, whether it stems from a client request or Inman’s own personal experience.

"For the most part everything is function for us," Inman says. "That is our main goal, is function. And it's just because of my nature, coming from fashion, I only know how to do it in a very stylish way. So every design that we do, every new bag comes from, 'I have a need'. Whether it's our need, whether it's a need that I have, whether it's a need that my husband has, or it's a need that a client has ... it always comes from 'I'm looking to do this.' So that always gives us a good starting point."

Over the years The Art Institute of Colorado graduate has been influenced by a host of work, travel and life experience: A trip to India and even a happenstance meeting with the Dalai Lama; socializing with the Lakota tribe of North Dakota; producing for top photographers at the Art Partner agency; a stint as a boardercross snowboard racer; an untimely motorcycle accident; and even an interest in PC first-person shooter games … all, in some part, have added color to the 31-year-old’s current palette.

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  I tried to not be an artist, and not only I was working too much, it was also that I didn't have a voice. I'm such a creative person and see the world so differently that … I was like ‘I can't do this anymore. This is killing my soul, literally.’  

-- Rachael Inman, DOOMEDnyc
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It’s already seems a lifetime, time being relative, since Inman made her creative leap, a life gamble that saw her develop her first concept --- an artisan roll bag for women riders looking to carry and have easy access to their makeup on longer rides …. to freshen up.

That original artisan roll bag and now the new line of women’s vests, both satisfy a need in the market, she says.

“When I first started riding it was all guys,” says Inman, who currently commutes on a Harley 1200 Sportster Sport. “We'd go on these awesome rides upstate and camp trips, and then we'd end up at a bar, a party, or whatever, and there'd be all these freshly showered, cute girls. And I'd be covered in grease, and helmet hair.

“Before I started riding I was the girl all done up in four inch heels and always dressed up. So that was part of me, wanting to be put together. The makeup roll was that solution of ‘How can I still feel like the girly girl that I am, but get to do this thing that I now love, which is being on a bike?’ The intention of the bag was, I strap it straight to my handle bars and we pull up to wherever we're going and I'll be like ‘All right guys, like, see you inside.’ And just roll it out on my tank and sit there for just a couple minutes and freshen up.”

That idea, with the encouragement of local men’s clothing company Feltraiger, developed into a line of men’s tool roll bags which debuted at the Born Free biker festival in 2014 … and the rest is history.

A subsequent trip to India gave Inman insight into what worked and what didn’t in terms of travel bag options, attachment methods, access, and security for possessions while away from home. Her immersion into Lakota tribe customs and culture colored her decision to work with sustainable US products, leather which comes from animals already being used for food, and even lent a moniker to her favorite bag line … Parfleche.

“It's a term that was used by Native Americans, and it describes a really beautiful piece of buffalo hide, that usually is painted on or decorated in some way,” Inman says. “They basically just fold up the buffalo hide around the contents and then create this nice little satchel. And so that for me, I think, pulled a lot of influence into that bag, it's very structured, it's very sleek, and it's one of my favorites. You really want to create something beautiful, 'cause you want to honor this animal. You want to allow it to continue giving what it's given, giving its life."

Inman sources most of her leather from Pennsylvania-based Wickett & Craig.

"There's basically only two vegetable tanned tanneries left in the US, and they are number one. They've been doing it for 150 years."

The Parfleche bag is offered in two sizes, a larger version to fit a laptop and a smaller version for tablets, lady size if you will. Both can be worn over the shoulder or as a backpack.

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  It's a term that was used by Native Americans, and it describes a really beautiful piece of buffalo hide, that usually is painted on or decorated in some way. They basically just fold up the buffalo hide around the contents and then create this nice little satchel. And so that for me, I think, pulled a lot of influence into that bag, it's very structured, it's very sleek, and it's one of my favorites.  

-- Rachael Inman, DOOMEDnyc
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rachael inman | image: rahoul ghose

Today sees DOOMEDnyc expanding, with a larger staff, improved equipment, a new off-site manufacturing option, and a line of wearable products designed to suit the moto and non-moto enthusiast alike.

In particular, Inman is excited about the company's move into clothing design and the addition of a new staff designer -- Maze Georges -- who brings apparel industry experience into the mix. The first offering is a modern take on the classic motorcycle vest 'for the ladies' designed to better fit women. Available in denim, leather and combined blue and black indigo variations, the new vests come in a well-fitted sleek version for wearing underneath jackets and a looser fitting option to go over hoodies. There is also a men's vest. All versions have a number of specialty pockets for smart phones, sunglasses, etc. ... and a unique cafe-style collar with a crossover closure.

"I had found this vintage Harley vest that I wore a ton, before we had our own. I loved the vest, but there was a lot of changes, design tweaks, that I would have made to it. And so we did that. It's my first attempt at doing any kind of apparel, and like I said, I'm not formally trained. I have no experience with apparel at all, so it's pretty cool to have it come out. We've gotten great feedback on it so far. People seem to really respond to it, really dig it. We've always kind of envisioned (the company) being a creative house that can kind of go into different avenues. And one of the things that we talked about was doing Doomed Denim. We really had that desire to do it, but we had no idea it'd happen so quickly. Obviously it's not quite like a pair of jeans, but we'll work into that."

Things have always managed to fall into place for Inman ... trial and error moving ideas and projects forward.

"Actually, it's really funny, I didn't even make patterns when I first started," she says. "I literally would just hang out with leather and bend it, see how it curves, see if there's different scars, things I wanted to highlight, and what I would like to see in my brain when I looked at this piece of leather. It took me about two years to start doing patterns. I guess I'm super OCD. So it'd be like 'checking, checking'. Like what do they say, check twice, cut once. I would check like 10 times, cut once. So it would always seem to kinda work out. I will say that replicating a bag was a pain in the ass."

Now, in addition to the more traditional, old-school style of leather working tools on the walls, the office/studio now includes a large laser cutter hooked up to a PC to make replicating patterns a little less time consuming. And the company is pursuing off-site manufacturing options to allow for reduced production times for some items.

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  We've always kind of envisioned (the company) being a creative house that can kind of go into different avenues. And one of the things that we talked about was doing Doomed Denim. And it's funny, we really had that desire to do it, but we had no idea it'd happen so quickly. Obviously it's not quite like a pair of jeans, but we'll work into that.  

-- Rachael Inman, DOOMEDnyc
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"Designing a new bag takes about three days, and it's a lot more time consuming to do that. So we kind of realized like 'Okay, we really need to have this, like, standardized line that we always are gonna offer.' And so that's kind of what we have now ... we've got a really great core collection of pieces that we're working with a manufacturer, finally. We'll still finish the products here in house, but they're gonna do a little bit of the work for us, which is really exciting."

With motorcycle season slowly settling back into the city, you'll see Inman around town on her bright red 'Doomed' Harley more now. Even a horrible accident two years ago couldn't dampen her enthusisasm for riding – she was sideswiped by a Brooklyn Public Library book mobile in Williamsburg, broke her humerus and was recovering without the use of an arm for more than nine months.

"That was really traumatic, and obviously a really big blow for the brand, 'cause at the time it was still just me. He'd stopped, but just didn't realize that I was a motorcycle traveling 30 and not a bicycle traveling 10, and just didn't time it properly ... tried to pull out right in front of me. I tried to sneak around him and my elbow clipped the hood of his car. Shattered the arm."

That spirit could be tied to Inman's admitted adrenalin junkie status as a former snowboard hardboot racer.

"I like to live life on the edge ... I actually joke that motorcycles are my form of East Coast snowboarding, 'cause the snow out here hasn't been good for years now. You know, I'm from Aspen, so it's like, after being spoiled like that it's hard to do anything else."

Riding ... on snow ... has even had an influence on Inman's two-wheeled style, she says.

"One of the things as a competitive boardercrosser you were taught part of it is style. It's to be able to have your own little flair and your sway ... that's really ingrained in you. That definitely I think, has played over into my riding, of just having a little bit of a style to it. The way that I like to ride, the way that I like to take curves ... I like to go into them a little late so I can throw it a little bit harder."

It's also probably why DOOMEDnyc will always have at least a part of its heart in the moto world, albeit with Inman's own sense of flair and style.

"While we are trying to expand the market beyond specifically the moto world, that is where our roots are …. what kind of gave birth and inspiration to this in the beginning. So I don't think we're gonna ever fully be like 'No, we're not making moto products,' That would be foolish 'cause that's a big part of the brand. But we wanna grow up a little bit too."

rachael inman | image: rahoul ghose

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The DOOMEDnyc webstore currently includes a selection of bags, t-shirts, pins and totes ... including one logo treatment reminiscent of a certain id Software first-person shooter PC game. The new collection should be available soon. You can visit DOOMEDnyc online at:     

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