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How It’s SFMade: The Way of the DODOcase

It’s SFMade Week, a celebration of local manufacturing. How this tablet case made it from TechShop to Air Force One.

If America is driven by a consumer culture, then San Francisco is driven by a smart consumer culture. You know: local, sustainable, savvy. That also describes SFMade, a non-profit organization of over 400 city manufacturers that’s the next coolest thing to a guild. Through Sunday they celebrate SFMade Week with special tours and events, and we observe with daily profiles of need-to-know SFMade brands.

DODOcase: It isn’t going anywhere. The tablet and device case maker is a founding member of SFMade: “[They're] an organization that just fit us like a glove,” says DODOcase president and co-founder Craig Dalton, though maybe he means like a DODOcase. “At the onset of a manufacturing business, there are questions like where can we locate ourselves, what kind of tax incentives should we be looking at, and all of those things were served up to us by SFMade.”

By Its Cover: Like the rest of us, Dalton had worried that reading devices and tablets were going to drive the aesthetic of books and writing pads to extinction. “The art of traditional bookbinding and the pleasure of reading a book” is still in peril according to Dalton, whose leather-bound cases resemble old sketchpads. “We’re all about bringing humanity to these devices, bringing fabrics and textures and emotions to the hunks of aluminum where we all consume content.” Cofounder Patrick Buckley prototyped the original case at TechShop, and as for the leather exterior, “at first, most of the bookbinding community looked at us like we were crazy" says Dalton. "But the one guy we were able to work with initially was like, yes, if you’re money’s green, we’re happy to work with you.”

The Case of the President: When Dalton saw his case in the hands of the POTUS in 2011, he was blown away. “[Obama] was photographed in a Time magazine article at his desk with a DODOcase and by the White House holding the case on the way to Air Force One. "How is this possible, we thought?” They looked through their order database for “Barack Obama” but couldn’t find him. “We really have no idea how it got into his hands, but the pride our bookbinding team took away from that really helped us.”

Message to America: Embrace "the nimbleness of local manufacturing" because the cost savings from producing overseas just aren't worth it. "I get back those costs in spades, in my storytelling about the brand and in the impact we’re having,” says Dalton. "People bitch and moan about the economy, but we’re all making decisions everyday to buy things that don’t have a positive trickle down effect."

Monday: The vibrator with flash storage.

Wednesday: Be a custom wood cartographer.

Thursday: Messenger bag capital of the world.

Friday: Bi-Rite for you pet.

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