We just finished listing the new batch which can be seen in our online store ( www.ecosknives.com/collections/all )
Lots of discounted/discontinued pieces. This is due to experimenting with new models and cosmetic mistakes made by our apprentice who is learning the craft. Most knifemakers throw away knives with blemishes, and I can respect that since it keeps their reputation up, but it costs the business money and increase prices. We instead sell them at a deep discount, and donate a large portion of the sales to charity (usually the homeless/hungry). This helps us keep prices low, customers get a chance to get a knife cheap, and we help out those that really need the help. Knives with structural mistakes (like a bad heat treat) are *always* thrown away.
When I started Ecos my goal was two-fold.
#1 To offer the lowest cost hand made knives possible while keeping the quality up.
#2 Hire people to work for me making the knives
I started Ecos about 10yrs ago and since day one I tried to concentrate on affordability. Our prices are often 50-75% less then comparable knifemakers. That doesn't mean to say they are overpricing their knives, we are actually underpricing ours. I wanted people to have an alternative to mass produced knives at the price range. I wanted people to own a knife that was made by hand, not by a robot or slave labor. Its actually incredibly hard to make/sell knives at our price point, and thats why you see so few makers doing so.
One reason we were able to keep prices low is because of our life style. We live a simple life and don't need much. Give us a few good books, food, and family/friends and we are happy. Moving to the Philippines helped keep cost low. Originally I was looking at moving to places like Hawaii but quickly realized I would have to at least double our prices..probably triple. Moving here I was actually able to reduce some prices from our already low prices.
I've been here 7-8yrs now and we have went through half a dozen apprentices over the years. Most decided the work was not for them...and I don't blame them. Forging hot steel in tropical weather takes dedication. My ultimate goal was to have someone take over the manufacturing end of the business and I handle the sales and we split the profit. This ensures me an income in case get sick, disabled, or retired. I look at it as a win-win-win situation. I have residual income, customers get nice knives at good prices, and the person who takes over knife production gets reliable income well above what is usually offered.
After being here 7-8yrs its getting about time for me to head back home. My parents aren't getting any younger so I should spend time with them. Recently a new president was elected here and its obvious he is not fond of the US (unlike the vast majority of the population here) so I took his words as a sign its time for me to get back home.
In 2017 we will spend it wrapping up things here....getting a larger shop built, further training for our apprentice who is set to take over, processing Hazels visa paperwork, etc. The plan is to move home to Michigan in early 2018.
At that point our apprentice will be manufacturing the vast majority of knives for Ecos. I will be launching a second knife company. This was always a plan of mine. Selling lower cost knives is nice but it is very restrictive on design. For example theres no way to sell a tanto for $75 if you use a nice piece of damascus that may cost me more than $75 to buy. With the second business knives will be made by myself, designs will be more ornate, materials will be higher cost, and prices will of course be higher due to all of this. I will let my imagination, and not economics, dictate the designs.
We've got a busy, but exciting year ahead of us!
Thanks to all of you who have stuck with us through the years, and welcome to new customers/friends!
-Jason & Hazel