We first met Ben Masters while doing a pop-up shop called 'This Natural World' at the art gallery OBJECT four or five years ago. It was a mix of vintage, clothing, design objects and furniture and somehow or another we've continued to work on projects together ever since. His brand, Scout-Seattle features a small assortment of menswear and outdoor products. Each item feels truly special and has a simple beauty that quickly inspires a desire in us to maintain our rhythm with nature. For this interview we met at the Conservatory that sits at the top of Volunteer Park in Seattle. It's a wonderful greenhouse filled with cacti and tropical plants. To fuel our mutual caffeine habit we brought some coffee and talked about what it's like to be a young dad, how that has impacted his view of Scout and some of his current thoughts on design and what direction he's heading with the brand.
Photography by Lauren Stelling
"We've had Louie for seven months and two weeks and it's changing all the time and I anticipate that I will have many different feelings but right now it's such a positive and cool thing. The first part is really fucking hard, and ... it really does change everything. I think initially nothing can prepare you for that and then you come to grips with what your list of to-dos is and you begin to expand your consciousness away from yourself and learn to be more willing to take things as they come and relegate control back to the universe ... and then you're officially a Dad!"
"I think I've found a bit of levity in re-exploring things that are close to home through Lewis' eyes and so doing things like going to the park with him can be a total relevational experiences and outside of that I have been finding ways to get back on my bike, and read, but I tend to let inspiration come to me from where ever it comes from. A couple of weeks ago I ended up getting a cold from Lewis which put me on the couch and ended up rewatching this series 'When We Left Earth' and it was just fantastic and nostalgic for me having grown up in Florida going to Kennedy Space Center and going to Space Camp and now being an adult and understanding the nuance of government and politics and that got me re-excited about technology in a way that I haven't been for a while."
"When Laura and I moved to Seattle we discovered a more harmonized life between the outdoors and indoors and we were really reinvigorated to pursue outdoor activities and again because the landscape is so visceral and epic here. Those thoughts and feelings percolated for a while and we said ... Ya know let's create some products that are like the one's that we would have always wanted to use as kids and we took some of those ideas and merged them with ideas we had from the menswear world knowing that there were a lot of interesting materials there that don't get used in an outdoor context ... so there is this realm that Scout plays in that is more heritage and more classically designed and there is this other realm that I sort of really aspire to find the harmony with that has technical and futuristic elements that I want to keep familiar and I find a lot of potential there."
"Our customer group is small, but they get it you know. Scout products are more about communing with nature and the people you are with and not so much about climbing Mount Everest ... so yes, we're very intentional about the juxtaposition of having a little bit of a heritage style and new materials or styles without going too far with it."
"All in all we've been able to do what we want to do by producing everything in the US so far. We source our materials from other places because there are are amazing materials out there but we want to keep the labor here because for us there is a real value in being able to go and see our products being developed and produced and then coming back home in the same day.
"I think there's a lot of people out there that are aspiring to design similar things as Scout and it's really difficult to find information. So I like to figure out ways to circumvent ways of the old guard system of secrecy around sources and vendors and how to get things done ... because I really feel that the best ideas will always bubble up to the top anyways."
"... I think hard work and having a distinct point of view is what makes people successful, whatever the project is. There is so much cool stuff out there to be learned from other people and it's about asking questions and being relentless to learn and I certainly encourage people to ask us. I think there continues to be more room for good ideas and information should be free and shared."
"With Scout as a brand I have to be open to the notion that things will change so I have lots of feelings about where it will go and what it will be but it's almost more about the journey for me and I'm excited to have the resources to get into that ... Starting with the men's line will be the first step for sure and more than having just a seasonal line of clothing I like to think about these collections as being a part of people's lives I do want our designs to continue into the other verticals of being an outdoor brand whether it's at home or traveling."