How one entrepreneur is turning his forgetfulness into a business

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Teddy Winthrop's iPhone wallet case was inspired by his forgetfulness. His dad advised him to get a personal organizer; he made a leather iPhone wallet case instead.
Teddy Winthrop's iPhone wallet case was inspired by his shaky memory.
Photo: Leander Kahney/Cult of Mac

SAN FRANCISCO — Teddy Winthrop is forgetful, a trait he inherited from his dad.

His father implored him to get a Day-Timer, an executive planner that was wildly popular in the ’80s. But the young entrepreneur dismissed the idea — his personal organizer was his iPhone. And that’s when it hit him: The world needed a Day-Timer for the iPhone.

So he started a company, Edward Field, selling beautifully made leather iPhone wallet cases. It’s going well so far, thanks partly to experience he gained working for his brother, the brains behind American Giant, manufacturer of the “world’s greatest hoodie.”

“My dad has always been someone who was forgetful and unfortunately I inherited that gene,” explained Winthrop during a visit to the Cult of Mac offices the other day. “He said, ‘Teddy, you need to get a Day-Timer.’ I said, ‘I can’t do that, we have iPhones these days.’ That’s when I realized you need a Day-Timer for your iPhone.”

The Day-Timer personal organizer grew popular a decade before electronic organizers like the PalmPilot and Newton took over. It had a diary, address book and calendar, all bundled in a leather wallet. Today, the iPhone delivers all the organizational tools anybody could need, and Winthrop’s cases wrap the slender device in a luxurious leather wrapper.

Business runs in the family

Before his Day-Timer moment, Winthrop worked with his brother, Bayard Winthrop, CEO of online apparel company American Giant, who benefitted from his own entrepreneurial breakthrough.

A few years ago, Bayard Winthrop noticed that men were shopping more and more online. Plus, they were spending more money for quality goods. He started American Giant to sell a menswear staple: a well-made hoodie. It became an overnight smash hit after Slate called it the “greatest hoodie ever made” and the story went viral.

Working with his brother, Teddy learned a lot about business, especially selling direct to individuals over the internet.

“When you’re direct to the customer, you cut out the middleman and a lot of costs,” he said. “I saw how successful it was to sell directly and I realized you could do it for any product.”

The Edward Field Black Wallet for iPhone 6 is a return to basics: a well-made, long-lasting leather wallet case. Made in the USA to boot.
The Edward Field leather iPhone wallet case is a return to basics: well-constructed, long-lasting and made in the USA to boot.
Photo: Leander Kahney/Cult of Mac

He was casting around for a product to sell when his dad made the fateful Day-Timer suggestion. Teddy started Edward Field (his full name is Edward Field Winthrop), selling a line of wallet cases (for the iPhone 5/s, 6 and 6 Plus). Available in black or brown, the cases are made from beautifully supple full-grain Italian leather.

The cases have four credit card pockets and a flap for receipts and business cards. The phone is held in place with micro-suction tape — the same material often used to keep GPS units stuck to car dashboards. The tape holds the iPhone securely but isn’t sticky and thus doesn’t leave any residue the way traditional adhesives can. Instead, it uses thousands of microscopic suction cups to form a strong bond.

Thee cases are great. I hesitate to say they’re the greatest iPhone cases ever made but, like his brother’s sweatshirts, they are extremely well-made from high-quality materials that are meant to last. They’re thinner and seemingly more durable than other iPhone wallet cases I’ve seen, and I immediately replaced the wallet case I had been using.

Plus they’re made here in the USA. Winthrop designed the case and researched the materials. He contracts the actual manufacturing to an artisan, a handbag maker near San Francisco International Airport who makes the cases by hand, one-by-one.

This is Teddy’ Winthrop’s first major problem with his cases.

He was recently featured on Men With Style, an Instagram account with 500,000 followers, and he’s almost sold out of his initial batch of cases.

“It’s been going like gangbusters,” he said.

Now he has to locate another manufacturer to keep up with demand. “I’ve got to find another guy,” Winthrop said. “My guy’s only got one machine.”