The most functional wallet in the Rustico lineup is the Money Clip Leather Wallet. Isaac Childs, the founder of Rustico, was deeply involved with the design of it and now he tells its story from concept to finished product.
What was the motivation for this specific product?
We came up with this back in 2003 when small thin wallets were not really in existence and only large bifold and trifold wallets were the thing. Fossil brand was the hot ticket item at a Nordstrom's in the mall if you wanted a leather wallet. You had that option or you could get what was considered a money clip wallet. This was generally the same thing but with a thick metal clip that would hold a wad of folded bills on the outside of a simple leather sleeve. The struggle with this wallet was that the clip was so bulky. It hurt to put it in your back pocket and it was too bulky to slide into your front pocket without basically wearing a hole in your jeans or getting it stuck as you tried to pull it out.
I wanted something that could still hold cash but mostly credit cards and debit cards. Sadly Apple pay and Venmo didn't exist and cash was still important to have on occasion. For instance, cabs in NYC didn't even take credit cards until probably 5 years ago or so when Uber broke on the scene and pretty much made it mandatory. I designed this slim bifold wallet that turned landscape style with a simple wire clip inside to hold your cash in place. It could hold my cards and cash and that was it. Receipts, pictures, old notes, library cards, and your occasional condom were all tossed away if you wanted to carry this wallet.
What is the primary function of this product?
This wallet is all business meaning it holds only the select cards and cash that you know you will need. If you stuff it with too much, it will stretch itself out and you've defeated the purpose of using it. When you carry this type of wallet it means that you are simplifying and streamlining your life in regards to what you carry with you. Less is always more, and the money clip shows that you’ve taken the time to think through what cards you truly need to keep with you and how much cash to carry. The rest of the items end up stuck in a larger wallet and get left behind.
What problems does the product solve?
Bad backs, therapy bills, and pickpockets, just to name a few. It fits in the front pocket just as easily as the back and doesn't wear out your clothes because of some big fat clip. You can access one bill at a time and not have to pull your whole stack of cash to find a single one.
Beside the Rustico hallmarks, what are some features that make this a quality product?
Rustico Hallmarks are what really make this wallet great. It's not trendy in design just classic and simplistic, high-quality materials, with no extremely overdesigned details. Form and function are the essences of this piece.
I figured if you are truly trying to minimize what you carry with you every day the thing that holds these essential items needs to be functional. Why make the carrier have pockets for everything? That was the Ogio brand way. They were making bags at the time with a pocket for pennies as well as everything else under the sun. I know, I used their bags for years and when I would get a new one and go through my old one I would discover so much stuff that I had placed in pockets and then completely forgot about. I had carried around that weight for years sometimes.
What problems arose during the design process?
Well in my efforts to make it minimalistic as possible the first design was too small by just a pinch. Once the stitch was sewn in it left the cards hanging out just a bit too long and the bills overlapped the edges just a titch. We were too poor to buy new dies and just rolled with it the first couple years till we could buy new dies with a slightly larger dieline.
Are there any design details that took more time and attention to solve than others?
We built out several various models of this initially. One had a plastic window sewn in for your ID while another had one extra pocket on it. Both of those we eliminated after some time because they are not truly needed. Since when you are asked for your ID you leave it in your wallet and show it to them through the plastic? They always ask you to take it out of the casing. We found the extra pocket just added more bulk and basically made it another full-size wallet which defeated the whole purpose we were going after.
How does this product set itself apart from the competition?
I think our customers speak of its genius after use. Countless times I have sold my wallet to a guy that has a standard bifold mostly out of skepticism that it really could work but has grown sick of carrying around their entire past 20 years of crap to find out a year later they can’t love it enough. It’s almost like it released them from years of weight that was holding them down.
Are there any elements you are anxious to get public feedback on?
No, not really. We've gathered a lot of feedback on this baby over the past 15 years. Most of the time the feedback they are providing really means they want a different type of wallet, which is fine because we have many other versions that could fit what they are looking for.
It's still my favorite wallet although I really like the new Benjamin Bifold Leather Wallet design Josh (Rustico’s Product Release Manager) just came up with.
We appreciate Isaac taking some time to talk about the Money Clip Wallet and how it became a top-selling Rustico item. Besides being the Founder and CEO of Rustico, Isaac has been behind the design of many products including the Rustico Originals. Keep an eye out for additional entries in our Backstory blog series.