Urban EDC Spotlight is an original, exclusive content series highlighting those who are making an impact through notable creative work in their field.
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This conversation is between Yong-Soo Chung (YC), the Founder of Urban EDC Supply, and Jefferson Ho (JH).
YC: Thanks for taking the time to chat with us today, Jeff! Your work is very impressive and I'm sure many folks would be curious to hear about your background. So let's get right into it. How did you get started with JHO Knives?
JH: I have always been designing and creating. I paint, do pottery and I worked in a creative environment for the most of my career. I am a Creative Director in advertising. I have been doing less of that and been focusing on this. I find it very fulfilling and stimulating. It started out as a pet project, and now it has become a commitment. How did I get started on this? All I can say is, whenever I have an idea, I would somehow find a way to execute it. I am pretty impulsive.
YC: Wow, you are a man of many talents! Were you always into knives and EDC gear? How did you first get into the EDC space?
JH: I love knives for the same reason why everyone loves it for - it’s a tool, a piece of art, and it’s small enough to be carried in the pocket. It’s quite amazing; a knife is perhaps the most important possession of early humans, and in today’s world it is still valid. If there is only one tool I can have in my pocket, it would be a pocket knife. I like knives and I have always designed knives in my head for knives I would carry. I am a lone wolf. I make my own
decisions. The time was right and I decided to produce and launch JHO knives not knowing how it would be received. It has been a year, and I am still very excited and passionate about this. It’s a good feeling.
YC: I know your work has been well received in the EDC community. Great work! How do you come up with new knife designs? Where do you find your design inspiration?
JH: Thank you and thanks to all the people who supported JHO knives. I do have a design process. Some makers or designers look at what's popular or what's cool and they tweak it to make it their own. I work differently, I decide what I want to create. Say a friction folder, after that I will do some research and I will sketch, I will sit on it for weeks or months, revisit it, make changes and keep sketching. I hardly pay attention to the knife industry or go to knife shows. My inspiration comes from outside of the industry, and I think that is why my stuff is a little different and random.
YC: Sometimes it's best to get inspiration from other industries, for sure. Speaking of EDC, what does your EDC look like right now? Let's see a pocket dump!
JH: As I got older, one thing I appreciate more is comfort. Traveling light to me is a luxury. I don't carry much. I always have my handkerchief, my card knife is always strapped to my card wallet, and I keep only one or two credit cards in my wallet. Today I have my aged JHO Nug with me and the JHO silver coin to fidget with.
YC: As a designer, you must feel proud to carry your own designed gear as part of your EDC. With so many interesting designs, could you give us a sneak peek into what's next for JHO Knives? What other product lines are you working on?
JH: I am working on new designs and revisiting some of the previous designs as well. Lynx, the card knife will come in black, dlc hopefully, the edges will be slightly chamfered. GS1 will have a lock and a pocket clip, the blade will feature a flat grind and I will try to improve the overall quality. I am working on my first production fixed blade. It's really tiny but it looks really bad ass. Images of it can be found on my Instagram (@jhoknives). I am also working on a metal art, a display piece, which can also be used as a weapon as well. It looks insane and ridiculous. I love it. Prototype is almost finished - I will publish photos on Instagram, stay tuned.
YC: Wow, lots of great stuff in the works! I love the GS1 personally. A locking version with a pocket clip will be awesome! What have you found to be some of your most difficult challenges working on JHO Knives?
JH: GS1 is my favorite knife too; it is so clean. The biggest challenge would be quality control... especially the Nug. Every piece is tuned manually. It's not just the locking. It's the way it opens as well. For me, all that falls under quality control. It's hard work to get everything perfect and sometimes I make mistakes. Thank God my customers have been very supportive.
YC: Quality control is something that's very important for sure. It's something that can be overlooked at times, but it comes back to haunt you later. Just curious, what does your work space look like?
JH: I recently set up this standing desk as a packing station. I like it so much I have been doing everything on it, tuning, assembly... Just a week ago, I processed over 300 orders on this table. It's not a crazy amount, but I work alone. It can be overwhelming if there is no proper system. I think standing work station is the way to go, at least for me. Less fatigue, good for the back, increased mobility, and so much more. I am very happy with this workspace.
YC: That's a great set up. It's funny. We also just moved into a new office space in Dogpatch, San Francisco, and I got a standing desk - it has made a huge difference! I no longer have back problems and it makes me more productive as well throughout the day. Okay, how about a question from the Urban EDC Nation? Dustin Golat wants to know if you will ever make the Nug with Zirconium and Chad Nichols damascus. Any plans on offering more exotic metal options for your products?
JH: You know, I am not a fancy material kind of guy. I prefer to focus on the function and usability. If I have the time, I rather put it into R&D. I like to think all my knives and products are work in progress, as they can be improved. I like my knives to be understated, clean, not opulent and never over engineered. I think that's what my brand represents.
YC: Clean and understated - your knives definitely have a consistent aesthetic that definitely resonates with us here as well. Okay great, thanks for your time today. Any last words for our audience you'd like to add before we wrap up?
JH: Thank you for featuring me. I feel very honored. As for the readers, do follow me on instagram, look for jhoknives, there will be a bunch of very nice knives and products coming up, stay tuned. Cheers everyone!
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