I’ve got a couple of new post series in the works, and this is one of them. Meet your makers is a series of interviews I’m planning with manufacturers in the EDC / fidget toy industry. Ever since I first started exploring this industry I became fascinated with the fact that most of the products aren’t big brand names that have practically set up a monopoly. No, instead it’s your average Joe that builds and sells these toys, and is more in touch with his audience than Apple will ever be with iPhone users.
The first manufacturer to answer my call is Geoff, the guy behind Steel Lynx (check out all of his work at http://www.steellynx.com). He makes a lot of types of fidget toys, but his most famous one is probably the Mobius fidget toy:
He was kind enough to offer three of them for free for our community – more details about this at the end of the post!
Since distance is an issue and we’re on opposite sides of the globe, I sat down with Geoff for a nice text chat and picked his brain about the business, the industry and the community. Here’s our discussion below:
How does your background look like? Was it easy to adapt to manufacturing?
I actually come from an IT education and a career managing Software Support Centers. Couple guys that used to work for me made maille (chainmail) and I had them teach me and get me started in it as a hobby. I wouldn’t say that I manufacturer; I handcraft. I don’t use any machines in my making. It’s all me, a selection of hand pliers, and a chain breaker tool for the bike links. My education and background in Support does assist me greatly with running a business and being responsive to my customers. Quality and customer happiness are my main drivers.
What are you manufacturing – what’s your product range?
I started in 2012 making mobius orbs that I first brought new to the market as a fidget. From there I’ve grown into a full range of sizes, colors, and materials. Mobius orb fidgets now are a big part of what I do. Bike chain flip fidgets are very satisfying in the hand and make interesting rings when carried on the finger too. I recently started working with bike chains and working to come up with original designs that no one else is making and that has been very exciting. Brings a grown, industrial style of fidget tools to a market full of brightly colored toys marketed towards children.
What gave you the idea to follow this path?
I made the first mobius orb fidget just because I worked in chainmail and wanted to make a mobius orb because they looked cool. Took it out with me that night to the bar with a couple friends. Put the mobius down and asked them what the heck this cool thing I just made was and what does it do. Ended up toying with it all evening and deciding to call it a ‘fidget’. Started to sell them on Etsy in 2012, under a former shop name RingsandNeedles, and was super surprised by all the feedback I started getting from people who found them really helpful for stim tools or as a distraction from bad habits like skin or hair picking.
Having a background in maille is great because I know how to use the best metals, finishes, sizes, and cuts to properly make the best product with proper techniques that assure something great. I didn’t just show up to the fidget market to cash in. I’ve been here for years creating and handcrafting items I’m just happy people love and find helpful.
What role does the community play in your decisions?
My customers play the biggest role in what I make. They are who I am creating for. I was happy they loved what I thought was cool at first. Now my biggest driver of innovations are people asking me for customizations or if I could make one idea or another. I love working on custom works as I then find that many people love the idea and I have something new to offer them now!
What’s the general response you’ve received from your fans/customers? Were you expecting it?
People started loving them and telling me how much the fidget toys/tools helped them and honestly I was floored. I first made them just because I thought they looked cool. Now I had people telling me how much they valued them and how much it helped them and I have always just been happy as hell that people find utility in what I can make for them and that it truly seems to help people. I love making and creating things I think look and feel cool, it’s just so much of a bonus for me that people enjoy them.
What are your plans for the future?
I’m working on growing this year as this is now my full-time job and I need to support myself and my lil’ one. I’ve grown online and established my own website (www.SteelLynx.com if it hasn’t come up yet 😉 ). Really looking to get out and do the craft fairs and similar. Been out a couple times and it’s amazing to watch people pick a fidget up start to play with it, this look comes over their face and they tell me they never knew they had to have this until right now. Also, always working on innovating my product line and adding more things to it that people will hopefully find cool. Trying a couple things on items that can ‘pop’ like a switch or button. Whatever is created, I want to make sure I make something original that adds value.
Steel Lynx products
Here are a couple of the most popular Steel Lynx products – while the Mobius is by far his most popular, it’s not the only fidget-worthy product that he makes.
The star of the show, the Mobius comes in a variety of different colors and sizes:
The up-and-comer, the Bike Chain fidget toy, is getting more and more popular:
And Steel Lynx even offers jewelry!
Win one of three Steel Lynx Mobius fidget toys
As I said in the beginning of this post, Geoff was kind enough to offer to make three of his Mobius fidget toys for EDC Toys readers. If you want one, all you have to do is leave a comment below and tell us what your favorite Steel Lynx toy is! Winners will be announced on Sunday – so make sure you subscribe to our newsletter to get the news first!