Architecture students taking their products from idea to reality

After graduating from the University of Cincinnati with undergrad degrees in architecture, three friends decided to try their hands at manufacturing, instead of just giving people instructions about how to build things.

Ryan Ball, Travis Hope and Joseph Kinzelman all graduated from the College of Design, Art, Architecture and Planning in June of 2010. Ball and Hope went on to pursue their masters, and in April, the three decided to start their own business, a dream they had been discussing for month. When the business founders moved in to an E. 13th Street apartment in Over-the-Rhine, where they create all their products, the business name followed naturally: E13.

“In architecture school, you’re asked to design a lot,” Ball says. “We just made instructions on how to make things. We were really interested in trying to take an idea from conception through manufacturing.”

All three had created prototypes of products while in school, so they decided to take some of those ideas and see if they could turn them into marketable products. Their main focus, what makes their work unique, is their use of unusual materials to create their products. First up, a day-bag made from reclaimed air bags they found in junkyards. They look for durable materials that aren’t normally made into bags. The airbags look different than other bags on the market, plus, they darken and weather over time.

Once they had a product, the E13 team set out to create a brand and website. Everything from programming to photo editing was a complete in-house venture. After attracting positive attention from design blogs, E13 sold out of all the repurposed day bags.

With proven marketability on their side, the three entrepreneurs are now working on perfecting their manufacturing process. As they hone their sewing skills, they have enrolled in the third round of SpringBoard to help them develop a business plan. While Ball and Hope complete their advanced degrees, spare time is sparse. Still, the group continues to rethink its approach and launch more products as they build an inventory to meet public demand.

By Evan Wallis
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