Columbus & Co. prides ourselves on discovering new brands, stores, craftsmen, etc. so we jumped at the chance to meet up with Tim O’Neil the founder of Fidelis & Co. to get a more in depth look at their product offerings. We were also super lucky to have Basics of Man in town to assist in the styling and modeling of the photo shoot. Fidelis & Co. picked us up 0900 Sunday morning and we headed straight to Starbucks for some pre shoot energy. Coffee’s in hand we then proceeded to Fort Snelling to setup the shoot. Tim is currently serving in the United States Marine Core so we were granted special clearance in a classified zone. Playing, but seriously Tim had to show credentials and was saluted on our way in. Pretty fun for a Sunday morning. Fidelis & Co. offers products that Tim thinks he could use in tough conditions. Products that won’t fail in a time of need. Read more on our Q&A with Tim O’Neil.
Q&A with Fidelis & Co.
Q: When did you get the idea that you wanted to open an online store?
A: To say there was an epiphany for the creation of Fidelis Co would be over stating its beginnings. I think it was a slow evolution of an idea or thought. It began with me first taking an interest in things that are well built, tough and rugged, regardless of whether or not I was using them in my personal or professional life–I really liked the idea of buying one well built product to fulfill a need with the knowledge that it would last a lifetime. That though process matured in my mind as I saw this whole community spring up that was focused on the same thing. Being around all these people that thought the same way at events like NorthernGrade or shops like BlackBlue or blogs like yours talking about what is out there it was all quite inspiring, then I started to notice more and more, things that I had used in the Service transitioning into these shops and stores–I suppose if anywhere that was when the seed was planted. Then, early last year, I, with the encouragement of my wife started to pursue the idea of Fidelis Co and we have been off and running ever since and I couldn’t be happier how things are shaping up.
Q: What inspires the design and product choices of items you carry?
A: My inspiration comes from my experiences…I suppose that goes for all of us. My experiences, at least for the past six or seven years have and do center around my family and my life as a Marine. Let’s take a recent product we launched–it was just put up on the site this week, the Fidelis Field Notebook. That notebook is similar to the one I have had virtually stitched to the inside of my right cargo pocket of my uniform since I entered the service. There are some notable differences though–we chose to use a much more vibrant set of colors, we made it slightly thinner so that it was not quite as bulky and I am really excited about this, we added a zipper pocket to the rear of the cover to securely hold your preferred mobile device. To round off the answer my inspiration comes from the things I have used and experiences I have lived through.
Q: What can we expect next from Fidelis & Co. as far as product offerings?
A: In the future we have all sorts of great ideas in development that I am really excited about. Right now we are working on an insulated messenger bag made to partner with the Minnesota Market Bag. It can hold your cold storage items acting like an over the shoulder cooler almost and a compliment on your trips to the farmer’s market. We are working with a talented group of craftsman in Portland to bring that together. Without being overly specific, there are some other products peeping around the corner like a Rigger’s Belt (this is a really heavy duty nylon belt that will blow you away wih its ability to take a beating and never fail), a tool roll and a boot bag amongst others. I am really excited for the future.
Q: Of the products you sell, which one have you used most in your service life? Which one in your personal life?
A: Well that is easy–at least for the things we have up right now, as I said earlier I literally have the notebook on my person at all times. It is indefensible to be caught somewhere without something to write with and on in my line of work. As for personal life I really do use them all just about everyday but if I had to come down on one I always have a couple of the Minnesota Market Bags in the cab of the truck. They are jut so handy to have around–fail to mention two of those bags reduces a ten plastic bag shopping trip into just two Minnesota Market Bags and that was a really big deal when we were living in St Paul and a trip to the car meant going up and down six floors and across two parking lots.
Q: Now I’ve felt and played with the Pen Type A, which is my favorite product of yours. Man that thing is built to last. How much does that thing weigh?
A: You bet the Pen Type A is really amazing–it is milled of a single block of stainless steel and it feels like it. You certainly do not have to worry about taking it easy on that pen. As for my favorite–that is a tough call, I really enjoy using them all and in any given day likely do find myself using them each at least once but again if I had to pick, right now I would say the Fidelis Canoe Paddle.
The Fidelis Canoe Paddle is not only made by some terrific guys, with a great story–Sanborn Canoe but the design on it is very meaningful to me. It is a constant reminder of all the hard work and sacrifice so many men and women have put serving their Country–add to that a portion of the sale of each paddle goes to the Wounded Warriors via the Semper Fi Fund then that really tips the scales. The design is the representation of the Global War on Terrorism Medal–Expeditionary and is a unit award given to those that in a broad sense have deployed in support of that fight.
Actually, I just spoke with the guys over at Sanborn today and they are going to have a couple of the Fidelis Canoe Paddles up at their booth at NorthernGrade so if your readers are attending then they can see them in person there.