I found out about No. 4 St. James from my best friend. She sent me to their website and within minutes I was lost in it and found myself purchasing their Texas Works book that same day. A lifestyle brand that showcases Texas makers, writes engaging stories about life in Texas, and shares beautiful photographs from across the Great State? Be still, my beating, Texan heart.
Needless to say, I was extremely excited and honored when they reached out to me recently. I jumped at the chance to have their story told here, and to photograph a few of our favorite products currently for sale in their marketplace. A huge thanks to Vincent Friedewald, their President & CEO, for answering these questions!
Houston, mostly, including some time in The Woodlands for high school. Others on our team are from West Texas and Dallas. And one from Pennsylvania, although we prefer not to talk about that.
Describe Texas in one word:
Inspiration for the company:
Basically the pride that Texans have for Texas, and the curiosity that non-Texans have about Texas. In that, we saw a business opportunity: despite Texas being an international icon, there was no brand attempting to represent her. There are Texas-y brands, to be certain, but they mostly have western wear themes. We were inspired to create something broader, a brand that would reflect the entirety of the Texas experience. From life on the coast, to the Piney Woods, the big metro areas – everywhere in Texas.
Tell us about the name:
It refers to an address in London. When Texas was a Republic, it maintained a diplomatic office (a legation, like a small embassy) at No. 4 St. James’ Street. We were drawn to the name for a few reasons. First, just explaining it automatically tells a story about Texas, and we like telling stories about Texas. It also avoids clichés and imagery that might be expected of a Texas brand; we wanted a name that would be a little bit surprising. We also wanted to signal upscale quality and international reach, and somehow (to us, anyway) it just sounds upscale. And last, although this didn’t occur to us initially, it inspired the perfect tagline: The Address for Texas.
Favorite product currently in the shop:
It’s tough to choose just one. I’m particularly proud of our special leather edition of Elmer Kelton’s The Time It Never Rained. It’s such a great novel, and not just to Texans. We collaborated with Understated Leather to rebind the books in leather. The image on the cover is laser etched; it’s a photo of a dried up lake bed we took while on tour in West Texas, the setting for the novel. It has a great leathery-book smell, and it’s the kind of product that you can keep for a lifetime and then pass on. We have plans on doing similar special edition covers for other Texas classics, so The Time It Never Rained is hopefully just the first of what will be a large collection.
What you want readers to know most about the company:
That we’re just getting started. In particular, we’ll be introducing more original products over the course of 2015. Some will be in collaboration with other great Texas makers, and some will be exclusively marketed under the No. 4 St. James label. We know people will be excited about what we’ve got in the pipeline.
Thanks again to Vincent and the entire team for sharing their story and products!