Food, Family, and Innovation: A Q&A with Schmidt Brothers Cutlery Co-Founders Jared Schmidt and Jordan Schmidt
Brands x Better is a coalition of like-minded companies fostering stability in a time of crisis. We asked 10 members of the Brands x Better family a few questions about what they do, why they were drawn to BxB, and what this pandemic has meant to their company. Next up we have innovative cutlery brand, Schmidt Brother's Cutlery. We caught up with co-founders and brothers, Jared and Jordan Schmidt to hear more about how they got their start, why the kitchen is really the living room, and a few tips of knife care that most people don't know. Here's what they had to say.
Tell us how Schmidt Brothers Cutlery came to be. What is your origin story?
Schmidt Brothers Cutlery makes beautiful, innovative, modern-ish yet traditional-ish world-class cutlery and kitchen tools, for both legit chefs and the rest of us.
Building on the traditions of our family (yes, we really are brothers), we are so much more than knife enthusiasts. After growing up in a family of chefs, we started our careers (ok, we’ll be honest, after brief stints in bartending and corporate logistics) doing private label design for other brands. When the 2008 recession came along, we realized there was a huge gap in the housewares market for beautiful, design-forward products that the conscious consumer could afford. From there, Schmidt Brothers Cutlery was born, first launching in 2010.
Needless to say, we see things differently. That’s what makes our cutlery and BBQ tools so innovative. We’re obsessed with pushing the boundaries of design: improving how comfortable a knife could feel in your hand, how you can cut more safely and easily, and creating epic style for the everyday kitchen.
What are Schmidt Brothers Cutlery’s core values? Do you have a mission statement? If so, what is it?
Our Core Values:
Think big: never lose sight of our commitment to innovation, excellence, and imagining the unexpected.
Love our Customers. Never forget that we are designing for people. How they feel when using our products matters most.
Love our Planet: We only have one. All of our products must be made in an environmentally friendly way - including handles, blocks and boards sourced only from sustainable FSC-Certified woods.
Enjoy the journey: Make sure our team feels appreciated and valued along the way - not just at milestone moments.
Own it: We hold ourselves accountable for outcomes, good and bad. Every decision must be grounded in integrity and whether it would make our family proud.
At Rhone we talk a lot about our customer’s pursuit of progress. How do you feel like you as a company help your customer progress?
Our business is rooted in family tradition, and in creating lasting memories for our customers. Our philosophy is that if any room should be called the living room, it’s the kitchen. Food, family…that’s really where life takes place. We love seeing our customers’ photos and stories that show this process coming to life in their own beautiful ways.
What motivated you to join Brands x Better?
We are all experiencing an unparalleled time of challenge and uncertainty.
Since the early days of the pandemic, we made the decision to think big, and to challenge ourselves how we could leverage our relationships and our supply chain to help. We started by refocusing part of our team to focus on critical PPE that could help protect our healthcare workers. We’re proud to have raised nearly $10k and donate nearly 5,000 masks.
We’ve also been featuring local chefs and restaurants who have been stepping up in their own ways to do their part for their communities. But, this is a crisis, so it takes more than what each of us can do individually to truly move the needle.
We are excited to join forces with other brands who have expressed similar commitments to helping - both in COVID relief and in delivering value to help our consumers continue to enjoy the products they love.
As a member of Brands x Better, you have pledged to donate 10% of your proceeds until May 1. What charity are you donating to and how and why did you choose that charity?
We are donating to God’s Love We Deliver. God’s Love improves the health and well-being of individuals living with HIV/AIDS, cancer, and other serious illnesses by preparing and delivering high-quality meals to people who, because of their illness, are unable to prepare meals for themselves. Their clients are at the greatest risk for COVID-19, many being elderly and all living with underlying conditions and severe illness that make them especially susceptible to the coronavirus. Our team has volunteered with God’s Love many times over the years, and they hold a special place in our hearts for always focusing on their betterment of the community that we live in and love.
If you had one piece of advice to give to young entrepreneurs what would you say to them?
Maintain a balance of passion, endurance, and calculated risks. One-hit wonders are exciting, but sustainable growth is only built on a strong foundation. Take it step-by-step.
What’s one of the hardest obstacles you’ve overcome as a company and how did it shape what your company is today?
Partnerships can make or break a business. We’ve been fortunate to have built some incredibly strong partnerships in every aspect of our business - from manufacturing all the way through to our retail accounts. But, we’ve also learned the hard way how important integrity and strategic alignment is to the success of any brand relationship.
There have been times in our business where we’ve needed to have tough conversations and end certain relationships in order for us to move forward in the best way possible for our team and our customers. Thankfully, we were able to pivot when needed, and are now even more deeply committed to making sure that anyone we do business with is aligned with our end goal of innovating at an affordable price for our customers. And, we still believe in the trust of a handshake. We hope that will never change.
What’s one takeaway you’ve had as a company during this recent pandemic?
Teamwork really does make the dream work. We’re all experiencing this pandemic in different ways and our business continuity has depended on us all stepping up to help each other and rally around a common goal.
What’s something about knife care that the average person doesn’t know?
Olive oil is magic for your wood knives and cutting boards - not just the food you’re cooking. Rub a bit on your wood handles once a month to keep the wood staying hydrated and smooth.
How often should we be sharpening our knives?
To maintain a sharp edge (the sharper the knife, the safer the knife), you should hone your knives once a week and do a full, at-home sharpening once a month. There are a number of great products on the market that the everyday chef can use. Once you do it once or twice, it gets less scary - we promise. We both still have 10 fingers.
What’s your favorite product you’ve ever made and why?
Our universal storage blocks (like the Acacia Downtown Magnetic Knife Block). They started out as display holders in our office during our design and development phases, and have since evolved into a staple of our brand. It’s really a no brainer: world-class knives deserve a world-class place to put them.