Updated: May 8, 2020
Hello all! I am thrilled to feature Zach Dutton and Thomas Brown with Dutton Brown, these two were one of the first people I met when I moved to Minneapolis, as they had recently moved to Minneapolis from out of state as well. In Minneapolis, they enjoy going to the Smack Shack, visiting family in Wayzata, MN, and a night out at the Saloon. I have admired their business model, they are so talented, and just overall wonderful guys! I've been amazed at how much Dutton Brown has grown from workspace, to collaborations, and their products. I am so fortunate I was able to collaborate with them and always appreciate their support! All images below have been taken by myself.
Tell us about your roles as business owners of Dutton Brown.
In general, Zach designs most of our lighting and hardware; his role is more creative and conceptual. He's great with his hands and thrives on new ideas and product creation. On the other hand, I'm more detail oriented and systematic. I take products and scale them for production to be sure they're safe and profitable. I also lead our digital marketing efforts with respect to SEM, SEO, and social media efforts. We like jumping into one another's wheelhouse though often. We're in a state of perpetual collaboration.
Tell us about your journey to Dutton Brown.
We started in 2013 after growing tired of corporate life and travel. We both were terrified of living a long drawn-out life taking direction from other people. Lighting intrigued us for being the most transformative part of a space. We decided to dedicate all our free time working over a couple of months to teach ourselves how to make lighting and took the plunge to sell one design online. Our first sale happened quickly, and we became immediately addicted to designing better and better products.
What is Dutton Brown's Style?
Clean lines. Fewer frills. Simplicity. Think white, black, gray with touches of precious metal or
color. When we began our business, we designed things based on just making something pretty and making what people tended to like. Every design felt special in the beginning. Over the past few years, we've honed our product line up to be more in line with what we like. When you start a business, until you have some kind of following, it's not a bad idea to say yes to everything. You learn a lot that way. What you like. What you don't. You build on your skillset and learn to do things new ways and learn how to access customers who appreciate what you can do.
I know Dutton Brown has had many accomplishments but what have been your most recent and top accomplishments as business owners and Dutton Brown?
Our biggest recent accomplishment was passing 2,000,000 monthly viewers on our Pinterest account. We have worked night and day to build a personalizable lighting and decor company, and our Pinterest following helps us realize how much we've done in 7 years. Another recent accomplishment was buying our manufacturing facility and showroom. It was important for us because we spent so much of our resources on product development and growing our business for so long. Neither Zach nor I were given anything with respect to our business. We earned 100% of everything with the team we put together, and we're proud of ourselves because it really has involved days, nights, and weekends for years to get here.
Also in 2018, Room & Board approached us to collaborate and become a partner designing lighting for their stores. We've turned down many opportunities in the past because other brands either wanted to own too much either profit or control, so we stuck to our guns working solo until we found a partner which we felt could help us elevate our brand. Room & Board is a perfect fit, and we're working to grow our collection there now.
What exciting things are coming up next with Dutton Brown that you can share?
Yes! We've received feedback often that it would be beneficial for us to add the word "Lighting" to our business name to help people understand what we do, but we never did that because we knew we wanted to expand beyond lighting. This year, we made good on our promise to ourselves and launched our first line of wall, cabinet, and bathroom hardware, and just this month, we've started to sell our first collection of pillows. Our goal is to grow Dutton Brown as a personalizable lighting and decor platform, and we're expanding outside products that require hardwiring or junction boxes (since not everyone has those). We only wish we had more time in the day!
What is the best way customers and clients can reach you?
Thank you so much Zach and Thomas with Dutton Brown!