BEST MADE COMPANY
CEO 2009 - 2016 • CCO 2016 - 2019
In 2009, in his garage with “just 10 axes and no business plan”, Buchanan-Smith founded what soon became an internationally celebrated omni-channel retail brand, with a vibrant product assortment, a coveted catalog, and stores in New York City and Los Angeles.
From 2009 to 2016 Buchanan-Smith lead Best Made Company as CEO in building a vibrant and expansive product line that included apparel, accessories, and camp & home goods. In 2016 he stepped down to be Chief Creative Officer.
Peter started and directed Best Made’s print catalog and adventure program which quickly became an industry touchstone. The catalog took Best Made around the world — Idaho, Alaska, Japan, Scotland, Texas, California, Brazil, Uruguay, Patagonia, and The Yukon, — and featured cowboys, gauchos, world-renowned chefs, backcountry guides, and stuntmen.
Buchanan-Smith oversaw the expansion from an online-only business to brick & mortar retail with the opening of a flagship store in Tribeca, a store in West Hollywood, and a six month retail partnership in Tokyo. In addition to designing retail experiences, Buchanan-Smith created a series of customer-facing Best Made workshops.
The Best Made Co. Table of Elements
In describing his process of product curation at Best Made Company, Buchanan-Smith often likened it to building the periodic table of elements: whereby the axe is at the top, it’s the oxygen or hydrogen to the assortment, a first aid kit might be slightly further down like magnesium. The following is Peter’s table of elements, the Best Made products essential to a Best Made life.
Click on any image to enlarge.
CHOP, the movie
Wanting to showcase their earliest axes being used Peter reached out to Toronto-based director Finn O’Hara. The Phantom slow-motion camera had just been released, and using that nascent technology they filmed a series of “explosive” short vignettes of the axes in action. An original soundtrack was composed by Nico Muhly.
The acquisition and beyond
In 2016 Peter sold Best Made to Bolt Threads, a California-based technology company specializing in the development of advanced materials and fibers. In 2019 he resigned from Best Made to pursue new projects. In 2017, shortly after the acquisition of Best Made, Peter wrote the following “Founder’s Statement” which encapsulates his vision for future generations of the Best Made community:
Best Made was born from my love of making things with my hands. I love the deep absorption and consideration of the object to be made. I love the smell of raw materials and how the hours pass like minutes when I’m deep in the process of thinking, sketching, measuring, cutting, and building. And I love the gratification of creating something physical and unique that hasn’t existed before.
Best Made is our way of extending that love of making things into the finest, most beautiful and useful products made by any company anywhere, and doing so we inspire and empower people by the things we make.
So how do we do this? Our stories and products inspire people with possibilities: to travel, learn, accomplish things with their own two hands, and have new enriching experiences. Our tools, gear, and apparel empower them to fulfill those possibilities.
Our customers are makers, adventurers, tinkerers, and curiosity seekers who only want one thing from us: quality. In a world where true considered quality is increasingly rare, we are a reassuring promise that there are those who are still devoted to the craft of well made things. With Best Made by your side, you can confidently embark on your adventures, whether it’s in the wood shed or workshop, backyard or backcountry.
It all boils down to this: We’re a company that finds meaning through making, and making things the best we possibly can. And it’s not just quality products. It’s quality stories, quality experiences, quality relationships with customers and quality ways of working to fulfill our mission as a team. No one ever said this will be easy. But it is infinitely more rewarding than anything else.
Thanks & credits
Photographers: Derek Amengual, Ports Bishop, Nate Bressler, Johnny Fogg, Balarama Heller, Christina Holmes, Tetsuya Ito, Adrian Gaut, Noah Kalina, Forest Woodward, and Jason Frank Rothenberg.
Designers: Pablo Delcan, Nick Zdon, Gelsey Maslanka
Illustrators, stylists, & writers: Julio Espada, Ross MacDonald, Laura Silverman, Joshua Lepley
Subjects: Rocky Barnette, Wes Bauman, Eddie Braun, Craig Buckbee, Paul & Donna Claus, Jason French, Chris Garby, Kanan Hooker, Houston Hooker, Nathaniel Garber, Jared Lamanna, Carlos Mallmann, Fraser Murray, Chris Muscarella, Chris Reeves Knives, Emmanuel Rengade, Simon Rhee, Aaron Toney, Jason Van Bruggen, Dave Watson, Butch “Ceedub" Welch & Miss Pen, Sara & Sohail Zandi, and Francis Mallmann.
Special thanks go to the creative team members that have worked with Peter at Best Made over the years: Stephanie Izzo, Maddy Tank, Peter Dudley, Katie Hatch, Pablo Delcan, Gelsey Maslanka, Joseph Pollard, Evan Gleason, Hae Jung Shin, Tom Bonamici, Sam Strauss-Malcolm, Alex Casertano.