John Rusk, EMP EDC [Every Man’s Pocket (EMP) Everyday Carry (EDC)] – The Knife Junkie Podcast (Episode 346)

John Rusk of EMP EDC [Every Man’s Pocket (EMP) Everyday Carry (EDC)], joins Bob “The Knife Junkie” DeMarco on episode 346 of The Knife Junkie Podcast.

EMP EDC [Every Man's Pocket (EMP) Everyday Carry (EDC)] From collector to creator: John Rusk and EMPEDC aim to put the most robust and appealing Everyday Carry (EDC) gear in Every Man’s Pocket (EMP), hence EMP EDC. Less than two years ago EMP EDC was formed around John’s passion for EDC gear, with the help of other successful makers and partners the dream became a reality.

EMP EDC’s first knife, the Nymble, has come out in multiple versions, employing a variety of materials and blade shapes, and is the company’s flagship model. Ergonomics, cutting utility, fidget factor and attention to aesthetics are all crucial, so, each EMP EDC design is prototyped with multiple shops and run through a broad range of tests.

The Thick Boy V2 Wharncleaver folder is available on the website in a number of dress options, from the ruggedly handsome to the exotically beautiful. EMP EDC also offers replacement handle scales for the Thick Boy V2 as well as Mokuti kits for the Nymble T and a Robot themed Knucklehead “Keychain” knuck made of Titanium.

Find EMP EDC online at www.empedc.com and on Instagram at www.instagram.com/empedc.

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John Rusk of EMP EDC -- Every Man's Pocket (EMP) Everyday Carry (EDC) -- is my guest this week on episode 346 of #theknifejunkie #podcast. Great talking with John about EMP EDC and his sweet knives! Click To Tweet
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Automated Transcript
John Rusk, EMP EDC
The Knife Junkie Podcast (Episode 346)

00:03
Welcome to the Knife Junkie podcast, your weekly dose of knife news and information about knives and knife collecting.
Here's your host, Bob the knife Junkie DeMarco.
Welcome to the Knife Junkie podcast.
I'm Bob DeMarco.
On this edition of the show, I'm speaking with John Rusk of EMP EDC.
At this point, most of you know the nimble EMP EDC's flagship folder platform.
The nimble boasts a wide variety of materials, builds and blade shapes across its growing product line, and is wildly popular among knife users and collectors.

00:41
You also may know that the equally robust and charming.
Boy, that's that's the one.
That's the one that has really caught my eye.
Something about that design is so beautiful.
I met John at Blade Show 2022 and he told me that when he started EM EDC, he was in a bit of a pinch.
And I would say from this perspective, he's used that urgency of that situation to turn his passion into a promising career.
And that's good for all of us.

01:08
We'll meet John and find out all about EMP EDC in just a moment.
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01:34
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Hi, John.
Welcome to the show.
Thanks for having me.
Oh, it's my pleasure.

02:26
Congratulations on your success.
You've you haven't been around long EMP.
EDC is not an old company, but man, you have hit with a splash and I want to congratulate you on that.
Thanks.
We're coming right up on two years actually in September, it'll be 2 entire years since we opened the site.
A little, a little longer than two years since we started started the journey, but it it's been crazy.
Because I heard you mentioned there, yes, we're in a bit of a pinch when I MPDC kind of came to be a thing.

02:59
I had, you know, we're in the middle of pandemic back in 2020 and I'd really nice cushy job with target of all places.
And she didn't go so well with all that going on.
And, Umm, so I found myself in need of new employment and I decided, you know, hey, I'm going to try to my do my own thing, make my own employment.
And so we took, took what savings that we did have and decided to open up a originally the idea was actually to just be like an online knife and EC retailer.
That's kind of how, how the whole iron, every man's pocket, but even the name and everything kind of came to be.
And then in the search for products, we came across the Slenderman, probably the the first knife that that people know was it's a collaboration.
Like I did not design this knife, I just got the pieces in separate, fit them together, kind of fine tune things and then launch with this product.

03:55
And then as we were looking for other nice to sell, I was contacting like QSP best tech and pricing out things and I had just on a whim asked the companies, hey you know, what would it look like if I was to make.
Knife of my own because I I had drawn the number being a knife nut you know we all kind of have our own what we think are perfect knife is going to be and so I'd I'd sketched the nimble up and so I sent them some sketches and said hey you know what would it kind of cost to to do this and I thought
it was going to be something that was so far out of reach that that I didn't stand a snowballs hope in hell.
But it it wasn't too bad I had to make 300 of them the first time and.
And so we had new pre-order to get funded and and thank thank the Lord we are able to build up enough support but it it was crazy because this this thing and this is actually the very first one I decided to grab out of my case.
Cool and not perfect.
It needed some changes.

04:56
It has a really really kind of high gloss satin that's more of a machine satin and the blade stock is like 2 millimeters which is is slicey as all hell.
But if you're trying to make a fidget friendly knife it's just not it's.
Seeds is not quite there.
You can hit the front flipper as well.
So I had to kind of tune it up and change change the blade stock, change the gimping.
And then we did that really nice belt sat and finished that we do on them as opposed to this really high gloss.
Kind of like you ever seen a QSB Penguin has that super high and almost rainbow a gloss to it and I'm really happy with the kind of belt sat.

05:31
And then we came up with is that wasn't something that QSP had really done before.
A lot of things I've done with them are things they haven't done before, which has been.
Kind of fun to to push them and have them push me back because I'm really came into this from being just just a layman.
Like I wasn't an engineer by trade or a knife designer by trade.
I just designed something that that I would love and and it turned out a lot of other people love it too.
Yeah, I would say so, QSP.
I know them from the Penguin.

06:02
I have actually happen to have one right here and there.
The other knives from their in-house designs.
Are you one of their first?
Collaboration designers?
No, I mean, so they did you work for a bunch of folks?
They do, I want to say like all the Finch knives, they do all the damn design stuff.
There's a couple other other folks, they make knife or they're doing lefties.

06:26
Devo knives.
Now, I think I was the first person and I'm probably wrong, but I'm the first one that I know of that wanted to do middle or kind of higher end stuff with them.
Like they were known for doing doing more budget things and so doing like the nimbles doing the.
Will titanium frame locks with all the nice milling and the higher end finishes?
I think I was the first person to do that with them and I I didn't just pick pick QSP and say, hey, you're going to make my knife.
I actually ran prototypes of the nimble with three different shops and and all three of them are very well known.
So I'm not going to save the ones that didn't win because I don't want to bash them, but because they're all excellent people in great shops.

07:08
It's just that the the product that QSP sent back was.
Just so far above and beyond the competition in that particular instance and that's I've taken that platform forward.
So most of my knives have been prototypes or production samples by two to four different OEM's, which is not a cheap way to do it, but I found it to be really effective is because it's not necessarily who do I want to partner with.
I want the person that I partner with, the shop that I partner with to make me the best version of my knife.
And if it's.
That's great.
It's best tech, great if it's Riyadh, you know, whoever it's going to be.

07:48
But that's kind of how I've gone forward with my design process.
Do you think as you move forward with this, you know because the nimble which we're talking about right now is your first design, is that a process you wanna keep carrying forward through?
I know we'll talk about the thick boy, but for future designs and such, are you going to have other numerous OEM's kind of prototype you out your design the way you did with the nimble or do you think growing a relationship with the one OEM is the.
Way to go.
So it's a yes and a no to that.
So I think once you've established like the nibbles are great, QSP does a fantastic job.
So they they all they they make everything nimble.

08:34
So if it's the nimble W, the nimble X, the nimble that we just did, QSP pretty much owns that collaboration with me and they they earned it.
They 100% deserve it and and I still give them shots at all my other stuff too and there's so there's kind of a double edged sword because building.
Your relationship with your OEM is huge and crucial because they'll they'll help you out and they'll be kind and and flexible in some ways after you've built a relationship that that you know I can speak from, just from starting out being completely obscure and unknown that the OEM's, they, you
know, they have, it's a high bar to entry.
So once you've established your relationship with them, sometimes you can get them to be a little bit more flexible in certain areas.
So it's really important.
But also there's the fact that it takes three to five months to, to make a production a night.

09:24
It's like you're well aware of that.
Of the people on three orders all the time, it's four or five months out, six months out.
And So what you're trying to start a new brand, you want to also be able to build a pace of releases.
So I think working with multiple OEMs is is a good way to go because you can have you know one shop doing one line of products and another shop doing a separate line of products.
Now I wouldn't have best tech make nibbles because then it would kind of blur the lines and get confusing with you know what the quality and things like that.
Folks wouldn't know who was making what, but I would have.
And make this like the sick boy that was made by bestech and and they won that build same way.

10:01
They had a couple shots, make it, and they just sent me the absolute best prototypes and they needed a few changes still, but I knew that that was going to work out really, really well with them.
And it's funny how you can send the exact same design and specs and everything to two different places and sometimes get almost two completely different looking knives.
And it's kind of shocking.
Yeah, I guess, after the measurements.
Are followed.
It's a matter of interpretation or expression.
You know, this is what we've done before.

10:34
This is a solution that will work on this design.
Maybe that's kind of how it might work.
So with the nimble what were your design goals with this and why do you think people love it so much so funny enough I was I was talking to to a friend was an enthusiast and.
The nimble I think was a first and I've got an Apple TV in my hand because it was the closest thing to me in that particular moment.
But so it has the multiple deployments and multiple deployments isn't necessarily something new, but.
I went specifically for fidget factor.
I'm a bit AD, I'm a bit all over the place, so I apologize if during the interview I segue a little bit.

11:14
But the fact that the nimble was meant to just be a fidget friendly beast and have such good, nice reliably smooth action, I think is what made it such a winner.
And then it also gives folks, you know, maybe your favorite way of deploying is Spidey flicking.
And if so, you're going to be able to do that really, really well.
Maybe you like the back flipper, maybe your front flipper guy, so you also have.
All those options on one knife and I hadn't seen another night that actually had all those options before the nimble.
I think there are a couple and now I think Kaiser has one I can never remember.
The cormorant.

11:50
I want to say my might be the one that has a very similar front and back, low profile flippers, but whether they're low profile or even if it was a standard, you know, pokey, pokey, flipper.
There, there are lots of knives coming out now that have multiple deployments and I still think they either focus on simply having the multiple deployments or they focus still on one of those 3 where I focused on all of them and the fact that we wanted to have digit factors.
So I think that's to me at least that's why it resonated with so many people.
The the nimble T which you're holding up is probably my favorite version of the nimble since the W I'm a I'm a sucker for the Warren Cliff, but I love your design.
Your tanto design here, it's really beautiful, and you're talking about the cormorant and that.
That knife, by contrast, is ugly as sin as far as, yeah, I don't want my body, but it's not my cup of tea.
And and, you know, it's like some things can be ugly and appealing, and the cormorant has that in spades.

12:50
I'm not saying it's an appealing knife, but but.
My traditional beauty standards have to have to bend radically to to enjoy that night, whereas the nimble or the thick boy they have, there's sort of an inherent.
Beauty to them, yeah, they have some nice, some nice lines to them, like so I mean, it is designed to get those enthusiast elements and get those utilitarian elements in there at the same time.
And trying to be different, which I'll tell you is not easy nowadays.
What challenges do you run up against?
In facilitating all of those different ways of opening it, you in addition to those three ways you can slow roll presumably with that whole.
All of those require different detent tunings.

13:35
How do you account for that when you're making something with so many different deployment options?
It's like, I don't want to give away like the real secret, but it's not the detent.
Everyone thinks it's, oh, you have this detent, it's tuned perfectly for this and this and this.
Well, it can only be tuned.
One way, right?
It's like I can't tune it differently for each different method of deployment, but what you can do is think about.
Where exactly that detent ball is located to, to where that you're going to have maximum leverage from?

14:13
No matter which side.
So the detent ball on this knife is relatively centered to the knife.
And it's up very high.
And so when you go to disengage, you're on the detent ball pretty much immediately.
And when you go to flip the knife, that's why you have such good leverage for no matter front flipper, back flipper because no matter where you're pushing on it from, you're pushing from about the same distance from that ball.
So is this some, is this something you figured out on the go or or did you, is this something you addressed because you mentioned before you're not, you're not an engineer and you're.
You're an enthusiast and and you have you know created this like fidget masterpiece is this is figuring out like where that that detail you were just explaining about the the location of the is that something that you learned in the process you know going from.

15:11
Collector to creator.
So as much as I'd love to be like oh it's a stroke of brilliance and semi knew, hey, if you put the detent ball right here, this is what it's going to do.
It was more just the way that I drew this sketch.
It was completely dumb luck and having compared it to other knives with multiple deployments and just trying to figure out what was different because there there is a couple of knives now that have multiple deployments and you think you're they're just they're not they're not going to.
Just drop.
They're not, they don't feel the same no matter how you deploy them.
So like the other things, the nimble feels very much the same, like the pressure, the amount of effort that you have to give regardless of the way that you're opening it and and other knives, and specifically there's knives that have tried to be very close to this.

16:03
They don't have that magic.
And so when I look at them and I look at the nimble that that was one of the things that really stood out to me is, OK, this is a big difference as far as this particular location.
The way it locks up and.
Having that early, it's like the second that you move it, it's it's on the detent ball right there.
Like when you disengage it, it's already up there.
So having having an early detent and having it being centered as far as as centered as it can be.
Towards the knife seems to be what balances those things out.

16:39
I could be wrong, but that's it.
It's funny because you're like, you call it dumb luck, but you know what that could be, John, it could be talent.
You might be a talented knife designer.
Never knew it because you were doing other stuff.
And now you're doing this and you're discovering that you're actually talented, meaning you've got a little bit of a natural facility for it.
You drew it out and well.
Wouldn't you know it works great.

17:02
Yeah so nicely done.
Have you, have you always been a knife guy and and collector?
No.
It started it started a few years after my daughter was born.
I got into multi tools so like I had like a Gerber crucial and then I had like the the I had the wave from Leatherman and then I had a skelly tool and I liked those and I only have like four or five of them.
So like it wasn't like a real nut when I had gotten into.
And then, Umm, I saw.

17:34
For the first time in my life, I saw an OTFT night.
Where and I can't remember if it was metal complex.
It was a knife review channel.
Random came across on YouTube.
Never knew this existed in my life and I was like, that just looks like magic to me that you can push a button up and it goes up, pull the button down and it goes down.
And so I kind of scoured the Internet and I bought my first lightning up.
And at that time, I think it was like 30 or $40.00.

18:04
And to me, for a pocket knife, that was a lot of, I was like, that's a lot of money and I was pretty poor.
And so it was also a lot of money.
And I loved it and then so then I got a micro tag and then I kind of stepped things up from there and like in my actual personal knife collection, I would say almost 50% of it is is OTF knives.
Yeah and so I'm I'm I'm going to be making a new one coming up soon but I don't have any any solid versions to show you.
But that is that's been a goal is to bring bring the RTF back.
The Slender Man was was really successful but I want to do one that's all me.
As opposed to doing 1 where it's just the blade or not me at all.

18:50
But yes, that got me into knives.
That's really exciting for me because I live in Virginia and as of July 1st of this summer's automatic knives are legal to buy own, carry, sell, manufacture, all that.
And so I'm very excited.
That means I'm, I'm kind of going on an out the front and out the side sort of kick, but.
They're just fun.
They are, they are.
There's there's very little like utility about them.

19:21
I mean there's there's there's no real reason to have an out the front or to make it and out the front.
That I can think of being a non military guy I could think of is if you were in like for police first responder or if you're like in a kind of a rescue situation to have a a truly one handed operation where your hands never in the blade path.
Is kind of useful.
But the problem is it has to be quality, like to have a solid feeling, lock up it.
So you gotta have that function.
Like having that rattly lose blade can be just as much of a liability with all all the poorly made ETF's that are out there.
And I've had great made ETF's that were inexpensive and I've had poorly made ETF's that were overly expensive.

20:02
So I mean it's one like the deadlock I guess, you know, owns that claim to fame with with zero blade play.
And I didn't believe it till I was at Blade show this past year and actually finally thought one, like I knew it was going to be that way.
Because all the all the hype and everyone else I've seen review, but I'm like until you actually experience it and and to me that's magic because I know how the Dang things work and that's and even haven't seen the internals on that I still can't wrap my head around why has no play play like just a
little just a little marble that holds that all together it feels Oh yeah I know and it feels it has a real special feeling when you open that up.
I mean just the the action inside your hand feels awesome.
I want one I I still can't get it and they actually won't ship.
Even though in Washington state now they're they're legal to own, not carry, and then it's like a municipality thing and they're legal to manufacture, which is why I can finally bring it back.

20:54
But the.
I lost my train of thought there.
You were talking about bringing them into Washington so they're legal to legal to own, not carry.
And then you can.
I totally lost my train of thought.
I'm so sorry.
OK. No, that's OK. Well, OK. So you you.

21:13
You're kind of at this collecting that you're you're you're upping your collection game because that's what we all do.
One thing, one thing leads to another and then and then you find yourself in a sticky situation during the pandemic and you go for it.
You have the nimble design.
That's what you start with.
How did you.
I know that you said that you were contacting OEM's due to the fact that you were trying to start a a a retailer.
Yeah.

21:40
But when you decided to actually make.
Knives instead of buy and sell them wholesale or or buy them wholesale and sell them.
How did you go about doing it?
Did you have any mentors?
Did you have anyone to show you the way or did you just hack through it?
I reached out like I hadn't been on Instagram for very long.
I started my first and I was never social media person.

22:05
So, like my Facebook page for even for the business is pretty atrocious.
So Facebook, I apologize.
I don't.
I don't really do much there.
I haven't Instagram pages.
I'm.
The active one, but I had.

22:16
So I had started following, you know, some makers on Instagram and learning what the hell a hashtag was like.
I was very illiterate to all this stuff.
And so I reached out to some makers that I really like.
Like.
Darrell Caston should have grabbed one of his knives out of my collection because a couple of his stuff is actually what inspired me.
Everybody thinks that it was like it was like Miro that inspired the nimble.
And, you know, while I love his designs, and I think that our flipper clouds look very close, it was actually.

22:44
The maximum acts from D rocket, which has a very similar low profile flipper and even has a fuller that has a little bit of that same kind of Oval shape.
Like I got some of the languages from one of my favorite knife makers, but I reached out to to knife makers and community.
A lot of them, you know, bless them anyway, are not there.
They will not share anything, which is fine.
You know, they don't know who they're talking to, but a few of them did say, hey you know, this has been my experience, this is who I would steer clear of.
This is where I would go.
Best tech was.

23:14
Highly recommended.
And QSP was recommended by by one of them.
And so, you know, taking on some recommendations.
Even one of them gave me a contact for someone and said, hey, tell them I sent you because right now we're in the middle of a pandemic.
They're not.
A lot of OEM's aren't taking work, like we wasn't taking new work for a little while during the pandemic, best tech wasn't taking new work, so he was.
It wasn't necessarily the best time to be going into it, but QSP was hungry for work.

23:42
So I think they're really trying to to hit the OEM scene.
I know they're taking on a lot of new clients, especially.
After the success of the nimble, I think folks are taking them a little bit more seriously because they can do, they can do really good work and a lot of it just like people didn't realize that.
So I reached out and I just asked for advice and acted on it.
That's that's awesome.
I mean that's the best way to go if you can get some sort of guidance, some sort of mentorship from someone who's just gone through it or is going through it or help paved paved the way to that process.
This is sort of an ongoing evolving process I've been observing just in speaking with people like yourself, you know, inspired people with designs who go to OEM's.

24:26
To have their knives made and then distribute them in various ways.
How do you go about your distribution and how, how is that tied to the preorder scheme?
So for the the first, the first pre-order we ran was on one of the OTF and that was after we've seen success with the the early RTF.
Kind of caught on the one that I didn't design and then I did the Warren Cliff design with that and I said OK, well I'm going to try to run a pre-order so I can get this at least.
Partially funded if not wholly funded.
The way I've taken the attitude with my projects is if I don't have enough to fully fund the production I I wouldn't even start a pre-order.
So I usually chunk half down or more to get production started because they require a pretty sizable deposits and then you have that other you know 50%, forty percent, 60% depending on whatever the the manufacturer, what their contract terms are.

25:23
You have to make up that gap I. Always have it covered.
So I'm not dependent on the pre-orders, but what the preorders have done for me is make it possible.
So like if I was running a preorder on DOTF, that pre-order money was actually funding the nimble project because this was already, I was already good to go on this one and that way.
Like because when I'm just starting out, I think I have like 1000 or maybe 2000 followers, maybe not very many so.
To think that I was going to sell out this like I I didn't want to bank on it.
What if only 2030 people bought a knife?
I have to be able to deliver those knives.

26:00
So I never wanted to be in a position where I had to worry about letting somebody down because.
You know, I'm trying to start a business.
You got to build a name for yourself and especially if you're running pre-orders, trust is paramount and if you screw up you're going to break your supporters trust and they're never going to come back.
And even having your pre-order deadlines go farther than they're supposed to is something I try to steer clear from.
And I've so far, with all the pre-orders things you've done, we've had one that that went.
A well over what it was supposed to go, and that was the liner locks and that it was honestly because Q's never done a nested layer lacourt titanium linerlock before, so they simply underquoted the time it took to make them.
It's just one of those, one of those nature of the business things when you're in unknown territory.

26:44
So how do you, how did you find in that particular experience?
People reacted.
You know what?
Pretty much all my supporters have been absolutely amazing.
You know, you'll get, you'll get the onesie twosies that that will get a little irritated.
And if, you know, if we blow a deadline and someone's upset and if they want out, then I'll just let them out like that.
It just is what it is.

27:07
I I broke the deadline.
Thankfully, it's only happened once and and it seems to be the the folks that have followed us and supported us have genuinely like meant that support.
They really love what we're doing.
And they're really excited about the knives.
And that's probably one of my favorite things about this whole business is that, you know, I'm I'm a collector and enthusiast myself.
Like, I love this stuff.
And so getting to see other people love this stuff that I'm making is just absolutely crazy.

27:35
And I try to make myself accessible and always respond to emails and DM's really quickly so that folks know, like, you know, I'm not just here to sell you a knife.
If you have a question, I'm going to answer it.
And sometimes you people call up on the phone, I'll answer and I'm talking to him for 30-40 minutes.
And half the time we're like talking about our kids or something like that, that's just a knives.
So on your website I was reading up and I know you said you don't like your website, but look good to me.
But I was reading the portion where you say that you're talking about receiving prototypes from different OEMs and testing them out and you, you, you mentioned that you run them through kind of a battery of tests.
What kind of things do you do to test these prototypes?

28:18
I know you're going to go with the one that's built the best that feels the most like.
What you envisioned in your design, but in terms of testing and performance, how do you, how do you judge there?
So the first thing that I'm gonna do when I get a prototype in hand, here's this, a prototype of the relative.
As I'm going to look at it from a purely aesthetic.
Viewpoint is going to be the first thing I'm going to see.
How does the texturing on the milling feel?
How, how do you, how do the the lines on the grind look and how does how is the whole profile of the knife from from tip to tail?

28:55
And then if all of those things are right, then we're going to see you know how is how is the action on it, is the action going to be as snappy, what are the acoustic sound like?
And once we've gotten those simple, basic things that you can just tell just by going over and feeling.
Listings tonight and and checking out the textures.
Then I'm going to go on a cut some stuff.
I'm going to break down some boxes, I'm gonna cut some paper.
I'm going to stab it into a piece of wood really freaking hard.
I'm probably going to destroy one of the the process because I want to make sure it's also built, built tough because they may be pretty, but there are people that are going to use these as tools.

29:34
There are plenty of people are going to collect knives and they're never going to do anything more than be an Amazon opening ninja.
But.
There are folks that are actually going to go and do real stuff with them.
So you know, it's pretty as some of them are.
They need, they will hold up and they will take on the task.
But but mainly the first thing is going to be esthetics because of the the part of the market that I made it has to has to look exactly like how I imagined in my head that it was going to look when we created it.
So how would you define the part of the market that you're in.

30:06
So I I would say that I'm in that.
I guess boutique or like middle mid range designer market where we're not ultra high end like custom knives that are going to be 900 or $1000 and that's not really the goal of the dream.
We're kind of, I'm trying to kind of hover around that 300 or less.
For the most part.
There's going to be some nights that I'm doing that are going to be a little bit more than 300. And if you get them in a crazy setup like you're getting zirka tie everything and stuff like that, then there's there's going to be obviously a a top that you can go to.
But if you want to get yourself into a nimble, you're generally going to be, you know, 270-5299. And when I do pre-orders, I always do a discount.
Some of them might do big discounts.

30:54
$5060.00 for the pre-order, well, because the people that come out for the pre-order, those are the folks that are really keeping the lights on right?
Might need launching the new product.
So just like I told you, the pre-orders, they fund the new stuff and I love making new stuff.
Yeah.
Well, so you're talking about acoustics now.
How important is the sound of a knife?
I mean, we know that it's important, but to those who might not know, how important is the sound of a knife and.

31:22
And will you actually, I mean, of course, that's all.
That's all in the eye of the ear of the beholder.
And and to some people, it might not be important, but if you're going through a knife, for instance, and everything else is on point, but for some reason it doesn't sound the way you want it to.
Are you gonna tweak due to that?
Yeah, absolutely.
What are you looking for and why?
So I'm looking for a nice solid click, like just nice and snappy.

31:53
Like I like them to not be like when you open the knife.
I want you to know even with the with the nimble.
You're going to get a nice.
Snappiness?
If I could have them all sound the same I would the relative.
You're going to get a nice, nice snap.
And and that's something that I search for in, in all of the knives.

32:14
And so if a prototype comes in and it doesn't have a nice, nice authoritative pop when you open it, then it it needs a change, it might need a stronger detent, it might need any number of things to change that.
So far, just the way that I I seem to design them, it seems to be a byproduct of that, that we get pretty good acoustics.
And then the ones that don't have a good acoustic, it's usually something to do with the clothes.
And that and it's typically it will actually be a defect where like the detent hole isn't actually drilled deep enough maybe the ball is touching so you get you ever heard have one when you shut it gives you that little kind of little vibration.
Yeah yeah sure.
So like the whole the detent balls actually touching the bottom of the hole and bouncing around.
Ohh OK. Yeah, yeah, I get that.

33:04
You know what I noticed, John, is that when?
Titanium Knives started to, they really started.
Manufacturers started focusing on weight relief and milling out pockets that really started changing the sound of knives.
I remember the the 0 tolerance, the less George designed 0 tolerance 940 based on his harpy model was was loud and there was no way to like quietly or discreetly open that knife unless you like popped it open in your hand and then slowly opened it up by hand and it was because of the aggressive.
Internal milling, I think that was the first time, first knife I had had that had anything like that and yeah, so, so would you, would you alter the acoustics through milling, is that another option?
So far the only way that I have done it was by just changing the way that the lockbar was actually cut.
So it just engaged differently.

34:04
Like I don't like I said, I'm not an engineer.
So actually like now that you say that.
The internal, like, there's a lot of internal milling on this one.
Probably impossible to see on that camera.
Maybe you can see it.
Yeah, I can see it in there.
So I mean that that may be giving you that nice solid thwack.

34:24
But I think it's also just the way that.
The knife hits and the locking gauges at the same time.
I also on everything but the the thick boy.
Everything is riding on floating stop pins that have, you know, tracks so that stop pins are are attached to the blade because that gives you really good lateral strength and I feel like that to stop pins whacking while the blade while the locks engaging also gives you that really nice snappiness,
right.
It's like a double impact making it.
Yeah that's that's.

34:57
Very gratifying.
So the knife you just had up in hand, this is a prototype.
Tell me about this knife.
This is this I I think this one takes the cake so far it's you know I like I tend to like large knives.
I tend to like rather aggressive looking knives.
It's just kind of my taste and this one is seems to be fitting that bill quite nicely.
Let's see if I can get in framers.

35:20
So the relative and the silly reason for that name is because if you can't see it right away it has some very similar lines and shapes to a nimble but but it's not a nimble in that it doesn't have all the different.
Opening mechanisms.
So this is kind of a spinoff from the nimble sheep's foot.
Initially, the way that I had drawn it up was like a was a straight clip point.
And.
Then I asked, I asked my OEM's if they could mock it up as a Bowie, and I kind of just redrew that little front profile and then kind of sketched in this compound hollow grind, and I'm like, can we, we try this and get this kind of ultra aggressive looking knife?
It's 3.4 inches and this one something special because it's going to be at least the style that's in my hand is going to be a magnet cut.

36:15
So there's going to be 200 of this exact version in Magna cut.
And then we're going to have like 150 of these guys in CPM 20 CV and then some I'm doing like 50 of PBD blacked out ones that are going to be 20 CV as well.
That's exciting.
I really yeah I like the look of that knife I think.
So between all of the nimble versions and the thick boy and and the relative I I think I'm seeing your design language emerge it you seem to have a pretty strong.
Voice and and it seems between the three of those, and I know there are other iterations, but just looking at your work, I think you can tell that it's your work.
And I think that that's pretty cool because just because you're passionate about something and just because you work hard as something doesn't mean you necessarily have a style.

37:05
And just because you want to have a style doesn't mean you're going to have one.
If you try and force it.
I don't know.
I'm seeing something organic.
And merge.
It seems like it's all coming out of the same head.
And it is, obviously.

37:20
And there's a few things I I try to squeeze in to each one.
Like, I'm a big fan of Big Pocket clips because you can do fun things with them, you can make them fun colors, you can make them fun materials.
And so like having this nice swooping pocket clip, having a man sized finger choil.
Yeah, long jumping and then obviously the the Oval thumb hole with the ball chamfering is always something that I'm going to be doing, and you're going to see that.
Whether it's an OTF knife, whether it's a folding knife, you're always going to see most of those elements.
Like, you may not see a bunch of jumping on and out the front knife, but you'll for sure see the same thumb hole.
You'll for sure see a similar pocket clip.

38:04
And so I think coming up with your own style as a creator designer is it's super important.
But you're right that it can't be forced.
There's times when I've sat down and tried to like, I'm going to sketch out a, you know, a Boeing F I'm going to sketch out, say, like a new drop point.
And I want it to be a front flipper or, you know, actually I have a good example.
Help me grab one that didn't.
That did not work out.
It looks really cool, but it did not work out.

38:31
Let me see where I put that.
Sure.
Yeah.
I mean.
We're all familiar with that, with that kind of scenario.
It did not work out the way that I initially planned it to.
And so like right now, this one is kind of sidelined down.

38:44
It started off, I was going to call it the Ronan, but someone that I know recently launched and I've called the Ronan.
So then I was like, I'll call it the swift or I'll call the Azure.
Naming something is also really freaking hard.
Yeah, realize that because you want the name to resonate with the project, but you also want it to be interesting and engaging and.
Being at the same time.
So this one.
Currently the name is sitting at SWIFT, which I'm not, I'm not completely sold on, but it is a my first try at just pretty much a predominantly front flipper and you're supposed to be able to have the thumb hole access on there.

39:23
It looks it looks cool, don't get me wrong, but it's not.
It's not quite right.
It's like I tried to forget this pocket clip.
It's just not quite right.
The the jumping on it, it looks good, but it's not quite right and and the part that that kills me the most on this right now is that the thumbhole access is just terrible.
So as pretty as as pretty as I try to get all those features in there and and the man size finger toil.
It just it didn't work out.

39:56
Like, I love this knife.
I'm going to come back to it at a certain point and try to refine it and make something with it.
But for 2022, the relatives going to be our last new offering as far as, as far as anything different.
And then I kind of want to focus on making you know more of of the spear point nimbles, bring back the nimble Tees for a second, go around things like this to to try to make my knives more available for folks.
We don't want them to have to wait, you know, a year for every single night, for eight months, for every single knife.
I want to try to get to a more regular tempo with them.
Not to the point where they become irrelevant, but just to the point where people can get a hold of them in a reasonable time frame without having to go to the secondary market.

40:42
And I see people pay just ridiculous amounts for my knives.
Like, I'm flattered and irritated at the same time.
Yeah, sure.
Yeah, I could see that in in equal turn, flattered.
And.
Updated.
It's like what I did notice you.

40:58
You did put out, well, I didn't notice it.
You put out a nested liner lock version.
You were saying that you had a little bit of difficulty.
That was the one that was the, the, the, the delayed release and such, but how did that go over?
Presumably is less expensive.
It's maybe easier to get behind a John Rusk design when it's made like that.
Were those popular options?

41:23
Yeah.
The the liner lock did really, really well on the preorder.
My goal was to sell about 50% of the production for the pre-order and and we did.
It took about one to say six days, five days, something like that.
That's the other thing and I'm going to segue and I'll come right back to it is there's this big thing in the in the in the smaller maker knife community where sometimes I think.
Either supporters or even I think sometimes the makers themselves don't think maybe it's successful if your pre-order doesn't sell out in 3 minutes.
Yeah, and I've though I've had that happen where, like, you know, it's an amazing thing to experience and to see people that hungry for the things that you're making, and it's incredible.

42:07
At the same time, when I when I did happen, that told me one thing, I didn't hunt make enough knives, and I left people out there frustrated that didn't have a chance to get them.
So my goal was to at least scale up to the point where my minimum, my pre-orders should last two to three days.
And the goal is about a week.
Like, I want people to have and and that way if someone wants to say, oh, I couldn't get your names, they're never available, will they?
Were available for seven days.
Of, you know, yeah I can't make them available forever, but I'm trying to give folks at least a reasonable amount of time to get a hold of them.
You know, I think, I think that that's got to be very well appreciated because you know, sometimes life gets ahead of you and you're not aware of of that drop that you really want to get in on and you might need a couple of days to sell off a knife or two to fund it.

43:02
You know, we're we're not all made of money and you know, you're knives are not inexpensive.
No and and it because they fit in that in that niche we were discussing that market niche were discussing the boutique thing so.
Some people might need a couple of days to raise funds or, you know, get themselves ready to make that sort of commitment because not everyone is ready to drop that money.
And sometimes, like, for me, when I buy a knife of that expense, it's a special.
It feels special.
It's a good thing.
And so if you're really excited about an EMP EDC and you have a chance and you and you've saved up the money and you can grab that knife, I mean that that feels even better.

43:44
So leaving that open for a week, I think that's a service.
I mean at the same time though, like.
The way I do the pre-orders, just like the with the liner locks is I've already predetermined amount of knives, I've already ordered them and I'm probably two months into production before I'm opening up to pre-order to to shrink that lead time down, which is something I think that my supporters
also appreciated.
They're not, they're never waiting six months like the longest period we've ever had was for the liner locks and actually these guys start getting shipped tomorrow morning.
I will be plowing through those into early next week.
Probably Monday or Tuesday will be the last two days and I finished packing those as we have the drop for the the tontos this weekend.

44:26
So I'm going to go right from packing the the liner locks to to knocking all the tantos that we sell this weekend out.
Just trying to push them out, which is kind of cool to have so much in house at once.
I literally have three productions all landed on me all at once.
The nimble Tees and then the liner locks just got in on Monday.
Let's talk about the thick boy.
I love the design.
I've I've held the nimble.

44:51
I've never held the thick boy, but I think it's beautiful and you told you just told us it's made by best tech and they're awesome.
I love best tech.
Tell me about your design goals with that knife and you know who what how people are responding to it.
It's so cool.
So I have I grab this is my personal one that I like to carry this it's got my old zip tie clip on it.
It's got the stonewash finish and then so it's.
The chunky little pocket cleaver.

45:20
You know, I have a I have a couple different pocket cleavers that I've collected, and as much as I love them from the other designers, there were aspects of them I didn't particularly like.
Or I thought, hey, I if if I was going to design the perfect pocket cleaver, what would it look like?
And it turns out this is what it looks like.
But the the first one had was very nimble ask had a big gap because it it came to be at a time when I when right after the number was successful.
And so I was like how can I make a different version than nimble.
I was thinking about this clever design so initially the thick boy was going to have all of the opening mechanisms as the nimble but when we finished designing it up it looked so.
Ugly.

46:10
It just it didn't.
It did with having a little, little cut out on the back and then having the high front flip it just with the knife.
This that's this profile.
It it didn't look, it just didn't look right.
So we got rid of the back flipper, we got rid of the front flipper and we went for just the thumb deploy only.
And.
Ended up with this really gnarly Big Cleaver Blade that it comes down to one hell of a of an edge because it's got that tall flat grind and yeah, it's it's been cool.

46:45
The only thing on this knife that was that was serendipity was the 3D backspacer.
Originally the the Backspacer was supposed to to have these notches, but it was going to be flush.
But it was still out of time where where I'm designing everything by pencil and then having someone help me convert them to 3D.
And so in in the pencil sketch, it looked a little 3D.
And so when I saw the the final 3D version that we had mocked up and I saw it popped up, I thought it looked so freaking cool that I was like, yeah, you know, and prototyping, let's keep the backspacer just like that.
And as soon as I got them in hand I'm like, this is so freaking cool.
And then it's kind of at the same time it ended up being almost like a throwback to the frag pattern on the nimble.

47:37
Oh, interesting.
Yeah.
Yeah.
Speaking as a very shallow guy who loves the way things look, I I do love the way that the.
Backspacer looks sitting proud like that, but also I've been noticing how useful that kind of texture, in that spot in particular can be, especially when.
Opening a knife of almost any opening method having jumping right there is a pretty valuable thing, so it gives you some awesome grip in the back palm of your hand.
It really does.

48:07
And I and The funny thing is that this I I catch a lot of crap from some people.
Like, you know the they'll look at all that pocket clip so huge.
The thing.
The thing is, it's not a hot spot.
The way that they go into the curve of your hand.
This it might look like a big gnarly pocket clip on this or the nimble, but you don't.
When you're holding the knife, you do not really feel it unless you're concentrating me, trying to know it's there.

48:36
It's not pokey.
Pokey, like a lot of the the gooseneck clips, you know, talking about.
Yeah, yeah.
And yeah, I do.
And I looking at that one, it looks comfortable.
It doesn't look.
The only reason I would say that that looks big to some eyes might be on the genes.

48:55
If someone's trying to carry something super discreet, you know, like a wire clip or something, you might look at that and think it's got a big footprint, but otherwise it looks like it's comfortable in hand.
Sometimes you.
Tell like a A well, also not naming names.
You can look at some popular designers clips and they look uncomfortable and indeed they are.
And then they go and tweak them and stuff like that.
But I feel like you can kind of tell.
Well what what has been the reaction to the thick boy we know how people how the knife world has responded to the nimble what has been the response to the to the thick boy.

49:34
So the original thick boy there was, and I don't whether you're aware or not there was a little bit of a controversy.
It looked similar to someone else's knife and.
It's just one of those things where.
I had never heard of the person I'm not going to name names are really bring up drama, but I'm design my own stuff.
I didn't come out here to to do anything but my own thing and just love creating things and sharing it with the community and share it with the folks that support me.
And so the thick boy, the first time we did it, it was kind of a mixed reception because there was a little bit of drama right before the launch for the pre-order it.
It seemed like there was a really high amount of interest and then it kind of fizzled a little bit right at the end and I think.

50:20
The first period we sold about 50% of them and then when we have the drop we sold most of them and then it took it took a few weeks to to get through that entire production and the the thick boy V2, same kind of thing.
When we had the, the launch this past weekend, we sold a little over half of them and then now every day it's, you know, 101520 and they'll be gone in a week or two and then that'll be that.
So it's not one that's been a huge like giant fast seller and I also think it's a polarizing design.
You know, aside from that little bit of drama that happened, it's it's a pocket cleaver and not everybody looks at this and goes, you know what?
That's gonna be the most useful thing that I can buy for $300.
Alright yeah yeah it's something.
If you like cleavers then you'll love it if if you're not a big in pocket cleavers and yeah that that's what I was gonna say.

51:08
It seems like a pocket cleaver.
Connoisseurs dream to me I look at that and where a pocket cleaver like the.
The Kaiser sheepdog.
I love the way it looks, but I kind of feel like I'll never get one because it does not have a point.
But I look at the thick point and one of the things I like about it is it can indulge my cleaver curiosity, but it still offers a point.
You know, it's got a point that you could thrust into a a clamshell thick clamshell package without any issue.
And and plus I also find the point on any knives to be part of what is attractive.

51:48
Yeah, I mean stabby things should be stabby and in my opinion.
Thank you.
I mean, and you can do some now.
It's it.
It may be big and chunky, but.
In anything you hit that with it's gonna go right right in.
Yeah I I think that one of my buddies he coal over tristate because this this knife is slicer than it has any right to be.

52:10
You use a bolster lock on this on this knife too, which is something that I love.
Yep, I use a bolster lock.
I did so we did for the stock versions.
You get my Carta inlays and then something that I like to do with my projects.
I don't know if you picked up on it, but I'd like to provide customization.
So like we did.
G10 scales, other micarta scales, brass, copper, mochizuki.

52:36
And they're not crazy.
Well, the machines organize a little expensive, but like, if you want to get into the other ones like 20 bucks, 25 bucks, you know, it's not.
I don't focus on the side.
Stuff like that.
That's not where.
That's not what pays the bills.
Like if I'm doing different color pocket clips or if I'm doing the skills and stuff like that, I'm just they're pretty much done for fun and for everybody to be able to customize their knife and make it the way they want it.

53:00
It's just a side aspect of the business that is more like a passion project than it is meant to to like, capitalize with that makes sense.
Yeah, yeah, sure.
To me, that's the collector enthusiast in you speaking up in the, in the, in the business relationship with the other, you know, with the business self.
You know, you know, John, if you were collecting these knives, you would want extra pocket clips.
You would want extra scales.
So let's offer this to the people and at a reasonable price.
Like it doesn't.

53:30
They don't have to be like I see folks that they sell will just a pocket clip for $175 and things like that, and knowing what they cost to produce seems just.
Why?
Like, why?
Yeah, because you know, if you get a hot nut for a new clip or something like that, you're most people who are thinking that way in the 1st place aren't going to let it go until they have that new pocket clip.
So there there's your opportunity to price gouge, but thankfully, you don't do that.
So what are you hoping or what are you aiming?
I should say, where are you aiming?

54:05
EMP?
EDC for the future?
What kind of company do you want it to be when it's at its full?
Maturation and what's your vision?
So the original vision was to spend the first one to three years growing it and kind of having it be controlled pretty much solely in house where I keep it, where the productions are at a manageable size where like I can still hands on every single night, like every single night to get packed and
goes out the door has gone through my hands.
I'm not perfect once in a while on this one, but we just take care of the people and make it right.

54:40
But that allows me to have really, really strict.
Quality controls on what goes out into the world and growing it and building our reputation and just building peoples general awareness that we're here because we're still very small and very unknown.
And then starting to slowly take on retail partners and look to do some other fun things.
So like like we're taking on our first result partner with Urban EDC coming in up in October.
We're going to do a sigala pattern, nimble launch with them and those are those are coming up what pattern, you know they do that.
Wave pattern on a lot of their stuff.
Oh yes, yes, yes.

55:16
I'll grab one.
I got one handy here.
Oh, cool.
So we have has that really nice milling pattern.
Wow.
That is a nickname locked.
So we're doing 100 of these with them and they'll be available exclusively through urban EDC.

55:32
And then we have our other new stuff that I'll be dropping.
So we're doing like a four hole pattern that's got a, it's going to be a, a DLC black handle with A4 speed holes that are blue.
And eyes on the inside, there's some other cool stuff that we're doing with the nimble project, but slowly taking on some retail partners and being thoughtful in the way that we do it.
And then eventually getting big enough to where I have to actually get some commercials and small commercial space that I can have a couple employees come help me with the fulfillment, stuff like that.
I don't want this to be a mega company.
That's not my goal.
My goal isn't to make all these billions and millions like for the first year I I wanted to do like 1000 orders and we did about 2000 orders for this year.

56:20
My goal was 5000 orders and we're sitting at about 4000 right now.
So we should be.
We should be right on track to hit that, which is crazy to to see that kind of growth going from obscurity to can't keep up with with things.
But that's the general goal is to just continue to to grow it in One Direction what slowly and thoughtfully.
I don't want to grow explosively because I feel like that's how companies get burned out.
Yeah.
Yeah.

56:51
And it seems like you need to you you need time to grow as it's.
Growing so that you have something to offer.
You know you don't want, you don't want to, you don't want all of that heat down you all that responsibility of being a a giant and perpetual success heaped on you too early where you don't have the, you know I I admire the way you're going about it, kind of in a, in a, in a slow and thoughtful way.
But at the same time you're also working to never be without product.
And I think that seems to be from what I've gathered through many conversations.
Similar to this is that always having product on hand for someone who's doing it, going about it the way you're doing it, it is a is a big challenge.
It's it.

57:35
It's my biggest problem for the business was like, if you go to my website right now, I have big boys in stock and I'm not sad about that.
Like it's nice that if somebody goes to my website right now, there are you can get it, you can get a rock and robot knock, you get a thick boy.
And I think I have some patches up right now, but the the goal is to eventually have something available.
At all times, and I'm not gonna have all things available at all times, but maybe I'll have some nimbles available.
All always here and there.
Maybe I'd stick boys, maybe it's maybe it's a new night coming up but I want this site to have somewhere between two and five products available at all times so that we can just have nice consistent sales.
You know one thing that it's it's like a thing that people don't talk about in this industry when you run pre-orders and things like that your your sales are spike drops.

58:24
Spike drops Spike drop banks and credit card processors don't like that they see that they go, what in the world are you doing?
That you had last week you had $500 in sales and this week you had holy crap in sales in one day.
They eat a lot of you start a lot of questions and once you once you establish a a pattern that goes away.
But when you're just starting out we went through hell when we just started out the first couple of times my products went viral.
The banks call us up.
What's going on with your account or credit card processors.
You know why?

59:00
Why is everything the same price?
Because everybody bought the same item.
Wow, that's a question that we got.
And I know I'm not alone, so that conversations with other makers and you know folks that have had trouble finding payment processors and stuff because when you sell knives, they considered a weapon, even though it's a tool just like anything else.
And people are, most people are going to use them properly and there are people that are going to use them and misuse them, but I'm not responsible for that.
And that's not the goal here, especially not when you're selling stuff that's aimed at your more collector enthusiast crowd.
Those you know, aren't the folks who go out and run amok with these things.

59:35
Right.
Right.
People tend to to, they'll they'll they'll do it with the EMP EDC cheap kitchen knife.
That's what they'll run amuck with but not with their nimbles they're going to keep those under glass.
John, thank you so much for joining me on the Knife Junkie podcast.
Let everyone know besides the website where they can get currently can get a thick boy replacement scales, hatches, the knock and some other things.
But tell people the best way to keep up with you and new developments with EMP EDC.

01:00:03
So we we have a newsletter you can sign up for on our site.
Do you just go to the home page?
It's gonna be in the top quarter, you'll see newsletter, make sure you guys sign up for that because we do releases sometimes that I will only just send a newsletter out for and I won't.
I won't mention them on Instagram, won't mention them anywhere else because it could be a small amount of product and things like that.
And then of course if you're on Instagram, follow us on Instagram, turn your notifications on, it's at EMP EDC.
I do a lot of product updates there too as well as projects.
So if you jump in on a pre-order and things like that, you'll get regular updates through Instagram and through e-mail so that you kind of know, hey, what's going on with the projects and the products that we sell.

01:00:40
Awesome.
Well, again, thank you, John, so much for joining us on the Knife Junkie podcast.
I really appreciate it.
Yeah, you're welcome, man.
Thanks for having me, guys.
Alright, take care.
Do you carry multiple knives?

01:00:52
Then overthink.
Which one do you use when an actual cutting chore pops up?
You're a knife junkie of the 1st order.
Great.
Talking with John Rusk of EMP, EDC, I love the way he's going about it.
Like I mentioned, kind of, kind of cautious and thoughtful, yet always.
In the wash in product and and we know what that product is, it's knives and we love knives.

01:01:15
So go check out EM EDC on Instagram and follow them.
There are lots of great pictures and you can always keep your eye on the drops there.
All right.
Please be sure to join us next Sunday for another interview and Wednesday of course for the midweek supplemental and Thursday, four Thursday night knives, 10:00 PM Eastern Standard Time right here on YouTube, Facebook and Twitch.
And then also if you haven't had a chance to finish this.
A podcast you you're not hearing me now anyway, but you can download this to the podcast apps and listen on the go.
I highly recommend it.

01:01:48
Alright for Jim working his magic behind the Switcher, I'm Bob DeMarco saying until next time, don't take dull for an answer.
Thanks for listening to the Knife Junkie podcast.
If you enjoyed the show, please rate and review and review thepodcast.com for show notes for today's episode, additional resources and to listen to past episodes visit our website theknifejunkie.com.
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