Logan and Hannah Rackliff live in Maine with their thirteen-month old daughter, Tess. Together, they are the founders of The Rope Co., a company they started in 2013 specializing in functional home goods made from nautical rope like doormats, placemats, and baskets.
The husband-and-wife team are native to Maine and the children of lobstermen: While Hannah’s father owns a lobster wharf, Logan is a fifth-generation lobsterman. It was such an essential component of his childhood that he learned to steer a boat before he had even graduated from training wheels on his bike.
In fact, lobster fishing—and more specifically, the rope used on these boats—has been the Rackliff family business for decades: Logan’s grandfather is the founder of Crowe Rope, and his father of High-Liner Rope, both manufacturing companies. According to Logan, Crowe Rope was the biggest company of its kind in the U.S. from the 1980s to 1994, when he sold it. Come 1998, his father decided to put that expertise to good use by creating High-Liner, which still exists today.
While the newest Rackliff company is targeted towards homeowners rather than lobstermen, the apple hasn’t fallen far from the tree—and Logan has managed to push his own venture forward while staying true to his roots. His products pay homage to his home state and the values he feels its inhabitants represent, like honesty and a strong work ethic. And while he is steadfast in his desire to deliver quality products made with integrity, he sees just as much importance in treating his community with respect—whether that person is a customer, peer, family or staff member.
The Rope Co.'s products are thoughtfully produced in Warren, Maine, where they are knotted and adjusted to perfection. “If you care about quality, which we do, it takes a lot of time, money, and effort to manufacture something,” Logan says. That means ensuring they have the right equipment for the right job (they have a machine just for placemats) and facing the challenges of the day with resiliency—failing and learning from your mistakes is part of growing a young business. “Keep plugging,” he likes to say. It’s an expression his grandfather used frequently.
View this post on Instagram
Back at it. We want to thank everyone who supports our small American Made business. Thank-You! 📷: Nicole Wolf #madeinamerica #nicolewolfphotography #grateful #thankyou #smallbusiness #TheRopeCo1957 #madeinmaine #shopsmall #local #handwoven #support #durable #indestructible #tough #americanjobs #hardworking #handmade #familybusiness #theropeco
A post shared by The Rope Co. | for the home (@theropecompany) on
Of course, quality means different things to different makers. Logan seeks longevity in his products. After all, they’re designed to be vehicles for dirty shoes (like doormats), spilled food (like placemats), or even damp towels and dirty clothes (like baskets). They are made with the same rope that can stand up to the salty waves and stormy weather endured by a lobster boat. As a result, they are mold and mildew-resistant, and so durable you can hose them down. Logan is confident in their ability to withstand regular wear and tear. “I know they’re worth every penny because they last,” he says, quickly adding that he’d still like to sell them for less. “Trying to keep the price down is always our goal.”
Logan credits Hannah with their charming appearance and references coastal Maine and Scandinavian design as sources of inspiration. The palette—which sticks to neutrals and cool tones—mimics the rocky shoreline. Rather than stand out, they’re meant to easily fit in amongst other objects.
Interestingly, though, Logan is of the theory that the key indicator of a successful functional product might be not noticing it: “I’d love for people to be excited about it, and then not think about it. It’s there doing its job, and suddenly it’s five years later and you realize, ‘I’ve never had to get that again. This thing is great.’” With so many brands prioritizing a product’s ability to be Instagrammed, it’s comforting to meet a maker who references invisibility as the sign of a job well done.
When it comes to their customers, The Rope Co. wants to offer something that will serve a valuable purpose in their home. “I don't like making products that aren't practical and helpful,” he says. They’re so mindful of this that they even worry a bit about the potential of someone slipping. While the doormats themselves aren’t slippery, they can move around a bit on a polished surface. Rather than hide this fact, they simply advise using a small rug pad underneath, just to be sure it stays in place.
At the end of the day, Logan isn’t just invested in The Rope Co.’s products and the growth of the business, it’s also about those who are along for the ride. “It’s more about seeing everyone grow—our office manager, my wife, everyone we work with and see at the shows.”
In a sea of ambitious designers, it’s a refreshingly grounded stance, and one that connects back to his respect for the Rackliff entrepreneurs that came before him—after all, they watched him grow. In many ways, The Rope Co. is just what you want in a maker: honest, thoughtfully made products, by people who care about people.