This week, our friends over at Blade HQ are dropping the second run of Cypop Contras in Green Canvas Micarta and Brass. It’s amazing to see projects that have been in the works for a long time become a reality, and I’m pretty stoked about this one.
I’ve fielded a lot of questions about this project since the release of the CF Contra on Black Friday in 2017, so I thought this would be the perfect time to tell the Contra’s origin story.
Part bottle opener, part pocket charm and challenge coin, the Cypop has been a flagship of the BRNLY Brand line since I began making it in 2013 as a way to connect with customers at shows. With a limited output of signature (custom) knives, I wanted to build something with a high level of design and craftsmanship that would be a little bit easier to get than my knives.
Blade Show 2017. A long line at the BRNLY Knives table waiting to purchase Cypops first-come-first-served.
The goal for the Cypop was simple enough. But, as it started developing what can only be described as a cult following, it seemed like I was never able to keep up with the demand even with an increase in production. We had just come off of another Blade Show where there were twice as many people waiting in line for Cypops than we actually had available (and while some people would say that’s a good problem to have, I still see it as just a problem) when Blade HQ approached me to talk about doing a run for a Black Friday sale.
I love making the Cypop, and I wanted to keep the original just for myself. But the Cypop was always about including people in the brand, and it was becoming clear that that idea was limited by my output. When Blade HQ approached me, I had been thinking about a way to develop a modular version of the Cypop. But, with a baby on the way and a cross-country move looming, I knew that I didn’t have the bandwidth to make it happen on my own. In a happy convergence of events, I had recently worked with Shane and the team at Millit Knives in Idaho on a successful production run of the BRNLY Huck, and the pieces started falling into place…
The Cypop Contra is a BRNLY Brand project managed and fulfilled by Blade HQ and made in the U.S.A by Millit.
Contra means “opposite” (it’s also one of the best run-and-gun action games ever), and it’s the perfect monicker for a modular Cypop that uses two different materials in its construction. Even though the concept seems simple, it’s actually fairly tricky because the two materials need to be finished separately and still fit together correctly. The Cypop has a high level of refinement even in the little details and the same holds true for the Contra.
Millit was the right choice for the production of the Cypop Contra—they know the type of fit and finishes required for high-end custom knives, and understand critical tolerances. They’re also used to dealing with my *slightly* OCD tendencies. The Contra is made by Millit with the same care and techniques that I use in my own shop, and because of the caliber of Millit’s craftsmen, the Contra feels like the Cypops that I make in-house.
The BRNLY Brand is just me and my wife Maddie. In the past when we’ve done larger sales of Cypops on our website, we’ve simultaneously had to deal with tech issues, respond to a ton of customer emails, and then drop everything so that we can ship in a timely manner. It can be majorly stressful (when the website crashes) and it’s definitely not scalable.
I’ve built a great working relationship with Blade HQ over the years, and I knew that they were perfectly suited to take on the challenge of releasing the Cypop Contra. From excellent customer service and fulfillment capabilities to working with us on designing new packaging for the Cypop (something we had wanted to do for years), Blade HQ has the talent and attention for detail required to manage this project’s many moving parts.
New packaging for the Cypop designed by BRNLY and Blade HQ.
The Cypop has allowed me to connect with customers in a way that I was never able to with custom knives alone. I’m super grateful for the demand and community built around the Cypop, and I hope that with the Cypop Contra we can continue to reach for the goal of inclusivity. Pop in good health!