Former Cold Steel VP Strikes out in New Direction with Ocaso Knives

Ocaso Knives is a young brand backed up by well-known talent. The company, founded in 2022 by a former Cold Steel executive, has unleashed its first salvo of knife designs and now has its eyes set on the larger everyday carry community.

“Starting a business is hard work,” says Ocaso Knives founder Ric Valdez, an industry vet with more than two decades of experience under his belt. Valdez was the Executive Vice President at Cold Steel before the company was acquired by GSM in 2020. “I learned an incredible amount at Cold Steel, but I wear so many more hats now than I did before,” Valdez reflects. “[Cold Steel Founder] Lynn Thompson would often say ‘bite off more than you can chew, and chew like hell,’ and I’m hearing that in my head every day.”

This is the Seaton, the third, incoming release from Ocaso

Of course Valdez isn’t alone in the endeavor. In fact, he tapped another Cold Steel alum, Andrew Demko, for Ocaso’s flagship design, the Solstice. With its slim handle and narrow blade, the Solstice looks pretty different to Demko’s usual work; Valdez says that’s because of the knife’s particular origins. “When I started Ocaso, Andrew and I talked about him coming up with a knife design for me,” explains Valdez. “He knows my style and that I’ve always collected pens. I showed him some of my favorite pens and he turned that into the design for the Solstice.”

The knives that have followed the Solstice, the Seaton and Strategy, comes from other designers and continued to build on Valdez’s vision. “I wasn’t really considering the visual distinction between Cold Steel and Ocaso when we started, it was more that I was interested in making what I was personally drawn to, and had a vision for building a company around that.”

Of course, this trio of knives is just the beginning, with much more on the way. “We have a couple of new knives designed by Wes Crawford, a stunning knife by Kurt Merriken, and new designs coming from Mike Wallace, Andrew Demko, and John Demko,” Valdez tells us. But he also wants to go beyond knives and embrace the larger everyday carry market. “Our goal has always been to be more than a knife company – we intend to be a lifestyle brand, centered around modern, classy, elegant, high-quality everyday carry accessories. In your pocket, on your desk, and for your home.”

Knife in Featured Image: Ocaso Knives Solstice

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