I'm a title. Click here to edit me.
Writing History With Sam Le Roy of Hartcopy
Holding on to the past isn't always a good thing, but in the case of Sam Le Roy and Hartcopy, it couldn't be cooler! As one of Instagram's best new(ish) sneaker pages, storytelling around the coolest pairs of new and old sneakers from around the world, Hartcopy has taken the world by storm with its ethos of embracing traditional print for the digital consumer. We got the chance to speak with Hartcopy's Creative Lead, Sam Le Roy, about what got him involved in "The New Print", where he thinks sneaker culture is going, what it's like diving head first into new creative projects and the importance of confidence to get yourself into your dream position. Read and listen below for the convesation! Getting Started. Hey Sam! Thanks so much for chatting with us. To kick things off, can you tell us how you got involved with Tim and Hartcopy? So before I got started with Hartcopy I was writing for another publication call Sabukaru - great read by the way. I found Hartcopy pretty early on when it launched and then I saw Tim post on Facebook that he had started the page. I sent him a message like "Hey I'm a writer. Can we work on this together?" I wasn't expecting money or anything. Luckily Tim saw my message and I think because of my experiences at Sabukaru, he gave me a shot. This was around March or April of 2020. Damn, just like that? All about shooting your shot! My entire creative journey is all from sending that DM. All opportunities that I've had have been because if sent that message to the right person. I just found a lot of people online and now I can call them friends. Definitely don't be afraid to shoot your shot! (Listen to more below) The Execution. Hartcopy has published nearly 1,400 posts now in not that much time. Firstly, how do you choose what to write about? The biggest thing for Hartcopy is looking into the past and telling the stories of older pairs and silhouettes. A lot of people really fell in love with Hartcopy from our coverage of older grail pairs, older dunks and Jordan sneakers but we really just cover whatever we think is cool. It's really an extension of our own tastes so as long as we think it's cool then we'll post about it. Second question. How do you find the time to do all of this AND pursue a full time career? Luckily, we have a pretty good formula now for creating the content so it doesn't take that long. What is starting to take a lot of time is all of the other partnerships and projects that we are starting to do. I actually just gave my notice this week and will be doing Hartcopy full time now, which is really exciting! Oh wow! What was the thought process like behind that decision? I think it was inevitable at some point for this to happen. I have so many plans for Hartcopy in the future but they would never become a reality if I didn't take the jump now and try it. I had a moment at the Foot Patrol event where I knew that not capitalizing on this would be a massive waste. (Listen to more below) The First Book Signing. Just recently Hartcopy launched its first ever physical print sneaker book with a killer launch event at Foot Patrol in London. What was that like getting to connect with people over Hartcopy in person after being a digital first platform since the beginning? Seeing that many people come together for a product that we made was incredible. It was an amazing feeling and I definitely want to see that again. There's something really charming about bringing people together for a physical product. We've gone through so many followers and likes on Instagram but I can't visualize that. Meeting people in person creates a feeling that I really can't describe. (Photos: Foot Patrol) What's Next? I'm planning books two, three, four and five. Book two is going to be more focused around people than product, but obviously still connected to products. Book three I can't speak about it yet because it's going to be completely out of nowhere [laughs] and I wan't it to be a surprise. Looking forward, now that I'm full time, I want to also be doing things like merchandise like clothing releases in addition to the book releases. I really want to have people getting Hartcopy in hand and a big focus for me is to keep it affordable. We have a lot of things in the works as well that I can't speak about yet but just know we're going to be very busy! And lastly... a reminder from Sam to wear your shoes! Make sure to keep up with Sam and Hartcopy on Instagram for all the best sneaker content and news on their upcoming projects and keep it locked to Pier Five for more conversations with the coolest entrepreneurs, designers, artists, activists and more out there.
Alpha/Beta: The Next Chapter With Raised by Wolves
Our friends at Raised by Wolves sent us some pieces from their upcoming collection to check out. The 200 piece collection is made entirely of upcycled, reworked and repurposed garments from overstock, samples, returns and leftover fabric from a decade of past seasons, with the purpose of giving old pieces a new life. We connected with Raised by Wolves owner and mastermind behind the collection, Cal Green, to learn more about the inspiration behind Alpha/Beta, the all-natural design process and what he thinks a collection like this can mean for the future of the brand and fashion industry as a whole. Lookbook Photos: William Smith Model: Marisa Gallemit 2 Years of Planning. 10 years In The Making. One day I was in my office and saw this wall of boxes behind me. Over the last ten years we had overproduced certain collections, had accumulated a ton of samples, held onto returned items or defects, etc. When COVID hit, most of our factories shut down so we knew we needed to find a way to make do with what we had and find a way to sell all of these older clothes by repurposing them. The first project was making face masks in Ottawa and that's what sparked the idea to create a full collection which would become Alpha/Beta. Where does the name Alpha/Beta come from? The name is in reference to the hierarchy of a wolf pack. The Alpha line gets access to the most interesting materials and older samples. It's more experimental and is a lot of outerwear and pants. The Beta line is made up of derivatives from the Alpha line and are more simplified. This will be things like tees and sweatshirts. We've also built out a Delta line which is some homewares and other accessories made from scraps, like keychains, coasters, wooden and incense holders. With this new thought process behind production and design, how is Raised by Wolves thinking about its ecological footprint? I'm hypersensitive to overproduction now. It definitely won't be an afterthought anymore. I think with this, Alpha/Beta will evolve over time. With this collection, we've produced maybe 200 pieces but that's just scratching the surface of the inventory we had. I ended up donating about forty-thousand dollars worth of clothing to local youth organizations in Ottawa. I figured it was better to give the product to someone that will value it than get rid of it another way or destroy it, which was never an option. Created by hand around North America The majority of the pieces in the collection were all reworked by hand and treated with natural techniques to give unique looks to each garment. Black bean dye Beach dye Rust dye Flame finishing on demin Hand-stitched sashiko Apparel by: @atelier_dnhn (Montreal, Quebec) Quilts by: @e_patton (Dayton, Ohio) How will this collection play into the future of Raised by Wolves? I've thought about doing something like Patagonia's Worn Wear program that encourages people to send their gear back when they're done with it and then we repurpose it for Alpha/Beta. It doesn't even have to be Raised by Wolves product. It could be vintage denim or band tees. Ever since I've started working on this project, I've seen a lot of brands that I really respect doing similar programs. So, I definitely think we're headed in the right direction, for sure. Big shoutout to Raised by Wolves for giving us an early look at the new collection! Check out the Pier Five Instagram for more content on some of the incredible pieces. Make sure to keep up with Raised by Wolves on Instagram for more information on the Alpha/Beta collection dropping this month and keep it locked to Pier Five for more conversations with the coolest entrepreneurs, designers, artists, activists and more out there.
On The Map With Free Agent Wearhouse
Pier Five got the chance to meetup with local legends Rob Echevarria & Kim Barrera of Free Agent Wearhouse, Toronto's premier apparel design and decoration company, in their downtown Toronto showroom for an awesome chat about business through the pandemic, empowering local designers, the value of Canadian-made products and staying dedicated to your craft. Having worked with dozens of Canada's top brands and designers as well as a special project for one of Toronto's most loved Raptors, there's a good chance that you've walked past someone wearing something made by Free Agent Wearhouse and the stories they had were endless. Read through the conversation below and check out the sound bites to hear from Rob & Kim first-hand. Hey Rob & Kim! Thanks for having us in your showroom today. For those who aren't familiar with you and Free Agent Wearhouse, can you tell us a little bit about this all? Rob: I'm Rob, the owner of Free Agent Wearhouse. We specialize in premium quality clothing production and decoration, probably best known for our intricate embroidery. Kim: I'm Kim. If I had to give myself a title it would probably be lead designer or maybe assistant project manager. I kind of do a little of everything since it's just the two of us here. I connected with Rob during the pandemic through a mutual friend and have been helping him with the business as it's been scaling. What do you think sets Free Agent Wearhouse apart from the other design and decoration companies in Toronto, or maybe even all of Canada? Rob: Our biggest focus right now is on helping smaller fashion brands get the look and feel of the bigger brands. While what we do is not necessarily innovative, when it comes to design, decoration and production quality, there aren't a lot of companies out there that will put in the time and attention like we will and I think that has gone a long way with our clients and the brands that choose to work with us. Kim: We're always thinking about the future and how one project can lead to the next. We're more than just an embroidery company. We can advise on design work, help the brands out with their concepts, make connections to other brands or suppliers and so much more. In that sense we're almost like an agency and are always making sure that we are putting our best foot forward with every single client. How did the pandemic affect the business? Rob: Things were crazy in the beginning. We transitioned to face masks for a while and that was very busy. That's when Kim came in to help out. The pandemic really just created more of a desire to work within the community and do things locally. There's a lot of buzz around "Made In Canada" in fashion. Why is this important and how does Free Agent Wearhouse fit into it all? We're all about this (of course)! As consumers, we've all bought bigger brands for the logo or design but you know "that sweater" is just ok when it comes to the quality. There's a reason why people are proud to wear Canadian-made. It's because you know the quality is there and it's really made to last. The idea for us is to bring that type of high-value production back into Canada as much as possible. FAW x Adidas For Kyle Lowry Recently you got to work on a very special project with Adidas for Kyle Lowry. What was that like? Rob: This one was different because we really had full creative control over the entire project. For a big company like Adidas to give control to a smaller design company really exercised every aspect of our capabilities. Kim: It was amazing. Witnessing Kyle win a championship, leave and then be a part of something that was presented to him when he returned; that was really special! We were able to add those little personal touches that paid homage to him, not only as a Raptor but as a world champion. (Listen to more below) What advice would you give to someone looking to get into this business? Learn every skill that you might need. If you can do it yourself, you'll always go further than if you have to lean on somebody else. Just keep creating. Make something wack? Who cares! Stay dedicated and learn from your mistakes. The thing that you think might be the worst thing you've ever made might be the best thing in someone else's eyes. Now that the world is opening back up, we imagine you must have some big plans in store? Definitely! We're setting up a much bigger space which will be great for clients to be able to come by, see the work and hang out. We'll hopefully have some other big projects come up soon and we really want to get more and more into cut and sew. Lots to come. Rob: At the end of the day though, even if we shut down again, the grind doesn't stop. I need to always be doing something. Even if the money's not flowing, you can catch me in the factory. There's always going to be something to learned and to do. Kim: We're looking forward to all of it! Make sure to keep up with Free Agent Wearhouse on Instagram and keep it locked to Pier Five for more conversations with the coolest entrepreneurs, designers, artists, activists and more out there.
Showing Up With Liz Beecroft
After twelve very interesting months, we got the chance to catch up with one of our earliest guests; psychotherapist, LCSW, founder of MENTL.SESH and style queen Liz Beecroft. Liz has been on a roll since our last conversation, building and launching her private practice, making big moves with brand collaborations, leading in-person events promoting mental health and some of the best fit pics on social media. After a year of uncertainty but much excitement, it was only right that we catch up with Liz to chat about how she's feeling coming out of the pandemic and everything she has in the works. Check out the highlights from the conversation below! So, Liz! How have you been over the last 12 months? "Really good! There have been a lot of amazing opportunities that have been coming in. It's been really busy with a lot of restructuring with the team but all good and we recently had a great activation at ComplexCon and with MSG for Women's Empowerment featuring MENTL.SESH. I'm really spending a lot of time now trying to position MENTL.SESH properly so that we can do more in-person events which is really exciting!" Everything with MENTL.SESH lately has been really awesome! "We have a lot of exciting opportunities this year where we can quite literally meet people where they are and teach them how they can bring mental health into these spaces. We actually want to give you skills and get something for your mental health out of these experiences." March is the month where all the brands bring out their "Women's Empowerment" content but we keep an eye on who continues to do the same year round. May is the same for Mental Health. How are you looking at this when you see companies posting about these causes? "I’ve been doing a lot more trainings over the last year where I'm training companies internally on mental health in the workplace and I think that has given me a really good look at what brands are really doing it the right way and starting internally first and then going externally with that message. Having people who are not only really good at their jobs and talented in their respective craft, but who also have passions about a diverse range of causes, is really important because when you look at leadership, you want to make sure that those people are walking the walk and modelling that behaviour for other people. That’s also going to seep through to different teams and throughout the company." Liz on how to approach the world re-opening again. "Just like it was a huge adjustment to go into lockdown, it’s now going to be another huge adjustment to get back into what we've known. Our bodies and our minds have all adapted to slowing down. It’s OK to feel like you don’t really have the motivation and energy to do something all the time. It's normal." (LISTEN BELOW) TALK NICE TO ME! "If you aren’t feeling it, don’t force it. Listen to yourself, give yourself grace, be gentle and really start talking yourself in a nice way. We have to start first with ourselves because of the way we speak to ourselves matters. We need to really talk nice to ourselves and when we do that, everyone else and can also talk nice to us because we will be kicking ass!" You've mentioned that you don't just want to be known as the "Sneakerhead Therapist" anymore. How does tying into where you're at and what you're interested in to your brand? "I think it's all about growth. We have to be self aware and know what we do and don't want for ourselves because that's how we can set different goals and go after them. I've grappled with this for a while but I know that I can still love sneakers and I don't need to have a collection of 270 pairs and that does not take away from what I do and don't know about shoes." Lastly, we know you have a big wedding coming up! Any big plans for that? Yes! Can't wait to be together with all of my family and friends again. Crocs is sponsoring! White crocs for everyone! ...and I have a plan to get Post Malone to my wedding! (Watch Below) Make sure to keep up with Liz on Instagram as well as MENTL.SESH and keep it locked to Pier Five for more conversations with the coolest entrepreneurs, designers, artists, activists and more out there.
Earning Your Place With Titi Finlay
A year ago we got the chance to speak with Titi Finlay, the Social Media Manager for Laced UK, artist and content creator who was taking the sneaker scene by storm through her advocacy for more inclusivity in the sneaker industry. Between her bold quote posts like "Make Sneakers Gender Neutral" or "Sneakerhead is defined by passion, not gender." and her incredible sneaker paintings and fit pics, there has been lots to talk about and now with the recent partnership with Nike, we had to catch up again. Check out the conversation below to hear about how everything came together, how she feels about the current state of inclusivity in sneakers and what she's looking forward to, this year and beyond. Getting the Nike Call "It was so surreal! I actually cried after I got off the phone with them because they wanted to bring in my art and my creative side rather than just the message I was pushing in the community. My art and paintings and my print making and all the stuff like illustrations has all been something that I’ve always wanted to make my main career but never felt like I could do that. For Nike to recognize that and give me the platform and the tools to actually execute it was just so amazing." Titi On Imposter Syndrome "My imposter syndrome has been at an all-time high this year. I think just because I’m moving into a much higher role in my work and also being seen by more people on social. It’s almost like the more success you have ,the more you feel like you have to lose." (Listen further below) As it turns out, before the partnership, Titi has been helping the brands roll out more inclusive products and launches. "I personally had a few calls with the Nike design teams where the had me and a couple of other women actually feed in on the products coming out for next year. It's super empowering for all of us to know that we’re being heard now. Obviously things don’t happen overnight with brands." With all the excitement, comes over-indulgence. Listen to how Titi is approaching sneaker madness today. Would you ever NFT your work? "I thought about this a lot. I'm obsessed with learning about it but I still find it baffling. Some of the stuff is so terrible. I feel like I could make a lot of money if I did go into it but I think there’s also the whole conversation around the sustainability and energy usage of NFT's. There are some really cool concepts coming out so I’m definitely not opposed to it but I’m also still a bit sceptical. I don’t like do crypto right now but I'm excited to see where the space goes." So what's next? Keep an eye out for more of Titi's projects with Nike coming out in April and hopefully some gallery or exhibition events coming soon! ...oh and potentially a world tour ?!?! Make sure to follow Titi on Instagram for news on her upcoming drops, events and all the best sneaker content and keep it locked to Pier Five for more conversations with the coolest entrepreneurs, designers, artists, activists and more out there.
Outworking The Competition With Eric Chong of R&D
As the city prepares for a big reopening, we got the chance to sit down with Eric Chong, winner of Master Chef Canada, co-host of Wok The World and owner of one of our favourite restaurants in Toronto, R&D. Eric's success started very young and he has quickly been making his ascent as one of the top chefs in Canada. While doors have been open and closed over the last two years, Eric has stayed very busy and had lots to talk about. From building a strong team, sharing some cooking secrets, giving his honest opinion on the restaurant industry and his craziest tales from the TV world, this conversation was full of gems. Read and listen below! A Family Affair "When we hire people, it's really about how they work with the team than their resume. We really build a family oriented staff. A resume is great but you really have to click with the team because we see each other more than we see our family and friends." "The only way to earn their respect, is to outwork them. I've been blessed but I've put in the work. Don't ever get complacent. Don't ever get comfortable because you'll only get to the top by pushing." All About Consistency "The hardest thing about a restaurant is consistency. If I were to cook you a dish and a cook who was just hired yesterday cooked you a dish, you shouldn't be able to tell the difference and that's a very difficult job to achieve. I have twelve scales in the restaurant...so that everything in the restaurant is exactly the same." Tips to enhance your wok game... Understand that the end result will be different at home and at the restaurant. An open flame is a must! Electric doesn't get hot enough. Make sure you get that wok smoke! Never burn your food by keeping things constantly moving. If you don't have high enough heat, you can use a cast iron. Eric's 5 Must Haves In The Kitchen MSG - Adds depth of Umami (one of the key flavour profiles). Eggs - Used in nearly everything! Rice Soup noodles - "I've been eating a ton of these. I'll make a big batch of stock and get fancy with my noodles!" Pasta - "My bolognese slaps [laughs]" Do people ever just pin you as the "Master Chef guy" and not look at all the other stuff that you're doing? There was a period in my career where I was a bit frustrated but it's what started me. It's good to have an identity. Like, I'm sure Daniel Radcliffe doesn't just want to be Harry Potter but it's better to be known for something than nothing at all. (Listen Above) "It's always a challenge to find new things to teach them [the staff]. What's beneficial at R&D is anyone who is in the back of house management role doesn't just learn how to cook...they actually learn how to manage a restaurant." What's the craziest thing that has ever happened to you on TV? (Listen Below) If you want to be a successful restauranteur, your job doesn't end when you clock out. If you're looking for a 9 to 5 job, this ain't it. If you're looking for a job where you have a good work-life balance, this ain't it. If you actually love cooking and love this industry, prove it! There's no excuse not to know how to make any dish at this point, but how to make it your own is the real challenge. Make sure to follow Eric on Instagram for news, tips and tricks to help step your kitchen game up, as well as R&D if you're ever in Toronto and keep it locked to Pier Five for more conversations with the coolest entrepreneurs, designers, artists, activists and more out there.
Staying Curious With Patrick Stangbye
Photo: Patrick Stangbye & Johannes Rummelhoff When it comes to the outdoors, there is nobody that we know more adventurous than Patrick Stangbye. Growing up in a small town in Norway, just inches away from the forest, Patrick grew up exploring the woods and the mountains and picked up snowboarding, hiking and trail running, a sport he now pursues professionally. A life outside and curiosities around product and technology led him into the fashion scene and after a number of different roles, landed Patrick the role as Brand Manager for ROA Hiking, one of the hottest brands at the moment amongst both fashion enthusiasts and hikers. We got a chance to catch up with Patrick to chat about all things sports, fashion, gear, entrepreneurship and much more. Scroll below for some of the highlights! ROA: A Hybrid Brand Oriented around the landscape. Made in the same factories as the best performance footwear. An approach to design unlike than any other. What does the Brand Manager role entail? A little bit of everything! Working with the sales team to present new collections Working with the design team on product development that strengthens the brand identity Financial planning assistance Designing campaigns with marketing Coordinating collaborations "My job is really just to make sure that the brand is always working." "I'm interested in movement. Many of my learnings are had through connecting with my friends over an activity" Buying performance gear from performance brands... "Many times fashion is moving so fast that nothing is ever tested. So, it might be that you're buying €600 trousers from a catwalk brand and the fabric is great...but it's not made to last and also nobody tested to see if that was a fabric that should be used on a trouser. But this is something you know when you buy something from a climbing brand or something related to an activity. These people needed the stuff to work for them." The convergence of performance and lifestyle... Photo: Satisfy Running On taking your fate into your own hands... "If you really want to do something, more than anything, be curious. Talk to people. Try to meet people. Try to have a conversation and be openminded. If you really want to make bags and a huge backpack brand is not going to hire you then start making your own backpacks. Buy a sewing machine and learn how to do it. Just got for it because if you believe it, I'm pretty sure you could do it." Make sure to follow Patrick on Instagram for a sneak peak into all things ROA, gear and trail running and keep it locked to Pier Five for more conversations with the coolest entrepreneurs, designers, artists, activists and more out there.
Putting In The Hours With Dan Climan
We got a chance to speak with Montreal based painter, Dan Climan, about the journey of mastering his craft through nothing other than patience, focus and lots of hard work. With art integrated into his life in many ways but only a couple years under his belt as a full-time painter, Dan has already amassed an impressive following for his work and is one of the most humble guys we know. For him, it's all about putting yourself in a position to do what you truly love and committing more time to it than anyone else. Read through some of the best takes from the conversation with Dan below. On putting in the time... "I think the more confidence you have going into work, the better work you’re going to make." "Put your head down. Do the work. Just because it looks good or feels good, doesn’t mean you’re done. No matter what state I was in my life, whether it was design, or tattooing or painting, I know that I’ve gotten better and I know that I’ve only gotten better because I continued to do it." On painting stuff he doesn't like... "Those are the important days. I still painted. I still put in the hours." "The difference between somebody who's a professional and somebody who's on the come up is potentially just putting in the hours and doing the work? "I believe in the work so much that I’m not afraid to invest in myself" Tips On Buying Art "Only buy the art that you can’t live without. If it speaks to you and it feels a certain way, it's worth buying. I look back at art that I bought when I was younger...maybe I liked it because it was trendy at the time but I don't want to look at it in my living room anymore." "If the work is appealing to somebody who’s, like, five years old, and somebody who is sixty years old, there’s something nice that’s happening there. It’s like a universal language with shapes and colour in the content." How much money do you want to make? "As long as I can make enough to paint every day then I'm happy. Looking back to my 13 or 15 year old self, like if I could see where I’m at today, I’d be thrilled!" Be sure to follow Dan on Instagram for news on his upcoming shows, including his solo exhibit at Gallery Youn in Montreal, and keep it locked to Pier Five for more conversations with the coolest entrepreneurs, designers, artists, activists and more out there.
Getting To Know Hotpot Variety
Amongst all of the creative businesses that launched during Covid, one of our favourites has to be Hotpot Variety founded by Toronto crocheter Jess Papp. What started as a fun hobby has since turned into a full time brand that has caught the attention of fashion enthusiasts, influencers, designers and retailer buyers around the country. As she takes the headwear game by storm with her unique crocheted hats, we caught up with Jess to chat about her recent growth, taking Hotpot Variety full time, getting into a major retailer, where she hopes to take the brand over the years and much more. Take a listen to some of Jess' quotes and read through below to learn more about Jess and Hotpot Variety. On taking Hotpot full time… "As of this fall, I’m officially doing this full time. When I started Hotpot Variety, I realized that was my passion. I was like, maybe I should focus my energy and efforts into something I love doing instead of working in a 9 to 5 job and coming out of it like “what did I just do all day?” Put Your Work Out There You never know what might come of it! So Holts DM’d you? That’s how the deal came around? Ya, I got a message from the buyer like “hey, who do I reach out to about partnership options?”. I only had 500 followers on Instagram and not a lot of my work was on my feed so I thought maybe they’re just contacting me about a pop-up or something. We had the call and they’re like, “do you have a line sheet? We want to stock your hats in our store.” and I’m like “Ya, I have a line sheet” while I’m googling what a line sheet is [laughs] and then they sent over my contract and my hats were going to be stocked in Holt Renfrew. It was crazy. On collaborations… I’m doing this by myself so I’m trying to make sure I’m not saying yes too much or biting off more than I can chew. Every project is different. It’s important to make sure that you understand what the scope of the partnership looks like and make sure you’re both aligned into something that’s going to be great for both sides. On dealing with burnout… Make sure that you’re listening to your body. If I’m tired, I need to sleep. If I’m hungry, I eat. If you can’t focus, you can’t be productive. Don’t stress about the things you can’t control and focus on one thing at a time. What do you want 60 year old Jessica to look back on and be proud of? I'm a first generation Canadian. My mom immigrated here from Vietnam. My family fled from their country to build something for us and give us more opportunity. I want to look back when I’m 60 and know that I built something out of an opportunity that my family has given me and be something inspiring to people going through the same thing and hopefully building some sort of an empire where I can support other people’s interests and talents. Checkout Hotpot Variety's Instagram for news on their upcoming releases and keep it locked to Pier Five for more conversations with the coolest entrepreneurs, designers, artists, activists and more out there.
Dancing Through The Yarn With Trish Andersen
Follow your gut and take chances. It will take you everywhere. Such is the case for Georgia based fiber artist, Trish Andersen, whose tufting work has caught the attention of the masses. After over a decade-long career working in a corporate design job in New York, Trish dropped everything to focus on a solo freelance career and follow her entrepreneurial spirit. Years later, after taking a hard look at her jobs and deciding she wanted even more independence, Trish would drop her client work, move back home to Georgia and pursue a daring career as a solo fine artist in rug tufting, a very niche art form that she had little knowledge of at the time; but something about it just felt right. Fast forward to today, Trish is one of the best known tufting fine artists in the game, appealing to the fine art and interior experts all the way to streetwear heads and hypebeasts. All of this success is attributed to Trish’s ability to keep a level head, follow her gut and never stop exploring and we got the chance to go through all of this in a very special conversation. Hey Trish! The first question we have for you is, what was it like moving from New York back to Georgia. It was definitely a little scary because there’s so much opportunity in New York but it just felt right for me. Turns out, Dalton, which is only a few hours away from Savannah where I live now, is the rug capital of the world so the fit isn’t so bad [laughs]. They produce something like 80% of the world’s rugs there which is insane. Wow that’s wild! What do you think it was about tufting that got you hooked (no pun intended)? Tufting is super free flowing with the gun because you can go in any direction you want. You can really jump around your canvas and it was like painting for me which I love. It’s like a dance working with the gun. It also lets me focus on the fine art more and then I can bring in the functional aspect, like with the line of products I have inspired by my fine art, such as the wool rugs and runner rugs, as I want. One of our first discoveries of your work was actually the Runner Rug through Hidden NY, a curation mood board catering to art and streetwear fashion enthusiasts. How does it feel to see your work catch the attention of subcultures like that? Honestly, it blows my mind! I made the runner rug with no intention of selling it. I thought it was cool but not that cool [laughs]. I had no idea that it would catch the attention of consumers in these other groups and I never cared about what people were going to think of it when I made it but it’s really cool to see everyone so into this art form and the pieces that I make. It’s very hard to always fight that evil voice in your head asking “will people like it?” or “is it good enough to share?” but I think because I got into this just for me, I’ve been able to get away from that voice. I’m constantly trying to remind myself to just make what I want to see in the world and tell myself that there are people out there who will be into what I make and eventually I’ll find them. Very true and clearly there are a lot of people who are liking what you are putting out. How did it feel, as someone who’s been making rugs for so long, to see so many people get into rug making during covid? I think it’s super cool. I’m a big “community over competition” kind of person. The process for me has been so beneficial and it’s really great to see other people embracing it. Everyone has their own voice and I think there’s room for us all. It’s been super cool to see how people like Tim who runs tuftinggun.com has grown such a big community and business in the last two years and how social media has really helped it take off. At the end of the day, if we can all add some more softness and joy to the world during quarantine then that’s amazing! What’s your design process like? Do you typically draw things out first and have materials/colours in mind? It’s a little bit of planning and a little bit of free flow. I usually sketch out designs on Procreate which I love. I always had some trouble sketching on paper so working on Procreate on my iPad is amazing and it lets me scale designs which is super helpful. For the colors, I’ll usually have a palette in mind but I'll pull all the colours I think I'm going to use and then visualize them and move them around.
Once I’m working on the canvas, I really try to move feely and respond to the piece in the moment. If I plan colours but then don’t think I want to use them, I’ll change them. It’s definitely like a dance. I also like, however, that you have to be decisive as much as it is free flowing. It’s always a challenge because you can only pull out things you don't like so many times before the backing is compromised so it's a mix of free and calculated. How many rolls of yarn do you think you have gone through in the last 4 years? Ha! I have no idea. It must be thousands. I’ll use all different types of wool and I’ll source yarns everywhere. It’s all a precious exercise of locating yarns. I’m using so many different colours and materials which I think creates great texture. Back in September you launched your first reproduced collection which gave general consumers the chance to buy your work. How was that experience for you and were there any learnings that you’ll take with you for future releases? So far the feedback has been really good and the experience has been great. I set things up for the e-comm site so that the orders go out to a factory that makes and ships the items so luckily I don’t have to deal with that. I am still getting familiar with how to handle the customer support side of things the best way possible but so far so good. I think one of the biggest learnings was really around, once everything launched, seeing how much work it can all be for one person and understanding the importance of having a good setup throughout. If I was packing and shipping everything myself it wouldn’t be scalable and would slow down the creative side. I’d say to anyone, make sure you think about the process all the way through before going live. Otherwise, it can be easy to get overwhelmed. Luckily now that I’ve done this though and things are running smoothly, I can start thinking about launching new lines! Oh! What other lines are we talking about?
I have a ton of ideas. I’m going to be collaborating with my husband who’s a painter on something and some other projects as well. I’m not a big planner though [laughs]. I kind of just follow what feels good. Living with your husband who is a painter must be super cool on the collaboration side!
Ya, it’s super fun. I don’t think I could be with anyone who’s not an artist. We both live and breathe art and we learn a lot from each other too. Any tips for young artists trying different mediums to express themselves? I’d definitely go back to the idea that you have to try to get away from comparing yourself to others and caring what they think. It’s hard with social media but it’s very important. I always say that social media should be for connecting, not comparing. Everyone has their own voice. Follow your gut and what makes you happy and explore that. Find a creative community that you can be a part of. Try to work with other artists. Observe others. Get out there. Be patient and keep putting in the work. Eventually, you’ll get to a point where you can really dictate what you want to do. Lastly, take risks and don’t be afraid of making bad work. It’s required in the art world but that’s also what makes it fun. That’s great advice! Lastly, for those looking to start tufting, where should they look? Honestly, the first thing to do is just Google tufting and watch a ton of videos. I’m actually going to film a workshop next month with Domestika which will be super fun, so watch that too [laughs]. Another great site to check out is Tim’s site that I mentioned earlier, tuftinggun.com. There’s an awesome forum for people posting about their experiences, where they get materials, etc. Everyone is super supportive and willing to share information. It’s a great community! Also, if you are looking to buy gear you can use my code "Trishtufts" for 15% off :) Make sure to check out Trish's Instagram for more news on upcoming projects and releases and keep it locked to Pier Five for more interviews and stories with the coolest entrepreneurs, designers, artists, activists and more.
From The Streets To The Big Stage With Kizmet
Change is inevitable but you can’t always wait around for it if you want to find success. For Toronto based graffiti and lighting artist Kizmet, taking matters into his own hands was key. While the general population was taking its time to decide whether or not graffiti art was for them, Kizmet was carving his path through the underground arts and music scene and making a name for himself. From the streets to the big stage, Kismet is a prime example of taking initiative and not being afraid to put in the hours and it shows, big time. Read through the interview with Kizmet below where we dive into his early beginning, what gave him the courage to pursue his passions, what he’s excited for in this ever changing world of art and much more. Hey Kizmet! For those not familiar, can you tell us a little about yourself? Hey I’m Kizmet, and who am I? That’s something I like to let people figure out themselves. Maybe this conversation will help [laughs]. And figure out we shall! What’d you get up to today? I was in my studio most of the day. There are a bunch of pieces I’m working on so that’s keeping me busy. You’ve talked a lot in the past about how your studio space in Toronto is really your comfort zone. What are the keys to a great studio/work space? When I used to do a lot of music, I always wanted a space where I could have all of my stuff and get everything done there. Now, with art, it’s the same way. Kind of like in the Shedders Lair in the first Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie where all the kids are just chilling spray painting, blasting music being creative doing karate and there’s like some dude just offering kids cigarettes. Everyone is just doing their thing. That’s what I want minus the encouraging kids to smoke[laughs]. The key for me is that I could be there at any point, day or night, doing whatever I want and nobody gets mad. Like if I play a drum set at 4am in the morning nobody is going to call the cops. It’s like having a clubhouse. I can get work done or if I wanted I could watch a film on a projector screen or I could play drums or me and my studio mate can Jam or play video games on the big screen. Who inspired the faces that we see prominently across your artwork? I haven’t really shared this formally on many platforms so this will be a first actually. I often don’t talk about the context of my paintings personally. With street or graffiti art, the artist is often anonymous and so the viewer needs to create their own interpretations of the works. That’s what I want for my work. That being said I have always had meaning behind the works so here it is. I’m huge into Sci-Fi. So with the faces, I wanted to create a new reality that would change over time. First they wore glasses, then those came off and you saw there weren’t any eyes, and then the faces multiplied and the narrative kept on changing. And in the end it turns out these faces are a robot tricking you into falling in love with it. It’s all about coercion and one the original presented concept turning out to be one big lie and everything is a connected story. Damn! That’s wild. Did you know when you started the faces that it would turn into that huge story over multiple years? At the time I started doing these I was in this transitional phase with my art and so I started creating these faces and actually built this entire story and knew where I wanted to take it from the beginning. I knew I’d be able to get better over time as an artist which would allow me to develop the characters further and keep making them better so that when it came time to talk about it, it would all be ready. Did you also plan on using them for live events or was that part decided afterwards? Ya so the idea was to be able to bring them to shows/events and tour them around. I’ve always been really big into music and events so I wanted to be able to bring my work there. Also the impact of bringing work to music festivals and seeing people interact with it in person there is amazing. Its something you don't really get in a gallery or just with a mural on a wall. There’s also a ton of elements that you can play with too like with smoke and lights which is epic. How big is that for you? I’ve been doing light murals for a little while. It’s really crazy about how light interacts with colours. It’s not like normal colour mixing. You get these wild combinations of mixing light with paint and what colours will turn into what when certain light hits it and you can play with different elements and make these pieces really come to life. You can make it so stuff is hidden or morphing and people trip out watching it. Sometimes I make the transitions slow so you don’t even realize what’s happening in the moment until the image has completely changed colours. Going back to your roots now. What was the evolution of going from graffiti to this experiential art like? I kinda always knew that this was going to be what I make my living on. The whole tags and street bombing thing is really just advertizing to get your name out there, but I knew to make a living I would need to put more thought into conceptualizing. For me it wasn’t so much of changing the art style but it was me being more serious and that led to the transition which has been a good one. Was there a moment or turning point where you knew you’d be able to make this work out as your career? I got kicked out of high school for some graffiti shit and went to a new alternative school where there were tons of artists. The head of my new school, John Morton, told me “this is a democratic school. If you want to paint the school, cool. Make a proposal and maybe you'll even get paid for it. Just let us know how and when you want to do it and if everyone is ok with it, you can do it.” I was so shocked. I presented it to the school and everyone was hyped about it. Now I don’t even think there’s space left because the entire place is painted up. The school got covered. Once people found out it was cool to do, everyone went nuts. It started in the hallways, the stairwell, the lunchroom and then it just got everything. They even painted the outside of the school. It looked sweet. That introduction of a safe space where I could have an idea and it would be approached with an open mind was what showed me there might be a long term opportunity with this. That’s an insane story. Maybe hard to top but do you have a “greatest story of all time” from your tagging days? Honestly all the days of tagging were just insanity. If you were somewhat tapped into that culture back then you’ve probably had some crazy f**** up experiences. Like everyone is nuts. The lifestyle of being out super late, running from cops, tons of partying, is kinda crazy in itself. I would tell these stories to people that were not part of that culture and they’d all just think I was lying. The stuff is truly unbelievable. Are there any stark differences or changes that you’ve observed with graffiti art and culture over the years? The biggest thing now is street art is very accepted and also highly funded. Back in the day it was so criticized like once I was painting a garage for someone and the neighbour came out with a baseball bat and was threatening to beat me up because he thought I was tagging. Recently though I was doing a garage for someone else and the neighbour there came out and was like “what about my fence? I want a mural too.” I was shocked. I thought he was going to be pissed off but he was jealous. He literally said “I’m a taxpayer and I should have my fence painted too”. [laughs]. Why do you think things have changed so much like that? I think it was that the city really got behind it. They finally accepted that you can’t fight graffiti because you don’t know who it is and it will NEVER go away. It used to be that if someone tagged on your business, you had twenty four hours to get rid of it or you’d get fined, so as a result business owners just started commissioning murals to get around the rule. Then programs funding murals came around to deter people from just aimlessly tagging. It’s been a slow transition but a good one. I also just think some people need some sort of authority or what they consider a validated entity to say it’s ok and then they’re quick to accept things. Any tips/tricks that you’d give to young artists of stuff of the trade you wished you knew when you started out in graffiti? There’s this whole starving artist mentality that leads to artists getting taken advantage of by these big companies and corporations who don’t pay well and treat the artists poorly. I think it’s important for artists to know that it’s completely ok to walk away in the middle of the job if you’re not getting the respect or being treated properly. Protect yourself and your representation. Don’t let money control everything you do. I know some artists take jobs and feel like shit after because it was a terrible experience but they wanted to be able to say they worked for that company to feel validated. That’s just so not how art should be. No matter who you are - and I know it’s easier said than done - but stand up to these big corporations or anyone not treating you fairly. Until people do this, nothing will ever change. Once you do this and you start prioritizing yourself, you’ll actually open so many new doors. These great clients and jobs do exist. Be patient and protect your values and you’ll find them. Lastly, what keeps you inspired to continue creating and what are you looking forward to next? The DOCD (Department of Civilian Dance) parties we’ve been throwing, like the raves, have been challenging me to keep being creative and force me to always one up myself and that’s awesome. It’s a pressure that I put on myself but I know if I do so, I’ll keep creating and getting better to the point where I’m surprising myself. That’s the best feeling like “holy s**t, I made this?” [laughs]. I’m also really inspired by all these new faces that are doing great work and that I know are going to be huge. We’re close to a point where everyone can really thrive together as things change. It’s a really exciting time in Toronto right now. It feels like the renaissance of DIY culture and I’m super stoked for it. Check out Kizmet's Instagram to find out about upcoming events and see more amazing work coming from Kizmet and keep it locked to Pier Five for more interviews and stories with the coolest entrepreneurs, designers, artists, activists and more.
Behind The Curtain With Nicko Bruno
Everyone’s got something to say but far fewer can actually back it up. This feeling is one that Nicko Bruno, founder of Adidem Asterisks, a Toronto based upscale brand that aims to connect music and fashion through elevated products and events, thinks about constantly. As someone who grew up addicted to fashion and its surrounding cultures, Nicko was quick to develop tastes and opinions but understood the importance of educating himself of what goes on behind the scenes to ensure that he could both develop a stronger appreciation for the works of others and also be able to speak his mind without being hypocritical. We got the chance to catch up with Nicko after the first of AA’s many pop-ups lined up for the season and talk about how he developed his always-curious mentality, how that helps him foster a strong team, what goes on behind the scenes at Adidem Asterisks and what they have in the works for 2022. Hey Nicko! Things are booming for you right now with all of the events and upcoming drops. How are you feeling? Oh man [laughs]. I’m not chilling as much as I thought I’d be able to. Things are really busy right now but it’s great. With each event, there’s always prep and post work we need to do and then it’s on to the next thing. I was doing a ton of follow ups and thanking sponsors and everything this morning and then I’m heading to a design meeting afterwards. Love to hear that there’s so much happening. What are the design meetings looking like right now? So before each meeting we decide what type of item we want to make and we all pull references so that we can go into the meeting ready to brainstorm. Miguel who runs our design team then helps coordinate the conversations and design planning. We’ll get into technical drawing and thinking about patterns, cuts, etc. What’s dope is that everyone is on Adobe illustrator sharing designs and stuff right there and we’re all going back and forth with ideas. The goal is for everyone to make five unique designs and then we all bring them together and vote. Adidem Asterisks F/W '22 Preview How do you choose which products to work on? We have a set of questions that we always ask ourselves before diving into any product like what purpose does the product serve and is it consumer facing or a brand building product? For example, a basic vest might be consumer facing and a more wild experimental piece is meant to build the brand up since it might be more memorable. We’ll also go deeper into things like “what song does the product sound like?” and thinking about the kind of vibe that the product evokes. Speaking of vibes, this is one thing that AA is not short on within its products. In addition to music which we know is a big inspiration, where do the design inspirations and ethos for the brand come from? I came into all of this as a consumer first. I’ve spent my whole life really putting a lot of thought into my outfits and understanding what looks nice. Hip-hop, basketball and street and pop culture all obviously play a big part in my inspirations but it’s really always evolving as I grow. The designs will change over time based on what we’re feeling and learning about but no matter what, the main focus is always to create great products that add value to our customers and the brand. Blog: Adidem Asterisks We heard that you have a pretty wild story about starting the brand. Can you share how that all started with your partner, X? Before I got started with X I was always super into this stuff. I remember doing an exchange program outside of Paris for school and that’s what really showed me how many opportunities and possibilities there were in this industry if you go and find them. I ended up failing out of my program because I skipped so much class to go into Paris to go to events. I remember when my mom called me and said I was going to get kicked out if I skipped more class and I literally booked a ticket right in front of her. It was my birthday and Paris fashion week. I didn’t care about school then at all I had to go [laughs] to the shows. I was doing anything I could to be a part of things, learn and build relationships. I was super driven and still am. After that, X, who I’ve been friends with forever, designed some tees for a project of his. I was going to China and he asked me to take the shirts out there and shoot them. I didn’t know anyone out there but was on a mission to get it done. I found two people at a nightclub, got them to shoot with me and it turned out pretty well. The experience was dope and I told X like “yo, let’s do this for real.” After these experiences, I knew this is what I needed to be doing and that drive hasn’t stopped. And besides shooting, you’ve learned how to do everything now like pattern making and tech packs for the brand, right? One hundred percent. I’m a firm believer that you can’t have strong opinions on stuff if you don’t know how to do it yourself. Sure, I can think things are nice or not but I can’t talk s**t or criticize if I don’t know what goes into it and haven’t done it myself. If I want to make a brand that is better than all of the others, I can’t just have ideas. I need to know how to execute. Even if I’m not making the tech packs all the time or if I’m bringing in a team to help, knowing how to do it, pump out designs and speak that language goes a long way with everyone. It allows us to do so much better work. So true! How big is the team now? It’s pretty big now which is crazy. A lot of these people were some of my oldest friends and they are all so hopeful. Without them, I wouldn’t be able to do any of this. These people keep me motivated and help me get stuff done. When there are times I’m not feeling into things, these guys bring me back up. We have also recently brought on some interns too which is a dope opportunity because it allows us to create opportunities for these super creative young people. It also helps me learn a ton about running a team which I am really appreciative of. That’s awesome. Not a lot of brands at your level are bringing in interns or opening that door for young creatives. What do you look for when hiring an intern? The biggest thing is I want them to show interest in us and take initiative. If they work hard and show that they want it, we’re going to give them every opportunity that we can. I also want to find people who know things that I don’t. Overtime, I’ll hopefully learn it because I want to know everything if I’m leading the team but that doesn’t mean I can do this alone. I heard a quote once that was “A CEO should know how to do everyone’s job, even the janitor” and I think that really resonated with me. That’s a great line. Before we let you go, what is on the roadmap for the brand and at the top of the list for things you want to accomplish? Right now nobody is getting paid and all of the money is going back into the brand so my number one goal is to pay everyone soon. Even if it’s just a little, everyone deserves it and I want to make that happen soon. I also want to hit one million in sales in 2022. I think we can do it. From a creative standpoint, I want to give the whole brand a facelift. Summer ‘22 is going to be nuts. It’s the first time we have the full team designing the collection and the storytelling is really strong so I’m pumped for that. Our brand next year is going to be insane and we’re going to keep pushing it because we’re all obsessed with new stuff. I almost get tired of things by the time they’re out but I know this new season coming up is going to be wild and will be the setting off point for the brand. Stay tuned for that! If you’re in Toronto, make sure to check out the Adidem Asterisks pop-up at Nomad until December 16th and follow the AA Instagram for more news on upcoming releases. Keep it locked to Pier Five for more interviews and stories with the coolest entrepreneurs, designers, artists, activists and more.