FREE US SHIPPING ON ORDERS OVER $100. FREE DOMESTIC RETURNS.
Releases
  • Walker Zimmerman
  • Tramaine Townsend
  • Nick Clark
  • Spring 1
  • Indigo
  • Darren Woodson
  • Stories
  • Spring Sale
  • Rocky Garza
  • Eddie & Angelee
  • Chris Martin
  • New Mexico
  • Mitchell Brown
  • Nick Kennedy
  • JerSean Golatt
  • On The Road
  • Cameron Gawley
  • Jonathan Rosenberg
  • Nick Badovinus

----------------------------------------------------------------------

Matt Alexander: First, tell us a little bit about yourself.

Walker Zimmerman: I'm twenty three years old. And I'm the youngest of three brothers.

This is my fifth year in MLS (Major League Soccer), after attending Furman University for two years before being drafted by FC Dallas.

I'm thoroughly enjoying my life as a professional soccer player.

Outside of soccer, I married my fiancé, Sally, in December. It came on the coattails of a historic year with FC Dallas, where we won two of three possible trophies.

Everyone in the league seems to get married in December due to our schedule (March 4 to December 9 this year), so I did the same.

Matt Alexander: Have you always been a soccer player?

Walker Zimmerman: I have always been a soccer player, but I also played basketball and baseball until eighth grade, when I switched playing soccer exclusively.

Last summer, I had the opportunity to play baseball again with Dirk Nowitzki in his celebrity game at the Frisco Rough Riders Stadium. I may have taken it a bit too seriously. I made our PR folks a little nervous by stealing a few bases and diving around.

I think we had a game a day or two after that and I had some unexplained brush burns.

Matt Alexander: FC Dallas is (currently) the only undefeated team in the MLS. How has it been to play with that team as it has grown and improved?

Walker Zimmerman:It makes it a lot more fun when your team is successful, winning games, and competing for trophies.

It has been a lot of fun playing for this team the past few years and competing for trophies each season. We’re still the youngest team in the league by a few years.

I'm twenty three, which is the average, but I’ve been here for a few years.

Honestly, Dallas is producing some of the most talented young players in the league through their academy system. So, I'm quickly transitioning into more of a leadership role with the team.

In terms of the immediate future, we’ve grown a lot as a group in recently years, but the MLS Cup is the goal. And we’re close.

Matt Alexander: You recently joined the senior US national team. How did it feel to take that step as a professional?

Walker Zimmerman:It's an important step for me.

It's something I'd always dreamed of achieving. Now, I’m looking forward to more opportunities with the National Team. At the same time, I know it'll take a lot of hard work to continue making that roster.

2018 is a World Cup year and, after being called up in January of 2017, I will hopefully have an opportunity to go to Russia with that team and compete with the best in the world.

Matt Alexander: What’s next for you in your career?

Walker Zimmerman: Continuing to grow on the international stage. Becoming a regular with the U.S. National Team is a goal of mine.

As I mentioned, my goal is to play in a World Cup. Well, hopefully, a few World Cups.

But that's after we hoist MLS Cup in December, of course.

As I mentioned, my goal is to play in a World Cup. Well, hopefully, a few World Cups. But that's after we hoist the MLS Cup in December, of course.

It's been a pleasure to witness Tramaine's rise to prominence over the past few years.

With a unique eye, diverse portfolio, and an unbounded artistic sensibility spanning many mediums, he's one of Dallas' most talented and compelling assets.

We sat down with him to discuss his work, what's coming next, and more.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Matt Alexander: First, tell us a little bit about yourself.

Tramaine Townsend: Originally from Houston.

I've been an artist for as long as I can remember.

Moving to Dallas was a happy accident. I came here thinking I was going to make cartoons and ended up not doing that at all, at least not directly.

Matt Alexander: As an artist, you work spans a lot of different mediums. Do you identify by anyone in particular? Or do you consider yourself something broader than that?

Tramaine Townsend: I'd consider myself broader than that.

Overall, I'm a visual artist. I can identify with any medium I'm using at the time. It's harder just to say I'm just one of those things or list out all the things I can do.

It can come off too bragg-ish in my opinion.

Matt Alexander: From where do you derive inspiration for your work?

Tramaine Townsend: It comes from all over.

From films to music. Architecture to design. The overly obscure to blatant in your face.

I'm constantly receiving visual inspiration from sources like Donald Glover, Hiro Murai, Flying Lotus, Leif Podhajsky, Samuel Burgess, Haw-lin Services, Hugo & Marie.

And that's just to name a few.

Tramaine wears our kickass shirt

Matt Alexander: What is the local artistic community like? Has it been supportive of your efforts?

Tramaine Townsend: The community has been getting a lot stronger in recent years.

From being a part of it so long, I dig seeing how it has shaped Dallas into a new breed of artists and individuals who can collaborate and support each other.

Most of us who have been in it for awhile have found our own lane and show support in every way possible.

Tramaine wears our equally kickass chinos.

Matt Alexander: What’s next for you? Are there any particular areas you intend to focus upon over the coming months?

Tramaine Townsend: I have a few things cooking that I can speak about and a lot I can't. Particularly with getting more into films.

Screenwriting and directing are two, in particular, that I've been working on for a while.

Still being a visual artist overall, it spans to a few different areas including photography, design, and even dabbling in sculptures.

Matt Alexander: Where can people find (and purchase?) your work?

Tramaine Townsend:People can contact me directly. Instagram has been a strong outlet as well.

 

------------------------------------------------------------------

Nick Clark owns Common Desk, the most excellent company offering coworking spaces to startups, small businesses and freelancers in Deep Ellum, Oak Cliff, Plano, and Fort Worth. He has a penchant for good design, be it interior or graphic, so schedule your tour today because you know you'll wanna check this place out.

Matt Alexander: First, tell us a little bit about yourself

Nick Clark:I'm originally from Arkansas, but I've been in Dallas for the last 25 years. I'm the oldest of three siblings. Growing up, I loved fishing with my grandfather, getting baseball lessons from dad, and developing small business ideas with my mom and younger sister. She and I would sell everything from bubble gum to bracelets to the other kids at elementary school. Anything to make a buck.

I went on to play a few years of college baseball at a tiny junior college in East Texas. I transferred from there to SMU to get a degree in Real Estate Finance. I bought my first house to flip when I was 19. That project lead to a few other flips in my twenties and an overall passion for real estate and design. I graduated college and began a career as a office space leasing agent.

During my 7 years in office leasing and management, I learned how to operate, market, and manage space. During those years, I'd consistently leave the office after 5 p.m. to work on an entrepreneurial dream/business plan.

At the same time, I spent a few years training for long distance triathlons. In 2011, I completed my first Ironman. My brother-in-law and I ran 71 miles just to see how far we could go. We were picked up right outside of Canton and couldn't walk the next day.

Commercial real estate and long distance racing gave me the knowledge, confidence, and discipline needed to get a business off the ground. The week after completing Ironman, I came home and quit my day job. I didn't have my next gig lined up yet, but I knew I needed to get rid of my safety net.

Matt Alexander: What catalyzed the idea for Common Desk?

Nick Clark:After quitting my job, I unsuccessfully tried to start my own leasing and management company. In the midst of that failure, I discovered co-working. And I instantly fell in love. It was the perfect blend of my passions for design, community, and working environments.

Around the same time, I also started dating a pretty girl named Katie Jo. She convinced me that, if I were to open a space, I ought to do so in Deep Ellum. In early 2012, I slowly started putting together the foundation for the idea that'd become Common Desk. We started hosting coffee shop meet-ups at Pearl Cup Coffee every Wednesday afternoon. After working together for a few hours, we'd head to a bar across the street. It was the beginning of community. Later that year, we opened our doors in Deep Ellum with 25 initial members. It's still one of my most proud moments.

Matt Alexander: You've got quite a few locations now. What's next for the company? Do you see Common Desk expanding beyond Texas?

Nick Clark:It's definitely been a big year for us.

We are currently building out a 27,000 square foot location in Plano and a 13,000 square foot location in Fort Worth.

As a company, we are currently working on a major push towards additional hospitality concepts. With more and more competitors entering the co-working marketplace, we want to differentiate ourselves. And we believe our experience is a core component of that project.

To that end, upon entering our newest locations, you'll now be greeted by a barista/bartender at our new hospitality bar. From there, we're offering craft beer and cold brew on tap, in addition to a wide range of other snack choices.

In terms of expansion, we are always exploring new locations. In terms of expansion beyond Texas, I'll say that Denver is very high on our list.

Matt Alexander: You're a new father. How are you managing the work-life balance between building your company and the responsibilities of being a dad?

Nick Clark:Being a dad is the most magical experience of my life. Opening Common Desk pales in comparison to the joy of watching Lincoln Lee Clark (LLC) enter the world.

Katie Jo and I have definitely had to make adjustments to our lifestyle, but we've sworn to keep being adventurous with life and, particularly, to share those adventures with LLC. He's now 9 months old and has already traveled to 7 states and south through Tijuana and the Baja peninsula.

As for work-life balance, that's always been a struggle for me. I will say that my son has definitely taught me to be more efficient with my time. Based on his sleeping schedule, I'm either at work around 6:30 a.m. or 9 a.m.. There's rarely an in-between.

Matt Alexander: You're obviously an entrepreneurial person. Do you think you'll find yourself involved in anything beyond Common Desk in the near future?

Nick Clark:I've never stopped dreaming and developing new ideas.

My current pet project involves the development of a pocket neighborhood of small homes with the outset goal of helping people with longevity, sustainability, and supportive community. I'm currently looking for 6-8 acres somewhere in South Dallas to kick-off the development.

Matt Alexander: For those working from home, what would be your main pitch to convert them over to Common Desk members?

Nick Clark:Working from home is great 1-2 days a week. I still enjoy doing it, but it's not a full-time solution. People need to interact with other humans and that's the heart behind Common Desk. Without the distractions of your house chores, you'll also see your productivity increase. Other notable mentions are great amenities like inspiring conference rooms and bottomless coffee.

------------------------------

For the past few months, we've been hard-at-work on an all-new slate of products for Spring. From colorful tees to exclusive Italian button-downs, we think you're going to love the first batch.

We have several more releases on the horizon, alongside some exclusive pre-orders for new products.

Enjoy.

-----------

-------------

Italy holds a special place in the hearts and minds of the fashion world.

Known for their penchant for quality and refinement, Italian designers have produced some of the finest products on the market.

Now, for our Spring collection, we couldn't resist the opportunity to put together our first collaborative collection with a family-owned workshop on the Southeastern Coast of Italy.

Created using indigo fabrics from world-renowned factory, Canclini, our collection includes washed chambray, denim, and Oxford shirts. All of which are very limited in supply.

Featuring hand-selected mother of pearl buttons, an athletic (but not excessively slim) fit, and a phenomenal price-point, we're incredibly proud of this collection.

Get yours before they're gone.

-------------

Sorry, there are no products in this collection.

-------------------------------------------------------------

Darren Woodson is a football icon.

After winning three Super Bowls and playing with the Dallas Cowboys for thirteen years, he's become a full-time analyst for ESPN. And, notably, he's devoted much of his time and efforts to charity, as well.

Put succinctly, he's a great, inspiring, and successful person.

And throughout his career, he's been a loyal customer of Q Clothier and Rye 51. So, naturally, we've been angling to get him on the site for months. And, now, we've been fortunate enough to do just that.

We hope you enjoy.

Matt Alexander: So, where are you from originally?

Darren Woodson:I was born and raised in Phoenix, Arizona. I went to Arizona State and graduated in 1991.

Soon after, I was drafted by the Dallas Cowboys in 1992 and have been here since.

Matt Alexander: You played with the Cowboys all the way through?

Darren Woodson:I did. I was with the Cowboys for thirteen years.

In fact, in my rookie year, we won the Super Bowl. It was the first time the Cowboys had been to the Super Bowl since the 1970s.

Matt Alexander: Have you always been a football player?

Darren Woodson: I played (and loved) basketball and baseball, but always came back to football. It was simple for me.

In baseball, you’d have to master breaking balls, sliders, and so on. In basketball, you needed height.

Meanwhile, in football, they’d just tell me to tackle someone and I would. It was pretty simple.

Matt Alexander: You retired 10 years ago. Was that difficult?

Darren Woodson:I’d been playing football and sports, generally, since I was 7 years old. So, stepping away was certainly difficult, but I found a way to stay close to the industry.

I’d decided I wanted to stay close to football and was exploring my options.

On the day after I announced my retirement, I got on a plane and sat down with ESPN. That day, I signed an agreement to become an analyst for them.

I’ve now been in that role for ten years.

Matt: But that’s not all you’re up to. You’re involved in some young companies. How’d that come about?

Darren Woodson:I’ve always been passionate about young companies and that sense of entrepreneurial spirit.

So, a few years ago, I decided to go along to Tech Wildcatters’ Pitch Day. And, while there, I got to hear from a gentleman called TK Stohlman.

He was developing a concept called FanTree and was looking for investment. I loved his passion and attitude — it was infectious — and so we ended up partnering together.

Now, years later, FanTree has evolved into FanPrint and become a tremendous business. They’re growing exceptionally quickly and I’m privileged to work with them on that company.

Matt Alexander: And you’re involved in another one outside of FanPrint?

Darren Woodson:Right.

As we began to scale FanPrint, we found there was a /huge/ amount of counterfeit merchandise on the market. We were expanding in-stores and in the e-commerce world and saw the problem rampantly.

Regardless of sport — basketball, baseball, football, or otherwise — we found there wasn’t a great system for tracking those counterfeits and, in turn, mitigating their availability.

So, I began to develop my own company, CounterFind, which could live alongside FanPrint. We saw an opportunity to develop a piece of software that’d help companies like FanPrint to sell legitimate products.

And, truly, we’ve seen a phenomenal impact on FanPrint and its growth as a result.

It’s a true upstart, but we’re having a lot of fun.

Matt Alexander: Where do you work?

Darren Woodson:From home. Or WeWork alongside FanPrint.

Matt Alexander: Do you have it in you to build more companies?

Darren Woodson:Well, for now, all I’m focused on is scale.

I try to focus on what I know — and do — best. And that’s reflected by FanPrint and CounterFind.

We’re straddling the line between sports and technology, which is an ideal place for me.

So, in terms of building anything else, it’s not on my mind right now. I want to stick to growing these two and focusing on things I do well.

Matt Alexander: You live in Dallas. You’ve been here for a long time. Will you stay?

Darren Woodson:This is home.

I’ve been in Dallas since 1992, so we’ve laid down a lot of roots. I have a wife and four kids who call it home, too.

Honestly, I love my family in Phoenix (and hopefully they love me), but this is our space to grow, I think.

And, honestly, it’s that sense of community and purpose that keeps us here. I feel like I’m wrapped up in this community through a lot of different projects, people, and causes. And I expect I will be for years to come.

Matt Alexander: Do you keep yourself occupied outside of all of this work? Do you play any sports?

Darren Woodson:As I mentioned, I’ve played basketball and baseball in the past. And I love them. But my body won’t let me play them too seriously.

Right now, my son is sixteen years old and is part of a Select Baseball team. Going along with him for those games has become one of my favorite hobbies.

Actually, going along with the families related to it has become one of my favorite hobbies. We’ve all been together since the kids were about seven, so it’s been rewarding to see them all grow and to get to know each other so well.

And, outside of that, I enjoy my charitable work.

Matt Alexander: You touched on a bit of charity work. Tell me more.

Darren Woodson:’ve been involved with the Make a Wish Foundation for about twelve years.

Whether fundraising, improving awareness, or just trying to make dreams come true for kids, it’s something I’m very passionate about.

I got involved as a young Cowboys player. I was invited to attend a fashion show for the children in Dallas.

In the audience, you’ll see these kids walk down the catwalk with a series of athletes and celebrities. What you don’t see — and what really struck me — was the two or three hours we spend backstage with the kids.

It’s an amazing thing.

So, on the board or in my day-to-day life, I’m just very invested in trying to help children in any way I possibly can.

Note: this interview was conducted in-person and recorded, so some statements have been paraphrased by the editor.

------------------------

Clint and I tend to catch-up a few times per year. And, each time, I always leave feeling wildly inadequate.

Just a few weeks ago, we caught up for drinks. I shared that I'd been able to find time to start going to the gym again. Clint, meanwhile, shared that he'd been teaching classes in a maximum security prison for the past week or two, whilst developing several new film and television concepts.

Similarly, a year or two ago, I was droning on about raising funding and developing my company. Meanwhile, Clint had just cut the trailer for his first feature-length film and had managed to convince members of 'The National' to record the soundtrack for it.

If it's not already obvious, he's on an amazing journey. It's been a genuine pleasure to see, too, as it couldn't happen to a nicer or more humble person.

So, for those of you just stumbling across Clint, I'd encourage you to check out Transpecos. As he shares below, he's not a marketer, so he probably won't tell you to do so. But I will.

Oh, also, you should know that Clint was kind enough to provide some of his own questions and answers for our interview today. (I'll let you guess which.)

Enjoy.

-------

Matt Alexander: First, tell us a little bit about yourself.

Clint Bentley:I was raised on a cattle ranch in Florida. I’ve lived all over. I’m married to Rachel Bentley and we have a little dog.

Matt Alexander: Do you consider yourself a writer, a filmmaker, or otherwise?

Clint Bentley:I tell stories. I love what fiction can achieve and I love what cinema can do ​for people​. Anytime I start thinking too hard about this question I ​start to get anxiety, so I mostly just avoid the question and focus on the work.

I’m sorry, I’m not very good at marketing.

Matt Alexander: How did you get into the world of film?

Clint Bentley:In fits and starts. I made my first documentary when I was in college. I bought a camcorder and drove the length of the U.S.-Mexico border, interviewing anyone who would talk to me​ — everyone from the Minutemen who are stopping people from crossing the border to the Samaritans in Tucson who are giving water and medical help to people crossing, to State Representatives. ​I was trying to make sense of the whole crazy situation. Of course, that’s impossible — like trying to figure out how your car works by staring at the engine.

I also ha​ve a background writing fiction and so my first paid jobs were writing scripts for actors who wanted to direct themselves in a movie ​and just had an idea​. Then Greg Kwedar (my writing partner and director of Transpecos) asked me to write a border patrol film with him and six years later we made it.

That’s an extreme oversimplification of the story ​(and skips over all the corporate video and TV work)​, but the whole story would take up a few pages and I doubt your readers want to wade through all that while they’re killing time on this website at work.

Of course, I’m still on the very edge of “the film world” — working the docks, watching the big ships go past. Hoping one day I get to take a ​little ​boat out there.

Matt Alexander: Who are some of your greatest influences?

Clint Bentley:They range pretty widely. In no particular order: Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Akira Kurosawa, Bob Dylan, William Faulkner, Paul Thomas Anderson, Toni Morrison, The Beatles ​... If you think about it, you can learn everything you need to know about being an artist from The Beatles​.

Matt Alexander: Do you believe in Ghosts

Clint Bentley:What an odd​ question. I’m certainly not against the idea. You get feelings every once in a while, you know? I saw a UFO once, but that was in Florida and you see a lot of strange things if you spend much time there. I’ve seen the mystery lights in Marfa. ​They say those could be glowing gasses, methane ​and phosphine, or they could be old spirits. Both are probably true.​ I certainly think there’s another reality that lays overtop or around the reality we see around us, kind of like a filter on a camera lens. Maybe there are moments where the line between those realities just get a little blurry.

Matt Alexander: Your film, Transpecos, has 100% on Rotten Tomatoes and has received a tremendous amount of attention over the past year or so. How has that felt for you?

Clint Bentley:It's nice. I'm happy people have responded to it. I think pretty much every artist hopes to move people with their work, so we're lucky this has happened with this movie. Maybe that will happen with the next one, maybe not. Ultimately, Greg and I made the film hoping it would start conversation. We wanted to show that empathy exists in a very contentious environment with the hope that if it can sprout somewhere like the border. We all can make it a reality wherever we are.

Matt Alexander: What's next for you?

Clint Bentley:ame old stuff. I just want to keep making movies and writing stories. I want to ​learn to be more ambitious in my writing. I want to remember to be a better person. ​I want to get better at the piano. And on and on...

 

---------

Spring is coming. So, it's time for us to clear our shelves for our all-new line's arrival.

So, for a limited time, we're offering discounts on a curated selection of our Fall/Winter wares.

From bestsellers like the Wilbur Flight Vest to our new line of absurdly comfortable sweats, there's something for everyone.

Note: discounted products are ineligible for use with discount codes.

-----------

With even the most cursory of glances toward Dallas’ creative community, it’s likely that you’ll catch a glance of Sara and Rocky Garza.

Beyond their prolific and well-respected work, they’ve also become models for the successful construction and maintenance of an independent lifestyle.

Now, Rocky has translated that into a full-time business with Staff Retreat Co., whilst they’ve also opened The Wilde House in Canton, Texas.

We were thrilled to have a chance to chat with Rocky about his career, the House, and his approach to his career.

Matt Alexander: You have a fairly diverse background. Tell us a little about yourself.

Rocky Garza:My name is Gilberto Garza Jr, but I go by Rocky and I have since I was two days old.

So, I guess my name is Rocky.

I grew up all over the state of Texas but mostly in Carrollton/Farmers Branch area just north of Dallas. After I graduated from Texas A&M University, I went and worked full-time at a summer camp in East Texas called Sky Ranch as a director for junior high and senior high-aged kids. I came back to Dallas in 2008 and was a pastor at a church for about four years until my wife and I started our own photography company into 2010.

We both owned and operated Sara and Rocky photography full-time from 2010 through the end of 2016. It was a pretty wild ride, over the course of that seven years we photographed over 250 weddings and hundreds and hundreds of portrait sessions. Somewhere in early 2015 I had the idea to start this current company called Staff Retreat Co.

I've always had a desire to help others, and more importantly help them discover who they were and live fully into that. So for me this company is just a marriage of my own life experience, eight years in ministry and seven years of entrepreneurship.

When you put all those things together that's a pretty good picture of who I am.

Matt Alexander: How do you self-identify? As a photographer, a speaker, or otherwise?

Rocky Garza:I would say that I self-identify as a challenger, influencer, and leader.

I know some people can read that and make the assumption that I must be really full of myself, but I prefer to think of it as just really understanding what my purpose is. I think, if I look back in my life — regardless if it was in college, in ministry, in photography or as a husband or a father — I do my best not to identify with any of the roles that I play.

I don't believe it it's our roles that actually make up our identity, but rather we should have a clear understanding of our identity that way we understand how to best serve others in our roles.

Matt Alexander: How did Staff Retreat Co. come about?

Rocky Garza:Honestly, that's a really good question.

I think I've come to a place where I felt like just because I had the ability to do something doesn't mean that's what I should spend my time doing. And I know that might sound a little odd but the reality is all of us have multiple skills, gifts and talents. But I think were the real opportunity exist for greatness is being able to look past the things that we have the capability to do and really dig into the things we were designed to do.

So for me staff retreat came about because we made a decision that I wasn't willing to jeopardize who I was, what I really believed and how I felt like I could serve others best just because something else made more financial sense. I'm interested in creating a business that is sustainable for my family, not doing a thing that is the most comfortable.

Sometimes in life you are presented with opportunities that make no sense on paper, but make all the sense in the world in your heart.

Matt Alexander: Are you still active as a professional photographer? Or is it something you just use on a more personal basis now?

Rocky Garza:No, I would not say that I'm still active as a professional photographer. Do I enjoy it? Yes. Do I love taking photos of my family? Yes.

But, I don't believe it's the best use of my time as I attempt to make a continued career out of myself and my work.

Matt Alexander: The Wilde House. Tell us about it. What was the genesis of it?

Rocky Garza:Oh, The Wilde House.

Sometimes in life you are presented with opportunities that make no sense on paper, but make all the sense in the world in your heart. This is one of those decisions for Sara and I.

This opportunity arose at possibly the most in opportune time. We just had our first child, we had just decided to shut down Sara and Rocky photography, and we decided to put all of our eggs in the Staff Retreat Co. basket.

Now, don't get me wrong, we definitely wanted the house. But the reality was that we either had to make a decision to put all of our financial security into the house or say “no” and be comfortable.

As you can see, we opted to say “yes” and decided to take the risk. Everything about the house’s design, interior, and layout is 100% my wife. She is an interior genius and absolutely made the house look incredible.

Our hope is that not only would I be able to use it to take individuals and businesses a way to really dig into why they do what they do but more importantly we deeply desired to create a space that anyone could get away to and unplugged, relax and slow down on life just a little.

Matt Alexander: Returning to my second question, you’re a man of many talents and roles. (And a father!) What’s next for you?

Rocky Garza:Honestly, I hope I get to do what I'm doing right now for the rest of my life.

I don't feel like I was made to be the person with 1 million followers or to have a massive social influence stage. But I do believe I was designed to be in that person's back pocket.

I want to help the top influencers in our culture really dig into who they are, why they're making the decisions that they make, and ultimately keep them accountable to pursuing what they were designed to do for the greatest impact.

I think that looks like speaking, walking with organizational teams and individuals. And ultimately, at the root of it all, I want to help shape the way men see themselves, the way they see the world and to feel the weight of the social responsibility we have as a me

--------

For our inaugural Valentine's collection, we're thrilled to feature Eddie and Angelee Fortuna.

From their wildly popular style blog to their pioneering attitude towards Dallas' thriving Downtown environment, we couldn't think of a more fitting couple to feature for our first Valentine's release.

Read on to hear their thoughts on style, developing your own publication, Downtown Dallas' cultural resurgence, and more.

Matt Alexander: Before we dive in, tell us a little bit about yourselves.

Eddie & Angelee Fortuna:We’re just an old married couple living in the heart of Downtown Dallas. We’ve been married for four years, but we’ve been together since our college days at Texas Tech University.

Together, we run a fashion blog, HIS+HER which we first coined during our wedding planning process to graphically represent our union.

For the last three and a half years, we’ve enjoyed working with each other and other brands/individuals to develop and represent our personal styles.

Matt Alexander: How did you both stumble across the prospect of running a style-centric blog together? How has that impacted your relationship?

Angelee Fortuna:It actually began as an effort to develop my portfolio as a stylist.

I had previously worked on the Visual teams for two major retailers and wanted to continue down that path. When we started the blog, we actually focused on styling and photographing our friends. Coordinating schedules became difficult, however, so we figured: “why not style ourselves, and post that?”

Eddie Fortuna:Working together on the blog has somehow made us even closer as a couple than we already were.

We’ve been together for a long time — and have always had a lot of common interests — but to have something we both started and continue to build together has been really special.

Matt Alexander: You both have careers beyond your independent efforts. Do you see that changing in future? Or do you enjoy the blog (and the like) more as a side-project?

Eddie & Angelee Fortuna:Working on HIS+HER as a side/passion project has allowed the blog to be virtually all fun. Of course, running and maintaining the blog takes a lot of time and effort, but we really do (still) enjoy the excitement of the styling, photographing, and editing processes.

We’ve always been open to the idea of taking on the blog full-time, but thankfully, we are both really happy in our careers right now and are focused on growing in those realms too.

Matt Alexander: You’ve both worked with a lot of brands in the US and abroad. At the same time, you both seem to have cultivated a very fixed sense of style. Has that been a difficult tension between your personal style and those that you want to work with?

Eddie & Angelee Fortuna:Thankfully, because the blog is still just a side project, we have the ability to be selective with whom we collaborate.

We’re obviously grateful for anyone willing to expend their time and/or resources on us, but we try our best to remain true to our individual and collective style.

Not having to pay the bills with the blog definitely eliminates the pressure of compromising that.

Matt Alexander: You’ve chosen to live Downtown Dallas for the past few years. How has it changed in the time you’ve been there? And, as an extension of that, how do you expect it to continue to change over the coming years?

Eddie & Angelee Fortuna:When we first moved downtown, there was already a good foundation of residents, but the neighborhood has definitely grown (and continues to grow) during our time here.

We’ve seen the emergence of The Joule Hotel and all that has come with it (e.g., CBD Provisions, Midnight Rambler, Weekend Coffee, etc.) and the arrival of some exciting new neighbors (e.g., Forty Five Ten, Le Labo, etc.).

In the coming years, we hope to experience a continued growth of resident population and look forward to witnessing the redevelopment of some of the major downtown properties like The Statler and 1401 Elm.

We love living downtown and don’t plan on leaving anytime soon, but would love to see some of these major renovation projects come to fruition sooner than later.

Matt Alexander: As this is our Valentine’s special, what advice, as a happily married couple, would you provide to our audience ahead of the romantic day?

Angelee Fortuna:Make Valentine’s Day special in your own unique way. With so many other people celebrating the holiday on February 14 too, it can feel overwhelming or even forced.

For instance, Eddie and I celebrate our Valentine’s Day on January 4, because that was the date we first said “I love you” to each other. We both end up enjoying the holiday much more (it’s a lot easier to find a table at our favorite restaurants) and it feels more special with our own spin on it.

Eddie Fortuna:Valentine’s Day is all about love, and that’s great, but something that often goes unsaid and unacknowledged in relationships is how important it is to LIKE each other.

The majority of your time as a couple is spent during ordinary moments, so on top of the underlying love, it helps tremendously to actually get along with your significant other. I can’t tell you how many Friday nights out we’ve skipped and instead lied on the couch reminiscing to 90’s R&B songs!

--------

You can follow Eddie and Angelee individually or together on Instagram. And don't forget to bookmark their blog.

 

---------------

For this week's release, we had the pleasure of chatting with Christopher Martin, a prominent American artist, about his craft, approach, and background.

With galleries in Dallas, Aspen, and Santa Fe, Christopher has taken his talents from a passion project to a full-scale career. And, in doing so, he's developed quite a following and series of accolades for his efforts.

As a long-time Rye customer, we were thrilled to catch him during a recent visit to Dallas and to shoot at his beautiful gallery in Dallas' Design District.

And, given Chris' history with our brand, we took the opportunity to do something new. For this collection, we're introducing a striking new product, The Dillon Chore Coat, as a pre-order ahead of our Spring/Summer 17 line's unveiling and launch. (And it's $50 off for pre-orderers, too.)

Enjoy.

-----------

Matt Alexander: How would you describe yourself as an artist?

Christopher Martin:I guess that would depend on when you ask me.

At times I am confident, relentless, and extremely prolific. Other times, I can feel like a rudderless boat searching for the next wind or current. Whipped and exhausted.

It's difficult to describe the multitude — and range — of feelings an artist might have about him or her self, without associating it with a defined moment or time period. You either feel as though you suck or you don't.

Neither feeling lasts, fortunately.

As a more descriptive and succinct summary of what I produce, I like to refer to it as Organic Expressionism, wherein a successful painting will have a balance of painterly expressionism and strong, organically-formed foundations.

Matt Alexander: At what point did you decide to pursue art as your livelihood?

Christopher Martin:1993.

 

I painted to satisfy my own interest and curiosity. But, when people started to pay me to purchase and own my paintings outright, a new light was cast on this little thing I'd done for myself for years.

It felt good and I wanted to share that experience again and again.

And, really, that has been my focus ever since.

Matt Alexander: You currently have galleries in Dallas, Aspen, and Santa Fe. How do you go about selecting locations? Do you have any others in the pipeline?

Christopher Martin:I think it is more about a feeling and a desire to make your art part of a community that will appreciate your work.

Once you feel that sense of appreciation, you explore the opportunity to make something happen in that market.

It is also the people that can make it work in a given space. You may have a great location and idea, but, ultimately, it's about the passion of the people working in that location that makes it viable.

I never say never, but I am content with our three locations at this point.

Matt Alexander: Are you involved in anything outside of your art or is that your sole focus?

Christopher Martin:Yes, I'm the co-founder of a Google Ventures-backed startup, Twyla.

It's an art company that produces and sells limited editions from some of the most interesting artists around.

Matt Alexander: You’re involved in a number of art fairs and installations. Where can people find your work this year?

Christopher Martin:Well, we are accessible, of course, at the galleries in Dallas, Santa Fe, and Aspen. In addition to those, we work with Gallerist in The Hamptons, Houston, Chicago, and La Jolla.

We will also be at fairs in Miami, Palm Springs, NY, Brussels, and, possibly, Dubai.

All our information on shows this year is posted on my website.

 

For the beginning of 2017, we're continuing our popular travel series, On The Road, with a visit to New Mexico.

Seeking restorative time with her father and dog, our photographer, Julia Cooper, ventured across New Mexico — with new Rye 51 products in tow — to give herself a renewed sense of gratitude and perspective for the year.

And the results, as ever, are striking.

"The overarching theme of this trip was change, I suppose.

Most people are focusing on starting afresh for the new year. And, in a roundabout way, I guess this does mark a new beginning in some respects.

But, more importantly, I simply cannot deny quite how much my life has changed in the past three months. And this trip, in many respects, is a testament to that change.

It all began about four or five months ago. I’d planned a trip to Aspen with someone who was once very dear to — and cherished by — me. As tends to happen, though, relationships changed and evolved.

Still, I was firm in my decision to make the trip. So, I decided to go with my dad. We chose to go to Ruidoso, New Mexico, as it’d only mean a day’s drive to reach snow.

And, with a dog like Toki — as some may recall — snow is a requirement.

The drive took us from cityscape to desert to snow. And, within eight hours or so, we’d arrived.

On our first full day, we drove to Roswell. I was last there when I was 12 years old and, frankly, the town is not as I’d remembered it at all. In my memory, it was a colorful, unique place. Today, however, it’s riddled with abandoned buildings, emblazoned with worn out signage.

Type was dated. Posters were peeling. And the lingering remnants of the early 2000s were on worn-out display for all to see.

I guess no one loves aliens any more.

The following day, we drove to the Lincoln National Forest in Ruidoso and White Sands in Alamagordo. The forest trail was a new experience for all three of us, and it was a good one at that. The trees were tall and silent; I could easily hear the crunch of the powdery snow beneath my feet. Toki ate so much snow, and had his puppy “zoomies.”

White Sands, later, was just a beautiful and pristine as I remembered. (I’ve been three or four times before.) Even with many people roaming around, there were enough dunes that you could claim your own and be alone.

Toki continued his diet and ate so much sand, interspersed with fits of happiness while digging holes.

The trip was brief, but it was emblematic of my place in life. Like Roswell, things have changed in my life. Things that were once wonderful were no longer the same.

I still struggle with that change. I’d claim to have completely surpassed that struggle, but the reality is much more heartbroken and disappointed than I’d prefer to admit.

But, like Ruidoso and White Sands, there has been plenty of positive change to balance things out. Ruidoso, in this case, reminded me that new experiences — even in familiar locales — can be exceptionally rewarding. When things don’t necessarily go your way, you can find solace and positivity in moments like that.

I realize that’s cheesy and trite, but I suppose there’s a reason for it being such a common cliché.

White Sands is, in many respects, a constant for me. Wandering alongside my dad, I was reminded to appreciate those constant — and sometimes easily forgotten — positives.

We ate. We laughed. He helped me shoot. Toki ate everything in sight.

It was the ideal way to refresh and take stock for 2017 — a brief, but restorative trip to be remembered."

Several years ago, I remember meeting with Mitchell Brown — a fellow SMU alumnus — to hear about his new business concept.

He was planning to open a gym with a unique twist: people would exercise on top of moving surf boards, rather than hurl weights around.

Now, as we enter 2017, Mitchell's fledgling concept, City Surf, has become a mainstay in Dallas and beyond. With a rapidly-expanding footprint and a loyal legion of members and fans, it's a hair away from becoming a veritable phenomenon.

So, in the season of New Year's Resolutions and a renewed focus upon fitness, I thought we'd take the chance to catch-up with Mitchell, whilst also introducing some all-new fitness (and comfort) friendly products for 2017.

And, for those who are curious, Mitchell was kind enough to offer a free two week trial for Rye 51 customers and readers. Use the code SURFFREE at citysurffitness.com.

Matt Alexander: Where the idea for City Surf originate?

Mitchell Brown:City Surf came from a combined love of fitness, outdoors, and community. And, well, surfing.

Surfing is, truly, an experience. As with most outdoor sports, there's a level of uncertainty, nerves, and excitement. We wanted to create a fitness class/concept that harnessed that sensation.

At moments, you'll question your decision-making. You might even be nervous. But once you've survived your first 45 minute class, you realize how much fun you've had and how proud you are for sticking through it. Most people are immediately itching to come back.

And, really, that's our goal with City Surf. We want to recreate and instill a feeling, fostering an experience that's both fun and good for you.

Matt Alexander: Did you ever foresee yourself owning your own gym/fitness concept?

Mitchell Brown:I always envisioned a world where I worked for myself and created new concepts, brands, or experiences for myself and others to enjoy.

I never knew how soon that would begin, to be honest. (Let alone just a couple years out of school.)

I grew up in Salt Lake City and was raised by endurance athletes (marathon mother and ultra athlete father bike riding, running, horse back riding, and much more). So, from a young age, I was exposed to so much fun and adventure when it related to being active.

Health and fitness was always a part of my life, so I suppose it makes sense that I have been drawn to that industry.

I find it much easier to use your interests when creating a business you have to spend everyday building.

Matt Alexander: You've opened quite a few locations over the past few years. What's next for City Surf?

Mitchell Brown:We really want to raise awareness of our studios in the cities we are currently located.

We want to help educate the fitness community that fitness doesn't have to be curtailed by a specific experience. Rather, it can combine fun, community, and enjoyment, whilst still getting you in the best shape of your life.

Above all, we're an affordable alternative to most big box gyms and high-end boutique studios. Our membership is just $85 a month for unlimited classes which range from strength, balance, and cardio-based movements. We want to be accessible.

Studio growth is also on the agenda. We anticipate opening a few more locations in 2017, both in Texas and surrounding states.

Matt Alexander: Outside of City Surf, do you have any other entrepreneurial ideas on the horizon?

Mitchell Brown:We plan on adding more surfing retreats for our communities, licensing our studios to new owners, as well as increasing our City Surf trainer certification workshops in the coming months and years.

So, honestly, I don't have much time to build new ideas on a personal basis.

My business partner, Keith Plum, and I love the fitness space and we have plenty of ideas and see room for new concepts and technologies within the fitness market.

It's vague to say, but when the time's right, we'll be ready for our next endeavor and you'll be the first to hear about it!

Matt Alexander: Finally — and apologies in advance for such a trite question — for people starting to think about getting in shape for the new year, do you have any recommendations or tips?

Mitchell Brown:Fitness or health is just like any other skill or habit you might want to develop. It takes hard work and commitment.

But that doesn't mean it can't be enjoyable.

In life, there are no quick solutions to what you want to achieve. Take it one day at a time, start building healthy habits, and give yourself small achievable goals to build on. And, above all, have fun with it.

As a reminder, Mitchell was kind enough to offer a free two week trial for Rye 51 customers and readers. Use the code SURFFREE at citysurffitness.com.

 

For our inaugural interview, we had the pleasure of meeting with Nick Badovinus, a prolific restaurateur and chef.

In our hometown of Dallas, Nick has produced some of the finest restaurants the city has known. And he's now working on an all-new concept, Town Hearth, set to open in the city's Design District over the coming weeks.

We visited Nick in the unfinished space to capture his thoughts about the industry, starting a creative business, and finding oneself at the center of a social world.

Matt Alexander: You’ve been recognized as one of the top chefs and restaurateurs in the city. (If not the country.) How did you get into the world of food and hospitality?

Nick Badovinus: I grew up hunting, fishing and chasing crab around the Pacific Northwest.

In doing so, I discovered the wonderful social value in knowing your way around the kitchen and, importantly, that I have some skills putting people and food together.

While in college I loved throwing dinner parties and cooking for friends. We always had a hell of a time. I immediately knew what I wanted to do with my life.

In doing so, I discovered the wonderful social value in knowing your way around the kitchen and, importantly, that I have some skills putting people and food together.

MA: Once you’d had that realization and made that decision, how did you get into the industry? Walk me through the early moments of your career.

NB: Before I enrolled in culinary school I wanted to see if I liked the business. (And, more importantly, the business liked me.)

I moved to Sun Valley, Idaho from Seattle and got a gig at a small little French restaurant called Mango. The chef/owner was a crazy fun French guy named Christian Lamont. I skied when I could and worked prep all winter.

In the spring I went to culinary school in Portland, Oregon. As part of the program, I needed to find a six week unpaid internship.

So, through a connection with Lucchese Boots, I was introduced to Dean Fearing. I had always loved Southwestern and Mexican flavors and was stoked to learn from the best. Not knowing what was to come, I packed up my gear and drove to Dallas to work at the Mansion on Turtle Creek.

MA: When did you make the leap and start your own restaurant? Obviously you’ve gone on to build quite a few, but I suppose I’m curious if it’s always been the same process. Or did you make any formative mistakes in the earliest moments?

NB: I left Consilient restaurants on December 31, 2007.

I then started FlavorHook in the first week of January without a location, name, or money lined-up.

I did know what kind of restaurants I wanted build, what I wanted to cook, and had a solid plan concerning how to get there, though.

The process was an immersive and obsessive one. It still is now.

When I opened Neighborhood Services in the fall of '08 I was essentially broke. The world was falling apart and everyday the news was bleak.

But I knew if we held firm to our vision, executed our plan, and took care of the customer the right way, we had a shot. That little shop was for all the marbles and it was was scary.

I knew if we held firm to our vision, executed our plan, and took care of the customer the right way, we had a shot.

Anyone that has had some success has also had some failures and made some mistakes. I am no different. In terms of my process, however, it's still the same.

I've learned some tough lessons and definitely created a better editing process and maybe a more team-oriented point of view. I had to learn to trust a little more, share a little more, and give up a few things.

MA: Now, you've just opened Montlake Cut. From a small spot, Neighborhood Services has expanded quickly. What’s next for you? Do you think you’ll ever expand beyond restaurants?

NB: When we have something about to debut like Town Hearth, it's hard to see beyond it on the day-to-day. It's our biggest project and we're excited to get it out of port full speed ahead.

Beyond that, we have a great partnership with Omni Hotels on a couple of projects coming up as well.

We are also far down the road on a pair of new spots slated for the next 16 months. We also plan on moving into a small niche retail business that has been in development for years.

So, in brief, I'd love to expand beyond it someday but right now it's all food and beverage!

MA: Do you expect to move beyond the bounds of North Texas? Or is this home now?

NB: North Texas is such a big place with tons of great customers and neighborhoods. Not to mention that it's growing at such an amazing clip.

We certainly have eyes on opportunities in other markets but our plans are really about keeping it close to home.

MA: You're about to open Town Hearth. Can you share a little more about the concept?

NB: We are really excited about it. It's our biggest project to date. We've been putting it together for a couple of years.

The soul of the place radiates from the wood burning grills and oven. It's a wood-fueled, premium protein-centric throwback kind of spot.

A mixed tape of big flavors, big meats prepared in a straightforward and very primal manner.

The room is an intersection of refined and rustic that oozes personality. Vintage touchstones. Concrete slurry finished walls. Soapstone surfaces. 3-inch thick reclaimed East Texas heart pine table tops sourced from an armory in Texarkana. A couple of motorcycles. A '61 MG. Racing red leather booths. And, of course, a 2000 gallon fish tank.

So, you know, the basics.

A couple of motorcycles. A '61 MG. Racing red leather booths. And, of course, a 2000 gallon fish tank. So, you know, the basics.

The drinks assortment is red wine heavy, whiskey-forward and classically oriented.

The team is natty styled in custom shirts by the fine folks at Rye 51. (Editor's note: Oh, hey. That's us.)

We cannot wait to get cooking and taking care of customers.

MA: Well, Nick, thank you for being our guest for our inaugural release. We hope to have you back one day.

 

I first met JerSean Golatt in 2013.

I was just beginning to develop my company and, as a stroke of good fortune, I had the opportunity to meet and witness JerSean's artistic growth throughout that year.

When it came time to launch my company, JerSean came aboard and shot our first six or seven releases into mid-2014. And, in doing so, he firmly established our tone, style, and aesthetic in a manner that I could've only dreamed to accomplish in the months prior.

In the years since, I've had the pleasure of watching JerSean's presence grow. From his artistic skill to his efforts in the community (and his identity as a father), it's been a phenomenal journey. (I mean, he was literally featured by Apple last week.)

So, with the relaunch of Rye 51, I had to take the opportunity to have JerSean as one of our guests and to learn a little more about his life and work.

Matt Alexander: Before we dive into everything about you now, tell me a little about your background? Are you from Dallas originally?

JerSean Golatt: I'm not from Dallas I'm actually from the Bay Area in California. I'm the oldest of five siblings. We moved to Dallas in 2005.

Matt Alexander: When did you first pick-up a camera? Did you know immediately that it was something you’d pursue as a career?

JerSean Golatt: I remember the first time I took a photograph.

I was living in West Oakland and my dad had just bought a little point and shoot camera. (At the time, it was the equivalent of having the newest Apple product.)

I took a photo of a flower that my mom had planted in our garden. At that point, I didn't know I'd pursue photography as a career, but I did know I liked that photo — and that feeling — a lot.

Matt Alexander: Your photography has been featured in all manner of publications and the like. But, just this past week, it was featured by Apple. How does that feel?

JerSean Golatt: Man, I'm a little numb to it, if I'm honest.

I've been doing a huge amount of work over the past year. From strengthening my personal branding to an intense process of self-discovery, I feel like I'm only just beginning to find my voice as an artist.

And, as a result, there have been some big wins this year. Like, as you mentioned, being featured by Apple.

For me, though, I'm finding it more surreal to just contemplate what it took for me to get to this point in my career.

Matt Alexander: What’re you currently working on? Do you self-identify as a photographer or do you think of yourself, more broadly, as a creator of all sorts?

JerSean Golatt: Currently I'm in bed recovering from a huge week.

My mom, Josette Golatt, a fashion designer, recently finished a new collection she's been developing. It's the first full collection she's produced since I began to take photography seriously.

So, I've just started to produce my first editorial shoot featuring my mom's clothing, which is an amazing feeling.

As far as how I self-identify, I suppose I'd like to think of myself as an artist. I dabble in a variety of mediums. And I'm hoping to experiment with more.

Matt Alexander: As an off-shoot of your photography, you’re working on an amazing new project, BLACKLOVE. Tell me a little bit about the genesis of that concept? Where do you see it going from here?

JerSean Golatt: 2016 was a long year for me.

It was long for many reasons. One in particular, though, was the rise of images of people of color being gunned down or killed by the police. This affected me deeply being that I'm a person of color.

So, on my road to self-discovery, I took an identity mapping course led by a dear friend Rocky Garza, founder of Staff Retreat Co. His advice for me — prior to the BLACKLOVE project even being a thought in my head — was to try to refrain from posting statuses on Facebook and focus upon how I could craft a photograph that might be able to articulate my thoughts.

I didn't have any idea how I was going to do that but I kept my eyes open and looked for opportunities that would give me a way to channel that energy.

A few months later, I attended a festival, Afro Punk, where I decided to photograph all the couples I saw there. It was a beautiful project. And it birthed the concept for doing it on an ongoing basis.

Since then, I've decided to photograph inspiring people of color who are in love, in whatever form that might take. I'll be assembling them in a photo book one day soon.

For now, I'm sharing the stories on our blog. So far, we've featured five Dallas couples. I look forward to sharing more.

Matt Alexander: What does 2017 look like for you?

JerSean Golatt: I plan on taking my fashion-related work more seriously by shooting more personal projects.

And tell more BLACKLOVE stories.

Aside from those, my kids every other weekend.

In November, our intrepid photographer and designer, Julia Cooper, went on two road trips with her dog, Toki.

From a brief stint in Marfa, TX to a snow-bound trip to Colorado, Julia captured some striking images of the American landscape. And, as a bonus, she brought along some of her favorite Winter-friendly Rye 51, Moore & Giles, and Drakes of London products.

"Why did I go? There are several reasons. One was a sense of urgency that I'm in my late 20's and still haven't traveled much. I've somehow made it this far without having seen Colorado and not visited one of the most iconic Texan art installations.

As another, I am quite literally running away from my problems, seeking solace and some sort of peace. While I'm doubtful as to whether or not I've achieved that, it's nice to get away from the city and recalibrate my mind by going on an adventure.

Thirdly, everyone should go on a truly solo vacation at some point in their lives. By striking out independently, you're at the will of only your own, free to explore new restaurants, hiking trails, and adventures.

There is a lot you can learn about yourself. (For example, I like to waste time by taking too many funny face selfies the world will never see, and I'm not afraid to spend Thanksgiving alone.) I can enjoy my own company and I learned that it's okay to be selfish at times because I deserve it. I also thoroughly enjoyed that random free steak I got at the Cooper Lounge inside Union Station.

Still trying to figure that one out.

Though maybe I wasn't entirely alone; I had my buddy, Toki.

He's a lot like George Clooney (i.e, a handsome lady's man with a bit of sophistication). Everywhere I take him, people stop to inquire.

In fact, he's literally stopped traffic in Deep Ellum and drawn crowds at Neiman Marcus. He is assertive, opinionated, confident, classic, protective, bold.

He makes me want to be a better human being. He is my doggy.

Being a Japanese Akita, his loyalty to me is second to none. He has been through my heartbreaks and life-changing decisions.

So, it was about time I repaid him for his patience and loyalty by taking him to Colorado to play in the snowy mountains and climb up to the top of a glacier.

He absolutely loved being in snow up to his chest; it was like he was a puppy again. (I met him when he was 3 weeks old. He was such a sweet little Akita potato.)

It would take a human lifetime to repay Toki for every smile, lesson, and moment of love I've received. Unfortunately, I only have twelve-ish years with him, so I wanted to make the absolute best of it by paying him back for his unconditional love by taking him to Marfa and Colorado.

In the end, I accomplished every bucket-list item I set out to pursue, which was extremely satisfying. (And I did it entirely on my own).

I admired Prada, witnessed the Marfa Lights, spent the night in a vintage Airstream, climbed a mountain, visited Vail, played in the snow, and explored Denver.

I went with no companion but my dog. I may not have found all of the inner-peace and healing I so desperately sought, but I am so glad I went.

A piece of Marfa and Colorado will always live on in my soul whenever I smell cedar and sagewood or see the snow flurries fall from the sky.

Mere days after announcing the acquisition of his company, we were honored to chat with Cameron Gawley, co-founder of BuzzShift and STAPL.

We were fortunate enough to dig into his background as a long-standing entrepreneur, whilst also learning about his next steps in the world of business. (And that's not to mention his extensive thoughts on the state of entrepreneurship in our hometown of Dallas, Texas.)

Crucially, though, he has a line of ceiling fans named after him. So, that's mostly what we're here to share. Everything else is just decorative.

Matt Alexander: I realize you just announced the acquisition of your company. And that’s a truly phenomenal feat which we’ll discuss. But, first things first, I just read that you have a line of ceiling fans named after you. Please, please elaborate.

Cameron Gawley: My father was actually in the ceiling fan business, and they manufactured majority of the private-label ceiling fans for Walmart and Home Depot. I never wanted to get into the business of ceiling fans myself; I was more interested in the computer business. But my dad named one of the ceiling fan models the “Cameron.” You can still buy it at Home Depot.

Matt Alexander: You’ve been running (and building) BuzzShift since 2010. How does it feel to have sold it? Tell me more about the acquisition.

Cameron Gawley: This is the first time I’ve ever gone through an acquisition. The reality is, we were not really looking to be acquired. But after multiple unsolicited offers, we decided to at least entertain what was being brought to the table. We really liked Ivie, especially when it comes to company culture and having similar goals. They wanted to build on what we were already doing. Ivie is acquiring us specifically for our culture and our people, so nothing will change about how we operate. We will still be called BuzzShift, and still have our own separate office and employees.

The challenge with running a small business is having the capital and cash flow needed to grow and scale. For Eddy and I, we built BuzzShift debt-free. Which is great, but it also meant we couldn’t always grow as quickly as we might have if we had more resources. Joining up with Ivie gives BuzzShift more room to grow, and opens up a lot of new opportunities.

From Ivie’s perspective, acquiring BuzzShift helps them grow more into the digital space. BuzzShift didn't become digital with the times; we were born that way. It's in our DNA. Our strategies are built for today's (and tomorrow's) digital media. Our Paid Media team is constantly learning new ways to make our clients' money work more efficiently on the Web. Our creative is engineered from the start to become online content.

Traditional agencies, no matter how forward-thinking, aren't built that way. That's why more and more of them are seeking out the best digital shops like ours and acquiring them. The best acquisitions are more like marriages; wherein the best parts of each become "ours." Compromise is likely, but nobody is forced to change who they are to make the pieces fit together.

That's what BuzzShift + Ivie & Associates is doing, starting today. We're helping each other become better at the business of marketing for our clients. Whether that be through our capabilities, culture, capital, creativity, or any number of our other collective strengths, we're in this together.

Matt Alexander: Clearly, you’ve always been an entrepreneur. What was your first venture? At what point did you realize you were destined to build things?

Cameron Gawley: Building a company is no easy task. I would say that my first true venture was selling baseball cards at card shows around DFW at age 10. At 13 I received my first computer for Christmas, and within 2 weeks I had taken it apart and put it back together. Back then, custom-built computers were a big thing. At 16 a small computer shop called MSC Computers in Carrollton gave me a job as an assembler of custom-built PCs. I soon started selling computers on the side, and even put my first ad in the yellow pages. I called the company Computeks. During college I spent half of my days building or fixing computers, and then finally I realized that I could hire people to do it for me and scale things more quickly. That’s where I learned how to run a business, and learned how to grow it through online marketing, advertising, and SEO. The lessons I learned growing that business (and others that followed) I was later able to apply towards growing our clients’ businesses at BuzzShift.

Matt Alexander: Most importantly, post-acquisition, how long do you expect it’ll take before you start building something else?

Cameron Gawley: Post-acquisition we are still BuzzShift. Keeping our culture intact and allowing our team to grow in the way they deserve is what I wanted. That was part of the deal.

This winter I am launching my passion project, a men’s fashion brand called STAPL, along with mentoring and advising high-growth tech startups. That is where my focus will always be: growing brands, whether it’s my own brand or someone else’s.

My true north is growth.

Matt Alexander: Tell me about STAPL. You’re building a fascinating brand on the side. What led you to waxed bags? Do you plan to expand beyond that singular product type?

Cameron Gawley: The STAPL brand was started to help me scratch an itch of creating something, of being a maker. I have spent a good deal of my time building strategies for other brands and managing people to help execute on those go-to-market strategies for brands. But I had almost forgotten what it was like to create something from scratch.

I’ve always had a hard time finding a messenger laptop bag that I just loved. The options were either a heavy all-leather bag, a nylon bag, or a cheap cotton bag. There had to be something else out there. I’ve always loved premium materials such as waxed canvas and Horween leather. So I thought, why not just make my own bag that I loved, and maybe others would love it as well. That’s what I did.

The challenge with building things is just that. Entrepreneurs love to build and make things and as you grow your team, you spend less time making and more time managing people. This Manager vs Maker mentality is a core struggle for most entrepreneurs. Therefore, I fundamentally believe that all entrepreneurs, once they reach the inflection point of managing people, should pursue a creative outlet to start making something again. It allows us to pursue new ideas while still having a focus on the day-to-day of running a business.

Matt Alexander: You’re an advisor and investor for a good deal of startups in Dallas. What do you think about the current state of the city’s startup community?

Cameron Gawley: In my opinion, there is no better place to start something than Dallas. The cost of living is hard to beat and every year we see a stronger presence of major tech companies. The ecosystem here is vibrant, and there’s a great talent pool. There is so much untapped talent here. And compared to Silicon Valley, the talent here is really loyal. The Bay Area is oversaturated with startups and venture capitalists, with opportunities everywhere. Therefore, whoever has the cash can poach anyone from any place. Talented people bounce from startup to startup and it impedes the process.

Someone not from around here might think that most of the local startups might be looking to use Dallas as a springboard; to grow here for a bit and then leave town for something Bigger and Better. But very few local entrepreneurs have that mindset. What’s unique about the Dallas startup community is that they truly believe in Dallas. They’re invested personally in making Dallas bigger and better. They have roots here, and that’s a very good thing.

When it comes to the investment community here, I truly believe that the best combination for a lean, high-growth startup is the mindset of a Bay Area strategic investor coupled with the talent pool in D/FW. That’s because generally speaking there are many high net worth investors in Dallas, but few tech-minded investors as compared the Bay Area. Our job in Dallas has to be to educate local investors on why investing in lean, early-stage tech startups is a wise decision. We need more strategic investors – not just capital.

Matt Alexander: And what do you think is the greatest challenge facing most startups?

Cameron Gawley: The biggest challenge for startups in general, location aside, is that there is an influx of product people who are building and creating things, but are not necessarily the best with a “go-to market strategy”. Essentially you have an abundance of product people, but not enough strategic marketers that are focused on growth as their core metric. Why is that? Because marketing people have a hard time with understanding the technology.

Over the past 6.5 years of building BuzzShift we have met with more than 100 startups and while we believe many of their products are great, they are not baking in overall marketing strategy into their equation. They all typically have the same mindset and focus around tactics (e.g. paid search, Facebook, email marketing). This is not a strategy, it was an afterthought and tactic. The opportunity is to bring together more technology centric people who are passionate about go-to market strategy and more marketing people that understand the technology. We are already seeing large brands take this approach of hiring Chief Marketing Technology Officers. This will start trickling into the smallest of startups as well and help set them up for success.

You can learn more about Cameron's work at BuzzShift and STAPL.

For our second interview, we were fortunate enough to sit down with Jonathan Rosenberg, a prolific entrepreneur, restaurateur, and creative mind.

Born in Cape Town, South Africa, Jonathan has spent much of his life moving from place-to-place. For the past few years, though, he's found himself rooted in Dallas.

And we're reaping the rewards.

From his beautiful bars and restaurants to his newly-founded creative agency, Jonathan is one of the most active entrepreneurial minds in Dallas.

So, naturally, we wanted to share his story.

Matt Alexander: Your background in the business world is fairly diverse. How do you self-identify? A broad entrepreneur? A restauranteur?

Jonathan Rosenberg: Most likely a broad entrepreneur, as you say.

I get bored fairly easily and love working on a variety of things. I also don’t mind not being an expert in an industry.

It excites me to look at something new with a fresh perspective based on my experiences.

Matt Alexander: At White Unicorn, you’re building a full-service creative agency. Is this a way for your to scratch a few more entrepreneurial itches?

Jonathan Rosenberg: For sure. It really is a perfect fit for me. I love the revolving door of new companies and their respective challenges.

It might sound cheesy, but knowing we can really help is a good feeling.

Matt Alexander: You’re clearly a man who enjoys building businesses. Have you got any more in the pipeline at this stage? Or do you try to have a certain amount of time between ventures?

Jonathan Rosenberg: I might...!

I don’t necessarily have a certain time frame. If I am working on something, though, I do make sure it gets my full attention and focus.

Five years ago, when I started Koa, I committed to that philosophy. Lack of focus was holding me back.

Today, I'm focused on interesting work and growth potential.

Matt Alexander: Most of your businesses — whether physical or otherwise — are based in Dallas, Texas. Do you envision yourself moving beyond the city? (Maybe even in your home country of South Africa?)

Jonathan Rosenberg: Yes.

With White Unicorn, I truly believe we have no ceiling to where we might be doing work one day. We already do a few things outside of Dallas.

I am sure, by the end of the 2017, we will be working with clients all over the world.

Matt Alexander: Is there an industry you’d like to get involved in that you haven’t touched yet?

Jonathan Rosenberg: I would love to get into the music industry.

Matt Alexander: You’ve talked about the importance of focus. If you were giving a piece of advice to an aspiring entrepreneur, what would it be?

Jonathan Rosenberg: It will be harder than you think but worth it in the end.

You can learn more about Jonathan's work at White Unicorn, High Fives, The Standard Pour, and Koa. And follow him on Instagram to (try to) keep up with his latest exploits.

For our inaugural interview, we had the pleasure of meeting with Nick Badovinus, a prolific restaurateur and chef.

In our hometown of Dallas, Nick has produced some of the finest restaurants the city has known. And he's now working on an all-new concept, Town Hearth, set to open in the city's Design District over the coming weeks.

We visited Nick in the unfinished space to capture his thoughts about the industry, starting a creative business, and finding oneself at the center of a social world.

Matt Alexander: You’ve been recognized as one of the top chefs and restaurateurs in the city. (If not the country.) How did you get into the world of food and hospitality?

Nick Badovinus: I grew up hunting, fishing and chasing crab around the Pacific Northwest.

In doing so, I discovered the wonderful social value in knowing your way around the kitchen and, importantly, that I have some skills putting people and food together.

While in college I loved throwing dinner parties and cooking for friends. We always had a hell of a time. I immediately knew what I wanted to do with my life.

In doing so, I discovered the wonderful social value in knowing your way around the kitchen and, importantly, that I have some skills putting people and food together.

MA: Once you’d had that realization and made that decision, how did you get into the industry? Walk me through the early moments of your career.

NB: Before I enrolled in culinary school I wanted to see if I liked the business. (And, more importantly, the business liked me.)

I moved to Sun Valley, Idaho from Seattle and got a gig at a small little French restaurant called Mango. The chef/owner was a crazy fun French guy named Christian Lamont. I skied when I could and worked prep all winter.

In the spring I went to culinary school in Portland, Oregon. As part of the program, I needed to find a six week unpaid internship.

So, through a connection with Lucchese Boots, I was introduced to Dean Fearing. I had always loved Southwestern and Mexican flavors and was stoked to learn from the best. Not knowing what was to come, I packed up my gear and drove to Dallas to work at the Mansion on Turtle Creek.

MA: When did you make the leap and start your own restaurant? Obviously you’ve gone on to build quite a few, but I suppose I’m curious if it’s always been the same process. Or did you make any formative mistakes in the earliest moments?

NB: I left Consilient restaurants on December 31, 2007.

I then started FlavorHook in the first week of January without a location, name, or money lined-up.

I did know what kind of restaurants I wanted build, what I wanted to cook, and had a solid plan concerning how to get there, though.

The process was an immersive and obsessive one. It still is now.

When I opened Neighborhood Services in the fall of '08 I was essentially broke. The world was falling apart and everyday the news was bleak.

But I knew if we held firm to our vision, executed our plan, and took care of the customer the right way, we had a shot. That little shop was for all the marbles and it was was scary.

I knew if we held firm to our vision, executed our plan, and took care of the customer the right way, we had a shot.

Anyone that has had some success has also had some failures and made some mistakes. I am no different. In terms of my process, however, it's still the same.

I've learned some tough lessons and definitely created a better editing process and maybe a more team-oriented point of view. I had to learn to trust a little more, share a little more, and give up a few things.

MA: Now, you've just opened Montlake Cut. From a small spot, Neighborhood Services has expanded quickly. What’s next for you? Do you think you’ll ever expand beyond restaurants?

NB: When we have something about to debut like Town Hearth, it's hard to see beyond it on the day-to-day. It's our biggest project and we're excited to get it out of port full speed ahead.

Beyond that, we have a great partnership with Omni Hotels on a couple of projects coming up as well.

We are also far down the road on a pair of new spots slated for the next 16 months. We also plan on moving into a small niche retail business that has been in development for years.

So, in brief, I'd love to expand beyond it someday but right now it's all food and beverage!

MA: Do you expect to move beyond the bounds of North Texas? Or is this home now?

NB: North Texas is such a big place with tons of great customers and neighborhoods. Not to mention that it's growing at such an amazing clip.

We certainly have eyes on opportunities in other markets but our plans are really about keeping it close to home.

MA: You're about to open Town Hearth. Can you share a little more about the concept?

NB: We are really excited about it. It's our biggest project to date. We've been putting it together for a couple of years.

The soul of the place radiates from the wood burning grills and oven. It's a wood-fueled, premium protein-centric throwback kind of spot.

A mixed tape of big flavors, big meats prepared in a straightforward and very primal manner.

The room is an intersection of refined and rustic that oozes personality. Vintage touchstones. Concrete slurry finished walls. Soapstone surfaces. 3-inch thick reclaimed East Texas heart pine table tops sourced from an armory in Texarkana. A couple of motorcycles. A '61 MG. Racing red leather booths. And, of course, a 2000 gallon fish tank.

So, you know, the basics.

A couple of motorcycles. A '61 MG. Racing red leather booths. And, of course, a 2000 gallon fish tank. So, you know, the basics.

The drinks assortment is red wine heavy, whiskey-forward and classically oriented.

The team is natty styled in custom shirts by the fine folks at Rye 51. (Editor's note: Oh, hey. That's us.)

We cannot wait to get cooking and taking care of customers.

MA: Well, Nick, thank you for being our guest for our inaugural release. We hope to have you back one day.

 

Sale

Unavailable

Sold Out