I make clothes in Chicago.
How did you land on your current profession and (notably awesome) lifestyle? What were the most important steps that got you to where you are?
My first job out of college was working on the trading floor at the Chicago Mercantile Exchange and I realized early on that wasn’t for me. After two years, I decided to make clothes. The only problem was that I didn’t know the first thing about the apparel industry. So I worked a series of jobs to learn as much as I could. If it was relevant to apparel, I did it. I took sewing classes, worked with a pattern maker, worked retail in Wicker Park, managed production for other apparel lines, and repped a Japanese textile mill. I spent the majority of my 20s learning about the industry and working odd jobs- I even cleaned the bathrooms at a garment factory to make rent. It was extremely humbling and far from glamorous, but I learned as much as I could and used that knowledge to start my own line, Stock Mfg Co. We’re still learning every day, but seeing the constant improvement in our business and products is really rewarding. The next step for Stock is opening our own factory for better control of production and quality, and to create a unique experience around the brand.
What does a typical workday look like for you?
My dog Jack wakes me up around 7. I drink coffee while answering emails- usually something local: Intelligentsia or Metric- both of which are roasted steps from my office on Fulton St. I head to the Soho gym around 8, and get in a good workout and shower. I always moisturize my face after the shower- a tip a dermatologist gave me when I was young to “lock in the moisture”.
I get to the office around 9 and come up with a plan for my day depending on what projects we have in progress. We design and produce uniforms for a lot of restaurants in the city and since they begin service in the afternoon, our meetings are typically in the morning. After meetings I head to my pattern maker’s office where she and I work on product development- patterns, grading, and marker creation. My next stop is the factory to check on garments that are in production. When a garment is finished with cut and sew, I’ll bring it back to the office where I give it a final inspection before it goes up for sale on our site, or is delivered to the client.
Most of the restaurants we provide uniforms for are in Chicago’s West Loop, where I live, so I’ll make deliveries on my way home. A lot of times I’ll have to enter through the alley and go right into the kitchen because service has already begun for the night. After work, I spend an hour or so at the dog park with Jack so he can get some exercise in while I listen to Podcasts- my favorites include Reply All, Bon Appetit, Dinner Party Download, and Marc Maron’s WTF. After cooking dinner and answering more emails, I do my nightly hygiene routine- wash face, brush teeth, mouthwash, and floss. In that order.
Where have you travelled to this past year, and how does your routine change when you’re away?
The majority of my traveling is for work. We do a lot of menswear popups all over the country; we even did one in Moscow last year. I did take my first real weeklong vacation in several years this year- my girlfriend and I went to Tulum, Mexico. There are a lot of places I’m still dying to visit, but Japan is at the top of the list. When I travel my routine stays the same- I just use the travel-size version of the same products. And whatever toothbrush the hotel has since I can never remember to pack mine.
What do you care about most? ... Why?
I really care about doing things the “right” way. I spend a lot of time Googling the proper way to do things and watching tutorials on YouTube. Whether it’s how to care for the different species of plants in my apartment or how to julienne a carrot for stir-fry, I want to make sure I’m doing it right. I always read the manuals for appliances. Artists and engineers spend a lot of time and energy creating things to be used a certain way. If you’re ignorant to the intended use and maintenance of something, you could miss out on its full functionality and won’t maximize the experience. Take care of something and it will return the favor. I apply that philosophy to everything – skin included.