For all of you gentlemen and gentlewomen, there’s a hot-to-trot new face in Greenpoint and it’s called Owen & Fred. The clean-cut, utilitarian men’s brand stocks minimal but cheeky shaving kits, understated but classic duffel bags, and a no fuss carry-on. Not to mention, Owen & Fred also sells cheeky wares (coffee mugs, stationary, toiletries) with subtle 1960s influences while maintaining a contemporary attitude.
With many Brooklyn made products, Owen & Fred launched a Kickstarter campaign to solidify their products and commitment with customers. The brand recently relocated to the Pencil Factory and I sat down with the founder, Michael Arnot, to talk about the brand, being a Greenpoint start up, and more.
GP: What is the concept behind Owen & Fred? What were you doing before?
Michael: Owen & Fred designs, makes and sells men’s goods. Before launching Owen & Fred I worked at a start up and a media company.
We take boring, ordinary men’s products, and try to make them a bit more exciting. We think of a design concept and then execute on it with the help of American manufacturers around the USA – from Brooklyn to Phoenix and everywhere in between.
An example? Our laundry bag. Most laundry bags are terribly boring. They just…flop there and they are made of mesh. Ours still flops there but are screen printed by Pete’s in Williamsburg to read: YOU WILL FEEL BETTER WHEN THIS IS ALL DONE.
Because you know what, it’s true. You will feel great when the laundry is done. The bag is manufactured out of canvas in Massachusetts, and the rope is from Maine. Our manufacturing partners are excellent at what they do. We tend to work well together.
GP: What is your vision for the Owen & Fred’s customer? How does Brooklyn permeate its influence into your store?
Michael: We hope that someday every household in the US will have one of our products – be it a razor or our soap or a cool shower curtain. All of it made in the USA. We don’t try to Brooklynize our products, but they are a reflection of our team who live here.
GP: What are you favorite products?
Michael: “You Dirty Dog” soap is a favorite. It smells great, our customers love the name and it’s made in Greenpoint. Perfect.
GP: Earlier, you stated that one of your goals is to be a pivotal employer in Greenpoint. What are some of those goals that you hope to put into action? What do you want to bring to your employees and the community?
Michael: Our goal is to be a large and sustainable employer in Greenpoint – hiring people who live in, work in and care about Greenpoint and Williamsburg. We admire so many of the successful businesses in Williamsburg and Greenpoint and would love to do as much for the community as they do. Nothing would make me happier than our team love coming to work, being creative during the day, having fun at local spots at night and playing soccer at McCarren on the weekend. It’s all here in Greenpoint.
GP: Are you hiring? :]
We aim to hire a local Greenpointer through our first Kickstarter campaign to expand our brand. That’s just the beginning. We’re only a year and a half old, so we’re off to a good start I think. We’re also keeping FEDEX and the Greenpoint USPS busy.
GP: Is there anything you would like us to know about the Owen & Fred Kickstarter campaign?
Michael: We’d love for people to get behind our Kickstarter campaign, and push it to 100% funded. That little $45 shaving kit bag will make you laugh, but it also means we can put people to work right here. Every pledge counts and everything is going back into the business. Share the link of Facebook and please consider buying a product. Owen & Fred would be grateful for the support.
GP: What are some of your favorite hangouts in Greenpoint?
Michael: The day goes like this: Start with coffee at Spina, lunch at Jimmy’s or Mrs. Kim’s, a walk about at Alter or Word, and we’ll sneak out to watch soccer matches at Red Star. We also love Karczma and Brouwerij Lane. Listen, if Paulie Gee’s were open for lunch it might really put a dent in our finances!