In light of America’s birthday, let’s talk about some goods made in the good U.S. of A., M&U Co. The gear is thoughtful but streamlined — no fuss or frills with a touch of Scandinavian aesthetics. So, I’m in love. Click through for an exclusive discount code for Greenpointers readers (huzzah!), a snazzy interview with the founder Nathan Gryszowka, and more products to swoon over.
GP: What is the story behind the name M&U [Maxx & Unicorn]?
Nathan: When we founded the company in 2007 my wife Jennifer and I wanted to create a brand name that represented a fictional guy and his beloved girl; our original intent for the brand was to make accessories that could be worn by guys and gals alike. We mixed a bit of fantasy with the 1940’s (original era of the vintage wallet that inspired it all) to come up with the name Maxx &Unicorn Co. .
Maxx was my grandfather (and my middle-name-sake, Americo) who to me represented to me an enigma of a man (because I never met him). He lived the prime of his life as the first American in my family in the 1940’s, and is where my mother always told my fashion sense originated. He was a suave gambler once featured in Time Magazine as “The M an with Golden Arm” for his record dice winnings that might have lead to the bankruptcy, demise and demolition of either the Sands or Dunes Casino in 1950’s Nevada.
Jenn’s Grandfather she knew well and loved very much — he called her his Unicorn and when he passed, she got a tattoo of a unicorn in memoriam – her only tattoo and maybe her only regret, she hides it to this day.
Essentially, what the name Maxx & Unicorn truly represents is family, generations of which with whom we share our beloved stories and we ultimately we are sharing ours with world (or at least Greenpoint, Brooklyn USA for now).
GP: What inspired you to start the line? What are your future plans for M&U Co.?
Nathan: The original inspiration was a vintage finding, a wallet with WWII era documents inside that I purchased from Williamsburg-based antique dealer. It was put together like a cereal box with a die-cut fold and tab-through construction. I was intrigued to say the least; enough to pull some leather out of my closet (leftover from design school) and drafted similar but more streamlined pattern to make my own. The next day, I brought the wallet I made out shopping in Williamsburg where I met Shana Tabor, owner of In God We Trust, at her first little shop in Williamsburg that carried a mixture of local designer and vintage items. I showed her what I had made and made three more that evening that went on consignment at In God We Trust the very next day… and the rest is history.
GP: I love how the brand is American (and Brooklyn!) made with an attention to sustainability. Do you create your products with a specific customer vision in mind? Which product is your favorite?
Nathan: I am my own target customer, as are all my friend and family. I design things that I want, need or would just love to share. My goal is never to be in fashion, just create artful objects for everyday use. My favorite piece of course is our original folded bifold wallet, which for a long time our carried the branding “Handmade Brooklyn, NY” embossed inside. Now as we have grown and evolved our product assortment it is important that everything we make is made from sustainable materials and proudly crafted in the USA, hence the new logo: “M&U Co. Made in USA.”
GP: Describe your ideal day in Brooklyn.
Nathan: Home is on Java Street with my girls (wife Jennifer and daughter Jacqueline), play in the backyard a bit, go for a family walk around Greenpoint, stop at Transmitter Park, and then to Ovenly for a chocolate chip cookie. Barbecue lunch and dinner in the back with drinks around the fire pit after the sun goes down.
* All Greenpointers readers get 10% off M&U Co. with the code: GREENPOINTERS until Monday (7/7) night.