Industry Insiders: Josh Rosen, Morgan Collett, and Colin Tunstall of Saturdays Surf NYC

An ex-pro snowboarder, a fashion manager, and an art director walk into a combination cafe and surf shop. For Josh Rosen (left), Morgan Collett (center), and Colin Tunstall (right) that’s not the beginning of a bad joke, it’s the day-to-day reality of their hip store, Saturday’s Surf NYC. The shop boasts La Colombe coffee in the front, surf apparel and casual menswear in the back, and an outdoor patio for swapping stories about that gnarly tube ride last summer. While New York isn’t a major surf spot, it is a fashion capital, and the guys have earned praise from the likes of GQ and nabbed the cover of Monocle last year for their breezy designs.

The shop, tucked away on Crosby Street like a hidden beach with the perfect break, opened in August 2009 and became the go-to place for the city’s diehard surfers, and those who want to look like them. The trio is following up last year’s original Saturdays collection with their first fall/winter line full of sleek jackets, sharp button-downs, and chinos. "We’re downtown New York kids and we like classic men’s style done well," says Rosen. "We saw a gap in the market for a brand that embraced the cleaner surf style of the ’50s and ’60s, but had the energy of modern-day New York." And now that they plan to open another location in New York in 2012, followed by an overseas outpost, you can expect to see Saturdays styles every day of the week. 

 

Where are the three you of you originally from?
JR: I was born and raised in Seattle, Washington. I went to school in San Diego and have lived in New York City for the past 10 years. Morgan was born in Newport Beach, California and moved to New York four years ago. Colin was born in Fairfield County, Connecticut. He went to school in Savannah, Georgia and has resided in New York City for the last eight years.
 
What were your interests when you were younger?
JR: We all come from very different backgrounds. Geographically, we could not have grown up further away from each other but we share similar passions: skateboarding, surfing, and snowboarding. As we grew into adulthood, each of us was inspired by elements outside of the sports we loved. Music, art, fashion to name a few. It was these things that lead each of us to New York City.
 
How did you first cross paths?
JR: I met Morgan through a company we both worked for about 5 years ago. Morgan worked for them in LA and I worked in the NYC office. Shortly after, Morgan moved from LA to NYC. He briefly worked for the brand in New York before taking a position at Acne. Once Morgan was in the city we quickly met Colin and became friends. We were part of a crew that worked in several different aspects of NYC life—fashion, publishing, marketing etc. but anytime there was a wave, we left the city behind and got into the ocean.
 
How did the concept for Saturdays come about?
JR: Morgan gets credit for the original idea of opening a surf shop. He brought up the idea and Colin and I just gravitated to it. It made so much sense to us. The three of us surfed all the time but had no outlet in the city to be surfers. We didn’t want to hang out at a traditional surf shop that represented a lifestyle we didn’t lead. So we decided to build one around our own. The clothing we wear, the coffee we drink, the boards and gear we use. It turns out that people all over the world identified with our lifestyle and wanted to be a part of it too.
 
Why Saturdays Surf for the name?
JR: Colin, the art director of our team, came up with the name and the typeface. It was the first name he came up with and we loved it immediately. It felt right. For most people who work during the week Saturday is a day you look forward to. Just hearing the word reminds most people of good times.
 
Who oversees what specifically, in terms of clothing design, the business side of things, etc.?
JR: When we opened in August of 2009 we all did a bit of everything, from making coffee to selling a tee and so on. As the brand grew into a full men’s wear collection and the coffee bar started to get consistently slammed our roles became more defined. Two years later Colin is our art director, Morgan handles sales, finances and manages our production and I take care of operations and marketing. We all work together, along with Jeremiah Griffiths our design and production coordinator, to create each collection.
 
Anything crazy happen when you guys were trying to get the shop up and running?
JR: We financed the store with our own money. Without saying too much, it was not a lot. We needed to start selling products and coffee as quick as possible. I was working 20-hour days managing the build out. Pretty much killing myself. We were getting pretty close to opening and a good friend of mine came in, Darrel Nah, who is a life coach, a professional BMX rider, and one of the sweetest people I have ever known. He saw that I was probably close to hurting myself, moving huge beams and using power tools on almost no sleep. He casually said “Josh I’m going to take a quick nap,” and preceded to lie down on the floor and fall asleep. At first it seemed very strange but I kept looking over at him and he seemed so peaceful. I walked over and lay down next to him and just passed out for an hour. People working all around us, just two big dudes napping on the floor. I woke up super refreshed and finished the build-out full of energy. Great life lesson about how you can help a friend in need. Thanks Darrel.
 
Why did you guys decide to include a café in the front of the store?
JR: When we first saw the space we were taken by the way the left wall gracefully came in three feet, half way down the space. It almost looked like it could have been a diner at some point. It almost begged for a counter top and a coffee machine. After seeing the big back deck it just made sense to give people a reason to hang out. It’s a very good cup of coffee.
 
Why did you guys decide to launch an original Saturdays collection?
JR: The shop is really based on our world. Our world does not include baggy surf trunks with skulls all over them or flip-flops. We are downtown New York kids. We like classic men’s style, done well. We also saw a gap in the market for a brand that embraced the cleaner surf style of the ‘50s and ‘60s but had the energy of modern day New York. Designing is almost always, the three of us agreeing on the styling and direction. The brand just feels like the best of all of us.
 
Proudest accomplishment so far?
JR: Cover of Monocle was awesome. Jim Moore from GQ’s endorsement of Saturdays. Global love for the brand, every person that leaves the shop with a smile.
 
What’s an average day like?
JR: Each day brings new challenges and adventures. The best days though, start at 5am, meeting at the shop to go to surfing. We are always back at the store by 10 a.m. to sell the collection, work on design, answer a million emails and have a few solid chats in the shop, then call it a day. Of course there are plenty of other things that go on but that is a pretty average day.
 
When you’re not working, you’re…
JR: Skating, surfing, drinking , biking, DJ’ing, high-fiving, bullshitting, cliff jumping, girl chatting, sleeping.
 
What do you enjoy the most about running the shop? The least?
JR: As we grow we have to give responsibility to people we hire. It’s always a challenge to let go. Sometimes it’s not done the way you would have done it and you need to be able to let go and embrace the employee’s style. Other than the occasional differences it’s been a really great experience.
 
What’s the secret to your success?
JR: Be honest with your direction. Do it from the heart, work hard. These and every other cliché statement about success should do the trick.
 
How often do you guys surf? What’s your favorite spots in NY and around the world?
JR: We surf every time there is a wave. We can’t really talk about local spots, but we love surfing Mexico, Hawaii, and Central and South America.
 
Favorite NYC spots?
 
East coast or west coast?
JR: East is a beast but west side is the best side.
 
Josh, you used to compete professionally as a snowboarder—why focus on just surfing with the shop?
JR: I grew up in Seattle and started skiing when I was two years old. I was drawn to the speed and grace. At 11, I started snowboarding and from the first few turns I knew it was what I was meant to do. I still love snowboarding. Getting paid to travel the world with your friends and snowboard will always be hard to top. I began surfing at a young age and had pretty limited access to it, but knew at some point I would spend time figuring it out. After an injury, it left me pretty much doing nothing for a few months. I moved to San Diego and found the ocean to be the only physical therapy I could handle. After a failed attempt at a come back in the snowboarding world I found the challenge of surfing was way more fun and generally more enjoyable. I also love the history of the sport. The imagery is beautiful; the calmness of the beach meets the power of the ocean.
 
Morgan, what skills from your days at Acne did you bring to Saturdays?
MC: Acne was very specific in how they distributed their brand and the structure they followed on an everyday basis. This structure went from design, to production, to sales. It helped establish a strong future for the brand and that is one of the things I am trying to do for Saturdays as we grow. 
 
How does the surf culture in NYC compare to your native Orange County?
MC: I think there are a lot of similarities. The difference is the speed of the surrounding city. NYC is 24 hours a day—top speed that never stops, just keeps accelerating. California is incredible, surrounded by nature and much more relaxed. I think those are the largest differences I see. The surf scene and the people who are involved in NY and California are very similar, but of course there are way less in NY. 
 
Colin, you’ve had a pretty extensive career as an art director—what were some of your favorite past projects and what experiences have you been able to bring to Saturdays?
I’ve really enjoyed the challenges each job has offered. Helping Esquire produce their first iPad app was fun. Taking the content and aesthetic of the Esquire brand and re-purposing it for an interactive experience was fun. Not having anything to follow. It was what ever you could think of. Having limitless ideas and making them work somehow. 
 
What’s up next?
JR: Fall/winter is all about Saturdays launching its first fall collection. It’s available in the Saturdays store as well as online and at better retailers globally. Look out for the new Porter Japan collaboration and a new soap with Baxter of California. We are very excited to offer new colors of the very popular tote as well as launching a new piece that we can’t really talk about yet.
 
Do you guys have any plans or aspirations to open another location?
JR: We will open another store in NY within the year and one overseas. We are in the process of signing on both so I have to be a little vague.

Documentarian Gary Hustwit Takes on City Design in ‘Urbanized’

“If something doesn’t exist, it just makes me want it more,” says 46-year-old self-taught filmmaker Gary Hustwit. The former music promoter (SST Records) turned book publisher (Incommunicado Press) turned DVD label co-founder (Plexifilm) began producing and releasing music documentaries, like the Wilco hit I Am Trying To Break Your Heart, after finding himself unimpressed with the quality of indie cinema.

In 2007, the California native jumped into the director’s chair and focused his lens on one of his biggest passions: design. He released the critically acclaimed graphic design film Helvetica that year, followed by the industrial design doc Objectified in 2009. Now he’s bringing the trilogy to a close with Urbanized, which premiered to rave reviews in September. By examining specific projects and interviewing prominent architects, developers, and city officials from Santiago to Copenhagen, Hustwit sets out to explain how urban design affects daily life. “Simple things like how you get to work or where your house is and your daily routine are totally dictated by how your city is laid out,” he says. When asked to name his favorite metropolitan area, Hustwit responds as if confronted with an impossible choice, “That’s like asking me what my favorite font is. I don’t have one.”

Industry Insiders: Mia Moretti, Model Citizen

She could pass for Chloë Sevigny’s younger sister, but Mia Moretti has more than just model-good looks going for her. A frequent DJ presence at clubs like Mister H in the Mondrian Soho, Moretti has serious skills, having learned the craft from legends like Jurassic 5’s Cut Chemist and the late DJ AM, friends she made while living in Los Angeles. Now firmly ensconced in New York, she has established herself as a singular presence on the party circuit, performing with hip-hop heatseeker Theophilus London at Webster Hall and even spinning at Chelsea Clinton’s wedding reception.

“I still consider myself a beginner, but I guess I’ve picked up a thing or two,” she says. Considering her resume includes gigs at SXSW and the Ultra Music Festival, not to mention a remix of Katy Perry’s “Hot N Cold” that made it onto the Billboard dance charts in 2008, that seems like a bit of an understatement. No two gigs are the same for the Oakland-born musician, who recently finished work on a “tribal-house-dance” single with electric violinist and frequent collaborator Caitlin Moe, and who will be feautured in the “Kids of America” campaign for Tommy Hilfiger. We caught up with Moretti to ask her about her background, her influences, and the secrets to her success.

BlackBook: Where are you from from, and how did you get to NYC? Mia Moretti: I’m originally from Oakland. I went to college in LA, then moved to NYC a few years ago. I needed a change, I was too comfortable in LA; I wanted to challenge myself and I knew it wasn’t going to happen unless I picked myself up and moved some place new.

What were your interests when you were younger? Drum circles, Phish concerts, listening to 2Pac cds in my convertible, arts and crafts, Spanish. How’d you first get into DJing? Any mentors or idols who inspired you? I used to go see DJ AM play almost every night in LA. That’s when I realized what a DJ was. I was very inspired by him, but I never imagined that I would be a DJ. Around that same time I was cast in a music video for Cut Chemist, we became friends and he started taking me record shopping. I had a lot of good friends who were DJs who slowly showed me this or that, but I don’t think anyone can “teach” you to be a DJ. It comes from inside you, like being a good writer or a good chef. I still find it hard to call myself a DJ, because I’ve had so many talented people around me, I still consider myself a beginner, but I guess I’ve picked up a thing or two.

What was your first gig? The Standard Hotel on Sunset Boulevard. The only rule was I had to play vinyl and I couldn’t play Top 40.

Favorite/least favorite shows you’ve ever played? I can’t say I’ve had a least favorite gig. It’s normally the bad gigs that you learn the most from. My favorite gig was probably the Life Ball in Vienna with Katy Perry.

Favorite genres to play? Any you won’t touch? I love playing oldies / motown / doo-wop if it’s the right crowd. Genres I won’t touch? Maybe dubstep. I enjoy it, but I doubt you will find me throwing down a whole dubstep set. image Any secrets to your success? What would you say to aspiring female DJs? You just have to work hard and take any and every job you can. Go listen to DJs, bands, search for music, practice every chance you have, and make your own opportunities. Trust me, there is always a party somewhere that needs a DJ. Don’t take shortcuts. Lug your turntables to the party if you have to. Get off iTunes and don’t play from a playlist!

Craziest on-stage moment? Power going out. That’s always a fun one. I was playing a show at Vassar with Caitlin Moe a few months ago and we blew a fuse, so all the sound cut out. It was in the middle of “Heads Will Roll” by the Yeah Yeah Yeah’s so we got everyone chanting “OFF, OFF, OFF.” It’s pretty cheesy, but you gotta do something when you have a thousand people standing there looking at you.

What equipment do you use? 2 Technics SL-1200MK5 Turntables, 1 Pioneer DJM800 Mixer, Serato Scratch Live, Korq Kaositlatoor & my MAC Powerbook

NY versus LA? I find that NY is a little more diverse and has a broader appreciation of different types of music. Paris is probably my favorite city in the world to DJ, because they love to dance, they don’t care about Top 40 and you can still surprise them with some throwback tunes.

You’ve played at clubs all over, music festivals like ULTRA and SXSW, did the music for the Alice + Olivia video lookbook, and even the Chelsea Clinton wedding. Is there one type of event that you prefer over another? No, I love the variety being a DJ has. One day I’m at some dark drug-den-of-a-bar and the next I’m in a meeting with a designer doing the music for their show. It’s all related and I don’t think I would be good at one of them if I was no good at the other.

A day in the life? Wake up late. Run to the airport. Coffee. Emails. Fly. Soundcheck. Fitting. Rehearsal. Meeting. Play a gig. Dinner. Go check out someone else’s gig. Nightcap. Emails. Sleep.

When you’re not working you’re… Sleeping.

What do you enjoy the most about DJing? What would you say are some of the challenges? Getting to play music everyday. Being on a plane every day of my life!

What would you be doing if you weren’t a DJ? I would probably be working for Mary McDonald still. She’s an interior designer I used to work for in LA. She’s very talented and I really enjoyed working with her.

[Photos: Diggy Lloyd]

Industry Insiders: Megan Massacre, Making the Brand

In the gritty, male-dominated tattoo industry, it’s not easy for a petite Pennsylvania girl to find success. But 25-year-old Megan Massacre has managed to do just that as an artist on TLC’s newest tattoo reality series, NY Ink, which takes place at Manhattan’s Wooster Street Social Club. Growing up, Massacre was a Jill-of-all-trades when it came to art – dabbling in acrylic painting, calligraphy, and woodcarving. She forayed into tattooing after high school and hasn’t looked back since. Despite being one of the industry’s few female artists, Massacre has managed to hold her own; enough so that the show’s producers and Ami James (star of the franchise’s original series, Miami Ink), approached her to appear on the Manhattan reboot. We asked Massacre a few questions about her background, interests, and the weirdest tattoo she’s ever done.

BlackBook: Where are you from? Megan Massacre: Originally I am from southeastern Pennsylvania, born and raised in the small town of Douglassville. I moved around the surrounding area, eventually finding myself in Philadelphia about four years ago. I moved from there up to NYC, where I’m currently living.

Why Massacre? My real birth given last name is Woznicki, very far from Massacre. Massacre was the result of growing up in the era of Myspace and hardcore scene names. My friends and I mocked this by making up ultra tough names to use for our bowling league team. Its just kind of stuck since. I’m rather fond of it.

What were your interests when you were younger? Art has always been prevalent throughout my life, even as a small child. My mom has kept drawings of mine from as early as age 2, and even has photos of me drawing marker tattoos on her body throughout my younger years. During grade school and middle school I spent most of my free time at a local art studio honing my skills.

How did you first get into tattooing? I got into tattooing kind of by accident. I was going to community college and working a dead-end job selling furniture when I first graduated high school. A friend from work asked me to give her a ride to a local tattoo shop, and she told the guys who worked there about how well I could draw. They asked me to sketch a few things for them to check out, then asked if I would be interested in doing a tattoo. Although I was terrified, knowing this was a once-in-a-lifetime chance, I worked up the courage and said yes. The guys set me up and I did my first tattoo. They were impressed enough to then offer me an apprenticeship.

How’d you get into modeling? A few years ago, a friend of mine asked if I would like to come along with her to a photo shoot based around tattoos. I went along for fun and ended up really enjoying it. I was inspired to continue pursuing it, working with other models and photographers, making friends and continually meeting other talented people in the industry that kept driving me further. It kept expanding until it started actually infringing upon my tattoo career, at which point it became more of a sub-career for me instead of just a hobby. While tattooing is my first and foremost, modeling is also a great passion of mine.

Do you usually do your own makeup and styling when you’re modeling? Always. I have a really big thing about that whenever I have photo shoots or anything whenever they try to bring in another makeup artist or stylist I’m not into it. I’m just not happy with it.

When did you get your first tattoo? I got my first tattoo when I was 18, about 6 months after I started tattooing. I looked very young for my age, and my boss at the time claimed that customers were scared to get tattooed by me because they thought I was 14 years old and had no tattoos. One day he made me get my first one. Having no idea what to get and being on the spot, I started flipping through tattoo magazines and found a drawing that I liked of an amine girl dressed as a cheetah. At the time I was really into this style of artwork. That night he traced it up and tattooed the outline on the whole outside of my right calf, I went home that evening and my mom totally flipped out. I actually ended up coloring in the rest of the tattoo myself as practice. I’ve gotten many tattoos over the past years. I would say I have around 20.

What are you looking forward to while filming the rest of the show? I’m think I’m most excited to see the show in its finished product and all of our hard work coming together. I feel there is so much good stuff being filmed I have no idea how they’re going to cram it all in there!

Do you feel like there’s any big differences being a woman in the industry? Absolutely. Tattooing is a man’s world. In order to be a woman in this world you need to acquire a thick skin. I believe there are both drawbacks and benefits to being a woman in this industry, the drawbacks being that it is harder to get other artists to take you seriously. I know plenty of artists who know who I am, but have never bothered to glance at my tattooing portfolio, assuming I’m just another tattooed chick model. I’ve even had artists tell me to give up modeling in order to be taken seriously as an artist, which I think is total crap, but sadly they do have a point, because most people don’t look past my exterior. At the same time there are benefits. Being a woman in this industry makes you more unique because there are so few of us, therefore it helps me stand out in what has become a sea of amazing artists out there these days.

Any secrets to your success? What would you say to an aspiring female tattoo artist? I believe the secret to my success is not a secret at all. It’s years of hard work and dedication. I guess my biggest piece of advice to give would be, Ladies, do not feel as though you need to give up an ounce of your femininity just to be taken seriously. Be big, bold, sexy and beautiful without regret!

What’s your favorite tattoo you’ve ever done? I would say one of my most favorite is of a huge phoenix/peacock style bird, very vibrant and colorful, that encompasses a woman’s whole left side of her back from upper shoulder to the bottom of her left butt cheek, then wrapping around her ribs to her belly button. Not only did the tattoo come out gorgeous on her, it’s awesome because she works in a law firm and wears a dress suit to work everyday. I find that to be bad ass.

What’s an average day like for you? Its starts with me attempting to wake up by 8am every day, but always hitting my snooze button five too many times, rushing to get all dolled up and then running into work. I then prepare for a 12 hour, ever-changing day filled with tattoos, crazy antics that make me laugh till my sides split, and consuming about ten cups of coffee. I then saunter home where I sit down on my couch and usually pass out before I even make it to my bed. I love every minute of it.

When you’re not working you’re … I’m kind of all over the place. Some days off I enjoy just bumming it at home in my pjs, not drawing on my eyebrows that day while eating ice cream and watching movies. Others, I like dressing in full costume and going out on the town, dancing on tables and drinking whiskey till the wee hours of the morning. I like to mix it up.

What do you enjoy most about tattooing, and what are some of the challenges? I would say my favorite thing about tattooing is the intimacy of the whole process. The idea of creating one unique piece of artwork to fit that one in particular person, that they choose to wear on their skin forever as opposed to on a t-shirt or hanging it on their wall is extremely fulfilling. The biggest challenge is the compromising of artwork. Everything I do is custom, and when someone presents me an idea, I get an instant mental image of how I would like to design the piece. Sometimes it ends up being not want the client wants, and they want to change the design. While this seldom happens, it’s hard to compromise artistically when you feel something else looks better.

Do you think with the show that there will be any instant comparisons to Kat Von D, since she was the last female artist on the show? And if there are, do you care? I don’t really care. It’s one of those things where I’ve already kind of experienced it. I just feel like we’re both in the same genre. There’s a couple tattoo TV shows now, but there aren’t any other prominent girl artists. It’s the same series. It’s like she did Miami Ink, she did LA Ink and now NY Ink is the next one in the series and that’s the show that I’m doing. She’s the girl, I’m the girl. We’re both girls, we’re both tattoo artists on the same series. Outside of that I don’t think there’s really any comparisons.

What’s the weirdest tattoo request you’ve gotten in your career? A lot of guys have asked me to do like weird shit, basically because I’m a girl. There aren’t many girl tattoo artists. And guys don’t really want other guys touching their parts. Guys will always ask me to do private tattoos. But sometimes they just want a tattoo, and sometimes they’re a creep. I have a story but it’s kind of gross. I don’t know if you want to hear it.

No, it’s fine. Go ahead. I was at a shop and this guy says he’s wants a tattoo on his ass. And I’m like, that’s weird. What made it so weird is that the guy had no visible tattoos. He was probably in his late forties or early fifties, a regular run-of-the-mill, blue collar guy. What weirded me out about it was that he couldn’t really look me in the eye, and he stuttered really bad. Like he was having a hard time talking to me about getting the tattoo. It was really awkward. At that point, I didn’t want to do the tattoo at all. And my boss was like, No you have to do it. And I was like, No, this guy’s weird. And he’s like, We’ll be in the room with you, it’ll be fine. And I’m like, That’s still weird. So my boss goes up to him and says, She’ll only do it if you pay double. And the guy was like, Done. So he says, I want the tattoo on my ass. And I was like, What do you want? He’s like, I don’t care. You don’t even have an idea? You’ve got to be kidding me. So I went to the books and found the smallest piece of tribal I could find. How about we do this? He’s like, Awesome. And I’m like, So do you have other tattoos there, because I have to see where we can put it? And he’s like, Oh yeah, I have a bunch. And then he drops his pants in the lobby, in front of everybody. And his whole ass is covered in tattoos, like underwear. He has the most random tattoos, Looney Tunes characters and flowers. What made it even more shocking was that he was wearing a woman’s white lace thong.

Wow. Yeah, and he’s like literally falling out of it. And I’m just laughing so hard I couldn’t even talk to the guy. I’m like, This has got to be a joke. But obviously he had gone to other tattoo artists. And people had just covered random splotches of color all over him. Other people had messed with him and didn’t take him seriously. Anyway, I asked, Where do you want to put it? And he’s like, I don’t know, pick a spot. So I kind of pointed to a spot kind of more near his hip level and I was like alright we’ll put it right here. And I did the tattoo as fast as I could. It’s one thing if people really want it, and they’re a really weird person, but they’re cool about it. But when the guy can’t look you in the face and is making you really nervous, it’s awkward. And that was this guy. I’ll never forget that experience, and to this day I will never again tattoo a guy’s ass.

That’s pretty crazy. Yeah, and that’s not even that crazy for this industry. Lots of people ask for stuff like that. And I understand I’m a girl, and if guys want tattoos in more private spots that they don’t want another guy touching them. They’d rather a girl tattoo them. Being a girl in the tattoo world you experience that a lot.

[Photo: Jake Smith for TLC]