So, How Was Your Day?
Couple of eggs in a wrap with whatever happens to be in the fridge.
Grocery store salad bar.
Puttanesca/Hobo red sauce.
I usually wake up for the 2nd or 3rd time around 6:30am, since Ike likes to keep his sleeping habits unpredictable. I change him, hand him off to Emma for his breakfast, then make a pot of coffee for us. Coffee, these days, has become a necessity. After I hit the showers, I take Ike downstairs for our exercises. I’ll stretch and show him how to do push ups. Then we work together on rolling over…but mostly he just laughs and chews his fingers. Currently, Hoofcase headquarters is a 13 minute drive through rural Ohio, from Apple Creek to Wooster. The only traffic concerns are Amish buggies and the 20mph school zone, patrolled by our one and only village cop, Woody. Woody and I attended high school together and we always exchange a friendly nod and steering wheel wave when I pass. Our office is a spacious loft that spans the entire second floor of an old brick building in downtown Wooster. It has high ceilings and tall windows, and is situated atop a butcher shop and deli market. It’s the kind of space that would be $50,000 a month in Brooklyn, but we get it in trade for graphic design. One of the many perks of a small town. At any given time, I’m usually working with about 5-8 clients. I bounce around from project to project all morning, while answering emails and listening to podcasts (Marc Maron, Adam Carolla etc.). Podcasts are reserved for my design work, while music or silence are choices for composing emails or writing copy. Hoofcase clients are very diverse-both as companies and geographic locale. Our current roster includes a burger restaurant (Ohio), a boutique hotel (Astoria, Oregon), a make-your-own chocolate shop (New York City) and a wine aerator company (San Diego).
A quick 4 minute drive and I am at our local YMCA. I typically run on the treadmill to try keep belly in check and then conclude with some gratuitous flexing and posing in the mirror. Afterward, I hit the only salad bar in town and back to the office. My friend Adam, the butcher from downstairs, pops up to the office and shoots the shit. Since I’m the only one in the office these days, it’s nice to have a friendly neighbor to fill the gaps of staring at computer screens. Plus, Adam always has a sample of some new smoked meat for me to taste. It seems you can’t talk about a butcher without it sounding like a sexual innuendo. The wife and I usually chat around lunchtime and I get any marching orders: packing supply requests/kid needs/dinner requests etc. to bring from “town”. Since the kid showed up, Emma has put the event production arm of Hoofcase on hold and has been tending to him and simultaneously preparing for our move to Los Angeles the first week of April. No small task after filling a house over 5 years.
Another 13 minute commute back to the farm at about 6pm, and its time to start making dinner and drinking wine. My 94-year-old grandmother lives about a half mile away on the west side of our farm and we often visit her in the evenings before dinner. She loves holding Ike, even though she hates “his good-for-nothing name” and she’s super pissed we’re moving to California - and isn’t one bit shy about telling us so. Once the vegetables are chopped and sautéed, I add the crushed tomatoes and tomato paste and simmer. Right about then Ike will start getting cranky so we take him upstairs for a bath, nursing and off to bed. Emma and I eat the puttanesca and finish off the wine while watching The Daily Show - and try not to fall asleep. We still have a shitload of work to do before leaving. But, we’re very excited to be heading West. Winter can suck it. We’ll miss our good friends, having family so close, and living on this farm surrounded by fields and Amish. But we’re looking forward to all the new opportunities awaiting us in Los Angeles. Oh, and Thai food delivery. Mainly Thai food delivery.
Three Last Things…
1. What’s up with the suit? Pretty formal for a designer.
I think that being a dad has given me license to be corny and silly. The truth is, a suit goes a long way in setting the tone in the beginning of a relationship with a client. I have a lot of conversations with company founders and CEO’s, and they need to know that I take their business as seriously as they do. I don’t want them to see me as some guy who can make their logo pretty. I’m the guy who can help them build a brand strategy that will improve their company’s revenue.
2. Moving from NYC to a small town to live a quiet life is a dream for a lot of people. How did you manage to get clients and have a successful business being in a little town in Ohio?
I have been very fortunate throughout my career. Back in 2000, if you knew what a computer was and could spell HTML, you could get a design job. I happened to reply to a post on Monster.com for the Everlast gig and because I didn’t attach my portfolio to the email, it downloaded faster than the other 634 applicants and I got an interview. I showed up in New York from Ohio a week later and after two interviews they asked if I could start the next week. Which was the week before Thanksgiving. I said yes, if you can pay the $457.84 for my moving truck rental. I was the entire creative department for the first 4 years of my career, and I made a shit load of mistakes. But anytime they asked if I could do something, I said yes. Can you take photos? I lied and said yes. Next thing I know I’m flying to Vegas with a 2.5 megapixel camera and a duffel bag full of extension cords and shop lights and I’m shooting the then pound-for-pound champion of the world Sugar Shane Moseley in a boxing gym. From then on, I was the photographer. Can we get this 100 page catalog to print by next Tuesday? Yep. So I spent 4 days and nights at the office, taking product shots and cat naps in the small boxing ring we had in the lobby. Climbing out the window and smoking cigarettes on breaks. Usually the first person in the office would wake me up and I’d get back at it. I always said yes, and it always got done. And my salary was $34,000 a year. In New York. Often we would get stock options, rather than a cash raise, which at the time was frustrating since our stock price was $1.75. But I loved working there, and have lifelong friends from that time, because we all worked so hard for each other. My last year at Everlast we worked together with a consulting firm and rebuilt the brand from the ground up. Research, brand strategy, vision statements, logo refinement, product redesign, packaging redesign, web site rebuild, etc. I had a front row seat to the entire process and soaked it all in. The company was purchased soon after, and those $1.75 stock options I was pissed off about before, were all of the sudden worth $32.50. I had enough to take a year off, but not if I lived in New York. So I went home to our family farm in Ohio where the living is cheap. I was completely burnt out and done with design. I spent a few months fantasizing about making furniture or surfboards or anything that didn’t involve a computer. Eventually a friend asked for some help with a company he was building, and I begrudgingly said yes. Once we got started, I had a revelation. I’m really fucking good at this! I had gained so much knowledge by keeping my head down, saying ‘yes’ and plowing through work that I didn’t have time to realize how much I had learned
3. So, what’s your first thai food delivery order once you’re in LA? You can choose three dishes.
Pad Thai, Pad See Ew, and something spicy with peanut sauce.
Brandon lives in Los Angeles (as of last week) with his wife and son. He owns Hoofcase, a company that leverages business strategy and well-honed creative instincts to build strong emotional bonds betweens brands and consumers. hoofcase.com