The Masterminds Behind Our Merch
With any project, the fast-paced cycle of creating and launching, tends to make it difficult to acknowledge the hard work that goes into making everything happen. With the new goods dropping for our in-house Neighborhood Goods line, we wanted to take the time to dive into the process and thought behind the products. (An additional note: 10% of sales on all purchases of our Neighborhood Goods line will be donated to the COVID-19 Response Fund.)
Our line started off in a particularly interesting way, since the person who pitched the idea was our Financial Analyst, Vijay (he really excels at product design). It has truly been an effort of collaboration, featuring many members of the Neighborhood. Brooke, Creative Director, and Miekala, Graphic Designer, expanded on Vijay’s initial designs with their creative wizardry. Then Fallon, Director of Marketing, and Tess, VP of Brand Partnership, formulated a plan to launch. We asked them how it all came to life:
This first one is for Vijay: How did you first get the idea for pitching the PL?
Vijay: As an analyst, I spend a good bit of time looking at industry trends and I’d never seen anything like it before. It was truly an unprecedented intersection of high fashion and pop culture. I remember excitedly talking about it with Matt, our CEO, who mentioned that brands and ideas trade in the “currency of relevance”. I left that conversation inspired to create a collection that was relevant to everyone who walked in the door of our store, something that was inclusive and authentic. You know that feeling when you put on your favorite shirt in the morning; I wanted everything in our collection to have that feeling for everyone.
“We like to design the pieces to feel more like relatives than identical pieces.” -Brooke
What served as inspiration for the collection?
Vijay: I’ve been really interested in the Dallas art scene for the last couple years now, and the many different iterations for both art and streetwear. A couple months ago, I ran into Hance Taplin when the Virgin Hotel was opening up and I love what he has been doing for the city with By Way of Dallas. He’s a really cool guy who has an extraordinary eye for detail and I’m really inspired by how his collaborations bring different parts of the city together. I was also fascinated by Kyle Steed’s piece over at East Quarter and I love how he used color to invigorate such an old part of downtown. I really wanted to use both color and detail to create something that everyone could take part in.
Brooke: We pulled inspiration primarily from our colorful brand elements and streetwear trends that felt nostalgic, fun, and playful. We wanted our first private label launch to include items that can be styled together and worn just about anywhere. We like to design the pieces to feel more like relatives than identical pieces.
Miekala: Starting with our brand that revolves around bright colors and geometric shapes, we pulled additional inspiration from existing trends from other brands we love. We wanted everything to feel playful, nostalgic, and universal.
Fallon: Vijay, Brooke, and Miekala had so many amazing ideas in their back pocket, it felt like we could have launched several collections at once. When we opened our first location in 2018, we had ordered some pseudo-promotional tees, mugs, sweatshirts, and the like, that we could send as thank yous to friends and family, partners, etc. It turned out there was a lot of interest in NG branded products. Vijay, who has great taste, knew we needed a refresh and that with one, our own collection could have quite a bit of potential. And with creatives like Brooke and Miekala on the team, I was so excited to see how their combined minds could really elevate our collection of branded goods. And man, did they.
Damn right, our Have A Nice Day Mug is microwave safe.
“Our ‘Have a Nice Day’ diner-style mug is my newest favorite. What better way to start your morning than with a cup o’ joe and a smile?” -Fallon
What is your favorite item in the collection?
Vijay: The Smiley T-Shirt. I remember laying out a bunch of t-shirt samples when creating it by weight to figure out which cotton blend would feel high quality but also be comfortable. My favorite review of it was from my colleague's partner, who said that he “could wear it 3 straight days without washing it”. That was exactly what I was going for.
Miekala: I really love the totes and the postcards we made for the South Congress store launch. The totes act as their own little sub-collection; they’re all the same design but personalized for each store location. The postcards when put together create one big image, which was really fun to assemble.
Fallon: Our ‘Have a Nice Day’ diner-style mug is my newest favorite. What better way to start your morning than with a cup o’ joe and a smile?
“I think the team did a great job creating products that make you smile and that can make gifts, which I love.” -Tess
What mood were you trying to inspire with the PL?
Brooke: We want the items to feel positive and instantly put someone in a good mood! We love to include positive notes within our designs, whether it’s wishing someone a “nice day” or hiding “be nice to your neighbors” in the care instructions.
Tess: I think the team did a great job creating products that make you smile and that can make gifts, which I love.
Fallon: We wanted to choose items that would resonate with everyone — gender-neutral essentials with unique flourishes.
“The totes act as their own little sub-collection; they’re all the same design but personalized for each store location.” -Miekala
What was your favorite part about collaborating on this project?
Vijay: As a financial analyst, I believed for a very long time that there was such a thing as a “creative” and I don’t really believe in that anymore. I would replace the word “creative” with “designer” when it comes to creating, because we are all creative in different ways but the process of implementing and designing those creative ideas has an entirely separate language. I’ve learned a lot from Brooke, Miekala, and Fallon on the design process and the language of creatively collaborating whether it be brainstorming together, deciding on a final idea from a myriad of suggestions, or tweaking a work in progress piece. Collectively, an idea is always stronger and my favorite part of collaboration is seeing all the elements from different people that make up the final product.
Brooke: I get to work with wonderful humans that bring a lot of experience, positive energy, and creative ideas to the table. Most of the time it’s hard for us to narrow these ideas down, so we get the whole office involved and vote on favorites!
Miekala: I love how collaborative we get when creating new items for our Private Label! Our collections mean so much more because everyone puts their own little touch into the creation of our products.
Tess: I love the collaborative aspect of this process. The team is very open and the fresh ideas come from a variety of perspectives including our financial analyst and our CEO.
What do you have in the works for the future of NG branded goods?
Brooke: Some summer inspired pieces, but you’ll have to stay tuned!
Miekala: We have some exciting things in the works! Can’t wait for y’all to see some fresh NG goods!
Tess: I don’t want to spoil anything, but as a teaser, we will be launching an item that has been the source of many requests! In addition to some summer pieces as Brooke mentioned.
Fallon: I’m pretty excited about one item that’s been a request in-store and via our DMs...
Are you the ultimate NG fan? Check out our All of the Goods Bundle
“You know that feeling when you put on your favorite shirt in the morning; I wanted everything in our collection to have that feeling for everyone.” -Vijay
Anything else you want to share?
Miekala: Creating stuff for our private label is one of my favorite things to work on. I’m always excited to work with our team on these products and can’t wait for future collaborations! Be sure to check out our most recent additions!
Fallon: We called our original collection Version 0. It was our first real go at it. I’m so excited to see how it grows into many seasonal editions going forward!