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Episode 124
September 6, 2019

"We're Not Selling Products. We're Selling a Way to Use Your Time"

Nick Ling and Emmett Shine's new company, Pattern Brands, is on a mission - to create consumer brands which encourage you to enjoy everyday life and to create good habits. In this interview, we dive into why they formed Pattern, what the plan to do with it, and how they plan to change the world. Listen now!

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Nick Ling and Emmett Shine's new company, Pattern Brands, is on a mission - to create consumer brands which encourage you to enjoy everyday life and to create good habits. In this interview, we dive into why they formed Pattern, what the plan to do with it, and how they plan to change the world.

Listen now!

Main Takeaways:

  • Nick Ling (Co-Founder and CEO) and Emmett Shine (Co-Founder and Executive Creative Director) of Pattern Brands join Brian and Phillip on today's episode.
  • Pattern Brands is changing the way that its brands connect with their customers and helping them find more enjoyment in their daily lives.
  • How do you address and counter digital burnout in a digital world?
  • Small and accomplishable tasks are actionable items that Pattern is encouraging its customers to complete to improve their lives.

What is Pattern Brands?: The Founders' Story:

  • Gin Lane has been a digital-based agency that has focused on the start-up economy that grew out of New York City.
  • Gin Lane became Pattern Brands, which is a family of brands that has products and guidance designed to help people find more enjoyment in their daily lives.
  • While at Gin Lane, the team asked themselves how they could work together for years into the future, and Pattern grew out of that process.
  • "We were all feeling this feeling of digital burnout, and Pattern itself is a reaction to that which strives to create an alternate reality in which we want to spend our time".

Bridging the Gap: Having a Professional Service and Turning Those Lessons Inward:

  • Gin Lane was a partner in bringing a lot of businesses to market and helped entrepreneurs go from a business-focused pitch deck, to what the business could potentially be.
  • Gin Lane's employees often felt like they were employees of the companies that were in their portfolio, so this created a different relationship between these brands.
  • At Pattern, the team is doing a lot of the same things they would have done during the Gin Lane days, but are focusing on their brands as opposed to partner brands.
  • By understanding digital technology and products, Pattern was able to supplement their staff with skills that they knew they needed more expertise in.

A Team of the Highest Caliber: Lessons in Hiring:

  • Brian was struck by that part of Pattern's mission is working with people that they want to work with and asks if that has led to the hiring decisions they have made.
  • At any moment, Pattern can call upon any of the fifty or more entrepreneurs that they have worked with in the past, which has allowed a broad array of talent to come across.
  • Newer entrepreneurs rarely are in the position of being asked by a company like Pattern for their opinion, and these insights pave the way for meaningful hires.  
  • Phillip asks if Nick and Emmett consider what they are doing at Pattern to be a reshaping of all of retail and where we are in that curve of change.

The Reshaping of Modern Retail: The Curve of Change:

  • The generation of consumer that is now entering their thirties has a very different set of values than the Baby Boomer generation, and the evolutions in consumer goods are a direct reflection of this change of values.
  • It is very hard for legacy brands to honestly say that they are serving this changed system of values.
  • Pattern is a reflection of the environment that we are in right now and is a direct response to the stresses of the current environment of the world.
  • Brian states that Baby Boomers feel to him now as they used to look at him, and points out that he feels digital burnout very strongly.

Digital Burnout: Reconciling Strategy and Self Care:

  • Is there a way to both promote digital strategy while promoting ways to deal with digital burnout?
  • A lot of the authors that are writing on digital burnout are in their early thirties, and one of the main issues is that it is so hard to identify what is happening as you are going through burnout yourself.
  • For comparison, technology is a tool that has moved exponentially in our lifetimes, but our biology is something that is firmly stuck in place.
  • We are in the infancy of technology in the grand scheme of civilization, so we do not have the tools or vocabulary to address and identify the issues that come along with that.

What Does Success Look Like?: The Failure of Meritocracy:

  • Emmett brings up a recent article in the Atlantic that talks about the failures of meritocracy and contrasts that to the opposite Attention Economy.
  • These competing forces are squeezing all of our personal time and even our sleep.
  • Consumers have an expectation of your brand that you didn't set, but there is a new expectation for brands to either build communities or have a conscious.
  • Pattern is trying to recognize the role we play in society, the marketplace, and government in a for-profit way.

One Small Step: Re-Focusing Attention Through Accomplishable Tasks:

  • Speaking to an entity that acknowledges you is very important as a consumer, even if it is something we don't consciously strive for.
  • Pattern is trying to help young adults recognize that the balance of where their attention is focused might not be the best for their well being.
  • One of the main ways in which Pattern is changing behavior is by encouraging small and accomplishable tasks that promote better self-care and remedy digital burnout.
  • We are eroding and losing touch with each other due to digital burnout and Pattern is hoping to reverse this erosion,

Rhythms of Life: Disruption and Connection in the Digital Age:

  • Brian brings up Care/Of and how they are focused on building a connection between the consumer and the brand in a way that hasn't happened since long ago.
  • Is there an active shift between how brands and consumers interact with each other?
  • Pattern is thinking about intimacy at scale and trying to give people the acknowledged experience of small-town general stores but on a larger scale.
  • Emmet comments that they are starting to describe their brands as "direct-with-consumer" as that implies a bi-directional relationship.

Changing Behaviors: Breaking Digital Chains:

  • Pattern is trying to change peoples' habits in a non-aspirational or patronizing way by meeting people where they are at and expressing and allowing vulnerabilities.
  • The guidance component of Pattern is human-led (not AI or automated) and this allows for a more human connection between the brand and the consumer.
  • What are the benefits of having a human-led guidance component as opposed to an automated system?
  • Nick states that they are trying to help people redefine how they spend their quality time, but that isn't easy.

Fostering Change: Power Through Commerce:

  • Commerce can connect people globally (as it has for millennia) and it can change the future.
  • What other areas could be ripe for fostering such a level of global change?
  • Commerce focus entrepreneurship is the way you provide global change and mobility for founders and businesses in the United States.
  • Phillip states that this journey of improving lives and addressing digital burnout is one that he has been going through himself.

Deeper Dives: Future Commerce Alumni Questions:

  • Emily Singer from last week's episode asks how Pattern balances philosophy with the need to sell products.
  • Pattern is trying to help people be intentional and conscious of how they use consumer products, just how the food industry has come to a more conscious positioning in the past twenty years.
  • As a brand, Pattern is intentional with how they communicate with their consumers through Instagram by restricting usage to only six hours per week.
  • Pattern is not selling a product, they are selling a way to use your time.

Looking to the Future: Personal Betterment For All:

  • Brian asks Nick and Emmett to talk about where they see commerce headed in the next five years.
  • Nick says that we are at the beginning of the revolution of commerce instead of at the end of it and we will continue to see legacy brands struggle as millennial values overtake the industry.
  • We will also see more and more personalized brands as technology is allowing us to serve smaller and smaller groups of people.
  • Emmett believes that automation and AI will continue to advance and that there are benefits to technology and what that democratizes.

Brands Mentioned in this Episode:

As always: We want to hear what our listeners think! How can your brand encourage your customers to make changes to improve their lives?

Have any questions or comments about the show? Let us know on, or reach out to us on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, or LinkedIn. We love hearing from our listeners!

Retail Tech is moving fast, but Future Commerce is moving faster.

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Brian: [00:00:12] Welcome to Future Commerce, the podcast about cutting edge and next generation commerce. I'm Brian.

Phillip: [00:00:17] And I'm Phillip. And today we have the Kingmakers themselves, or at least I've been told, people that we've been speaking about on the show for five or six months and just have such an incredible story and a lot of prestige in the world of direct to consumer. So I'd like to welcome to the show, and they could tell us about themselves, Nick and Emmet from Pattern Brands. Welcome.

Emmett: [00:00:39] Hey, guys.

Nick: [00:00:40] Hey, Phil. Hey, Brian.

Phillip: [00:00:42] Thanks for coming on, so we'll do a little round robin. Tell us a little bit about yourselves. We'll start with you, Emmett. Tell us the founder story and what Pattern Brands is, for the people that might be listening that are unaffiliated.

Emmett: [00:00:53] Yeah, sure. I'm happy to speak to you guys here and to everyone at home. Hopefully this is enjoyable. My name's Emmett Shine. I'm the co-founder of Pattern Brands alongside my partner Nick Ling. I'll let him talk in a bit, but he's the CEO and my job is the Executive Creative Director. And so, yeah... Gin Lane has been a digital based agency... We were 10 years old, and the past half a decade we really kind of focused on the startup economy that kind of grew out of New York City. It's been pretty cool to witness what's kind of emerged as one of the capitals in the world for, you know, consumer led startups that are digital first. Ten years ago, this ecosystem didn't exist. And we've been really thoughtful, and are really appreciative for being able to play a role in the emergence of it. And now we're really excited for this next chapter where we're kind of in control of our own destiny with Pattern, which is a family of brands that has products and guidance designed to help people find more enjoyment in their daily life.

Phillip: [00:02:08] Nick, tell us a little bit about yourself.

Nick: [00:02:11] Yeah, so everyone will be able to hear from our accents that me and Emmett are from different places. So I grew up in the U.K. in London and came across to the US about seven or eight years ago and met up with Emmett and decided to go on this crazy ride together. And I think we found our calling, for a number of different reasons, in building Pattern together, which we're at a point now where we really understand what we're doing. But the last two years have been a fun and rewarding journey to figure out how that would all come together. And, you know, I think Emmett just mentioned a little bit about Pattern being a family of brands with this goal to help our generation find enjoyment in their daily life. And I think that as a team, our team at Gin Lane, around two years ago, said to each other, how can we keep on working together for not just the next year or two years of our life, but the next decade? And Pattern kind of grew out of that conversation. And each of us is going through different phases in life. So, you know, I've just got engaged, other members of our team are having children or settling down with life partners. And I think we're all thinking about not just when we want to do workwise over the next decade of our life, but how do we want to live our lives. And I think that, and we'll go into this more later in the broadcast, but [00:03:45] I think we're all feeling this idea of digital burnout. The phones were kind of following us everywhere with work, with social media, with technology, conquering all parts of our life. And Pattern itself, at its very most simple level, is a reaction to that and saying how can we use our special super powers to create an alternative reality and an alternative way of taking control of our life and where we want to spend quality time. [00:04:16]

Brian: [00:04:16] Wow. That is quite a mission. So would you say that that's the mission of Pattern in general? Is that like your stated vision? That's amazing. I love that. With the evolution from Gin Lane to Pattern, are you effectively taking all of the services, and the culture, and the creativity that you apply to other brands and now you're building out your own portfolio of brands?

Nick: [00:04:46] Yeah, I think what we're able to also do with the creation of Pattern is take what we were really good at doing. So what I've always loved about partnering with Emmett and the team over the last five years was that we're very design-led, very consumer-led, and an extremely creative place to work and spend time. And that core ethos, that core culture and that team have transitioned over with us to Pattern, where we're able to apply those skills to our own family of brands and really help nurture them into the world. And then beyond that, we've been able to bring on incredible talent, things we didn't do in the future who are, I think, drawn to the mission and the group of people that have spent time together at Gin Lane from our past lives.

Phillip: [00:05:28] When we had the preshow, we were just getting started at the beginning before we were recording. And I sort of confessed at the outset that, you know, I'm one of those people who's old school, from the enterprise retail world. And I'm used to dealing with those big CPG companies and the big enterprise e-commerce and retail. And so the last year has been really educational for me. And I'll be honest, I hadn't heard of Gin Lane, but my understanding was that you're a creative agency, you were a professional agency that dealt with helping build brands. But I'm sure that there's a story there. There's an interesting story here, and I'd like to kind of dig a little deeper on how you can bridge between being a professional services firm, and reorient me if I'm wrong, but, you know, having a professional service that you deliver as consultative advice for other brands and then use that. How does that change your your internal team structure? And what does it mean to turn that inward, to create things of your own? Because they seem like very different muscle groups.

Nick: [00:06:45] Yes. Well, with Gin Lane, and just to tell everyone what Gin Lane was. We were, I think, a partner in bringing a lot of businesses to market. And with Gin Lane, we would meet entrepreneurs six, nine months before their businesses launch and help them go from almost like a business focused pitch deck to what this can be and how it would express over an entire world to the consumer. And much of our work was very, very strategic of helping define and pull out of entrepreneurs what was the fundamental DNA that they were trying to communicate and then helping them across any touchpoint communicated at scale. And I think because of that relationship and because of how early we were with companies, we were almost serving as the early team to a lot of these businesses. And I think often our employees felt like employees of those companies, and it created, just because of the nature of the work, I think it became a bit different of a relationship versus if you're working with a P&G or another larger company. And what we've been able to create with Pattern is to say that a lot of the team you've come across are doing exactly the same stuff they would have done in the Gin Lane days, just targeted towards our own brands rather than partner brands, and that incredibly strong muscle that we're able to build up by talking to consumers, by defining brands, by understanding digital and technology and products, all of those muscles we need today even more than we needed them yesterday. And I think we were honest enough to admit that there were things that we had to bring on other expertise for, like how to run a global supply chain. And those are the types of areas where we brought on world class talent to almost complement the muscles that we've already built.

Brian: [00:08:52] Are these the people that you mentioned that are your friends from former engagements or from the industry? I was really struck, just to add to that, by part of your mission, which I felt was you want to continue to work with people that you want to work with. And so is that how you arrived on the hiring decisions that you made?

Nick: [00:09:17] Yes. You know, we've cast a net pretty far and wide. I think we because we want to have the best, most diverse set of people walking here at Pattern. I think the partners we've worked with in the past have been incredible advisors to us. So me and Emmett can call on any one of 50 entrepreneurs to talk through a problem or to suggest ways of thinking through our business in a new way, which is kind of a unique position for an early stage entrepreneur. And it's also allowed us to, luckily, have a broad array of talent come across from... We've hired people from Chicago, from San Francisco, from New York, from Canada and brought them into our team and understood the skill sets we needed to be able to transition into this new model.

Phillip: [00:10:07] There's so many things that we could go deeper on here. I'm just curious, some of the conversations we've been having recently, which is, you know, we have something to the tune of I think sixty three months of economic growth here in the United States. It's certainly not the story worldwide, but it's the story here at home for us. And you know, where we're looking at some retail shuttering, but the ones who are thriving seem to be really thriving. And some of them seem to be implementing a "playbook." I use air quotes with that. A direct to consumer sort of "playbook," or at least evoking anesthetic there and one that people might equate with, you know, former Gin Lane. I'm curious if you see that this is really just a reshaping of all of retail that you're taking part in. And I'm curious if you see... Are we at the beginning of that curve or are we in the middle? What's your outlook on sort of how retail's evolving and where you sit in the ecosystem and what your role is at Pattern?

Nick: [00:11:14] I'll give my thoughts. Emmett you should jump on after me. [00:11:17] I don't think about it as retail, guys. I think about the consumer, the generation, that is now entering their 30s has a very different set of values than kind of the baby boomer generation who were their parents. And I think the evolutions we're seeing in consumer goods more broadly are just a direct reflection of those change of values. And I think it's very hard for some of these larger legacy brands to authentically say they're serving this new set of values. And I think that what we're doing with Pattern is a reflection of the environment and the climate that our generation is feeling right now. You know, we were as a generation born into the recession and born into a new way of thinking about the climate, the world around us, technology has impacted our relationships with each other, with work, with how we spend our time. And I think the Pattern itself is a direct relation of all those stresses that have been put on us as a generation. And I think that where we've come to with this idea of rediscovering enjoyment is not saying it's brand new, but it's something that's very pertinent for us as a group of people in this day and age. [00:12:38]

Brian: [00:12:38] I would absolutely agree. It's funny that, you know, you think of how people viewed millennials when they first starte sort of coming of age, if you will. And they looked at them as this generation that was just constantly on their phone and constantly talking about things and communicating on social media. And and it's funny. It's really funny to me how baby boomers feel to me now. And this is a little bit of a generalization, but they feel to me now how they used to look at me, whereas I'm squarely in the millennial generation. I feel like, you know, I feel that burnout you talked about, that sort of constantly being followed by my phone. I think that it's very, very poignant that you're headed this direction. And I think so with that, one thing that I think is very, very interesting is that you're talking about building these new brands, and as you've traditionally gone with sort of a digitally native, vertical strategy with a lot of the brands you've been involved in, but you're also talking about this digital burnout. How do you reconcile sort of the strategy that you've taken with some of these more recent brands that you've been involved with, like hims and others where, you know, it's clearly digital first, but you're trying to address sort of a digital burnout issue. How do you reconcile that discrepancy?

Emmett: [00:14:26] Hey, this is Emmett. And I thnk there're a few things to unpack there. Look, this stuff is fun. [00:14:33] I think a lot of the media, the brands that have shaped our lives growing up, and quite obviously it makes sense, they've been from the adults as we were coming into age. And I think, as our generation moves into our late 20s and our early to mid to somewhat late 30s, I think the cycle, you know, is changing a little bit where we are becoming the adults that can dictate and influence culture, commerce, media and thinking. [00:15:07] I was reading Jia Tolentino's new book, "Trick Mirror," which is kind of like peak millennial critiqued. One thing that I thought was really cool is I love looking at like you open up an album you read that kind of credits, but you open the book up and it says what the Library of Congress classifies it as, and its 21st century civilization. And I thought that was kind of cool because it's like contemporary anthropology. And I think, you know, Jenny O'Dell, "How to Do Nothing," and Helen Petersen and millennial burnout, you know, about these authors are just turning 30, or in their early 30s, and it is so hard to understand what's going on when you're going through it. We're still making movies about, you know, World War Two because it takes so long to understand what was occurring. [00:15:59] And I think for us, technology is a tool. Right? And I think, if you think about like graphs in your head, technology is a tool that has moved quite exponentially throughout the course of human civilization. I think biology, we're still the same really humans that we were, even going back to fifty thousand years plus. And I think society is kind of the straddling between the two. You know, it's dealing with constantly changing tools and technology and biology is just being firmly, you know, stuck in place. [00:16:38] And so I think with technology, in the sense of like digital and the Internet, it's so new. Right? Like in the early 90s, very early 90s, no one was online. And now, you know what? Four billion plus people on planet Earth are online, and mobile technology is what, like a decade old? So we're just in such the infancy. We're in like inning two, if that, of the game of understanding Internet based technologies. And so I think for us, it's like if you think about the rise of like social media and mobile phones, they're just these like civilization-changing tools that... I don't love to get the pitchforks out and just take it to a social platform. [00:17:25] I don't think people had per-say bad intentions. I think it just adapted faster than anyone thought. And I think what we're trying to do is be thoughtful in our thirties and say to our generation, "Hey, let's take a step back and look at how these tools and technologies are dictating, influencing, how we live our lives." And that's why Pattern's mission is "Enjoy daily life." And so if you unpack that, it's kind of like Nike's "Just do it." What does that mean? I think between work-ism culture, and you can talk about late stage capitalism and humans, especially millennials, like you've just got to work your butt off. There's a recent article in The Atlantic on, you know, the failures of meritocracy. You work so hard, you try to get into good schools and to get a good job. And then all of a sudden you find yourself, you know, in finance or real estate, working 80 hours and you're miserable. Is that what success looks like? And then, on the other hand, you have the attention economy, which is all these social platforms, and the Internet is free in the traditional monetary sense, but it comes at a big cost in terms of your time as data. And so these competing forces are squeezing all of our personal time and our sleep. And so I think for us, we're just trying to be kind of selfish with Pattern and trying to solve problems that are close to us. You know, we feel products of our generation and products of the culture we were born up in, and I think that's what is kind of cool for Pattern is that we can be a little bit more freed up to explore some of these ideas and how we think we can solve them in our simple way. [00:18:56]

Phillip: [00:18:56] Okay. Now, I understand. Sorry. It took me... I'm slow. I'm slow on the uptake. I'm so locked into this. I think you're really onto something and that there is a shift that's happening. One of the things we talk about on the show a lot is the change in consumer expectation and how they consumers or customers have an expectation of you and your brand that you didn't set. Right? So they expect you to be able to do free two day shipping. And that wasn't an expectation you set. It was one Amazon set. [00:19:26] But there's a new expectation and that's that brands by nature, the brands that they interact with, build communities, or they have a conscience, or both. And people are choosing to interact with brands that have something more than just a product that they connect with. [00:19:45] I'd love to hear from the both of you, how Pattern sets out to take everything that you just said and this new expectation of a customer, and how you can help founders, and how you can help build companies that do that in a sustainable way, in an authentic way.

Nick: [00:20:09] Yeah, I'll say some stuff first. And I think you can kind of see the some of the tropes of myself and Nick, and I love working with Nick, and I think he can help answer more for your core audience and founders. But I'll just say some somewhat, you know, esoteric, high level stuff. I just try to think about like brands as entities in the sense of like what would a term be? You know, anthro pro morphization or whatever, where like for Pixar, how they give human characteristics and qualities to a trash can which is Wall-E or a fish which is Nemo and try to think about that for brands. And then where are consumer expectations and where can we push them? And the one that I've just been obsessed with and why I'm really excited to have more of an ability to explore through Pattern is thinking about forming relationships as you would as an adult with friends. And so what I just try thinking about like, look, I think like people are in religious groups, you know, less than ever young Americans, we've all moved to big cities. We're not all from big cities. We left a lot of community and civic life behind. And [00:21:13] I think, again, there is this weird role that you have community, you have state, and you have market... The marketplace... And I don't know if the market has totally understood or embraced that. And I'm not saying that we are the solution, by any means, but I think we're trying to more acknowledge the role we play from a for profit market perspective. [00:21:33] And in that, I think, again, thinking selfishly for ourselves, you know, we have team from all over the world, we have teams from all over America, and we have friends and family all over America... We're not myopic in some ivory tower in New York City. We travel and speak to people across America. [00:21:50] I think it's a generational issue that people are, you know, number one, feeling burnt out. And I think they're also struggling to how to get out of the cycle. And so I think community, what we've seen with some brands, you know, D and Co and a few others, it's allowing people to 1) speak to an entity that acknowledges them, which I think is really key and not always appreciated. Empathizes, you know, speaks at eye level and then says, you know, for us it we're trying to say it's okay to be vulnerable in the sense that, you know, maybe you do spend too much time on social media. We all do. You didn't do anything wrong. You're not a bad person. Or maybe you feel that you have to define your personality through your work. That's OK. A lot of us feel that. But maybe if we just take a step back, I think the first step of fixing a problem is admitting you have a problem. And I think what we're trying to do is two parts. One, help young adults in America say, "Hey, maybe the balance is a little bit off in terms of where our attention, our presence and our focus goes." And just do our small part. [00:22:55] I think this is a lot of... I love critique, and I invite it, and I think it's positive. But, I don't think we're trying to for profits, solve the world. I think we're just saying we know consumer businesses, digitally native businesses and through that lens that we're good at, we're just trying to provide some solutions. So, you know, providing products, but guidance in terms of... [00:23:20] Pattern is a synonym for habits. I think we're trying to help young Americans form new habits to take back control of their time in simple, small ways. Not go on a crazy vacation, do this retreat, join some crazy class, no extremes. Just make your bed, do something before you look at your phone in the morning. At work, you know, try to take a little bit of a 15 minutes for lunch. After work, you know, like walk your dog, call your mom, try to be present making dinner with your significant other. Just these simple, simple societal basics. I think they're eroding. We're losing touch with them. [00:23:58]

Brian: [00:23:59] Rhythms of life. That's what I think you're alluding to. Like the basic rhythms of life are gone. I really like the name. Like now I understand the name. I love that. You hit on so many things here that we've talked about on the show, things like, "Work is new religion." Right? That's another Atlantic article that I was reading recently. It talks about how as we've sort of lost our religion, we've looked to work and to social media as our validation points in life. Right? And our identity points. And I think that's why LinkedIn has taken off so much recently. It's very natural that our work related social network would be our top social network. But to get back to what you're saying about connection, one thing that definitely I noticed about a lot of the brands that you've been involved in... I think, Emmett, you're on the board of Care/of. Is that correct?

Emmett: [00:25:02] I'm an advisor.

Brian: [00:25:03] You're an advisor, yeah. So they're all about guided selling and personalization and connection to customer. And that's definitely a brand that we've talked about a lot on the show. And I think it's actually reflective of a lot of the other brands that you've been involved in, where you're really focused on building a connection between the consumer and the brands, and in a way that hasn't happened in a sense, maybe since when Main Street was a physical place. I would love to hear your thoughts on... Is there an active shift in how brands and customers relate to each other? And what can brands and retailers to do to get ahead of their consumers expectations?

Emmett: [00:25:47] Yeah, I think you're you're hitting at the crux of what, in some ways I think, we're trying to add to the market. And back to Care/of, their site's onboarding... There's so many steps someone has to go through, but they've kept it because they found that users more trust the results that they're presenting to them because it's more thoughtful. [00:26:13] So, you know, again, there's a lot of conversations around best practices and always be efficient and always cut down time. But, you know, there's something kind of meta about taking a step back and slowing down and again, acknowledging, acknowledging people. And so I think digital is this weird triangulation where I like to say it's like going to a restaurant and they just give you a menu. But there's no waiter. It's kind of like when you go to the airport and you have those like iPads, it's not the most, you know, hospitable, fun kind of experience. You kind of want to have someone say, "Hey, how are you doing?" You know? You ask what beers are on tap or how's the chicken or whatever. So I think for us, we're back to what you said, we try to think about intimacy at scale and how can we give people, you know, the acknowledged experience of small town general stores, but to more of a mass audience. [00:27:03] And so, again, I think that's where trying to use some of the tools and technology of today to allow us as an organization, you know, help evolve the, let's say, that DTC playbook from personal to personalization, which is the term we've kind of been leaning on is direct with consumers. So "to" is kind of a broadcast term. It's one direction. I think "with" is more of a bi directional term. And so I think the key thing for that is our guidance and our content, and trying to help talk to users around... For example, our first brand, Equal Parts is cooking. And we're really not trying to lean in on, you know, five ply metal and these technical benefits, and check out this functional process of how is made... Our stuff is good, but we don't need to overly talk on that because I don't think that's what people are seeking. I think they're seeking, you know, "Hey, man, I want to cook more and buying this new product... It's nice, but it's not going to change my habit. Everyday I come home, and I'm tired, and I sit on the couch, and it's so easy to pull up Seamless, and it knows a restaurant I like, and it's easy to just click a button, and it comes right to you. But I don't feel good overall of that experience. You know, there's not a flow state. There's not something active you're doing. There's not a reward mechanism. And so I think, again, [00:28:28] if you think about our first brand, we're trying to change people's habits in a non-aspirational or patronizing way, trying to meet people where they're at, express and allow vulnerabilities, form a conversation... [00:28:42] Again, the guidance component, it's human led. It's not just AI or automated. [00:28:48] I think the human touch is really important that efficiencies and automation have somewhat moved us away from, you know, core fundamentals of being a social creature. [00:28:58]

Brian: [00:28:58] Yes. Like you've lost... We're going frictionless. Well, some friction is actually good for you. Like cooking is actually therapeutic and an important part of human history, everyone's history. I think that's awesome. For our listeners then, do you have some practical things that you could recommend that they do to sort of start helping their customers relive, reenter into the kind of life that they actually want to live? Or at least have a connection that that gets them one step closer to that.

Nick: [00:29:47] Yeah. This is Nick. I think that's right. I think we're trying to help people redefine how they use their quality time. And I think that isn't easy. And, you know, back to this idea Emmett talked about about [00:30:03] direct with consumer rather than to consumer. I think the foundation we're going after is how do we build a long, long term relationship with you, where we're not just trying to sell your product from Instagram. We're trying to help you build a habit or a lifestyle. And that's the fundamental difference that we're trying to do with Pattern. And you're seeing with other really successful brands that are being built in this era [00:30:30] is that it is no longer the you go and develop a product somewhere abroad and sign up for Shopify account to sell via Instagram to a consumer. You have to do so much more because in reality, anyone can do those first set of activities. If you think about 10 years ago launching a business, doing those three things I mentioned would have taken your whole time because there weren't the technology infrastructures, the supply chains, the ways of walking allowing us to do that. But for us now, that's just table stakes are built to bring to market the stuff we agonize over and spend the majority of our time with is saying, "How do we support people? How do we help them change? How do we communicate with them?" And I think that's the shift you'll keep on seeing with the market. And we're trying to do that with Pattern, and we're hoping that other great consumer entrepreneurs will follow suit.

Phillip: [00:31:28] I'm not so convinced that what you said before is so true. I think you're underselling it a bit because you said, "I don't know that we'll change the world." You know, I'm paraphrasing you. Sorry, but, "I don't know that we're gonna change the world. We're not setting out to change the world, but we're doing what we can where we are." And I understand that. I appreciate the humility. I kind of I think that that's downplaying it a bit. [00:31:54] I think commerce is the world changer. Commerce has the ability to connect people globally, and it has for millennia. And it's what brings disparate groups of people together is a common bond over the need of consumption and the need of supply. And I think that the way that, in the United States of America, that we provide opportunity and vertical mobility for working class is entrepreneurship. And so retail entrepreneurship, commerce-focused entrepreneurship is the way that you provide global change and mobility for founders, for businesses in this country. And it's I think, the fundamental differentiator in our world, [00:32:39] and I love... This conversation just resonates with me so much because this is the journey that I've been on as I've grown weary and tired of being in the workaholic state. And, you know, I have fallen in love with brands like Tracksmith, who exist in the world, who very firmly just encourage you to go out and do things for the love of doing them. In that case, running. And I think it's really interesting. We reached out to someone in our alumni network, Emily Singer, who has a great newsletter called Chips and Dips. And we'd asked some folks in our alumni network if they could ask you guys any question, what would it be? And so Emily had responded that something she'd been thinking about recently is the tension between mindful consumption and consumer culture. And that, you know, you all are promoting mindfulness and intentionality across the brands that you're creating. And how does Pattern balance the philosophy with the need to sell product? So, you have this philosophy around mindfulness, but also you have to sell stuff in the way you do kind of sell things as you know, the way that you just mentioned Nick, which is, you know, Instagram, et cetera, and the sort of how we engage with audiences today. So are mindfulness and consumerism kind of inherently at odds with each other. I'm curious to get both of your take on that.

Nick: [00:34:11] Yeah. I think we are trying to help people be intentional and conscious about how they use technology, digital and consumer products. And I do think about an interesting analogy being the food industry over the past 20 or 30 years. You know, in terms of how you think about veganism, fast food, and how we've gone from, you know, maybe buying a burger at McDonald's 20 years ago to still fulfilling that need of having some food on the go to buying a salad from Sweetgreen today and a very intentional way for your body, your health, and the wider world around you. And I think what Emmett and I are trying to do is create those types of intentional changes for how we consume. And I'll just give you a couple of examples. [00:35:03] One is very tangible. When we use Instagram, and you can check our Instagram account, we're only active on Instagram six hours a week split between three times on Monday, Wednesday and Friday, because as a brand, we're trying to say we're being intentional about how we're communicating with you through this platform. And instead of measuring our success on Instagram, by how many likes are we getting? We're saying how many saves are we getting? Because a save is an intentional use of Instagram to help change, to learn something. A like is kind of like watching trashy TV where you're just flicking through channels. [00:35:41] And I think that the types of things we're trying to do to help people grow intention rather than just gravitate towards the overall push of the digital ecosystem. The second one I'd say is [00:35:55] this idea about selling a product. I don't think we're selling a product. I think we're selling a way to use your time. [00:36:02] And I think about our first brand, which is in cooking, what I'm interested in is people join home cooking more and spending time using our products and building it as a habit in their lives because look, guys, we're gonna be releasing multiple brands in the only way that people really want to come back and trust us as if we are delivering on that value prop. Right?  [00:36:24] So a one time sale of a product really means nothing in how we think about this intentional way. We're trying to build pattern to creating a lifestyle. [00:36:33] I think if we can keep those our North Star, then we move away from falling in the traps of consumerism and stay aligned with this vision that we're going after.

Phillip: [00:36:43] I was gonna ask Emmett to comment, too. I'd love to get your take.

Emmett: [00:36:46] Yeah, I think Nick laid out some good points, and also shout out to Emily Singer and Chips and Dips. I think she was one of the first ones to kind of figure out what we are working on, but we couldn't acknowledge it because, you know, that's the way that it goes. But she's been very thoughtful. And I think it's a great question. You know, again, at what I was trying to say earlier is [00:37:07] I think healthy critique or critique is healthy. I think challenging questions are healthy. And the first part about Pattern that I'm again, really excited about, it's just I don't know, I just kind of want to have us in our own way join the party of these frontier millennial thinkers who are saying, you know, they're writing these articles or writing these books. The podcasts are saying, you know, "Hey, maybe this way that we've been conditioned to operate and live... It's straining, and it doesn't seem like we should just continue on with business as usual." [00:37:43] And I think people have been saying that for a while. You know, you can go back to "Are smartphones running a generation?" that article, and it just takes a while for things to hit your like Malcolm Gladwellian Tipping Point. But it does feel like 2019, maybe it's a few years after the 2016 election of people just again looking at the pieces and saying, "What's going on?" And that runs the gamut for a lot of different ways you can look at it. But I feel like 2019 does feel, which again I think is fortunate for us, like a zeitgeist kind of year for young adults in America saying, "I want to relook at my life and I want to try to re prioritize again where I spend my time." [00:38:27] You know, I think the meritocracy thing is really interesting. If you think about the quote unquote winners and they're amongst the unhappiest in America. Right? Like they're the ones that won. And so I think just in our own way, we're trying to do what we're good at, which [00:38:47] is building for profit brands, but be responsible about it. It's like Patagonia doesn't use the word sustainable. They say responsible, right? Consumer culture is inherently, per say, not sustainable in the trajectory that things operate at now. I think it's like if you look at carbon tax, right, our carbon output was X, then let's buy offsetting points at Y to neutralize it. That to me, I think is a great stopgap solution. That's not a finite solution for dealing with some of these macro environmental issues. So I think what some of the stuff we're saying is just that the frontier of what we know, which is, we're trying to responsibly build brands end to end. Make sure we can make sure they're as recycled as possible, the teams that work on the supply chain are being afforded the conditions and pay and all that that is the best that we think is out there. Our internal culture... We say we have like three audiences: Community, culture and consumers. And so consumers is the basis of why we're here. It's where we're selling, as Nick said, a solution. Culture is how we try to practice what we preach in terms of how we set up our office. We've been talking internally about how to more promote people, taking time for for lunch. We are cooking more at the office. We're lucky that we have a little patio, and we're trying to just make sure there's half an hour, at least, each day as much as possible where it's leading by example. Nick and I and and Suze, who's our GM at Gin Lane and V.P. of Operations. We're saying to people, you know, let's go outside and cook something up or eat a salad just so that they're not seeing that we're trying to work 12 hour days, and that's the cool norm to aspire to. And then the last one is community, which is we realize that our products and services cost money. And not everyone, you know, as a young adult in America can afford a few hundred dollars for an awesome set and some guidance. So, again, I don't think that we're the best in the business. We're just trying to what is the best per what we can do. And that's, you know, give one, which is an independent non-profit that we set up, where each of our businesses, starting with Equal Parts, will, you know, donate 1% of their total revenue. It's not profit, which is harder to calculate. It's just revenue back to neighborhood organizations that do different activities to help their local constituents find more of an ability to, quote unquote, enjoy daily life. It's after school programs. It's food programs. So [00:41:22] I think, again, it's just taking a step back as a company and just trying to be as responsible as you can with the pieces that you have today. [00:41:29]

Brian: [00:41:30] What I think I hear you're saying is that corporations can be Woke.

Phillip: [00:41:35] {laughter} This is Brian's thing.

Brian: [00:41:36] I think if we remake them not on their current trajectory.

Phillip: [00:41:43] I can't wait to get the letters Brian. I can't wait. I'm so excited for that.

Brian: [00:41:47] I know, right. Well, we're coming up on time. So one of the questions that we love to ask all of our guests and so at the end of every show that I'll ask both of you as well is what do you what do you see ahead? You know, kind of in the short term, you know, maybe the next 12 months, what should our listeners be paying attention to? But probably more importantly, in the next three to five years, where do you see commerce headed?

Nick: [00:42:18] I'll go first. And then I'll let Emmett finish off. Look, guys, I think that we mentioned this earlier. I think we're at the beginning of the revolution of commerce, rather than the end of it. And I think, you know, some of you would've said a couple of years ago that this area of DTC was reaching a peak DTC moment. [00:42:38] But what I actually think we're seeing is a complete revolution in the brands that shape America. And I think that we'll continue to see that these legacy brands and legacy companies as millennials spending habits grow to be a bigger and bigger share of the broader American wallet will continue to struggle and more and more radical change will have to happen. [00:43:06] So that's one thing. I think the second thing is that we're going to keep on seeing more and more personalized brands. So brands which are built for smaller groups of people with more individualized challenges. As you know, technology is now allowing us to serve smaller groups of people. And I think that today you feel like there's already a thousand beauty brands, I think that in five years you're going to feel that there's just one beauty brand that's perfect for you, and it's going to find its way to you. So I think that complete change of values and then just this continued push to hyper personalize experiences or products for you and for your friends around you.

Brian: [00:43:52] That's amazing. Emmett?

Emmett: [00:43:54] Yeah. Again, I agree with what Nick's saying. And what I can add to it, I guess, is I don't know... What's the guy's name who in the fables or whatever was trying to beat the machines to build the railroads? John Henry? You know, in some ways I feel like a qualitative craftsman.

Phillip: [00:44:14] I was gonna send Neo. Sorry. Go ahead.

Emmett: [00:44:17] You know, I think I'm always fascinated me in qualitative and quantitative. And, you know, human led or algorithmic. So I think those are like nerdy buzzwords, machine learning, AI, blah, blah, blah. But they're not not true. They're true. It just sometimes you think things are gonna happen overnight, but quietly automation has been happening. Look at Detroit, right? That was automation of machinery. That was just heavier machinery in the 60s and 70s. It just happened in more industrial blue collar areas. And then it moves into now Turbo Tax replaces lawyers. So I do think that there are benefits of technology in what it democratizes. A few years ago, we used to have to build all of our commerce web sites by hand, and now you can use Shopify and get it off the ground and get a suite around that pretty fast. I think that's good. But it gets stuff to what I would call like the 80% pretty fast. And I think it's hard to transition into that 20%, 20% of what is different, what is excellent. I don't know. There's a lot of macro trends. It's like, what's it, FANG is the acronym.

Phillip: [00:45:21] Yeah.

Emmett: [00:45:21] It's like those monster behemoths. It's like, I don't know what will happen in terms of antitrust stuff where if they keep growing in reach and power, and then the little guys that are just trying to be entrepreneurial... And another thing is entrepreneurship in America is the lowest it's been in, I don't know, since like the early 90s. I think it's strange. It's like we live in this this world, in New York City especially, where there's the prominence and the signal that the startup economy has created is quite bright. But statistically, most entrepreneurship is car washes and barbershops. And that's really been very much on a continued decline. So I think we're very fortunate to get to operate in the space we're in. And I again, I just hope to keep trying to, I don't know, raise awareness on just using capitalism to be more responsible. It shouldn't be this is winner takes all. [00:46:19] I think market, state, and community should work more together. And I think everyone should just try to do their best of what they're capable of doing. And if it's hard to succeed, then hopefully other of those factors, whether it's the government, or your community, or another business, should try to help out. And if you are succeeding, I think it's, giving back and helping others that, whether that's open sourcing information, or not just gouging a market so that you dominate it. We're in the 21st century. We're one fifth the way through the 21st century, and we're still operating on a 20th century playbook. When does it change? [00:47:00]

Phillip: [00:47:00] I would propose it's changing right now and and with Pattern. I'm anxious to hear what our listeners feedback is. Thank you all so much for your time and for all your energy and for being open to helping us come into understanding. It's been really rewarding for me.

Brian: [00:47:15] So good. So good. Thank you, guys.

Emmett: [00:47:18] Thank you. Brian and Phil. I appreciate it a lot. And keep up the great work, guys.

Phillip: [00:47:21] Thank you. If you want to lend your voice to this conversation, we would certainly love for you to do that. You can do that at We want to hear what you think. And I for one am going to be following the story of Pattern. And so I'm hoping we get a check in at some point in the future. But we are about Future Commerce, and it's not about predicting the future, it's about shaping the future. And now we want to help you shape that future. Thanks for listening, and I thank you both again.

Brian: [00:47:49] Bye.

Emmett: [00:47:49] Thank you.

Phillip: [00:47:51] Thanks. Bye.

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