Sunday, April 5, 2009

1 + 1 IntervieW

interview by::.

How did you choose Chicago as a base?

Shaun: We all have roots tied to our beloved third coast. Wicker Park has been home to me for close to 12 years. Moreover, Chicago is one of the best cities in the world to have a sustainable and social responsibility business model. That said, personally and professionally, we have a strong communal of like-minded colleagues, clientele, and friends in Chicago that fully support our positive efforts.

Mitch: Wicker Park was the first neighborhood that I lived in upon moving to this wonderful city. It’s felt like home ever since. The old neighborhood has slowly turned into a shopping mecca of the Midwest and for obvious reasons is good for business.

Nate: I live in Los Angeles which is a major hub for green innovation. Being from Chicago, I was excited about the opportunity to be a bridge between some of LA’s sustainable fashion designers and this progressive neighborhood in Chicago.

How can you differentiate Connect to many stores?

Shaun: It’s somewhat effortless. Sustainability. Creativity. Authenticity. Sustainability spawns innovation. Creativity explores new ground. Authenticity cultivates positive exchange. We stock only apparel, accessories, and furniture, which stand up to our precise ethos of sustainability, social responsibility, with fair trade labors throughout the entire supply chain. The retail showroom concept is a beautifully strategized model. We buy less product upfront, which makes for ½ the retail square footage needed as a 20th century retail outlet.

Our supporters can buy and take the product out of our space for instant gratification. Better yet, they wait two to three days, and save 15% off the original price and then have a bicycle messenger drop off the goods at their office or home.

Why? Keeping the dream alive and passing the savings onto our collective of supporters and saving the environment at the same time. You would need about 4,000 square feet instead of 2,300 square feet to hold the excess inventory. In long view, think of the energy saved in a smaller space and the human waste that is reduced due to this method. It’s been proven; a warehouse utilizes 1/16 of the energy that a retail space produces. Talk about a slow business movement and a triple bottom line model. We truly can’t wait to see the entire business world transform to this art form. It will officially be a 21st century moment.

Oh yeah, we also host monthly fund raising events for local non-profits known as our Community Investment Portfolio.

Mitch: I thought he’d never stop. Connect serves as more of a marketing platform and brand builder for companies and individuals striving to incorporate elements of sustainability into great design.

Nate: We are very particular in our selection process when adding to our brand portfolio. Beyond sustainability (a given), each brand has an authentic story behind it.

How is Nau’s appeal to Chicago now?

Shaun: Pass

Mitch: Nau’s design could not be better for a city like Chicago – high design meets the outdoors. In a city that is cool and damp for 7 months out of the year, what more could a Chicagoan ask for?

Nate: It’s perfect for one of the main reasons I left Chicago…it’s too damn cold! It is a climate that demands performance and functionality. It’s not easy to look good when you’re freezing your ass off, but Nau can help.

Does green (sustainability idea) lead to green (financial comfort)?

Shaun: Personally speaking, it will be a luminous day when green goes back to being a color exclusive to a design palette. I utilize the term -- conscious capitalism to explain our purpose driven concept.

Mitch: I’ll have to revisit that specific question in a few years. However, sustainability does lead to a more comfortable place to live and work for so many people in so many different ways. That much we do know.

Nate: I certainly think it is a strong differentiator in a saturated market place. It is not enough to be green, though. You also have to offer a product that people want because it’s fashionable or practical, or whatever, and when they find out that it was made from recycled plastic bottles then they like it even more.

Who’s the main user group for Nau Connect?
(Statement for the homepage said your customers are dedicated to supporting the slow movement and a triple bottom line business model…)
This statement is pretty strong and general. Can you explain a little more?

Shaun:  Hmm...

Mitch: It would be safe to say that not every customer that walks through our door believes in the slow movement or the triple bottom line. I do feel that these elements aid in the way our repeat customers feel about their purchases.

Nate: The slow movement and triple bottom line are about thoughtful awareness and quality over quantity. Our customers appreciate our efforts towards a more responsible society, and know that they are the driving force behind this growing movement. We’re all in this together—some of us just haven’t realized yet.

Are most of customers really dedicated to slow movement, or is it like a novelty like red i-Pod?

Shaun: They make a red one now?

Mitch: The slow movement refers to the natural progression of a business. I don’t really think there is a correlation between that and a red iPod.

Nate: Some of them are, some are not. It’s an evolved lifestyle. We do ask our customers to participate in this movement, however. It makes people feel invested and a part of something bigger—and they are.

How are the characteristics of customers? Are they environmentalists? Or
Are they activists who go against about externalized costs by international corp.?

Shaun: We have a multi-faceted set of friends and family. Diversity strikes the emotional chord.

Mitch: Our customer base is extremely diverse and is not limited to any one characteristic.

Nate: It’s difficult to stereotype Connect’s customer. I will say this; diversity is one of the chief ingredients in profound change.

Do you think Nau connects to Chicago?

Shaun: Nau fits a blended value need throughout the globe. Chicago is a great one! Thank you Ian, Mark, and Peter of Nau 1.0/2.0, and all of the great early story tellers, pioneers, and business leaders, which will always be remembered as making history… baby!

Mitch: It’s just begun.
Nate: Affirmative.

Shaun + Mitch + Nate, How did you meet and start to collaborate?

Mitch: Long story. I’d have to say it fate though.

Nate: Kindred spirits.

Dream + Time, how’s your original plan went so far?

Shaun: A very good question. Still living the dream. Still doing the time…

Mitch: Plans change. We’ve been forced to adapt to certain situations that have pushed us to be more innovative than we would have been otherwise. The original plan is in tact and more solid than ever.

Nate: These things never go quite as planned. That’s part of the fun of it. If you can’t roll with the punches then you’re not cut out for this line of work. We are in a good space with a growing customer base that includes many thought-leaders and influencers. The horizon is bright.

Plan + Economic depression, how do you, or will cope with this time of crisis?

Shaun: It’s not what you do… it’s how you do it. Right? Therefore, out behave others and operate with a mean and lean love for business as an art form, while making positively assisting all future generations now. It’s not late for the sky. We enjoy like-minded collaborations. That’s coping within our cartel.

Mitch: As a young person, I’d have to say that this is the perfect time to build a foundation that will withstand the tests of time.

Nate: The mission to leave future generations with a healthy planet and a fertile ground for conscious capitalism extends beyond the current economic woes.

Our very best,
Shaun, Mitch, Nate
Connect Chicago Cartel

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