Good Life is

an ongoing conversation with special people in our community that provides a deeper look into what makes the brand what it is.

We've always understood that we are the sum of the people around us, and the gamut of our network is diverse in age, vocation, and more.

Each Good Life interview is ended with subjects leaving a question for the next person without knowing who they will be--this creates an unbroken line of communication between people who are mostly complete strangers, ironically unaware of how they are unwittingly connected through various relationships throughout our community. It's a fitting illustration of our amazing group of friends and family whose unique influences shape the world we call "Goodfight".

Yuki Matsuda

GF: What makes you wake up in the morning?

YM: Fun. Everyday, it’s like, wow I’m alive. It’s a good feeling. There’s always a challenge. I don’t mean waking up is challenging—waking up is no problem! (laughs)

GF: You’ve been doing this for a long time - what keeps you going?

YM: When you do the business, it’s not only you. There are so many people involved, so many people help you, and you become friends with all the people. If you think about them, then more and more you ask yourself the question, “What can we do? What kind of stuff can I design that can allow us to continue to do business?”

GF: I’m sure your design process has evolved, but how was it when you first started?

YM: Very stupid. I had so many stupid ideas and ego problems, because I was trying to be better, but the wrong way. Then you hit your head, experience pain, and run the other way....

GF: So what made you change?

YM: I had so many ideas and of course I’d get constant, “No way, you cannot do this, you cannot do that…” Sometimes I’d insist, “Why don’t you try?” and broke the machine…

GF: So it’s also learning through the limitations...

YM: Oh yeah definitely.

GF: Do you feel it’s better being limited or having more space to do more things?

YM: I’m always challenging myself, what can we do better? So even if the factory gives me limitations, maybe after two years of consistent rejection, I finally find a solution to accomplish what I want. Instead of just giving up on the idea, I might watch how the factory does something and keep in mind, why they can’t they do this? Why can’t this machine do this? Or then why do we need to use this particular machine?

GF: Do you feel like you’re teaching the factories?

YM: Of course. That’s how I stay in business. If you know your vision is really good—I’m not bullshitting—“I know this vision is good. If we do it, we’re going to be the original, we’re going to be one of the best in the US.” Then why can’t you do this? Why can’t you try this? We get the best materials. We ask the same stupid questions every time. “You ask that question every time you come and we tell you no.” But who knows, right? Even if they keep telling me no, I’ll keep asking them for what I want. I have to—because that’s what I want.

GF: Out of all the places you travel, is there a restaurant or bar that you’re willing to share?

YM: Kunn – Akasaka. Everytime I go to Tokyo—I’m there. Even when I’m by myself. I’m always in front of the owner of the restaurant. Everything is smoked style food – they have a smoked truffle omelet that would just make you….(sound of enjoyment). He makes sushi for me, special pork cutlet—tonkatsu! But this is way beyond normal tonkatsu. He has aged cigars for special customers—including special unbranded Cubans we found during a trip to Havanna years ago. The place isn’t cheap, but it’s really worth it. You want to go to places where either your friend owns the restaurant, or someone can teach you something. Every time I go, I learn something from him. It’s like the first bite you have - “What is this? How do you do that?” He’ll say, “You didn’t try this before? Oh! Good! I give you a little bit more?” So even wine or scotch or sake—even the sake! He gets “moonshine” sake from people that make their own…extremely high quality. Sometimes he has some special and says, “Try this!” So dangerous! Everything there! So dangerous! You go, you eat, you learn from him.

GF: What’s something that brings back a lot of memories for you?

YM: I don’t look back too much.

GF: What was your hardest but best lesson?

YM: Your enemy is yourself. There is no answer for this, every situation is different for how you make decisions. You need to make cold decisions, if it’s a cold decision, it’s a good decision.

GF: What is most precious to you?

YM: Family. Especially Meg Company - my team is my family too. The higher you go, the more lonely you become; you are alone. So if you have a friend, you are so lucky.

GF: What question would you like to ask the next person?

YM: What is your favorite alcoholic drink?

Meg Company
Founder & Creative Director

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Ling Chou

YM: What is your favorite alcoholic drink?

LC: (laughs) I’m 19!!!! …I think…

GF: We won’t tell your dad…

LC: (laughs) ok please. …favorite? I guess…Patron? My roommate got tequila and then she’s like “this one’s really good” and I was like “ok” but I only had it once cause we ran out.

GF: You ran out? (laughs) How big was the bottle?

LC: It was small…I don’t know who drank it though….but I guess it was fun. I like that one…

GF:What are you thinking/feeling on a Sunday night?

That I have class the next day…

GF:Is that a good feeling or a bad feeling?

LC: Right now it’s ok because it’s night class and I don’t have to get up early. But that usually means I’m doing homework for that class. So I’m usually spending Sunday night through Monday morning doing homework…so I’m thinking I’m tired. (laughs)

GF: What’s a lesson you’ve learned that’s stuck with you?

LC: I guess I realized that I shouldn’t be too hard on myself with my work—but I still do it anyways (laughs). I know it’s bad…but I keep doing it…and it’s like an on and off thing. It’s like…I don’t know if I’m doing too much or not enough…

GF: What is most precious to you?

LC: Free time. It’s nice having free time.

GF: Why is time the most precious time to you?

LC: I’m always in a hurry. And I always felt strapped for time when I was in full term at school too, so now I’m on break and I’m enjoying it, but I should be doing more too.

GF: So if you have free time, what do you like to do?

LC: Watch stuff…sleep…I guess…draw?

GF: If you had to give your sisters one piece of advice, what would it be?

LC: I guess I just want them to be nicer to each other. I would want them to be nicer and support each other more. I know they compete…but don’t compete that hard. Other than that, they’re probably better kids than I was haha.

GF: What question would you ask the next person?

LC: What’s our favorite belonging (an object)?

Dreamworks TV
Storyboard Revisionist

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Yu-Lin Chu

LC: What’s your favorite belonging (an object)?

YLC: Friends. Does that count? Is that an object? Friendship. Friendship has to be the my favorite belonging.

GF: Do you have a smell that brings back the most memories?

YLC: Bai Chie Zhu Ro (literally translated White Cut Pork Meat)! The meat isn’t seasoned beforehand, you cook it by itself to preserve the natural taste and set the pork set in boiling water until the meat turns white but is still tender. Then you remove the cooked meat and cut it into thin slices to be dipped with different sauces. The smell always brings back memories because meat used to be scarce when I grew up, and this was a dish my mother used to make for me…

GF: What was your hardest but best lesson?

YLC: During the war Kinmen was the frontline and the fighting was hard, firing cannons everyday. We were fighting for a week and one day the cannons suddenly broke down and were unable to fire—my specialty was armament repair and I suddenly felt the pressure of the war on my shoulders. It was a heavy burden I’d never experienced. I had to take a team of 4 specialists from Taiwan on an American jet to the frontline where we somehow managed to repair the cannons. In that moment I learned what it meaning of “a soldier’s honor.” I finally had a chance to take the special training I’d received and return it to my country.

GF: You’ve been married for 72 years - what is the secret to staying together?

YLC: First, baorong– “forgiveness.” Second, rennai – “patience and perseverance.” Third, xiangxin – “trust.” Without these, there is no point.

GF: What is the secret to a long life?

YLC: “Go with the flow.” And always have joy.

GF: What is one piece of advice you’d give to someone trying to start their own business?

YLC: Faithfulness is key, but in business integrity is everything.

GF: What is your most precious possession?

YLC: My body—when you have health, you have everything.

GF: What would you like to ask the next person?

YLC: How can a person not be worried or bothered when they live in this world?

MILITARY VETERAN
& CENTENARIAN

Josh Warner

YLC: What’s your most precious possession and why?

JW: Wow. It’s for sure time—time well spent. It’s something I don’t even get to hold, really. It’s everything to me; it’s interaction with my friends.

GF: Where were you when you had that revelation?

JW: You know, that’s a funny thing. I’m not sure that I finished developing that viewpoint. I think that’s a viewpoint—I mean, when’s you’re fuckin’ coffee ready? It’s too hot there, it’s too cold here, it’s somewhere in the middle…might be a hard thing to put your finger exactly on. I’m in the middle, I’m still formulating those viewpoints. But I can remember a time when I was young and I remember looking at people with things and the things were so important and I remember shaking my head and knowing that’s a thing. There are objects that are cool and things I want that I can put some importance on - like a cool camera is such a fucking funny thing, it draws people in, but very quickly you see, who’s into the effects created and who’s into the gadget itself. And not that one is so much more important than the other, but I’m usually more about the conversation or the effects created.

GF: Do you have a smell, or a sight, or a taste that brings back the most memories?

JW: You’ve probably known me long enough that I spend a lot of time in the future and a little bit of time in the present and very little time in the past. So I think as things hit me, they hit me, and one of my favorite things is to not deny the experience if I can—which is another reason why I try to keep good people around me because I know that if I keep good people around me, more good people come. The vibe doesn’t change, the whole thing actually only gets better… As far as sights and smells and all that, I think that maybe there are some that probably do it for me, but nothing's coming to mind…

GF: What wakes you up in the morning and what are you thinking on a Sunday night?

JW: Oh man. Those are easy. It’s the same thing: “It’s always the next thing.” It’s always the next thing I’m going to do or create or I’m in the middle of that I love that maybe I can get a little closer to getting finished. Or sometimes it’s the next adventure. I’m definitely lucky in that I have tremendous opportunity for adventure. I mean, it’s built in to my life, like, hopping on a motorcycle and eating at a restaurant that you’d never otherwise find, discovering a vista that you’d never otherwise see, looking down at a copper mine in the middle of fucking Colorado. These strange little places I find myself all tie into the way I live my life which is “the next thing,” “the next adventure,” and part of making jewelry and creating new stuff is that I get to travel under the guise of business. I get to say, “Well, I’m going to show this off,” but really who knows what’s going to happen when I get there? Definitely the thing that gets me up in the morning is the next thing or the thing I’m in the middle of that I want to finish. Usually it’s the design; sometimes it’s a ride.

GF: How can a person not be worried or bothered when they live in this world?

JW: I think you open yourself up to attack to the degree that you do the wrong things. And for everyone that’s different. I mean, ethics is a very personal thing. For some guy opening a pack of cigarettes and taking the plastic and the foil and throwing it on the ground and he walks along, and for another guy, he might be like, “Hey, what are you doing? You’re littering.” And the guy might turn around and say, “No, I’m keeping the street sweepers in jobs - fuck you!” and it’s opposing viewpoints of the exact same thing. Now the action is not inherently good or bad without a viewpoint attached to it or without some knowledge. So I think most of the upset and suffering comes from a lack of knowledge, so one thing you can do is certainly educate yourself. And the other [that causes upset and suffering] is a lack of action. So if you put your fuckin’ head in the sand and you don’t want to learn anything and you don’t want to act on things, then yeah, you’re gonna suffer continually. You see, I think these things affect each other; the more knowledge you have about something, the more control you can have over it, the more you understand, and you can’t separate those things. So I think what you can do is learn as much as you can, you can create as many good effects as you can, and you can keep moving forward.

GF: That makes sense...

Sometimes just giving your time to someone who’s having a hard time is so impactful, it’s so effective to bring somebody out of a funk. And I think it’s one of the reasons that I hate drinking—I like to drink for sure, but I don’t like to drink when I’m bummed out because I actually like to drink and it shouldn’t be one of those things I use to drown things that are bumming me out. And I get bummed out, I have problems, but taking a pill for it has never been an answer, it’s never made sense to me. So yeah, it’s easy to get upset about world affairs and everyone can fuckin’ blame Trump for whatever and all these shitty things that are going on.

GF: Would you say it's a question of focus?

I think the trick is get as much knowledge as you can and create as many good effects as you can. It’s impossible to be impervious to bad shit but you can certainly open yourself to more attacks by being an idiot and by pretending you didn’t see something. I think there is a mean of correct decisions that comes about the more educated people are. I think stupid people are supposed to be making bad decisions, you can’t even be mad at them for it. And people who act stupid - it’s the same people as people who don’t take the time to learn. But as you learn, for yourself what’s right and wrong, what’s important – then you can act on it. And if you don’t act on it, you’re almost worse than the guy who didn’t know what was right or wrong in the first place.

GF: What would you ask the next interviewee?

What would you like to say are your favorite or most important effects to create?

Good Art Hlywd
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Jenny Le

JW: What would you like to say are your favorite or most important effects to create?

JL: My most important effects to create is probably the moment…to meet any humans, in any capacity, whether I’ll see them even in the future or not, the context of true storytelling or sharing a moment and that will never leave that person. Like if I ever see them again—it’s like touching someone in a big way— (voice breaking) you know what I mean? At the end of the day—I don’t know why I’m getting all emotional!—at the end of the day none of this stuff means anything. So what you’re going to leave behind is whether you’re making this, which is so important I think cause what you guys are trying to do comes from a bigger—I know you guys, so it comes from so much history and so much storytelling and you’re not just trying to make another clothing line—in the hopes that you can reach a bigger cause and you have a voice for humanity and through this I know you guys are going to make an impact. I mean the name already, “Goodfight,” makes sense for you guys.

GF: You speak about emotional investment in work places – I think something we got from you at OC, you always didn’t treat us just like employees….

JL: No, you guys were my partners! You don’t just direct people to do things; like, if I give you a piece of paper, “Ok, do these things,” you’re a robot. But if I create thinkers, then you guys are autonomous to run the business with or without me. There’s no one more intelligent in this room than each other. I’ve been learning to become a better hirer and when you hire people who are naturally inspired or curious about the world, you’re not going to be disappointed. Cause a fashion person can be very snobby or gossipy, and you want to hire people who, if they’re creative or inspired people, are going to always look towards doing something outside of work that is inducing their creativity. Perspective is so important - that’s why it’s important not to be alone even though it’s a romantic idea. “I’m a loner in this world.” If you think that you can do it all by yourself, then what’s the purpose for anything?

GF: Do you have a smell, sight, or object that brings back the most memories?

JL: I think it would be my parent’s wedding photo—even though I wasn’t there, it just separates the journey. I hold it often and it’s this beautiful picture of my parents and they’re no longer together, but it displays this array of history and ancestry every time I see it. It’s the one thing that, I would say, if an earthquake hit I would have to grab. Cause it’s the only image of my parents together and they look so magical and both so beautiful, but it’s kind of like this “I’ll never see it again” [object] but it’s cool. I’ve never seen it in real life (them together), or during my adult life, cause I think they separated when I was six or seven. So only in that image have I witnessed that these two people were together. But they look so cool.

GF: What are you thinking on a Sunday night?

JL: That the world is calm. And there’s a future ahead. (laughs) I dunno, Mondays always feel like I’m ready to run and Sunday is the calmness—I wouldn’t say the storm—cause I’m always excited to get stuff done so I would say it’s like how the middle of the night feels for people who stay up late—you know that silence? That’s kind of the stillness, I guess. I always liked to say I love going to bed because you feel like your temple needs to rest, so it’s like resting your soul or your temple because everything is so excessive these days, internet this… It’s almost like there’s a pure simplicity of a Sunday. It’s just that Sunday is a simple day…something about the air of a Sunday—I actually feel like a Sunday night has a smell. You can think about a Sunday night and feel like there’s a scent in the air or an openness in the air, it doesn’t feel like a congested air.

GF: Who makes you laugh the most?

JL: Anyone that’s pretty funny in a dark way…

GF: What was your hardest but best lesson?

JL: Probably every time I failed at something. Or actually, mostly when friends in my life would ridicule me about something. I wanted to make a book one time and when I said “I wanna make a book,” they said, “Well you need to make good photos first.” And I think all the criticism I ever had was “you should get a real job” or “you should get a real car.” I have a vintage car so I always got a lot of criticism: “you don’t have this, you’re not this.” So every time someone said that, it never left me and I never was pompous about anything I achieved, but those little stabs were enough bullets to make me do everything consistently me - not for money, not for status, not anything but the good of what my heart wants to do. And only years later, at this point in my life, can I say “I made a book and I love it. I’m still at the job that you criticized me for and I love it. I’m still driving that car that you criticized and I love it.” And I still love all those things that…I never got that 5 new cars or climbed the ladders of the five other jobs, even though I was offered money at other jobs, I still sustained the same things that I was criticized about from the beginning, but they turned out to be the right choices for me. Fast-forward: those people ended up either asking me for jobs later in their lives or trying to do a collaboration with me. So I think the way you get people back is by just staying true to yourself and doing what’s right. I got my victory in the end, but I didn’t do anything different. I still have those three things I was criticized about, but somehow those three things ended up being socially cool later on.

GF: What question would you ask the next person?

JL: What would you want to leave this earth knowing that you left behind?

DRIES VAN NOTEN
RETAIL DIRECTOR

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Jey Perie

JL: What would you want to leave this Earth knowing that you left behind?

JP: Wow. Got real serious, real quick.

GF: Yes haha...

JP: Something strong to be remembered by. Whether it’s positive or negative, you can’t please everyone. I’m still so young, so it’s hard to think about death right now. But yeah, a strong legacy, whatever that is...

GF: You feel like you’re still shaping it...

JP: Yeah, of course, I’m 33. Put that in print. We’ll make it true.

GF: So something a little bit lighter (laughs): what are you thinking or feeling on a Sunday night?

JP: Sunday night is always kind of a weird evening for me. I think that’s to do with remembering how school was and the end of the weekend. It’s weird. Even now, usually I work on Sunday, but when I don’t work-- there’s that weird Sunday night feeling - not a big fan. Not a big fan of Sunday in general.

GF: Really, why is that?

JP: In Europe, Sundays, everything is shut down, so it's like the whole activity and energy is kind of dark. Even if I appreciate it more now, back in the day I was always annoyed by Sunday quietness.

GF: What kind of advice would you give to your 20-year-old self?

JP: "Don't stress, it's gonna be okay."

GF: That's actually really funny because we interviewed Julia's 103-year-old grandfather [Yu-Lin] who lived his prime during a time of war--he was a WWII vet, actually multiple wars. Obviously, he lost so many friends during the war and witnessed so much tragedy. His wife told us about how during one bombing raid--which happened often--their friends fled to a bomb shelter. The space was packed so full of people in the panic that they began to run out of air, but they couldn't open the doors because everyone who hadn't made it in had died outside and their bodies, combined with the debris from the explosions, had effectively blocked and sealed the exit. Everyone died. But the crazy thing is, despite everything's he's been through, he said that if there's any advice that he would give about living a long life, being prosperous, etc. he said, basically--

JP: --to go with the flow.

GF: Exactly.

Of course.

GF: Don't you think it's ironic that the advice of an 103-year-old guys is almost identical to what you would tell your younger self?

JP: You stress at 20, especially in this world where nothing is certain anymore. I would not change anything. I think it's taking risk that always pays off.

GF: What do you think was your hardest but most memorable lesson? Or one of them, maybe not the pinnacle, but maybe one of them that really sticks to you.

JP: I mean, moving to Japan was one of the hardest things I'd done, because I didn't speak the language, I didn't have money, I didn't have a job. Moving to a new country as a blank canvas, was tough--like this bare immigrant life. But I took a lot from it.

GF: What was the most important thing that you learned while you were there?

JP: Just trusting yourself. Know what you're capable of; it will pay off. It's a slow process. There was no one there to teach me a lesson, but you have to always believe in yourself in a way.

GF: Okay. Here’s a question that goes back to what we were talking about before: how would you define luxury?

JP: Good question. I mean luxury always has to be something rare and hard to get. And that elevates you in any locality you might be: like taking a vacation for six months can be a luxury, or taking a two day vacation in a very secluded place because you need it-- that’s luxury. , If you don’t have too much time, spending time with your family can be luxury. It’s a thing or a moment that you work very hard for, and when you get it, you see it as special, in a way that it sticks out, from the ordinary.

GF: So it’s something that almost has a relationship with scarcity.

JP: Yeah.

GF: Speaking of scarcity, a friend was saying to me the other day about how New York doesn't excite him anymore.

JP: What do they say?

GF: Saying that New York has changed, that they don't feel like there's that many New Yorkers in New York anymore. Not in the sense of you're born and raised, but in the sense of people getting priced out of living in the city, living in Brooklyn, living in Astoria. In Los Angeles it's happening too.

JP: It's happening in every big city in the world. Paris, same thing.

GF: That's true...

JP: Saying that "there's no more New Yorkers in New York" is such a weird statement. Where did they go? Did they die? They moved to L.A.? New York has been constantly changing. Bedford-Stuyvesant was a Jewish neighborhood, then it became black, and in 10 years, who knows. Some of the neighborhoods are gonna get better, some other neighborhood's gonna get worse, that's the oldest story in America--in the world! And New York has been built on change, so there's still amazing things in the city, there's still a lot of opportunity. I think the culture is still interesting. There's less edge as before. There's less Mom & Pop stores, and that's something we can regret, but we need to fight with what we've got to make the city better, and not complain about the good old days. My wife is from New York, a lot of my family is from here. [Back in the days] it was exciting, but it was also a terrible place to live. We traded excitement for safety. And maybe sometimes we want to be them both, but...

GF: So for you New York, more than representing a thing, really represents something dynamic.

JP: Yeah. I live in downtown Brooklyn, I'm surrounded by real New Yorkers, people are fun to talk to. There are weirdos, there are smart people, there are billionaires, there are poor people. I think the diversity--especially for me growing up in the south of France--what I love about New York, it's still there, it's still here. Tell me one city that's better than [New York] for diversity and rubbing your shoulders with all nationalities, all income brackets. There's none, still.

GF: For you, is there a smell or a sight or something like that, that says New York to you?

JP: It’s 100 degrees outside, and it’s mad hot and you walk around Chinatown, so you stink. That’s real New York. You go to any part of Brooklyn, now, or tonight, the piranha are hot and start to act crazy. The whole city is becoming its real self, if you want, when the temperature’s that hot.

GF: You can’t hide.

JP: Exciting or not, New York is still New York, 365 days a year. Things are constantly moving, but the essence of the city is still there. Stores open, stores close. Stays the same.

GF: For sure. So what question would you ask the next person?

JP: Describe your ideal five day vacation.

LA NOXE
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Aaron Hutcherson

JP: Describe your ideal five-day vacation.

AH: I actually had a pretty good one over 4th of july. A group of friends and I rented a house up along the Hudson river. It was sort of isolated, in the middle of nowhere, right over the water. It was the first time I had gotten out of the city and into nature in a while. I forgot what the world was like outside of New York City. There was no agenda. We just slept. I spent a lot of time on the front porch just thinking, listening to mu- sic, drinking wine and beer or whatever, a cocktail. So yeah, it was just time to disconnect. Then everyone else was also out on vacation because it was a long holiday weekend. There was no stress of, oh, there’s all these things that are happening that I’ll have to catch up with because everyone was in the same boat. I think it was easier to disconnect and not think about the real world too much.

GF: Good stuff. What would you say your favorite place on earth is? That’s a big question.

AH: *laughs* My bed.

GF: Are there any changes or habits in your life life that you instituted in the last five years that changed or improved things for you? Do you have something like that for you where you feel like it was something that you changed in your life that really helped you?

AH: Not necessarily a concrete thing, but I feel like just as I’ve gotten older, I’ve gotten more comfortable with saying ‘no’ to people and doing the things that I actually want to do. I feel like in New York City if you have a good social circle you’ll get invited to all these different things. “Come hang out at X, Y, Z. Do this and that.” Sometimes I want to do those things, or I want to see these people, but-- also going back to the whole vacation thing-- I need time for myself. I’m one of those people where I need to sit and not do anything for at least a little bit each week. Like, “Mm, I’ll see you next time.” I feel like some people sort of go through life with this FOMO, like, oh, I have to do everything. No, you don’t have to do everything. Take advantage of what the city has to offer, but if you miss this one dinner or this one opening or X, Y, Z, it’s like it’s not going to be the end of the world.

GF: How would you define luxury?

AH: I think of luxury as more than what is required.

GF: That’s interesting.

AH: Like, you need to eat. You could eat rice and beans all day and you’ll be fine. Well, more or less. Or you could go and get some filet mignon or caviar and oysters. They still, at the essence, fulfill the same pur- pose, but one is extra. It’s like superfluous to a certain extent.

GF: Do you feel like luxury, also kind of based on your perspective of it, it is like extra and superfluous, do you feel like it’s important to have luxury in your life or it’s something that you don’t necessarily need?

AH: It’s definitely nice to have. I don’t know. Necessary is a strong word. Because when I think of luxury in terms of food or clothing, it’s like something that maybe I’ll get for myself; treat myself. I, in a way, will relate it to my personal values. Like oh, I work hard, I need to treat myself with these cakes or this meal or whatever. It’s a nice reward, in a way, for whatever it may be. But of course not everyone can do that, so. Maybe they find luxury in different, or not material things, or different things, or something like that. I don’t know. I’ll probably have to think about that.

GF: What would you ask the next person?

AH: I would ask them what is their go-to meal to cook for themselves?

WASHINGTON POST / VORACIOUSLY
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Austin J. Curtis

AH: If you could be anywhere in the world right now, where would you be and who would you be with?

AC: I think I’d be with my grandfather, and I would want to be in New York still, even though we’re here now. I’d want it to be around Christmas time. Maybe that’s not the exact answer you’re looking ... but around that time he and my grandmother always brought the grandkids up here around Christmas time, and we’d see a Broadway show, and they would give us $50, and we’d go to FAO Schwartz. That was our first Christmas present of the year and it was always the weekend before Christmas. just seeing the city through that scope and not being here for a few years ... It’s not that it’s lost that glamor, but I’m seeing things through different perspectives, and I’d like to see it again through that lens... And it’s hot outside right now.

GF: So for Christmas, will you just go to FAO Schwartz, just to live it a little?

AC: I think it’s closed now.

GF: Really?

AC: Yeah, I think it closed down. I haven't been up into that area in a while... I did see the tree last year. My family was in town, and we did that, but I haven't been up by Bergdorf Goodman and the Park around Christmas time in years. I'm usually back home with the family.

GF: I love it. You not only ... picked a place and a person, you also time traveled.

AC: Traveled seasons.

GF: What is your most precious possession and why?

AC: Right now, I've been enjoying my camera that I just purchased.

GF: What camera is it?

AC: It is a Contax T3 35mm film camera.

GF: Ooh.

AC: I've enjoyed carrying that around and not being able to see what the photos look like until it's developed. There's been some really cool shots of my friends. There's been some shitty shots that I've taken, but it's just a really cool process.

GF: Cool. Have you just been developing it as you go? Do you have stuff...or do you wait a little bit?

AC: There's a credit card minimum on the film spot that I go to, so....I wait to get two to three rolls developed at a time, which is 36 shots each roll. I just got a couple rolls developed from the winter and seeing that brings stuff back. I love that it's not just instant gratification and putting content out there right away. There's images that I have that I haven't even shown my friends yet that are some of the best, but when it's the right time, it's the right time.

GF: Do you have a smell that brings back the most memories?

AC: There’s a smell that I’ve recently smelled that brings me back...not that it was the most amazing trip, but it was in Miami, and I was with some very good friends and I smelled it just walking by on some of the streets. It just reminds me of that trip. I don’t know the smell, but it’s in the Mondrian and in the SoHo Beach Hotel, or South Beach Hotel in Miami? I don’t know. It’s just this very fresh, floral smell. When I smell it, it just takes me back to that trip. Right now, that’s what it is, but there’s certainly smells that take me back to my friend’s house. Or you walk by a bar and you kind of maybe remember that drunken college night at that dive bar in who knows where. So right now, it’s that smell of that hotel.

GF: Since you work with clothes...whether it's related to clothes or not, how would you define luxury right now? What's "luxurious" to you?

AC: Time and space is luxurious to me. The last couple of summers I've spent in New York, with the weather being nicer and everyone out--not dark at four in the afternoon--I felt like if I was leaving the city, I'd be missing out on stuff. Recently, this summer I've been trying to get out of the city as much as I can. Being back, either home in Philadelphia, or at the beach, just space is very luxurious to me, to be able to walk from one room, to maybe separate yourself from someone, is nice.

GF: Especially in New York.

AC: Then time [is luxury]. I feel like I've recently had more time to myself. I did the [Iron Man] race, and that consumed a lot of time. Work always consumes time, especially in the middle of market, chasing orders and customers. When I do have time, it's nice, and I'm looking forward to actually taking some time off and really just being off. Not off the grid, but just--

GF: --mentally.

AC: Right, mentally having some time to "be off". When you're surrounded by what many people would define as "luxurious", whether it be clothing or cars, in New York City--where you bump shoulders with the richest of the rich and the lowest of the low--it becomes changes what you value. You know those things are there, but you find more important things, and maybe even a certain space.

GF: Funny how that works.

AC: I recently went back home to the suburbs of Philly is where I grew up. We were just having dinner, and I was like, "Whoa. We live in a really beautiful area. There's rolling hills and everything's green, and it's just fresh air." My mom was like, "Yeah, you grew up here. You didn't see it then?" But that's what I knew then, and I wanted to be in the city at that point; now that I'm in the city, I'm looking for an escape. It's nice to escape, but it's also really nice to come back to how hectic it is here.

GF: What’s your favorite sound?

AC: I think continuing on the thread of our conversation... it’s not silence, but nature. Not horns and sirens and loud conversations. Whether it’s crickets in the middle of the night or just that...that sound. Honestly, it’s very foreign to me at this point. When I’m away from the city and it is that quiet, it’s weird for my mind to go to sleep and to be at ease, because I’m so used to commotion. That sound is nice. I also like the sound of laughter, because it generally comes with good times, whether you’re witnessing it or you’re a part of it. That’s another good sound to overhear or be a part of.

GF: As much as I’m not a nature person, I love that feeling of when you’re alone where it’s really quiet and still. You can hear the breeze, you can hear crickets, you can hear rustling. It’s just calmness that you can’t synthesize at all.

AC: Yeah. I sat and listened to the ocean waves crash in the distance. There were different bonfires on the beach, but whether it was music playing or just muddled conversation, it was just really nice.

GF: What do you want to ask the next person?

AC: What compliment would you want to hear and from whom?

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Karen Kaiser

AJC: If there was one compliment you’d like to hear about yourself, what would it be and who would it be from?

KK: Oh wow. Well, maybe it’s because I’m a new mother, but I think it relates to my work as well. I think if you had a beautiful aura and energy that translated to your work, and to your personality, and everyone around you. That would be a pretty-

GF: Good compliment?

KK: Awesome compliment, yeah.

GF: From whom?

KK: Wow. Rei Kawakubo.

GF: That would be amazing! She just comes up to you at The Met, and she’s like, “I just need you to know that you have a great energy and aura.”

KK: “You struck me.”

GF: (laughs) I'm ready for that. So you've been married to Nico for...

KK: Two years next week. [Editor's Note: This was in Sept of 2017]

GF: Two years. Okay, what is the secret to staying together?

KK: I definitely think flexibility, but also encouraging each other’s passions, energy, and independence. I think it’s healthy to have a bit of independence, so traveling a bit helps too.

GF: Exploration, independence, keeping the curiosity going.

KK: Exactly. And I forgot the most important element is laughter. Because Nico is really funny and that is what really keeps things light.

GF: What is one thing that you’d tell your 20-year old self? What kind of advice would you give to yourself at 20, now as you?

KK: Follow your dreams. Because it might not even ... you might not even know what it is you want to do. But if you try things you’re interested in and continue to follow them, you will find fulfillment.

GF: Since you are always surrounded by beautiful things, beautiful clothes, how would you define-- whether it’s like a lifestyle or good or standard--how would you define luxury? What’s luxurious to you?

GF: I definitely believe in the feel of something. Like touch and feel. I’m very tactile and textural. So, I think the way it feels on your skin is really important in luxury. And also that it can withstand the test of time. I think luxury should last longer than a single season or a trend. It should withstand time.

GF: If you could be anywhere in the world right now, where would you be and who would you be with?

KK: That's a tough one, but I am obsessed with Japan. And I have more places to explore in Japan. And Naoshima, Teshima--specifically I want to go back to and spend more time. They're the little art islands. I definitely would want to go with Nico, and now take our son.

GF: When and what was your hardest but best lesson?

KK: When and what. The first week of my child's birth, because it was the most amazing incredible experience and challenging at the same time. And it just...it makes you realize how quickly life changes and how fast it goes. And that you still have to be in the present, and see the good in all situations.

GF: It's working to get somewhere...

KK: Exactly.

GF: So what’s the next question you want to leave for whoever next we’re asking?

Something that comes to mind easily is: "Who would you invite to your dinner party to have an in- depth conversation and why?" I think that it says some interesting things about people. But also I think it would be interesting to see how deep people go. Or it could show that they have interest in aspects of pop culture or history.

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Aloha Cafe

KK: Who would you invite to your dinner party to have an in-depth conversation with and why?

JL: I would invite Komai, which is the cook that taught me how to cook. We started Aloha’s. He passed about 10 years ago; I would just love to know what he thinks with what we did. He was my best friend, he was my mentor, he taught me how to cook everything here, and he was supposed to be here, but he passed really unexpectedly. We loved Aloha so much, and we would hang out every day and talk about our vision. He was this Hawaiian guy who you couldn’t understand because his pigeon was really bad. He smoked a lot of cigarettes. He had really bad habits, he gambled. He was just a really crazy guy, but we just had this love for Aloha. He passed so unexpectedly—it was really devastating for me—I took like a year off. I feel like he is watching over us, I would just want to know how he feels. I know he would be really happy but I just need to hear it. We’ve grown so much, and he just means so much to me. I would just love to sit down together...

GF: Kenneth?

KL: She hit a note that it is a really sore subject for me to lose Komai. We kind of grew up with him and he is like a father figure. When I first started working with him I was in high school. Celebrity-wise, I would love to talk to Trevor Noah. Seeing his documentary and him growing up, how he went through all the struggle, to be where he is at now, I just feel like getting both sides of the story and actually talking in person and getting a feel of it is totally different.

GF: He’s cool. So you both talk about Komai, how did you guys meet him and how did Aloha Cafe come about?

JL: I started there as a server when I was 17 when we were originally located in Monterey Park. I was a server there—it was my first server job—and he was the cook there. They went out of business, after about six years. I was in college at the time, and you know, when you are in college you are trying to think [about your future]. You get attached to things and I just thought, oh I can maybe do this! So I took [Aloha Cafe] over. Komai ran the back, I ran the front of the house. We just worked together every day from there. That’s basically how we built our relationship. He didn’t marry anybody so he was single, didn’t have any kids, so he was basically part of our family. We just hung out all the time. Then when he (motioning towards Kenneth) was in high school...

KL: ...yeah, I needed a job. So she introduced me, and I started working there. That’s when I very first met Komai. I was pretty young, like 15, 16... I started right before the original owners closed Aloha. Then when we took it over, I got really close with Komai.

JL: He looked crazy! He had really long hair and grunted a lot. (laughs) He had the worst habits. He would smoke in the kitchen and cook at the same time. I’m like, “You can’t do things like that Kumai!” And he’s like, “It’s okay, don’t worry! ” He just really didn’t give a fuck about anything. When we started working together we just had to learn to balance. “You really can’t smoke cigarettes. You can’t do a lot of things that you do.” He was like, “I’m going to do whatever I want, if they don’t want to come they are not going to come.” “It doesn’t work like that...” I told him. I don’t know, it’s weird, we are two totally different people but we just totally connected. I think I was able to bring out the better in him; he was able to teach me how to cook. He never measured, he’s just like “you do this, and this, this, this...” Meanwhile, I’m trying to write it down... (laughs) Somehow, I was able to learn his flavor and his taste over years. Which took me a really long time.

GF: For you guys, what is an ideal meal like? I feel like that’s always interesting asking people in the food industry.

KL: I can always just do steak. I love just a good dry aged steak. Cooked perfectly, that’s just my grind. I love it.

JL: I don’t know what my ideal is. I think I just appreciate anything that is not fancy, but made with a lot of thought. Something that I can feel like someone really put a lot of love into it. I think that is the food that I love to eat. Simple but, I can feel like a person put a lot of thought into it and it’s so good. I can feel how good it is. I am a really strong believer that when you cook you put so much emotion in it, you can feel it when someone puts a lot into it.

GF: Actually, the question that we have been asking a lot of people that we have been interviewing is how you define luxury? What does that word mean to you guys?

KL: I think luxury for me is just being happy. Not having to worry about much. Just being really content. Whereas, you can buy any sort of car or anything with money. I think the real luxury is having the close family, friends, that have the support. I don’t think you can buy happiness. It’s just how it is.

JL: I think time is luxury. Time is luxury. I am just always against the clock. I could be here all day. I can live here if I could. But, I have other things I have to do, you know? I have to be with my family, and I am a mom. Which I love. It’s time. Time is totally a luxury.

GF: What keeps you guys going?

JL: I just am focused. I am super focused. I’m at home and I am messy, I forget shit, I have a temper... (laughs) But here I am focused. My focus is to make Aloha amazing. I’m not afraid to work hard. I’m not afraid to work every day. I think you can’t be afraid to dedicate everything that you have.

GF: What question would you ask the next interviewee?

KL: If sleep wasn’t an issue, what would you do with the extra time?

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Kyu Bum Lee

KL: If sleep wasn’t an issue, what would you do with the extra time?

KB: I would still lay down with my eyes closed. But really, “I never sleep, ‘cause sleep is the cousin of death.” (laughs)

GF: You live a pretty nomadic lifestyle. You’re not really in one city for more than three weeks at a time, right? How do you handle that?

KB: I think I’m getting kind of tired of it but at same time I’ve become a professional at this shit. So I’m actually okay. It’s weird because I’m just so used to it. I’m so used to living in a hotel. It is good, but at same time I’m just more focused on settling down and living in one city. I still love traveling, though, because I want to learn something new all the time.

GF: Is there anything that you carry around when you travel that reminds you of home?

KB: Nothing. But there are certain places that feel like my home. Certain hotels like The Shiloh or something in Korea. I’ve stayed there so many times that the workers recognize me and greet me by name. They make me feel like the place is my home. And plus certain rooms I always kind of put, literally, stickers or something behind the artwork or inside the chair or something. Like it’s my home. I was here.

GF: From G-Dragon to Peter Saville--you’re constantly around massively talented and creative people; of all of your friends that you hang out or work with, who do you admire the most?

KB: I don’t think I have one person that I admire. I learn from so many things from my friends. So I can’t really single out just one person. There are people and work that I admire, but I want to be KB. It’s not like ego or anything. It’s not like I’m better than them or like I want to be separated from them. It’s nothing like that, just doing me.

GF: For you, as a designer and an artist, I’ve noticed how you’re aware of the history of your designs and you can articulate your inspirations. How important is it for designers today to have their own thoughts and inspiration, instead of copying something off Google or from a picture?

KB: I have a big issue with people getting their inspiration from Tumblr or the Internet. There’s so much shit out there. You have to make it your own. When you see things in real life and when you see them through your computer screen, it has a different impact on you.

My theory is that humans need to learn until they die. To me, it’s just so crazy when people don’t know the history behind things. I feel like when you know about the history, the purpose of these things, you will appreciate them more too.

GF: It inspires more creativity...

100% it will. You have to create your own things. Some people make mood boards, have references; they put a pin in there and I don’t think that’s visionary.

There are a lot of good curators out there. They know how to make things look good, but I feel like there are not many visionaries out there. There are not many people showing us the new way.

“Do you want it to be a curator or do you want to be a visionary?”

I’d rather be a visionary.

GF: When legitimate design studios produce things, people think, “Oh, I can just imitate that by doing this or that.” But they don’t understand the thought process or the research that went behind it, and because of that, they’re unable to really create their own narrative...

KB: Exactly. I’m opening a design studio up here because some Asian companies are strange. They pay big bucks for the consulting, marketing, this whole branding thing. Sometimes they don’t really pay that much money for designing. I’m not saying they have to pay more money, but it’s more like appreciation for the work that goes into a real design process. What I’m saying is sometimes companies are like, “Oh yeah. We don’t have to spend that much money on designing” and stuff like that. No, it’s not what you think--it’s a different process.

Good design has more emotions attached to it. A lot of times, they have their own sensibility, their own unique style... Sometimes people don’t get it.

GF: I feel like good design or a good designer always has some kind of subtle signature.

KB: That’s the thing. Don’t you want to feel that way too? When people wear your clothing, even though there’s no logo, no branding, looking at it from a distance-- you want to see people recognize your clothes because of the design.

GF: What would you ask the person we’re speaking to next?

KB: How much cash do you have in your pocket right now?

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Waraire Boswell

KB: How much cash do you have in your pocket right now?

WB: (laughs) Oh, I have my credit card in my pocket - I have my American Express, I have my ATM, so do I need to like...?

GF: Please don’t.

WB: It’s good. (laughs)

GF: How important was that when you were seventeen versus how important it is to you now?

WB: Oh man. It’s more important to me now because I understand ... like I think everybody’s money is hard earned for the most part on the level on which we exist in. There are certain people who never have to worry about money at all. That’s amazing to me. Like, you literally survive your whole existence and now you’re an adult, you got married, mom and dad came with that money for the down payment on the crib, or they actually owned a crib that they just bequeathed to you. You don’t have to worry about bread at all, that’s amazing. So, since I know how hard I work for my money, I wouldn’t have that appreciation at seventeen because I didn’t have life experiences.

GF: Do you feel artists and people with a social platform have a certain kind of responsibility?

WB: Absolutely. I saw a documentary about Jack Johnson where he said he felt like he was carrying the weight for all of Black America. The same goes for Adam Clayton Powell Jr. in Washington, D.C., the first Black Congressman. Even though he represented Harlem, he received letters from all over the country because people were inspired by what he was doing.

I say all that and I give you those examples to say that you still have to be socially responsible. You just have to be, because there are places in America where black people are not. There are people who won’t get to meet a black person who is educated, intelligent, and carries himself or herself in a certain manner with certain esteem. And if all they’re seeing is “turnt up” music and ratchet on TV-- that’s what they think speaks for the entirety of Black America. If this person, white person, or any person, has just been fed a steady stream of this, it’s going to be difficult for us to break through that.

I say you combat all that ignorance by being responsible in your lane. My lane is fashion and I’m good at it; I feel like I can talk to anyone from a clansman to a gang member. You have to be responsible.

GF: If you could talk to yourself at the age of seventeen, what would you tell yourself?

WB: I would have definitely said ‘get out of your own way.’ I would travel to Japan. I would travel to Amsterdam. I would go to Mexico City. I would go to Paris. I traveled when I was younger and single, but not with my collection—I traveled for leisure.

If I had a chance to talk to myself, I would have said, “If you’re going to these places, make sure you’re going with a plan. Don’t just go.” But the valuable thing is now I get to talk to my best friend about this and we can share this with our youngsters.

By and large, Black people for the most part in the United States don’t really have a template for success. We just have to be very, very resourceful in all facets of life.

My level of resourcefulness increased when I got married and had children. I was forced to be resourceful to figure out how am I going to provide for this family and grow my business to unprecedented heights.

GF: How much of what you feel like in terms of your culture are in there. Do you feel like it’s important to kind of come through in what you do? Or do you separate that?

WB: What I’m very conscious of is value proposition. I’m always thinking because there are brands with millions and millions of dollars behind them. So, if I am making something, I’m thinking what is it about my brand that is so special that’s gonna make somebody come to me versus going somewhere else? My value proposition is: attention to detail and powerful use of colors. I frequently draw upon my African roots and interject culture in all things I do.

It’s been an interesting role for me. Because I can remember going to see editors at GQ, Details Magazine, there were a couple of the magazines that were like, “Oh!” (motions to himself). This is before like Instagram and all that where they had no idea I was black. Like zero. So, when I rolled in they were like, okay.

GF: Do you have a song that meant a lot to you when you were growing up that you sometimes revisit now?

WB: Something Atlantic Star, Stylistics, Mtume, Roberta Flack and Donnie Hathaway. Something Marvin Gaye, my father owned and ran the record shop in Pasadena, CA called so all he did was play music...all day! I have a great infinity for music and rhythm. A year and a half ago I put out a record called Two Sons. If you go to my Instagram, the link is there. I may release something else if the sprit calls me to do so. I do it for fun.

GF: So what’s your question for the next person?

WB: “What will you do to maintain your happiness and the happiness of others around you?”

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Good Life is

an ongoing conversation with special people in our community that provides a deeper look into what makes the brand what it is.

We've always understood that we are the sum of the people around us, and the gamut of our network is diverse in age, vocation, and more.

Each Good Life interview is ended with subjects leaving a question for the next person without knowing who they will be--this creates an unbroken line of communication between people who are mostly complete strangers, ironically unaware of how they are unwittingly connected through various relationships throughout our community. It's a fitting illustration of our amazing group of friends and family whose unique influences shape the world we call "Goodfight".