Andy Forch is a nice guy. So nice, that he helped bring a Huckberry pop-up all the way from the West Coast for us to enjoy here in New York. For a little while at least.
ven nicer, the Huckberry Co-founder agreed to answer a few of life’s most pressing questions for us. He told us a little bit about why he’s excited to be in town (turns out this is a homecoming of sorts), and we told him a bit about our love for snowmobiles. So all in all, a very well-rounded, thorough conversation. Thanks Andy.
What did you most miss about New York when you moved to San Francisco?
Andy Forch: The energy, diversity, and nightlife, for sure. Every time you step out onto the sidewalk in Manhattan, you feel like you’re stepping into a fast stream. The energy of the city is just incredible and takes a while to acclimate to every time I return. And while San Francisco definitely has a leg up on New York City when it comes to outdoor activities, the Bay Area can’t hold a candle to NYC’s restaurants and nightlife. Where else can you find four Italian restaurants on one block, each of which serves food from a different region of Italy?
Before you had a website for your e-commerce company, you had a business card. We appreciate the anachronism. Without getting all Patrick Bateman on you, what makes a good business card?
AF: I honestly think how you deliver the business card is more important than the content or paper of the card. A firm handshake, warm smile, and eye contact—for me that carries more weight than bone coloring and Romalian type.
Every time you step out onto the sidewalk in Manhattan, you feel like you’re stepping into a fast stream.
What makes the perfect Huckberry product?
AF: The perfect Huckberry product is both stylish and functional. The Huckberry guy in the city lives for adventure, so he needs his clothing to perform no matter [if] he’s at work, at play, or travelling—and ideally in the same day.
How long was the SF office/warehouse your apartment (side note: SF apartments must be huge)?
AF: Haha, well, San Francisco apartments aren’t huge, I can assure you that. Rich and I worked out of our tiny apartments for about six months. We didn’t raise any venture capital and launched Huckberry with $10,000 of our own savings, so we had to be scrappy and save money where we could. Once our inventory started spreading out of Richard’s room and into the bathroom—and other common areas—his roommates suggested it was time for us start looking for a proper office.
What’s the biggest learned you learned about having a home office and world headquarters in your apartment?
AF: You have to separate work and play, otherwise you’ll go mad. Someone once told me that a famous author (I believe it was Gay Talese or Normal Mailer) used to throw on a suit in the morning, open the front door and walk around the block three times before re-entering his home to “start work.” He would apparently do the same at the end of the day to “return home.” While I never quite followed the same routine, I always made sure to take a walk to clear my head at the end of the day—and ensure I didn’t go cabin crazy.
Once our inventory started spreading out of Richard’s room and into the bathroom—and other common areas—his roommates suggested it was time for us start looking for a proper office.
How would Huckberry have been different if you’d still been living in New York when you and Rich started it (besides there being no way it would fit in your apartment)?
AF: On the surface, I think Huckberry would have been more style-focused and less outdoorsy given the prevailing lifestyles and culture of each city. But on a deeper level, I don’t think Huckberry would exist today as I doubt that I would have had the courage to quit my safe, secure job—most of my friends in NYC were also in finance, and I think the social pressure and groupthink would have kept me from pursuing such a risky venture. Funnily enough, Rich and I lived a few blocks from each other when we lived in NYC, but we didn’t know each other, and only met at a neighbor’s party in San Francisco because we were the only two suits in the room (it was a Saturday night… just kidding).
First three things that come to mind when we say “bootstrap?”
Andy: Hustle. Creative problem-solving. And hustle.
Why New York for the first Huckberry Pop-Up?
AF: How does that Sinatra song go? If you can make it in New York, you can make it anywhere. That was certainly one thought. But more practically speaking, New York is our largest market, and we have more brand and media partners (fist bump) here than any other city in the world. Rich and I also began our careers here, so this pop-up is also a homecoming of sorts for us.
There are lots of pop-ups in NYC these days. What makes the Huckberry pop-up unique?
AF: I think it’s the experiences we’ve weaved into the shopping experience. Our mission is to inspire and equip adventures near and far, so for our first pop-up store, we brought our mission to life by creating a shoppable winter adventure guide to NYC. Inside the store, you’ll find seven distinct adventures, each with a free itinerary you can take away from the shop and the gear you need to take on the adventure. We’ve also set up insider perks on select itineraries if you mention Huckberry—examples include exclusive savings on a Land Rover rental and 10 percent off your check at one of America’s best new restaurants. My favorite adventure is a historical bar crawl in the footsteps of Jack Kerouac, Hunter S. Thompson, Jimi Hendrix and others. Best of all, the tour starts in the shop—we give you a shot and a beer and send you on your way.
What’s the first place you’re going when you land in New York?
AF: Since I’m taking a red-eye, I’ll probably drop into to Mud in the East Village. I used to go there practically every weekend when I was an intern back in 2006, and every time I go back, I’m hit with a wave of nostalgia—and buttermilk banana pancakes.
In the basement, you’ll probably find an elderly man stirring homemade Mai Thais in an old Igloo cooler with a broom handle.
We’re in San Francisco for a night. Where do we need to go?
AF: I lived in North Beach for 10 years, so I’m partial to the old Italian quarter: grab a Manhattan at Tony Nik’s and don’t mind the cranky bartenders—like a beard, they’ll grow on you. Then cross the street to Original Joe’s for some traditional Italian food. Great cocktail prices, too. For a nightcap, head over to Li Po Cocktail Lounge in Chinatown, a spot that Anthony Bourdain used to frequent when he was in town. In the basement, you’ll probably find an elderly man stirring homemade Mai Thais in an old Igloo cooler with a broom handle. You can’t make this stuff up. From what I recall, they’re $5 a pop and dangerous—but then again, it’s hard to recall much from that place.
Do you need any gnocchi restaurant recommendations while you are in NYC?
AF: Hell yeah. Let’s hear it.
Gnoccheria by Luzzo’s, you can thank us after you’ve tried it. So let’s say you decide to take a few days off and let Whalebone watch the shop. What are your instructions?
AF: Please do not ride the snowmobile out of the shop.
We know people in San Francisco always “say” they have pizza, but it’s not the same right?
AF: Not anywhere close. Let’s throw bagels in there, too.
Visit the Huckberry pop-up in NYC, open now and located at 383 Bleecker St. Please refrain from riding the snowmobile at Andy’s behest. We know… it’s tempting.