We love INTERVIEW magazine. We love the format, the iconic covers and the strange candid interviews. When we decided to do an interview with our own Founder and creative director we knew it was important to find someone good to ask the questions you would want to know about. We reached out to Henry Bae of NYC, it was about 4 years ago that the tables were turned and McBride was interviewing Henry for his first out of College job. Over skype the two discussed all things Henry, shoes and career oriented. Henry secured the position and the two worked together at Solestruck.com for several years. Below is the recorded conversation bewteen Henry Bae and Ty McBride that took place via phone in September of 2016. Enjoy.
Henry Bae and McBride Center, Poolside with Bestie Maya.
First of all, where are you from?
I grew up in a small town called Vale, on the border of Oregon and Idaho, one hour west of Boise. It's a small town of a thousand, at the foot of a dormant volcano, in Junior High we moved to the nearby larger town of Ontario, population 11K.
What was life like in Vale Oregon?
Growing up in (CITY NAME) was amazing. I grew up pre-internet, so there was no reference that everyone wasn't having the same specific experiences as I was: not locking the house, swimming in the river, a super safe community. It was a very idealistic upbringing.
Shots from the new "Intentionally __________." store.
How did you start working in fashion?
I've always been into vintage shopping and thrifting. In college, I got my first real job working at two different shops in Pacific Beach, CA. I also was doing vintage buying for a store based in Japan. Once I started working for the stores, I just found myself in the shoe departments.
How do you like working in the shoe world?
It’s definitely not where I thought I’d end up, but it’s an interesting industry when you come at it from the mid-tier. Its a very small industry — maybe even claustrophobic — but it's a place where I see opportunity for lots of growth potential. There's a lot of room to bring your vision to the table.
Is this where Intentionally Blank comes in?
Intentionally Blank is something thats always been a pipe dream of mine. Ive worked for others and have been given many opportunities to learn every aspect of the business. Through baptism by fire mostly. I was able to build teams, product, brand visions, programs, promotions—you know-- so I got to have my hand in every aspect. And Intentionally Blank kinda took shape from those experiences.
McBride, prepping the store for guests during the grand opening.
And why call this project "Intentionally ________?"
Well first of all "Pinot Grigio" was taken. And second, well, the blank is intentional in and of itself. The blank is left open for each person to fill in accordance with their own mantra. What I perceive is that Intentionally Blank is an accessory line. I make accessories to compliment and maximize a person's style. The blank is left open for one to put their own stamp on how they wear the shoes.
This is your first brand?
This is my first shoe brand I have launched for myself on my own, yeah.
At a time when online businesses are thriving, why have you decided to open a store?
These days, more than ever, the cream is rising to the top. So many stores have closed, so many retailers have closed, so many e-comm sites have closed; but the really amazing people are rising to the top. They're pushing forward. Intentionally Blank's web business is really establishing itself, and I wanted to seek out an office space that could include a retail component. A space that reflects the brand, where fans of the brand can come and rly experience our passion and our vision. I really want to interface with clients — they teach me a lot.
Are you stoked to be in Chinatown?
Theres a vibe happening here. I'm excited and intrigued by it. I don't wanna be on melrose. I don't want to be in Beverly Center.
So you're running this show, a total entrepreneur. What challenges do you face in this ground-up expedition?
My biggest fear is that I want to remain relevant. I want to be on my game, and that's crucial when you're creating something that you have to then put out for critique. For what I do, that "critique" translates into people not buying shoes, and me losing my job! So thats the hardest thing: evolving and staying relevant. And pushing myself to stay inspired by new things, try new things, enter into uncomfortable situations, learning. For as long as I'm doing this, I never want to stop learning.
What are some things that you're currently inspired by?
Our shoes are made for the real woman. She's moving, she's mobile, she's walking. She has a lifestyle that reflects that. It all goes back to my formative years of living in NYC, I think. Being so immersed in urban settings... I want to create really amazing shoes that are wearable. I've always been inspired by wearability. I don't think sex appeal is as traditional as it once used to be.
Speaking of New York, how has life been since moving to Los Angeles?
I can tell you that, for me, LA has been one of the loneliest experiences I've ever had. As someone who's super social and thrives in large social groups, it's been very challenging. I think that's part of the reason why my work has been so successful — because I've poured myself into working. Because that’s my entire life.
McBride and Bae in 2012 in NYC
Are you significantly more tired by this new chapter versus all of your past roles and challenges?
I wouldn't say I'm more tired… I would say I'm more... Ty.
So that's a yes.
It’s Britney bitch. I have a boa constrictor around my neck. And yes, my success is more personal this time. In my previous jobs, I was asked to work a lot. That was the brunt of my role — to do and do and do. I'm still "doing" now, but the work is harder. I'm forced to confront all aspects of the job that I might not be the best at. It's very personal because I'm stretching myself in new ways. It's taken me to a new place of appreciation for those people that I worked for, and the people that I've held as colleagues. And also for myself — I'm very proud.
Do you almost feel like you're paying your dues.. again?
I hope not! I feel like I've plenty paid them already! Now I feel like I'm trying to put my money where my mouth is. I used to think “You can't fire me! Without me you're nothing!” Well, maybe that's true, but maybe it's not; and maybe I'm the only one who's ever gonna know. I feel like I've already paid my dues, and am now facing a very specific challenge. Stacking my dues up. Stacking my cards up. Taking everything that I've learnt and working to make my pipe dream come true.