I just wrapped a really fun project with fellow southern Vermonter Andrew Maness for his brand, The Nice Life Apparel Co. I created a new banner for the brand’s blog and a new design for one of Maness’ incredibly soft, organic, made in the USA T-shirts. Maness talks about his roots and what The Nice Life Apparel Co. is all about below in my Q&A with him. And don’t forget to keep an eye on his webshop for the goods!
Q. What does being a Vermonter mean to you?
A. To me being a Vermonter means having a strong sense of community and at the same time being fiercely independent. It’s actually something I think is summed up pretty damn well in our state motto, Freedom & Unity. I’ve always taken that to mean, “be your own person and live your life but don’t forget to give back to your community, the place that made you who you are”.
Q. What was the role your VT roots had in starting your brand The Nice Life Apparel Co.?
A. Well, I suppose it stems from what I said above. Nice Life was born directly out of my upbringing in small rural town that is still just 3 hours from Boston and 4.5 to New York. The landscape, the weather, the people of Vermont, that’s my biggest source of inspiration for Nice Life. Although the frequent trips to New York, Boston and Maine at a young age had a profound effect on me that I didn’t fully understand until recently. Not gonna lie, for most of my adolescence I want to start a company, design my own gear but at that point in time it would have changed with whatever trend was going through the snowboard world as that was the dominate force in my life. The older I got, the more I began to get back to my roots (as we all should) and understand the things that make me who I am. The more I understood, the more I was able to formulate a clear picture of what Nice Life should be. I think Vermont is about an eclectic state as there can be. The various regions of the state have attracted so many different types of people over the years, that I’d almost liken it to the city (NYC) and its boroughs. The Kingdom, Burlington, Central and SoVT have cultures as varied as the states geography. Having spent a good amount of time all around the state, in many different seasons has allowed me to absorb bits and pieces of each area’s defining factors. As Nice Life grows, it’ll become clearer what I mean by that as the products will reflect the regions from which they were inspired by.
Q. In your mind, what makes your products stand out amongst the rest?
A. As of now I’d say what makes my products stand out is the comfort level of our organic cotton tees and the designs. When I first started out (waaaaay back in 2009) I knew next to nothing about menswear let alone the fashion industry. I knew what types of shirts I liked to wear and I knew that I had a very limited amount of financial backing to make some stuff. The first few shirts I made were designed by myself on Photoshop and printed on the kind of tees that you’d get at a family reunion (not to knock your family reunion tee…sorry). They weren’t well received but I figured “hell, things can only get better”. One day after having tumbled pretty far down the internet rabbit hole, I came across some hand drawn fonts that I really loved. I looked up who did them and contacted the artist, Jon Contino to see if he’d be interested in doing some art for Nice Life. As it turned out Jon had a clothing company of his own (CXXVI N.Y.) and was a huge help in guiding me towards getting Nice Life on the right track. Jon has done three designs for Nice Life so far and I guess you could say has given it a certain level of street cred. My plan is to continue to work with Jon and people like Christine of N’East Style to create unique hand drawn graphics for tees, tags and patches.
Q. What do you have in store for Nice Life in 2012?
A. Ever heard the term, “his eyes were bigger than his stomach”? Well that’s pretty much me in a nutshell when it comes to my plans for Nice Life this year. I’ve got a number of collaboration projects I’m working on, with some people that I can’t believe I even have the opportunity to work with. I’m hoping to further cultivate relationships with a number of brick & mortar locations that I’ve visited, in hopes that Nice Life can grow as a brand as they grow their customer base. For the winter we’ll soon have our heavyweight, organic cotton hoodies available as well as long sleeve tees. Looking further down the road, I’m excited for our first board shorts which will be available in June and for our first accessories pack coming in April. I don’t want to go too much into detail about the accessories pack as I’m still working out the final logistics but I can say it’s going to be the first of two seasonal packs (S/S, F/W) that I plan to do each year. The packs will feature items specific to the season that will make life a little bit nicer. So, in addition to new products, I’m looking forward to putting on more events this year, especially the second annual Party Time! Excellent! at The Red Fox Inn during the U.S. Open. If you’re on the east coast in March, mark your calendar for that one folks, 3/8/12. Beyond that, who knows what kind of interesting opportunities are going to present themselves. The more I keep traveling, the more inspiring people I meet and collaboration is really the essence of the brand. I’m sure it’s going to be another great year of growth both personally and professionally that will allow Nice Life to continue to evolve. Thanks to Christine for the opportunity to put my thoughts out there, it’s really humbling to be featured on N’East Style.