When you wake up on June 21st with sand in your eyes and a strong hatred for that alarm clock, remember that today is the best day of your life (at least according to Thrillist). It also just so happens to be the longest day of the year! So, don’t waste your day away sleeping; follow Thrillist’s itinerary for a perfect day and explore Chicago’s best of the best.
Did we mention the crew at Bow Truss is helping spread the greatness with free coffee at 7 a.m. at the River North location? After weeks of voting, Bow Truss was chosen from a handfull of local coffee shops to be part of your special day’s itinerary!
While we love Bow Truss coffee, don’t forget to stop by the rest of businesses on the list, including the drool-inducing donuts at Glazed and Infused. How could you pass up a doughy Maple Bacon Long John?
Don’t stop there. While you’re partaking in your, well let’s call it a “cheat day,” you might as well stop for breakfast, in-between Bow Truss and Glazed and Infused visits, for some biscuits and sausage at 2 Sparrows.
The rest of the itinerary features Chicago delicacies including hotdogs from Franks ‘N’ Dawgs, pizza from Chicago Pizza Oven and Grinder Co. and Italian beef from Mr. Beef. You can’t call yourself a true Chicagoan without trying all of these delicious foods. And since it’s Friday, you’ll probably want to stop on by the pub for a pint or two. Forget about the 5 o’clock rule and start early at the the John Hancock Center’s Signature Room high above the city. If day drinking isn’t your thing, stop on over at the new Howells & Hood at the Tribune Tower for happy hour or end your night on the rooftop of Hotel Lincoln at The J. Parker in Lincoln Park. Drink a little or drink a lot, but whatever you do, make sure you have the “Best Day of Your Life.”
Visit Thrilllist.com for more information on the “Best Day of Your Life.” Don’t forget to Check-in on Foursquare, Tweet and Instagram with hashtag #BDOYL.
Photo via thrillist.com.
A few weeks ago we started a new series called Doejo Workshops. Every week the Doejo team gathers around the pingpong table, I mean “meeting table,” and learns something from their co-workers.
Each workshop gives the team a taste of what someone else in the office does from design to development. Doejo Workshops was created to help spark conversations between different groups and educate each other. With that in mind, our design interns created these logos. After several revisions and much feedback, we finally chose one. We started with several ideas from gears to code. After the first set was unveiled to the rest of the intern team, we decided a crest/badge would represent the series the best since it had a scholastic feel that reminded us of Hogwarts and Game of Thrones. Each element inside of the crest represents Doejo; the pencil represents design, the lightbulb represents the creation of ideas, the gear for development and the pingpong paddle represents our “meeting table” and office culture.
Stay tuned for more about Doejo Workshops.
Click here to read about “Our Process from Design to Development” workshop.
Brian Spaly had a problem: “I couldn’t find pants that fit so I started selling my own trousers,” he says. “Being a hockey player I had that big butt, big thigh problem…”
While he first started as the co-founder of New York-based Bonobos, Spaly shared the failures and successes that brought him to Chicago to launch Trunk Club. His company, which curates clothing for men based on their buying history, offers a more inviting shopping experience than department stores.
If you sit a guy down and you say ‘you’re gonna get new clothes’ and for the first five minutes he sits on a comfortable leather couch and kinda gets to see what’s going on on the floor at this cool startup and has a beer or a scotch or a glass of wine… it’s a really different experience than trying to find the men’s department at Nordstrom and smelling like nail polish remover and dodging strange-looking people at a makeup counter that are spraying stuff at you …that sucks. Trunk Club does not suck.
Trunk Club started in Oregon with one employee – the founder. Spaly was brought on as CEO in order to help the business grow. At the time, there were some inconsistencies in the records that Spaly says he didn’t notice right away. Three days after he was named CEO, the original founder resigned. From that, the company rebounded and continues to increase their revenue. When Trunk Club launched in Chicago in 2010, they made a little more than $1 million in revenue. In 2011, they made more than $5 million, and last year around $17 million. “This year I think we have a fighting chance at $50 (million),” Spaly says.
Spaly wants Trunk Club to be the place where you come to in Chicago for great clothes. “Let’s rekindle some of the pride that this city has had for the century as a place where people can get open, warm, Midwestern values and solve problems for you,” he says. While Trunk Club still has a long way to go, Spaly says, that is what he strives for the company to be. Even though the company is still growing, Spaly says its biggest competitor in the area is Nordstrom.
“Nordstrom is the gorilla in our space and we really want to just punch them in the nuts here,” Spaly says. “We want guys to no longer turn right when they’re coming home from the Loop. We want them to turn left and come to Trunk Club.”
Spaly’s trouser tale started years ago when he complained to his girlfriend about paying $15 to have his pants altered.
“I was too cheap to get my pants altered,” he says.
One day his girlfriend came over with a sewing machine and suggested he sew his own.
This started the trouser obsession, which led to Spaly selling corduroy pants to classmates at Stanford out of the trunk of his car.
“That’s when I really learned the poetry of product-market fit. Make something without spending that much money, make it yourself, learn how to do it, be authentic and get it out on the market and sell it yourself,” Spaly says.
In a class, Spaly started a research project on men and how they interact with their pants. His group found that men need better fitting pants. While his classmates weren’t as passionate about the pants project, Spaly joined forces with his friend Andy Dunn and started Bonobos, a menswear brand.
After some time, Dunn confronted Spaly and informed him they should no longer work together since their visions for the company were not the same.
Spaly says he’s not embarrassed to tell about his terrible decisions and why he “sucked at Bonobos.” For him, the failures from his first startup helped him become the success he is today.
It’s noble, I think, to try and fail.
If Spaly never failed, he never would have become the CEO of Trunk Club. From his journey he lends these tips:
1.) “Competition means nothing. In a startup, execution is everything.”
3.) “If you’re not capable of making an important decision at your startup, try to hire someone who is.”
Whats next for Trunk Club? A new shop in Houston, Texas, Spaly says.
Crain’s Chicago Business’s new strategic biz blog, Crain’s Social Media Group featured our fearless leader, Phil Tadros last week in its ongoing column, “How I Use Social Media To Do My Job.” The writer talks to Phil about him photoblogging every aspect of his life since 2008, why he believes social media helps strengthen brand culture and how it has for Doejo and Bow Truss Coffee Roasters.
In 2007, Phil Tadros told Crain’s Chicago Business that he’d consider himself “a serial entrepreneur.”
Fast-forward six years, and Phil’s business ventures have continued to add up. He’s the founder and CEO of Doejo, and Phil has also opened many coffeeshops across Chicagoland. Since May 2008, he has been documenting his adventures on his photoblog.
Phil creatively uses social media to share bits of his life and promote his business ventures, and today, he’s telling us all about how he does it.
You’re the founder and CEO of Doejo in Chicago. What exactly does your agency do? Can you share a little bit about your role?
Officially we say that Doejo is an award-winning, full service digital agency or we’re the “startup for startups,” but now, we’re so much more than that. We help launch companies and brands, new and old, online and off from tech startups creating an app to established companies looking to redesign or reboot their image. We also do storefront build outs and act as a startup incubator, think tank for many of our clients. Some of our clients include Braintree, Groupon, Lightbank, New World Ventures, TechWeek, Tribeca Flashpoint Academy, the Lakeview East Chamber of Commerce, Consequence of Sound, the Chicago Yacht Club, Bike and Park, the Chicago Athletic Clubs, and Industrious Office, among others. We also run (our now one-year old) Bow Truss Coffee Roasters right by our office in Lakeview, State Farm’s Next Door Cafe, the Columbia College Cafes, Strange Pelican Brewery, and Map of the Dead (an iOS game).
What about your coffeeshops and storefronts? Tell us how you use social media to promote these business ventures, such as Bow Truss Coffee Roasters.
We’re really passionate about building and nurturing communities within our projects, so social media helps us build and keep an audience for that. For Doejo, Bow Truss, Strange Pelican, Map of the Dead, Industrious Office and other internally managed projects, we’re active on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr and/ or Pinterest. We post about updates or photos of us working on or building out the spaces and aggregate related content. For Doejo we keep up a blog of interest to the local entrepreneurial and tech startup scene as it pertains to most of our clients. We attend a lot of events and post about them and act as a resource in our industry community. For Bow Truss we post our cafe’s unique interior, our drinks, roasting process and have contests sometimes to reward active users. For both of these especially, we are establishing a brand culture through social media.
Since May 2008, you’ve been publishing your mobile photos online — long before Instagram and other photo sharing networks were created. Why are you so passionate about photoblogging? How did you figure out how to do it?
I was trying to live stream my life with a mini video camera strapped to my glasses. Technology wasn’t up to speed and people didn’t really like to be tapped, so I started taking photos. I had a Palm Treo with T-Mobile and a Tumblr account and just saved my unique Tumblr account email as a contact in my phone. Now everyone photoblogs. I love communicating in real time with images.
How does your blog and photography relate to your professional life?
As someone who is constantly in and out of meetings, formal and informal, my photoblog acts as a recap in images of my day. But it’s not just business. I love sharing my life with many worlds, my family, friends, co-workers as well as clients currently and soon to be. I feel people are current with each other’s lives all via Instagram.
Matteo Bologna of Mucca Design, described as the modern day reincarnation of Salvadore Dali (key in on the mustache similarities), is just as eccentric as his design company’s name: Mucca (cow in Italian). Bologna came to the U.S. from Italy in 1944 because he wanted to escape having to use innuendos and photos of sexy women in his designs. Although he started as an illustrator at age 18 and became a graphic designer because “he bought a laptop,” his company has made designs for grocery stores, restaurants and food packages. Bologna talked about his typography at CreativeMornings for this month’s food-themed lecture at the Gene Siskel Film Center.
Here are his top quotes that kept Chicago designers laughing all morning:
Bologna on leaving Italy…
“I had a partnership with two people that I wanted to kill and they wanted to kill me, so I decided to move to the states because murder, it’s illegal in Italy. It’s the only thing that’s illegal in Italy.”
Bologna on the name Mucca Design…
“I was at a lawyer’s office to incorporate the company … and he said, ‘OK, I filled out all of the forms, signed all the stuff that needs to be signed, then OK, how do you want to call the company?’ And I was like, ’Uhhh …I have no Idea.’ He said, ‘don’t worry you can change It later, just put a name.’ So I gave him the nickname that we have for our Dalmatian dog, cuz he’s white and black, you know, he’s like a cow. So I said ‘OK, lets go with mucca.’”
Wait, scratch that…
“We did lots of research. Our strategy team spent six months doing customer service, analyzing the market … competitive analysis, and their brand positioning…”
Bologna on starting Mucca Design in the U.S…
“Because in Italy you don’t start companies. You go bankrupt … Italians are great for fun, maybe some, not for work.”
Bologna on typography…
“Actually I learned how to do type design on the phone with a girlfriend … I was trying to break up with her and we spent hours on the phone talking about our relationship, which was pretty painful and boring every night doing the same thing over and over. So at the time I had my first computer and I had a hacked copy of [design software] …then started learning how to use the software while I was on the phone with this woman for the next three or four weeks … and it became, kinda like, a career.”
Bologna on typefaces…
“As a typographer I never felt like a real man because since the early ‘90s I’ve designed many typefaces, but with no formal education in type … [and] I never ever did a textface; you know textface is the thing that makes you be like a real man because it’s difficult to make … I want to become a real man. I started taking hormones, my voice changed, started growing hair – everywhere, I have to shave my back [figuratively] … I wanted to prove my masculinity in design really.”
Bologna on why he started Mucca Design …
“I had clients and I needed employees and I just needed to [go] corporate. Because I don’t like to work for other people, though I work for other people – paid – whore.”
Bologna on his GQ Italy cover design..
“It’s GQ; usually GQ has kinda naked women on the cover …ooooh great! So I had this fantastic idea that implied having a casting – I love doing castings and this casting would be like perfect … the idea was to put a one before a nipple. I wanted to take a photograph of that boobie and, you know, put the one before so we had a ten – ten-year anniversary of GQ. Perfect. Sex, typography – aye fantastic!”
Bologna on why he didn’t use that idea..
“I can not be like the usual Italian pig who [uses] naked women again and solves the problem. I should be a little bit more American; a bit more sophisticated. So, I said my second favorite thing after sex is typography – I’ll go with that.”
Bologna’s advice for young designers…
“Do try to wake up happy in the morning and happy to go to work … just make sure it’s the right office if it’s your’s or somebody else’s … and don’t screw the secretary because it could be sexual harassment. Or in that case, get a good lawyer.”