A few weeks ago, you may remember us telling you about SnowGRADE. We met a fascinating entrepreneur named Joe Gannon that piqued our interest with his current projects. We are so fortunate to share and celebrate the cool things that are going on his life with you.
AS: So, tell us about yourself–where you are from and how you found out about SnowGRADE:
JG: I’m from a small town in Delaware called Felton. Most people surprisingly still have no idea where Delaware even is. We are attached to Maryland right on the coastline of the Mid-Atlantic. Most people know us for the 5 miles they drive on I95 between New York and DC. That’s not THE Delaware. Delaware’s heart is lies in the two counties below. Part farm land, part beach, we are proud of our agricultural heritage and we root ourselves in the sandy beaches between May and September. A lot of people call it Slower Lower Delaware in jest, but it really is true. We take everything in stride. It’s a great place to raise a family, which I’m doing. Two young kids and a great wife who I’ve known since High School. I’ve know about the northernGRADE/snowGRADE market since its debut a few years ago. Being friends with the Pierrepont Hicks and JW Hulme folks, I came out to the first event just to visit, see friends, see Minneapolis, and sing karaoke at Nye’s. That first September was great. It felt more like a casual get together than it did a market. It was small, most people who where vendors knew each other, and it was nice to see the community in Minneapolis embrace the idea of a male centric market. The next year, with my good friend Max Wastler, I had the pleasure of introducing our store, Buckshot Sonny’s. Buckshot was well received in its debut and that had a lot to do with the people that northernGRADE attracts. It was great to see the interest/ attendance jump exponentially last fall and snowGRADE only improved on those numbers. It was packed in there this year. More vendors than before and a great cross section of people.
AS: Please tell us about your involvement or interest in fashion.
JG: I’d be misleading if I claimed to be involved in fashion. I’m simply a guy that turned a life long interest in dressing well into a focus on making the things that I like. With Buckshot Sonny’s, both Max and I stick to the claim that we only want to make the things that interest us. We offer things we want to wear and maybe some things we used to wear as kids. There’s obviously a sprinkling of items inspired by items worn or used by our Fathers and Grandfathers. We like to say it’s the store your Grandfather might have taken your Father. We also want to remain unpredictable with our offerings going forward. We want people to wonder what we were thinking when we decided to offer each product. You’ll see a baseball glove made in Texas, alongside shirts made in California, alongside pancake mix made in Wisconsin. So obviously there is a bit of fist pump for America in the things we are making to go along with our family inspired offerings. At the same time Max and I are traveling the country meeting the people that are making things in America’s backyard. With Made Right Here, we are attempting to reconnect people with the things they use/buy/consume. We are setting out to teach the younger generation that a career making things by hand is still viable in America…at the same time we want to remind those Americans older than us that we haven’t forgotten that things used to be made here. We used to take pride in saying the shirt on our back was made by American workers, but the frequency of people that still look for that tag has dwindled in the last two decades. Our generation, those of us between 20 and 40, are the ones that can revive that. I think nowhere is this desire to know the maker more evident than at pop-up markets like snow/northerGRADE and the Pop Up Flea that Michael Williams hosts in New York. Made in America is coming back on the backs of American men who care about the clothes they buy.
AS: How would you describe your personal style?
JG: My style is pretty basic. That’s not to say my aesthetic isn’t evolving, but it’s wholey based on having wardrobe staples. Good denim, button downs, a quality pair of shoes, sneakers, a nice leather belt or two, and a few sport coats can get you a long way. I don’t want to have to think too hard about what I’m putting on and I want to be able to mix and match everything I have easily. Thinking too hard is what gets most guys in trouble. I always apply the rule that if I can’t forget I have it on then I should probably take it off. Most guys could take a lesson from that. Too many guys think that more is more. More layers, more colors, more accessories, don’t ever help. Keep it simple. Always. Dressing and personal style is first about comfort and proportion. If you can keep everything in proportion and pay attention to fit you’re way ahead of the game.
AS: What projects are you currently working on?
JG: Right now we are developing product for FW’12 and finalizing collaborations for this SS’12. We rely pretty heavily on collaborations with friends and factories we’ve visited because we are such a small operation at Buckshot. Its just Max and I and we are everything from development to shipping. We run absolute minimums wherever possible. No investors means very little capital for product development. On the Made Right Here end of things, we have a production deal with a group out of Nashville and we have meetings with most of the major networks. Getting a show to air is a long slow process so we are working pretty hard behind the scenes to develop and enhance the pitch. We are going to be shooting more in the spring to help tell the story of who we are. It’s hard to get everything across in the 6 minutes they allow for pitch, so we are developing our web presence on maderighthere.tv and on Facebook and will continue to tell the stories we come across as we travel the country.
AS: What are you impressions of the Minneapolis fashion community?
JG: Minnesota seems to be paying attention to the whole Made in the USA movement as evidenced in the uptick in people attending the pop-up’s. My only exposure to fashion in Minneapolis is through northernGRADE and at bars after the market is over. Pretty typical of most places, at the show you have guys in selvedge denim, work boots, ties, and some sort of facial hair. Out at the bars it Affliction t-shirts and bad pre-distressed denim. That’s not exclusive to MN, it’s just the world we live in. On both accounts.
AS: Lastly, any words of advice for aspiring artists?
JG: I can’t speak to artists, but anyone looking to start a company in this business should start small and progress slowly. It should all grow organically. Also, you can’t listen to detractors. There will always be critics telling you that you did something wrong or that you should have done something differently. If you listen to the negatives you won’t ever do anything…you have to get out of neutral and put yourself out there. A lot of what we do in this community is personal, so it’s really hard to accept criticism. You have to just accept it and move on.
For more information, check them out on facebook. We also have this cool video to share!