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Dreamers and Doers: Merge Records

Now celebrating its 25th year, Merge Records is the unlikely success story of two young musicians that went on to put out some of the most prolific indie rock of our time. Mac McCaughan and Laura Ballance met, formed a band, dated, didn’t date, toured together, started a business together, and forged their own way in the music industry. Decades later, the two entrepreneurs talked to us about the early days of Merge, Superchunk, and just what it takes to make it all work.

Hi Mac and Laura! How did you two meet?

Laura Ballance: I am pretty sure we met at Pepper's Pizza (R.I.P.) in Chapel Hill, NC, in 1987 or somewhere around there. Mac was working there, and I started working there too.
Mac McCaughan: We probably met at a show in Chapel Hill or Raleigh in 198…6 or 7? We had a lot of mutual friends and were probably at a lot of the same shows. Then we ended up working at Pepper’s Pizza at the same time (in Chapel Hill).

How would you describe yourselves in just one word? How would you describe each other in just one word?

LB: I would describe myself as stubborn. I might describe Mac that way too. Perhaps I should use the word “determined” for the both of us.
MM: Me right now? Stressed. In general…active. Laura in one word…this is too hard! No one should have to be described in one word.

How old were you when you started the label? What kind of sacrifices did you make in order to keep a business running at such a young age?

I was 21 when we started the label. We worked hard to keep the business running. It took a lot of time and energy on top of touring with Superchunk, which we were doing a lot of at the time. We also kept other jobs for the first few years… I think Merge had been in business for about ten years before we were able to start paying ourselves.
MM: I was 21 turning 22 the summer we started Merge. Nothing felt like a sacrifice at that time because it was all for fun; it was what we wanted to do. We sold records and tapes but it didn’t feel like “now we are starting our business that will be our job for 25 years.” Laura sacrificed some space in her house where the boxes of records were.

Can you tell us about a funny/weird/memorable moment from the early days?

For a long time the “Merge office” was in my house. We had a lot of great times having 7-inch stuffing parties, where people would come over and we would drink beer, watch movies, and assemble 7-inches. One time I was also rushing to get some packages made to send out right before I needed to head to Kinko’s where I worked, and the tape gun fell off the shelf. Without thinking, I reached out to catch it, and the serrated blade fell right on my thumb and gashed it pretty bad. I probably should have gone to get stitches, but I did not have time before I went to work. I still have a scar that looks like a cartoon shark’s mouth on my thumb.
MM: Putting the records together was memorable, bands coming over and stuffing records into sleeves and sleeves into plastic bags. Very satisfying.

When Merge Records began, did you have any idea it would turn out to be so prolific? What were your initial goals?

When we started Merge, I had no idea it would last even a year. I really didn’t even think about it. It just seemed like a fun thing to do at the time. That said, some of our idols were Dischord and Sub Pop, and obviously they were in it for the long haul. Our goals at the time were to document the local music scene and also to put out our own records.
MM: Our initial goals were just to put out this music by ourselves and by our friends’ bands. It was to have a cool label like the cool labels we liked growing up: Dischord, 4AD, Factory, K, Sub Pop, Cherry Red, Rough Trade, Teen Beat.

Were there advantages/disadvantages to running a music label in North Carolina? Not exactly the hub of the music industry!

I feel like there were plenty of advantages to running Merge out of North Carolina. The rent was cheap, not too much competition in terms of getting attention, and we had and have a strong vibrant local music scene complete with lots of bands, great college radio, awesome clubs and promoters, and excellent record stores. People used to ask us all the time when we were going to move to New York City or Los Angeles. I think we would not have lasted five years if we had done that. But maybe we would have gotten to work with Pussy Galore…
MM: People would often ask when we were moving to NYC or LA, which seemed like a backwards idea to us; one reason we could exist was because we lived in North Carolina, paying NC rents and having plenty of space to practice with the band and stack boxes.

What were the advantages/disadvantages of being artists yourselves and running Merge from a musician’s perspective?

LB: The main disadvantage of being artists and running the label was trying to pay attention to the label while being a band that toured a lot. Now that is all easier because Superchunk does not tour as much, and I don’t tour at all anymore because of hearing damage from too much loudness. The advantages of running a record label as an artist are myriad! I feel like we are more in tune with our artists and what they might be going through as artists since we too are artists. We have gotten to experience all aspects of the record business from the side of the artist as well as the side of the record label. It’s good for perspective. As touring artists, we also got to see and meet a lot of bands while we were on the road and make connections that we would not have made otherwise. I don’t think Merge would have grown the way it did if we had not also been in the band.
MM: I think the obvious advantage is that you can see things from both sides; this is good for us, and it’s something the bands we want to work with can recognize as well. The downside is when you have to put on the “business” hat and negotiate with bands, or their managers—that’s my least favorite part of doing this.

You’ve taken a lot of chances on unknown bands—is supporting entrepreneurs and emerging artists important to you?

LB: Supporting developing bands is really important to us. It’s the best thing we can do as a record label. Working with known bands is great and all, but helping to lift a new or unknown band out of obscurity is most rewarding for all involved.
MM: Yeah, I think one of the most satisfying things about having a label is working with a band from before anyone knows about them, and watching as people discover their music and come to love them like we do. It’s also great to get to work with bands that we’ve been fans of for a long time—e.g., getting to put out records by The Buzzcocks or The Clean (David Kilgour’s new solo album is out in August!)—which we never could have imagined when we started. But yeah, working with emerging artists is an important part of having a vital label for us.

Arcade Fire was unknown when you signed them, and turned out to be one of your biggest success stories. What was it about them that struck a chord with you?

LB: Arcade Fire write amazing songs, and that first demo we got from them was just full of great songs that were full of this incredible exciting raw emotion. What we look for in every artist we put out is the ability to write great songs, and they certainly have that in spades. Plus, they are a great live band.
MM: Well, as any fan of Funeral will tell you, it’s an incredibly immediate album, both emotionally and musically. Musically it reminded me of some bands that were very formative for me—New Order, Echo and the Bunnymen—but then with these epic pop songs that were clearly coming from their own universe. Seeing them live was another level altogether.

If you could go back and do it all over again, what would you do differently, if anything?

LB: There are some small things, but across the board, in the big picture, I am happy with how we have run Merge.
MM: I’m sure mistakes have been made over the years, but in general it’s hard to imagine how things could have gone better. Of course there are albums or artists that we think have been overlooked and deserve more attention, but you can’t spend too much time regretting the things that didn’t go as planned. There’s too much work to do in the present.

What advice would you give to the young entrepreneurs out there today?

LB: Don’t expect anything to be handed to you on a platter. If you want to do something, you are going to have to go out there and work hard to make it happen. Social networking alone does not success make.
MM: Keep your day job! Seriously. We did, for quite awhile.

Shop Merge on vinyl

Friday Download: August 8, 2014

As summer keeps rollin' on, so does the internet. Another week means another pile of tunes, good reads, and movie trailers. See a handful of our favorites from this past week below!

Merchandise "Green Lady"
This song is so good. Merchandise kicked it up a notch with the synth in this one, and man, is it working. Makes me feel like I'm starring in my very own melodramatic '80s movie. (via Stereogum)

"Everything Happens So Much"
This piece over on Pitchfork (yes, the title is a Horse ebooks reference) by Lindsay Zoladz about music being available all over the place, forever, because of the internet, was an interesting read, as well as The Atlantic piece she linked within it which talks about internet streaming and why it's so bananas. I felt very internet overwhelmed after reading these, so read at caution if you don't want to feel guilty for sitting on Buzzfeed three hours a day, endlessly refreshing.

Banks "Beggin For Thread"
We chatted with Banks earlier this week (interview coming soon!), right before she was set to perform on Fallon for her first television debut. She did absolutely amazing and was also wearing a cape, so if you don't love Banks even more now, then yikes.

Cayetana "Scott Get The Van, I'm Moving"
We've been loving everything we've heard from Cayetana and this newest one is no exception. Very, very excited for their LP Nervous Like Me. (via AV Club)

Saved By The Bell: The Unauthorized Story
Oh my god, what are you even doing, Lifetime? (via Vulture)

Featured Brand: Jansport

Sure, you remember Jansport for being the backpack to have senior year, but did you realize how cool Jansport is as a brand? Chances are, when you were rockin' your Jansport to math class, you didn't know Jansport had been making backpacks since back in the '60s, when Jansport's three founders, Murray Pletz, Janice Lewis and Skip Yowell, set out to create a "better pack that was truly innovative." Now, over forty years after starting their company, the brand is still going strong and making backpacks that are convenient for storing school books or hikin' the trails.

Vintage Jansport

Skip Yowell, one of the company's founders

Since we love the retro styles of Jansport so much, we now have exclusive old school bags in "new school" colors, all from Jansport's Heritage series. These older-style packs even have the retro logo tag, which ensures that you'll stand out from the sea of other Jansport-toting kids on campus. Plus, we totally love the nostalgia vibe we get from owning one of these. Makes us want to throw on a pair of bellbottoms, sling on our backpack, and head off to a music festival.

Shop Jansport

Near and Far: Victory Press x UO

Victory Press is designer Jessica Humphrey and artist Jonathan Cammisa, collaborating to create a collection of men’s clothing inspired by post modern art, prints and silhouettes of ‘80s skate and surf culture, and the functionality, integrity and ideology of ‘90s outdoors wear.

En route to launch a Victory Press pop-up event at our Los Angeles-based concept store Space 15 Twenty, Jess and Jonathan drove across the country, visiting American factories and getting up close and personal with the country’s great outdoors. Here, the design duo lets us in on every adventure of their nationwide trek.

How did you two come together and launch Victory Press?
Jess: Jonathan grew up in South Philadelphia skating. He was heavy into grafitti and hip hop, and he spent his summers at the Jersey Shore. I grew up in Virginia Beach surrounded by surfing and skateboarding, and as a teenager photographed every punk and hardcore band that came through my town. We met about five years ago in Vinegar Hill, a small neighborhood in Brooklyn. We both were obsessed with 1980s and ‘90s vintage clothing and we had the same taste in art and music, so we became best friends. We decided to start a clothing line out of a shared realization that outdoors wear just wasn't cool. We wanted to make outdoors wear that like-minded people want to wear.

Tell us about the Victory Press pop-up that brought you across the country!
Our friend Kyle came to our studio one day and proposed we set up shop at Space 15 Twenty for the summer of 2014. As a new brand, we were stoked on the opportunity to build out a space with our creative vision and spread our ideas to the West Coast. So, we though it was only appropriate to see the country on our way here so we can tell our story to you.

What was your favorite city or pit-stop along the way?
Mystic Hot Springs, Utah was by far the most interesting destination. We spent a few hours soaking in old claw foot tubs filed in with mineral rich hot springs with epic views of the Utah Mountains. Mystic Mike, who hosts the property, has an extensive collection of posters and stickers he's illustrated for touring bands, including the Grateful Dead. He also has a YouTube channel where he hosts live music and does an awesome job recording. There is also a collection of buses previously owned by Deadheads, for which you can rent and sleep over, if you want. It was truly a mystical moment. And then there was Yellowstone National Park—there are no words for how beautiful it is there.

Any travel mishaps?
Not really. We had good vibes on our side!

What was your day-to-day life like on the road?
We woke up. I'd heat us up some Grady's Coffee we cold brewed the night before. I might have some time to make breakfast while the boys break down the camp. If not, it was Early Bird Granola and yogurt and then we were on the road. Some days were long drives—almost 14 hours. We literally drove until it was time to sleep. Our meals that day would be "Jon's Back Seat Turkey Sandwiches" and the good old gas station special. The other days we'd drive for six hours or so and set up camp. We'd cook chili or hamburgers, relax, shoot our BB gun, then go to sleep extra early, wake up, maybe do a hike and then hit the road again. We were lucky enough to spend a good stint in Yellowstone and Utah where we could meander a little more and soak up the environment. We drove through 15 states in seven days, so there wasn't a whole lot of time to stay idle.

What were some of the best and worst meals you had while traveling?
The best meal was the chili we cooked over campfire the first night in Yellowstone. We brought our cast iron dutch oven and made a slow cooked chili and cornbread. We set up camp with the Grand Teton mountains as our backdrop, with no other human in site. It was magical. We actually ruled on the food tip. Even the sixth time we had turkey sandwiches, they were delicious!

What are your top five travel essentials?
Our trusty Birkenstocks, Oberto Beef Jerky, Snowpeak Titanium Stove, our dog, Jasper, and Santa Maria Novella Potpourri (for the stinky truck).

What advice would you give to someone about to embark on a cross-country trip?
Give yourself a good month because there is too much awesomeness to see.

The Victory Press x Ours Gallery summer pop-up shop at Space 15 Twenty (1520 N. Cahunega Blvd) is open now and runs through July 27, 2014.

UPDATE: Now you can watch the video Victory Press made with the help of Nathan Caswell about their cross country trip!

About a Girl: Keating Sherwin

"You can call me Keating," says Lindsay Keating Sherwin

"Dropping the first name actually came from signing my full name on art pieces," she explains. "It just took up too much space."  

Off with the excess; it's a do-what-works attitude that the young Brooklyn painter abides by, both in her unconventional, self-taught art background and general outlook about what it means to build a creative career in New York. Photography by Andrew Musson

We meet on the summer solstice in her sunny Bushwick studio, and Sherwin has a sore neck from a couple bad nights of sleep made worse by the fact that she can't quite find anywhere quiet to escape. Between her studio's location on a busy Brooklyn industrial thoroughfare and her new apartment smack in the middle of Chinatown, it's no wonder that Keating is wanting to install her next art show—an in-the-works series of abstract portraits—inside NoLIta's quiet, lush Elizabeth Street garden gallery space. "I love it there," she says, "But actually, my ideal place would be more like The Secret Garden, you know, with ivy walls and no distractions." 
Sherwin has a direct, serious presence and an artist's intuition that results in big, textural and color-driven pieces that are at the same time powerful and delicate. It's a mesmerizing balance founded on instinct. "I don't work this or that way," she says. "I just go!" 

In our studio visit, we talked with Keating about following her nose, finding a place in the "art world," and trying to make her own way amid all the noise.

Tell us about the current series you're working on, a set of portraits all done with live models. 
Well, I'm still trying to figure out how long it takes to make one! I'm seven portraits into this series now, but the sittings have all been kind of spaced out, which is not so good for positioning. I spend a lot of time backtracking. I feel like at this point I should say: It's five sittings for a portrait, but I could work on one for two years! At some point you've got to stop. 

I like the process a lot. When you're painting from your mind you have to make every decision; with this, I feel like I can just get lost in it.  

What else are you working on? 
The other big project is a commission for a film, a portrait that's supposed to be a love homage painted by this character's ex. He painted it when they are in love and now they're separated and it's the big piece he paints in this show. So it had to be kind of this epic thing. I think Alec Baldwin is going to be playing the painter, which is amazing and really hilarious.  

That is amazing! Who is the painting of? 
I painted that from a photograph—this is creepy—that image is a combination of a photograph of me when I was 21 in Savannah….and a selfie of Molly Shannon's face. [Laughs] I don't know! 

Where did you grow up?  
I'm originally from the Northeast but grew up in South Florida on the water. I'm used to constant humidity. When I came here, the first winter I was just pissed off. Then summer came and it's so amazing that you forget winter could ever exist.  

Do you think being in New York matters for work? 
Personally, I'm affected by where I am. I don't think I need the intensity of New York to get work done—in fact, I might be better off from being somewhere else. But I feel like I'm at a place where I'm so close to having a firm hold on my career, and I am not going to walk away from that. I can be very focused here.  

So no summer escapes in the works? 
My only plan is to be here, working and being hot in this studio! I've been on lockdown over here. You know, it's summer but I feel like I am just now coming out of my winter hole. I was recently talking about how I think September is the perfect time to leave. The summer months are overrated! You go to Montauk in September and you have the whole place to yourself. 

You didn't study art in school, and actually came into painting in a roundabout way. Can you talk about your background? 
As a child, I remember having a thought that I would grow up and be an artist in New York. Actually, maybe I made that up in retrospect. But either way, I didn't have a concept of what it meant. So I moved here in 2007, but it took me awhile to step away from just being caught up in the city. I worked in fashion showrooms, and then I worked for a branding company and then I was working in nightlife and met so many interesting people and artists. I think that made me re-remember, like, 'Oh yeah. That's why I'm here.' At the time I was doing makeup on photo shoots, and—this sounds weird—but I just picked up paints and started painting. I didn't have a clue what I was doing.  

Kind of the opposite way of getting into it than most people. 
Right, totally in reverse. I said it, and then I had to become it. But I had no fear to hold me back. I took a drawing class in college and loved it and worked hard in it, and I've always made charcoal drawings. It wasn't something that I was even aware of was 'art.' But sometimes, as far as art is concerned, when you have too much knowledge about a field it can steer you away. 

So what was a turning point then in transitioning from deciding to make art to getting solo shows?
Oil paint. Once I started using it I got a show! Well, first I had a couple solid years of painting and painting and making crap. I didn't feel like I was in control, so I incubated for awhile. I had been working in acrylics and I randomly went out and bought three tubes of oil paint. A friend told me I should enter this art competition so I did, and I ended up winning, and that got me a show.  

Are there people who you look to for advice or guidance with your work? 
I share a workspace with another [hyperrealistic] painter, and from sharing a studio space I have learned a lot about technique. In the past, I just used my own made-up technique! It's been great to observe what he does and take what I want from it. I find it very hard to find people who you trust their opinion of your work, but then there are times when you're alone and frustrated and you're like, 'How did this thing ever get to this place?' I have  a friend back here [in another studio in the same building]… another artist, and it's so valuable to have someone you can express things like that to. You don't want their advice, you just want their mutual understanding that you know they get it, and now you can move on.   

How do you approach that balance then, between relying on your intuition and knowing you have to participate to some extent in order to have a career? 
It's tricky: It's great to be a little bit oblivious, but you don't want to be a moron. Some days people will see what I'm doing and call it out and say whatever painter it looks like, which is so annoying! I don't work that way or think about that at all. I have freedom but it's both an asset and an inhibitor. But, you know, I try to remember that this is a long-term operation; I have some time to discover things. 

Brands We Love: adidas

After a few seasons out of production, the adidas Stan Smith Sneaker is back. In classic white leather, it’s our summer sneaker of choice. Even if you’re unfamiliar with sneakers and the overarching culture of adidas as a brand (you know, aside from knowing that those adidas Superstar sneaks were the shoe to have in middle school), chances are you’ve heard of the Stan Smith adidas tennis sneaker.

While the shoe was created in the late ‘60s under the name "Haillot," attaching tennis pro Stan Smith’s image to the simple shoe is what turned the design into a fashion mainstay. When Smith was brought on to promote the shoe in the early '70s, the shoe was still being touted as an athletic sneaker. Now, nearly fifty years later, the shoe is no longer seen as athletic attire but rather as a fashion statement. After halting production on the shoe in 2012, adidas is relaunching the iconic sneaker this year, much to the joy of sneakerheads everywhere, and we're excited to get our hands on some of these for summer. #STANSMITH!

Shop adidas Stan Smith

About a Place: A UO Guide to Tulum

With its crystal clear water, pristine white sand beaches, and travel culture heavy on hammock lounging and streetside fish taco eating, truly: Life is sweet in Tulum. To kick off a summer of exploring, here's our guide to and souvenirs from a quick escape to the Riviera Maya. 


Historically believed to be sacred portals to the underworld, cenotes are pools formed by the collapsing of limestone caves. There are literally thousands along the Yucatan—our choice was Cenote Azul, a quiet freshwater lagoon with a cliff for jumping into the water. 

Opting for analog memories, we snapped pictures with a Instax Mini 8, Fujifilm's portable instant camera.


Tulum beverage-of-choice: Mojitos made from freshly-crushed sugarcane juice, lime, and extra mint, served to you from a converted VW Beetle at the Batey Mojito and Guarapo Bar.

For a quick taco, we recommend Mateo's, complete with a row of empty hammocks on their giant deck.

Acapulco chairs on the beach, designed from traditional Mayan hammock-weaving techniques.

Laid-back beach vibes.

How the locals do coconut water: Find a young coconut, whip out a machete (!), cut off the top, scrape the sides, and stick a straw into the top.  

Bikes at the compound, with baskets handy for trekking around town.


For afternoon adventures: 
Snorkeling on the reef in front of the Maya Ruins
The ruins at Coba—rent a bicycle and get lost in the jungle
Exploring nature at the Sian Ka'an biosphere
The perfumery at Coqui Coqui

For a fancy night out: Hartwood

For a quick post-beach taco: Mateo's

For lodging: Zazil-Kin, Papaya Playa, Ahau, S&S Hip Hotel 

For nightlife: Gitano Bar, Ziggy Beach, Adelita, El Curandero 

We documented our trip through a travel scrapbook—read more here on our DIY tutorial.

For the Record: Sharon Van Etten

Things people are saying about musician Sharon Van Etten’s new album, Are We There, include: 

1. “…a masterpiece, an album of extraordinary depth and sophistication that finds the New York singer and songwriter in full command of her considerable talent. (via Paste)
2. “…her most present-tense album to date, her most immediate and urgent—the peak of a steady upward trajectory. (via Pitchfork)
3. “A poignant tour-de-force, the message of Are We There is urgent, its delivery selfless” (via Pretty Much Amazing)

The record, Van Etten’s fourth, was released in late May, and like all of her work, it’s an earnestly vulnerable and deeply personal album filled with, as she explains, “songs that hurt like hell.” It is an often gut-wrenching trip through the complexities of a relationship. It is an appropriate use of the word “heavy,” but in a way that is satisfyingly sincere.  

Van Etten has spoken widely—widely!—about the album’s inception, from the break-up that inspired much of its architecture to feeding the songwriting cycle that her career has so-far dictated. 

Leading up to her UO “For the Record” vinyl signing on Thursday, July 3 at our Westover Road store in Portland, OR, we opted to lighten the mood by inviting Sharon to channel her own stomping grounds from the road—asking her to tell us all about her favorite things in NYC, from her ideal summer day in the city to her favorite haunts, from apartment horror stories to what its like to see Julie Andrews at the dentist.

This is Sharon Van Etten’s New York.

Years in the city? 

Current neighborhood? 

New York in the summer: what's on your itinerary for an ideal day?  
Bike Ride along the West Side, picnic, then read on a bench.

What was your first job in New York? 
Salesman at Astor Wines

Tell me a story about your worst New York apartment. 
I moved to Linden Street off the JZ line in 2005 and the neighbors told me they didn't want me in their neighborhood: Literally told me they didn't want me in their neighborhood after I had just moved in. They made sure I didn't feel comfortable on their block.

What's the most recent, truly great thing you saw in New York?
I saw The Great Beauty at Angelika. So moving.  So vivid.  And afterward, I went to Veloce wine bar and had amazing wine. Perfect evening.

Where in the city do you go to be alone?
I love going to Film Forum and IFC to movies by myself and wine bars, in general. Also, the Comedy Cellar when I am feeling low.

Tell me about a favorite New York memory.
I went to my dentist and as I was paying my bill, Julie Andrews walked in. I was immediately in tears. Childhood hero.

What's something very New York that you refuse to do?
Hang out in Times Square

What's something very New York that you shamelessly love?
The city skyline at the waterfront by the promenade driving in a cab at night.

Please share your best NYC survival tip.
Don't be an asshole, but be kind of on-guard while helping people. And work your ass off.

What makes someone a New Yorker?
 Living here and working here and helping people do the same.

Method of transportation?  

Bar where you're a regular? (and what's your poison?)  
Four Faced Liar, Bourbon and beer

Spot for leisurely brunch? 
Joseph Leonard

Spot for a celebratory dinner? 

Morning coffee shop and order? 
Americano at Joe's 

Favorite music store? 
Princeton Record Exchange (sorry! In Jersey!)

Music venue?  
Bowery Ballroom

Where do you get your news? 
Gothamist and New York Times

Place to see art?  

Place to be outside? 
Washington Square Park or the West Side

Easy summer day trip?  
Long Beach Island

Place for a group hangout?  
My friend Taylor's house

Place to people-watch?  
Washington Square Park

Place to be inspired?  


And if you're in Portland, be sure to stop by Sharon's UO "For the Record" vinyl signing Thursday, July 3 from 4-5pm at the Urban Outfitters on Westover Road, Portland, OR.

Summer in the City: New York Stories

From Bed-Stuy to the East Village, get to know New York City’s new stock of up-and-comers. We caught up with the dreamers and the doers that are bringing the city to life to get a glimpse into their worlds. Photography by Devyn Galindo

Anna Gray, 25 Editor at Homepolish

Years in New York: Seven
My neighborhood: I lived in the East Village for five years but just moved to Chelsea a few months ago.
I’m originally from New Jersey, moved to France when I was two, then Ireland and Virginia until decamping for NYC at 18.
My personal style is sometimes tomboy, sometimes girly, sometimes goth chick, sometimes ballerina.
I’m currently listening to Sia's "Chandelier" on repeat.
And reading a lot of Joan Didion, some John Updike and every fiction story in my pile of backlogged New Yorkers.
And seeing: Trying to get to the theatre to see Only Lovers Left Alive.
Right now I’m working on getting the Homepolish Magazine ready for a July launch! I can’t live without shoes I can walk in, my dog, my MetroCard, the weekend.
The best thing about New York in the summertime is rooftop BBQs and spaghetti straps.
I want to be remembered for being smart and funny.

Follow me @annazgray

Marcel Castenmiller, 27
Model, Photographer
Years in New York: Seven
My neighborhood: Chinatown
I’m originally from Port Moody, British Columbia.
My personal style: Jerry Seinfeld.
I’m currently listening to "Roxanne" by Cable.
And reading The Face Of Another by Kobo Abe.
And seeing: Just watched Hitchcock's Psycho this morning.
Right now I’m working on a zine and a book.
I can’t live without Ali Michael, my camera, Japanese food, cats.
The best thing about New York in the summertime is people going crazy!
I want to be remembered for falling in love.

Follow me @marcelc86

Arpana Rayamjhi, 26 Co-founder of DISPOSE, painter, sculptor, art student at The Cooper Union
Years in New York: Five
My neighborhood: I live in Union Square. I like walking around the East Village, Soho, mostly Downtown Manhattan.
I’m originally from Kathmandu, Nepal.
My personal style is anything I like and I can afford, clothes that are against the norm. I do not like trends. The ideal situation would be to make my own clothes and shoes–I already make my own jewelry–and wear only that. Nothing that involves fur and exotic animals.
I’m currently listening to James Blake, always listening to Neil Young, Sonic Youth, Joy Division, Smashing Pumpkins, Bjork and so many more.
I’m currently reading critiques on Plato and Aristotle, The Communist Manifesto, Theories of Modern Art, Shel Silverstein and Little Mr and Miss books, like Little Miss Naughty, etc.
And seeing lots of stupid high school movies, some heady movies, following up on Boko Haram, The Guardian and New York Times, internet for my daily dosage of cute dogs and "restoring faith in humanity" videos and funniest game show answers of all time. I'm always looking at feminist theories and finding out about people who do amazing things.
Right now I’m working on DISPOSE, my senior thesis show at Cooper Union and figuring out what I truly value in life and how I can work towards it. That is the hardest.
I can’t live without: I do not know. I have never been in the position where I have had absolutely nothing even though I have lost a lot. And living in privileged urban places will make me want to say things like music and art and friends and all, but I think I cannot live without happiness and love.
The best thing about New York in the summertime is people everywhere (this is both good and bad), lots of things happening. Summer is when New York is at its best but its too short.
I want to be remembered for: It’s too early to say because I haven't done something radical as yet, besides going against every expectation and criticism and being myself fully.

Emily Hope, 28 Photographer
Years in New York: Five
My neighborhood: Lower East Side
I’m originally from London.
My personal style: I guess I dress quite English. Right now I’m wearing Reebok Classics, black jeans, gold chain, etc.
I’m currently listening to Telepathe.
And reading Violence, by Slavoi Zizek.
And seeing: I don’t have a TV so I don’t watch anything really, but Orange is the New Black is back on.
Right now I’m working on: I can’t say too much about it, but my friend Jaime Burke and I are starting up a creative agency, and are working on curating an art zine which will feature both our work as well as some other artists too, so I’m excited about that.
I can’t live without cameras, tea, and my mates.
The best thing about New York in the summertime is: the rainstorms in the hot weather.
I want to be remembered for being a good friend and artist.

Follow me on Instagram @emilio_hope and Twitter @emilyhopephoto

Mike Bailey-Gates Artist
Years in New York: Three
My neighborhood: Bed-Stuy
I’m originally from Rhode Island.
My personal style is a teenager going to Blockbuster to rent The Labyrinth on VHS.
I’m currently listening to feral cats in heat.
And reading It Girl & The Atomics
And seeing: The new X Men movie looks cool.
Right now I’m working on plaster molds of a baby I made. Editing videos.
I can’t live without my friends, Lemonheads, the internet, and Gatorade.
The best thing about New York in the summertime is a breeze.
I want to be remembered for change.

Follow me on Instagram @michaelbaileygates and Twitter @mikebaileygates

Ian Bradley, 28 Fashion Stylist
Years in New York: Nine
My neighborhood: East Village
I’m originally from the suburbs of D.C., Sterling, VA.
My personal style is sporty luxe.
I’m currently listening to TLC.
And reading James Baldwin Nobody Knows My Name.
And seeing old episodes of Sailor Moon.
Right now I’m working on shopping for Sky Ferreira, getting her ready for her world tour.
I can’t live without: Currently, rosé, Birkenstocks, and burgers.
The best thing about New York in the summertime is babes everywhere!
I want to be remembered for making cute outfits.


Shop White It Out

Friday Download: June 20, 2014

Before we get into everything from this week, we'd just like to point out that O-Town released a brand new music video yesterday and the song is called "Skydive" and the lyrics are "I just want to skydive into your life." So, don't say that 2014 never gave you anything. Now, onto the rest of the best from this week. Katie

Arctic Monkeys "Snap Out Of It"
The sad girl in this video is us when we realized that Alex Turner won't be marrying us anytime soon. Sigh.

Little Daylight "Hello Memory
We stumbled across Little Daylight on Soundcloud this week and were racking our brains trying to figure out where we'd heard them before, and then we realized they played Governor's Ball earlier this month. Anyway, we're happy we randomly ran across them again thanks to the internet because every song is amazing, especially this remix of "Love Stories."

Jungle on Kimmel
This week, Jungle made their US TV debut on Kimmel and did prett-ay, prett-ay good. We're excited to hear their self-titled full-length album when it's released July 15.

How To Dress Well What Is This Heart?
How To Dress Well's new album is out June 24 and the whole thing is available to stream over on It's a good album to listen to if you're feelin' like you need some sad summer music to wallow outside to. Right now we're listening to "See You Fall" and feeling like we should be in a dramatic indie comedy. It's very pleasant to weep to contemplatively. (via Consequence of Sound)
"Rock Band Recital Fail"
This is incredible. They are trying so hard and then everything just falls apart and they don't even react. It's basically your entire career as a middle schooler condensed into a 59 second metaphor. KEEP YOUR HEADS UP, FELLAS. (via PAPERMAG)

Summer in the City: Amoeba Music at Herald Square

Excited about the permanent Amoeba Music installation in our newest Herald Square store (1333 Broadway NYC), we spoke to Marc Weinstein, one of the co-founders of Amoeba, to get the scoop on what his brand plans to bring to the Amoeba Music record shop in their first NYC location.

Amoeba Music in Herald Square

Can you tell us a bit about how Amoeba started, and what it’s like to have grown from a small place to become such a big entity?
Amoeba started because two record store geeks got together to create a business that would be the closest thing to a mecca for record collectors, carrying as much music to do the overall subject the justice it deserves and a place that truly celebrates humankind's most "accessible" art. Our idea and our "style" quickly made many people enthusiastic customers and we grew exponentially in our first ten years of existence. Expanding our reach has been most gratifying as so many have been able to avail themselves of what we offer and have the next best thing to a big museum fully devoted to music: A place where you can actually buy the stuff and bring all that love home with you.

How has your taste in music changed and evolved over time?
My taste has only grown broader and wider in my 38 years in the retail record biz having been exposed to many new genres, scenes, and artists along the way. Mostly because we all work around other music collectors and experts all day, everyday, and get constant firsthand accounts of cool new stuff to check out—with much of this wisdom coming from the customers themselves. I am much more interested in jazz and "world" folk music than I was when I was younger. American "roots" music, too. I also now particularly love "experimental" and "improvisational" music, the stuff where amazing musicians go completely out on a limb and expose all their wackiest ideas.

What are three words you would use to describe Amoeba and its staff?
Love, passion and personality.

Amoeba Music in Herald Square

What do you think are the best albums of all time?
My "top" favorites would truly number in the hundreds and would include hit records as well as some super obscure titles. OK, I'll try. The Beatles' Sgt. Peppers Lonely Heart's Club Band; Sun Ra's Atlantis; Pere Ubu's The Modern Dance; Miles Davis' Nefertiti; and Led Zeppelin 4.

What will you include in your curated selection at Herald Square?
It will be a cross section of all popular genres—a small attempt to distill the half million used on out-of-print LPs that we have and hopefully a selection that will inspire people to delve deeper into the experience of listening to LPs... LPs that will show off how great the experience of bringing home something new to check out can be!

Can you talk to us a bit about selling records in California vs. New York?
For one thing, California has always had a love affair with records, with more record stores "per capita" than anywhere in the U.S. New York City might have come in a close second, at least until recently when real estate prices made it downright prohibitive for independent stores to exist. Like New York, Los Angeles is a 24-hour city and we have lines in our store right up until our 11pm closing time every night. NYC and L.A. have so much in common culturally with such utter diversity and an amazing array of art and music-related institutions. Also, like NYC, Los Angeles is home to so much media, we're almost always a part of the hype surrounding a given release which adds a lot of excitement. Both places are among the few places a store like Amoeba can thrive with such a feeling of constant cultural "critical mass"!

See more from Herald Square here!

Friday Download: June 13, 2014

Happy Friday, everyone! Here are some things from the past week to keep you entertained, because how can you not be entertained when something like this very important and very real Game of Thrones post exists now? Katie

Spoon "Rent I Pay"
Spoon is back and if this song is any indication of what's to come on their newest album, then sign me up for like 4,000 copies, okay?

Happyness "Leave The Party"
This band Happyness is Stereogum's "Band To Watch" this week and I love this song so much, so thank you for this treasure, guys. (via Stereogum)

Very Good Girls trailer
I'm not 100% sure on what this is about (like, it has to be deeper than just boy drama, right?), but I'm a sucker for any super emotional "coming of age" movie. YOUNG LOVE! NAVIGATING THROUGH TEEN LYFE! CUTE BOY! I'm here for it all. (And having Dakota Fanning and Elizabeth Olsen as the leads definitely doesn't hurt.)

Clickhole website launch
The Onion launched a new Buzzfeed parody site yesterday called Clickhole and it's already my new favorite site. With quizzes like "If I Ordered Fries Would You Have Any?" and "Is Your Dad Proud Of You?", there's literally hours of fun to be had. Also, make sure not to miss "10 Hilarious Chairs That Think They're People." This is important.

Strand of Oaks "Shut In"
I keep posting about Strand of Oaks and I'm sorry (I'm not sorry), but the video for "Shut In" came out this week and I'm super into it so y'all should be too.

Meet The Designer: Marisa Haskell

California-based jewelry designer Marisa Haskell has been creating handmade jewelery ever since she was young, and after being fans of her line for ages, we're happy to announce our exclusive Marisa Haskell x UO collaboration is now available online. We chatted with Marisa about how she chose the pieces for her UO collaboration, how California influenced her growing up and the challenges she's faced as an artist.
Photographs by Emily Dulla

Tell us a little bit about yourself and your background. How did growing up in California influence the rest of your life?

I grew up in the Santa Barbara mountains in a house my parents built over the course of about 10 years. My parents were antique dealers and great designers and our house was always full of eclectic art, jewelry and textiles. We lived far enough out from town that you would hike to your friend's houses, or find creative ways to entertain yourself. Being outside, surfing, making things was a big part of my youth. It helps breathe a bit of independence into you that can be hard to shake. Everyday I try to get outside and create a little bit of this kind of environment in my life.

When & how did you first become interested in working with leather and jewelry making?
When I was about 15 I was helping my grandma and we came across some beautiful deer hides that she had tanned years back. She gave me the hides as well as some tools and taught me a bit about basic leather work. I began to realize the satisfaction of using thing that you had handmade. Working with leather was great because it provides many limitations- it was about taking the time, observing the material and keeping it simple, which is important in all design. I started making jewelry with scraps left behind and overtime my interest evolved and I found myself incorporating other materials and refining my aesthetic.

You spent some time living and working in Mexico; How did that shape your life and your career path?
Living in Mexico happened somewhat unintentionally. I had just finished college and as much as I wanted to, I didn't have a set plan yet, so I took a trip down there. I got a job and then a month long trip turned into 3 months, then 6, then a little over a year. I worked, surfed and made things. There was a lot of space for creativity and I didn't many of the distractions and anxieties I would have had back home. I learned how to be happy through simplifying my life. These days I work a ton and tend to take on as much as I can handle and so it is great to try to remember the value of just cutting back sometimes, simplifying, and make space for what you love most.

Who is the customer you design for? Do you have a dream customer?
Having my store in Oakland, CA has been an amazing experience because I get to meet so many awesome people and see them wearing the pieces. Oakland is a really diverse place, so you get the full spectrum of people shopping the line which has been rewarding to see. Dream customer? I had Linda Evangelista (who has been on the cover of Vogue more times then one can count) purchase some pieces from me the first month I started out. I figured that if someone who has been in the industry for so long liked it, then maybe this could work.

Can you tell us about your design process? How does a single piece go from an idea in your head to a finished product?
When I go to design a new collection I begin with drawings and then I start putting materials together and experimenting. Properly using materials is crucial to me - Find what is unique about leather and show that. Bring out what is different about brass. I make tons of samples and start pulling things together and seeing how the scale is working, the weight, the balance. Making all of my samples is critical to my process; working, adapting, and changing them as needed. Some styles come together in a few hours and other times I will spend days and get nothing. I know a piece is done when I want to take off whatever I have on and wear that one instead.

What have been your proudest moments and your biggest challenges?
The biggest challenge was getting over the intimidation of going into this industry. I thought there was some magic formula for making it happen. Turns out its mostly about being willing to work really hard, do things you don't think you can pull off, and having your eyes peeled for lucky breaks. As far as running my business goes- creating a system where we can make everything for my line by hand in our studio in Oakland has also been a huge challenge. It feels good though- building your team, making it by hand and feeling proud of the camaraderie you create.

Can you tell us about your UO collab?
Working with UO, we wanted to design great statement pieces for a wide audience. I feel like the type of person that shops at Urban Outfitters is so diverse that I really wanted the styles to be bold but wearable by someone of a variety of fashion leanings. We kept the pieces very true to my line and we made them easy to wear for a wide audience.

Behind the Scenes: Works Engineering

Works Engineering is a motorcycle garage, art studio, and living space that sits on a quiet street in Williamsburg. On any given day, you can most likely find the garage doors open, bikers passing through, motorcycles being worked on out front, and a couple of dudes hanging around outside of the shop.

The interior is filled with parts and pieces, bikes of all kinds, colors, and sizes, and a loft apartment at the rear, complete with a pool table and other man-cave essentials. The motorcycle enthusiast’s haven provided the perfect backdrop for our Shore Ride lookbook shoot, featuring a few friends and bikers from all over the city.

 See more in our Shore Ride lookbook

Friday Download: June 6, 2014

This week's Friday Download is alllll songs, people, so get ready. It's been a great week for songs. (But I'm not going to lie, I still watch-listened to HSM3's "Scream" about four times today. You just can't knock the classics, amirite?) I'm a little bummed that it's only June 6 and it's already 3,000 degrees out, but at least this summer looks like it'll be a promising one for good tunes. Check out some of my favorite new ones below. Katie

Tops "Change of Heart"
I am obsessed with this song. I have a feeling I'm going to be saying that about a lot of these songs this week, but seriously, this one is sooo good. The video is full of FRIENDSHIP and the song itself sounds like SUNSHINE and GRASS and SWIMMING all rolled up in a ball full of happiness. I am like, overwhelmed with feelings about this one, guys. Listen to it ASAP.
(via Gorilla vs. Bear)

Parquet Courts "Black and White"
The video/song combo for this one from Parquet Courts is just really doin' it for me. My dream in life is to be this cool one day.

Tennis "Never Work For Free"
Okay, I'm going to say it again: I'm obsessed with this song, too. Everything Tennis has put out lately has been speaking to me, like so much. Like, I have to keep going private on Spotify to hide how much I've listened to their Small Sound EP. The band also recently announced that their newest album Ritual in Repeat will be out September 9th, which luckily means we don't have too long to wait for even more new ones.

Charli XCX "Boom Clap"
I love this song. I love this book. I am weeping already.

Strand of Oaks "Shut In"
I think I made literally everyone I've ever met or crossed paths with listen to "Goshen '97" when it first came out, so I'm actually surprised I'm a little late on "Shut In." Strand of Oaks actually released this song (from his newest album HEAL, out June 24) a couple of weeks ago and somehow I missed it the first time around, but I found it now. AND I AM NEVER TURNING IT OFF. Can't wait for this album release, TBH.

Happenings: For The Record Schedule

(Photo credit: Samantha Urbani)

For those of you who haven't heard, we here at UO have started a brand new music program called For The Record. Basically, we'll be bringing in touring artists to your local Urban Outfitters to sign vinyl, promote their tours and hang out with fans in a relaxed setting. We had our first For The Record vinyl signing in April of this year in our Chicago stores and the success of it all means we won't be stopping anytime soon. Some of the artists we've worked with so far have been St. Vincent, Black Lips, MØ, and The Head and the Heart, and we have a lot more planned for you all. Below, check out the signings we have coming up.


Who: Dev Hynes (of Blood Orange) and Gia Coppola, available for a vinyl signing. Gia will be signing the Palo Alto soundtrack, and Dev will be signing Cupid's Deluxe.
When: June 12th from 2:00-3:00pm
Where: Urban Outfitters Herald Square (1333 Broadway, NYC, NY)

Urban On Insiders: Get an exclusive meet and greet 15 minutes before the signing. Check the app for details! If you're not an Urban On Insider yet, click here to learn more.

Eleanor Friedberger
June 14th from 3:00-4:00pm
Space Ninety 8 (98 N. 6th St., Brooklyn, NY)

Who: Eagulls
June 14th from 4:30-5:30pm
Space Ninety 8 (98 N. 6th St., Brooklyn, NY)

June 15th from 12:00-1:00pm
Space Ninety 8 (98 N. 6th St., Brooklyn, NY)

Who: Little Dragon
June 21st from 1:00-2:00pm
Urban Outfitters Herald Square (1333 Broadway, NYC, NY)

Make sure to share your signing experiences with the hashtag #fortherecord

Space Ninety 8: Bikestock Pop-Up

We spoke to Joseph Huba, one of the founders of Bikestock, a company that provides "support for urban cyclists through a network of vending machines, toolkits, and branded cycling products," to find out a little bit more about their current pop-up shop at Space Ninety 8, how their company was born, and (of course) the best places to bike in New York City.

What made you all come up with the idea for Bikestock?
It was actually Matt [Von Ohlen]'s idea. We were working at the same restaurant at the time and one day he ran the idea by me and it just made sense. It was like a light turned on inside my head and I just knew that this was something worth pursuing. And what made it resonate even more was the fact that I was working as a messenger and was always needing around-the-clock access to bike parts and repair. Matt has his fair share of horror stories on a bike, too. I mean, who hasn't needed an inner tube or access to air in the middle of night?

Was it hard to get the project off the ground?
Yes, it was very hard. From the get-go a lot of people just thought it was a great idea. And that was it. It was like, "I get it but how are you guys going to get money and find locations?" Needless to say that didn't stop us. We spent a ton of time writing our business plan and just kicking ideas back and forth. Eventually we came up with the idea of the toolkit as a way to start somewhere. I remember reading this book, I think it was the $100 Startup and there was a piece in there on starting a business tomorrow, with $50. I thought to myself, "Okay, if I had $50 to spend, what would I spend it on?" We kicked around a ton of ideas and the toolkit is what we came up with. That kept us motivated while we were searching for a location for a vending machine, a work stand, and air pump.

How do you choose what goes into your machines?
Well, I worked at a shop for years while I was going to school at University of Maryland and Matt has been riding bicycles since he was a kid, so we both kind of just knew what should go in the machine. We narrowed the selection down to what people need access to around the clock. There's something in our vending machines for everybody. It doesn't matter if you're not a cyclist. Whether you're a runner, a skateboarder, or someone commuting to work via the L train, we can take care of you.

What will we be able to find at your pop-up?
The pop-up itself has some bags and gear from our friends at Vaya Bags and Mer Bags; everything from rolltop backpacks to wallets to tote bags (and all the Vaya and Mer gear is handmade in Brooklyn). We also have some cycling related books, some awesome maps from All You Can Eat Press (a burger map, ramen map, and doughnut map). In addition to the books and maps we also have a film from our friends Crihs and Luke called Empire. It's chock full of some of the gnarliest fixed gear riding from the world's baddest ass riders.
And of course we have cycling specific items, like battery powered and USB rechargeable lights.

Where do you see Bikestock going in the future?
We see ourselves all over. We want to have a far reaching network that inspires people to ride and get outside more often.

What are some of your favorite spots in Brooklyn?
Jimmy's Diner is the best place to get food. Hands down. Get the chicken and waffles, you won't regret it. I also love the bar Lucky Dog. It's right across the street from DuMont Burger, which is also a great place to go for a beer and a burger. On a non-food related note, I also enjoy the LES Skate Park. It's my favorite place to go skate and it's one of the best parks in New York City.

Favorite spots to bike in NYC?
I love riding over the Williamsburg Bridge to work. That's always fun. And if you've been off your bike for a while, it can be a very unforgiving ride! I also love riding to the beach; whether it's to the Rockaways or Ft. Tilden, it's always a fun journey. There's something really special about when you get close to the water. It all of a sudden stops feeling like New York, but then you remember it is and that's what makes New York so awesome. There's even a (highly reputable) bird sanctuary out there, too! It's called the Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge. It's a super fun day trip and is easily accessible by bicycle.

What tunes have you been listening to lately?
I really love this DJ named Monster Rally. He is so incredible at mashing up songs and making them feel like original compositions. He just put out a 4 track EP that's got this cool vibe to it. It's definitely worth checking out. I also can't stop listening to Ghostface Killah. "Ironman" is one of my all-time favorite albums and to me it will never get old. Check out the music video for "Camay." It's got such a '90s feel to it, it's amazing. I've also been listening to this band California X. Bikestock actually helped put on a show at Shea Stadium in Bushwick and Cali X headlined a few months back. They played a killer set to a venue that was almost full. It was great! They kind of remind me of Dinosaur Jr. and some other good '90s bands.

Visit the Bikestock pop-up at Space Ninety 8 (98 N. 6th St.) through June 30

Studio Visit: Goldies and Meow Meow Tweet

With our vast beauty selection continuously expanding, we wanted to take the time to focus on some of the local beauty vendors and companies that are always working hard on making small-batch products with locally sourced and organic ingredients. This week, a few days ahead of their launches at the new UO Herald Square location, we shine a spotlight on two natural beauty brands from Brooklyn, NY, that we can't stop talking about: Goldies and Meow Meow Tweet. We spoke to Sarah Trogdon from Goldies and Tara Pelletier from Meow Meow Tweet to find out a little bit more about each company. Katie


Hey Sarah! Tell us a little bit about how Goldies came to be.
I come from a family who was always growing a lot of stuff. My parents are hippies, so I had that background already; I was always gardening. I used to work at Robertas, and when we put in the rooftop gardens I finally had a garden space in New York. I started experimenting with all the herbs by making soaps, and I was really good at it. I'd come wait tables at night with a suitcase full of my products and people just kept requesting more and more. With all my connections from over the years, I eventually started selling in my friends' shops and people from all over ended up just finding me that way. [laughs] And the brand just keeps growing.

When did you realize this could be a full-time business?
I do all the products for the Wythe Hotel which was a big move for the business. That happened right at the end of my year of being a stay-at-home mom, when I had to make a decision about what I was going to do, job-wise. I thought I'd go for it and see if I could make this something to support me and my family. That happened all at the same time and it pushed me to create products that weren't just hippie, but were products that everyone all over the world could enjoy. And I did it!

Where do you find the ingredients you use? Do you grow it all?
It's mostly stuff I have to order. Most of what I grow is for experimenting or testing stuff out within our little family and then I have to source stuff in larger amounts, because I need a lot of it. I make sure it's all sustainable and organic. I try to source everything as close as I can, but a lot of the oils come from other countries.

Do you have a product that's a best-seller?
Yes! Well, the thing that Urban carries the most of is the Vinegar Hair Rinse which is a super, super herbalist, simple recipe. Also, the Vetiver Dream Cream is one that sells well.

How do you decide what you want to start working on next?
Seasons. And necessity and desire. Thinking of things that I'd like to have in my own life. That's basically how the brand got started. The things I would spend money on were wine, cheese and beauty products. [laughs] We sit there and think about how we would make things really pure and unique. Then we do! Like right now we're working on a beachy hair spray that has salt in it but also lightens your hair. We've been testing that one out the past few days on the beach near our studio in Rockaway.

Is there a scent or ingredient you use the most?
We use vetiver a lot, which has really made it onto the scene.

Where do you see the brand going in the next few years?
Hopefully doing more hotels and spas. We're working on a travel kit that will be coming out really soon. And a beach kit, with a tanning oil, hair lightener. Maybe makeup, because I think it's really fun. Just bigger, bigger, bigger. [laughs]

Hey Tara! Tell us a little bit about Meow Meow Tweet.
Jeff [Kurosaki] and I have been doing Meow Meow Tweet for the past five years, but we've been doing Meow Meow Tweet without supplementary jobs for the past two years. It started off because six or seven years ago, my grandma gave me a bar of handmade soap in my stocking from one of her friend's farms, and we were like, "Whoa, this is amazing!" We're artists and always thinking about how we can make things and we were really into urban homesteading, so we were like, "What if we made soap and it supported our performance art?" [laughs] Because of course performance art doesn't support you. So we bought a book on like, Amazon about making soap and it was successful. [laughs]

And that's how Meow Meow Tweet was born.
Yeah, I don't know what would have happened if it wasn't successful. [laughs] We were like, "Whoa, this is awesome!" and also like, "Whoa, this is a ton of soap!" so we started giving it away and people kept telling us we had to sell it. We applied to the Renegade Craft Fair without being an actual business yet, so we went back and forth on the name because we needed one. We have two cats and a bird, so that's where Meow Meow Tweet came from.

What happened after Renegade?
We were accepted for some reason. [laughs] We made so much soap and came up with all the packaging. We don't do any markets anymore, though, except for the Vegan Shop-Up. It's the only vegan open-air market.

What ingredients do you use the most in your products?
When we started, we said we wanted as many ingredients as possible to be certified organic, for everything to be natural and for everything to be understandable to a person who is not in the know. Like if you go to a fancy restaurant and you read the menu and you're like, "I don't know what any of this stuff is." We didn't want our ingredients to be like that. [laughs] Things that everyone understands but also work really well together. Most of the oils we use are from the U.S. and Mexico and then our butters are from South Africa. We definitely source so everything is from certified organic farms, and all of our glass is manufactured in the U.S.

Do you guys have a best-selling product?
Our Deodorant Cream. It's all natural. This was one of the recipes that took the longest to formulate. When I was done with it, I was like, "Jeff, you need to make a drawing that represents how long it took to make." So he drew a snake making a slam dunk. [laughs] If you look at the ingredients, you can understand it all. You just apply it with your fingers and it's highly effective.

Do you have a favorite thing to make?
Well, I formulate all the recipes and Jeff does all the drawings and is in charge of operations. My favorite thing to do is probably come up with new recipes. I always like making the newest thing because it's the thing I've made the least. [laughs] Right now I love making our newest face cleanser.

What are your plans for the future?
To get bigger, but to do it in a way that we can handle and keep the quality of everything that we make. We know we can only grow as much as we can afford but, you know, world domination. [laughs]

UO x Converse: Herald Square

Every Wednesday through Sunday in June from 11am-8pm come to the Herald Square UO location (1333 Broadway) and get your Chucks customized with our special Converse printer. There are hundreds of designs to pick from, so there's sure to be something for everyone. To get your kicks customized, all you have to do is purchase a pair of Converse from the Herald Square store. The customization itself is completely free, so once you pick out your favorite pair of sneaks, you're good to go.

For more info on Herald Square, click here.

UO First Look: Herald Square

In the heart of New York City’s Herald Square (1333 Broadway), we will be opening our newest store on Saturday, June 7, 2014. Take a sneak peek at all the multi-level shop has to offer.

Amoeba Music
One of the permanent shops in our Herald Square location will be Amoeba Music. Hailing from California, the record company will bring a curated assortment of over 400 vintage vinyl titles that can only be found in our Herald Square location. Amoeba has been a mainstay of the vinyl community out in California since 1990, and we're excited to bring their extensive knowledge to the East coast.

Tortoise Blonde Shop
Another permanent feature of our Herald Square shop will be Tortoise & Blonde, an eyewear company who opened a successful shop-in-shop last year in our Soho location. The company provides a myriad of options for eyeglasses, and will also offer UO customers an exclusive collection of sunglasses. Evan Weisfeld, who founded the company with his father Dr. Steven Weisfeld, a licensed optometrist, says “We are extremely humbled and appreciative to be able to represent T&B on one of the busiest street corners in the world, especially with a brand like UO who has supported us since the beginning.”

Three Potato Four Souvenir Shop
One of our favorite Philadelphia-based brands, Three Potato Four, will be curating an exclusive souvenir shop for the Herald Square store that will feature NYC-related tchotchkes with a minimalist design. Pictured above is just a small sampling of their souvenir collection.

Hairroin Salon
We're also excited to announce that Los Angeles-based Hairroin Salon will permanently occupy a portion of the first floor. The full service salon specializes in cuts, colors and extensions, and serves men and women of all hair types, making it totally easy to grab a quick cut while still being able to shop the rest of the store. Janine Jarman, owner of Hairroin Salon, says, “Working with Urban Outfitters, we’re able to be part of an exciting new concept in beauty, and I hope we can partner on more salons in the future!”

Intelligentsia Coffee
Rounding out the rest of the shops is Chicago-based Intelligentsia Coffee, who will occupy a 900 square foot space on the ground level of the store and will have their own entrance. Their Herald Square coffee bar is their second NYC location and will provide customers with the service Intelligentsia is known for—sourcing, developing, roasting and delivering the best coffee in the world.