• Dreamers + Doers: Forage Haberdashery

    Dreamers + Doers highlights emerging artists, entrepreneurs, and up-and-coming ones to watch. Whether it’s starting a new business, creating something beautiful, or just daring to do things differently, we stand behind those taking steps toward something new.



    Forage Haberdashery is the combined project of Stephen Loidolt and Shauna Alterio, who produce handmade bow ties and handkerchiefs inspired by vintage menswear and deadstock materials. Both Loidolt and Alterio got their start at URBN, working in-store and then at the Philadelphia home office for UO and Anthropologie respectively for almost a decade before leaving to fully focus on their own projects. 

    Today, their story with Urban Outfitters has come full circle: with this month's pop-up at Brooklyn's Space Ninety 8, Stephen and Shauna's careers have evolved from working on the store floor to now selling their work at Urban Outfitters. We talked with the duo about Charles and Ray Eames, establishing roles in a homegrown business, and how the modern man ought to style a bow tie. 


    How did this all happen?

    Shauna and I first collaborated on making handmade goods under the name “Somethings Hiding in Here.” We made things like wood rings, music boxes, and marquee signs. We opened an Etsy shop, made things, and people kept buying them. We both had full-time jobs with URBN that we loved and had no plans of starting a business. 

    We had a pop-up shop in San Francisco a few years ago and thought it would be fun to make something new, so we rented a cabin in the woods, bought a sewing machine and fabric, created our own patterns, and made 150 bow ties by hand. A year later, we realized that Forage had become its own brand and it was time to either take it seriously or move on. Shauna left her day job to run the business full time and I followed a year later. Since then, we’ve grown the assortment by introducing a new item each season. 


    Can you share some specific sources of inspiration? 

    We both went to grad school at Cranbrook and I think the 'form follows function' legacy left there by Charles and Ray Eames has been a big influence in how we approach making things. We’re inspired by design that has stood the test of time and feels as classic and as relevant today as it was decades ago. The same goes for music: I love Leadbelly, Robert Johnson, and Memphis Minnie. 


    Offer two pieces of advice to your 20-year-old self. 

    1. Take more photos. 
    2. All this art school debt will be worth it.  

    How do you suggest the modern man ought to style a bow tie? 

    Keep it casual, pair it with denim, and embrace an imperfectly-tied bow. Make it your own: experiment with the knot and let it show your personality.  


    Walk us through a typical day-in-the-life. 

    We wake up around 6:30am. Shauna and I make a plan for the day over coffee and hit the ground running. We bounce between hanging with our son Sawyer and working throughout the day. As soon as Sawyer goes to sleep in the evening, we both go back to the studio and keep working till around 2am. 

    Some days might be focused on sourcing fabrics for future collections, photographing new product, designing the next season’s catalog, sewing patterns, or shipping out orders. Each day is a little bit different.  


    Can you share more about how you've approached establishing different roles in the company? What have been challenges and what has come easier than you anticipated? 

    We don’t think about it too much. We’ve been together 15 years and have naturally figured out how get things done as a joint effort. Shauna’s background is in printmaking and curating. She’s the creative force with more ideas than we could ever execute. She’s focused, organized, incredible at design, loves multiples, and knows how to get a lot of work out of me. 

    My background is in sculpture. I have a broad knowledge of materials and building processes. I love figuring out how to make things, so when Shauna has an idea, I usually can make it exist. All of that history makes us work pretty well in tandem. Ideas bounce back and forth, informed and reformed by our individual creative processes. Somehow we’ve each learned how to hold our ground when it counts and give in when needed. Together we end up making things that neither of us would make on our own. It’s a true collaboration.  




    Above: Forage's Space Ninety 8 pop-up

    Tell us something we do not know about bow ties. 

    We love that they have a utilitarian history: early tradesmen wore them because they were functional. When leaning over your job, neckties dangle and get in the way so a bow tie is a great alternative for the working man.  


    Complete the thought: 
    I like it when… things fall into place 
    Success is… a job you like, good friends, a place to call home, and someone to share it all with 
    My biggest fear is… our to-do list. 
    I’d like to be… working on my '66 Chevy pick-up truck 
    I’m secretly obsessed with… fly fishing 
    I am looking for... a vintage wooden canoe 
    I dislike… emails. 
    My style icon is… Satoshi, our Japanese showroom rep. 
    I dread… deadlines
    I am good at… building things
    I am bad at… bookkeeping 


    See the past videos in our Dreamers + Doers series here: