We are hosting an Intentionally Blank Pop-Up on Saturday, July 8th from 5-9 pm. Ty McBride, the soul of this brand, will be there and to get you excited for the event, we've picked his brain. If this doesn't get you excited, hopefully, the raffle and scrumptious food by the London Plane and flowing drinks will. Hope to see you there!
Photo by: Brady Hammes
1. How did you get started with Intentionally ___________.?
I have worked in footwear for many years, and I actually started in the industry on almost a fluke. I started doing sales, which lead to creative work, then line building, then private label----a lot of hats were worn! I worked at Jeffrey Campbell for many years, in a time I like to call "Pre-Lita." The company was small, growing and I got to do a lot and learn a lot. I worked directly under Jeff. He is an insane talent and one of the hardest working people I know. He is crazy and obsessed by shoes; I would almost say haunted. I then took some time off and worked on my own for 18 months consulting with shoe brands and companies before landing a position as creative director and brand manager of now-defunct solestruck.com. (RIP)
I got to work with an awesome team at Solestruck. I was able to hire most of them, but in the end, I ended up learning so much from them, and we had a great synergy that pushed that company into fun and uncharted waters for a shoe dot com of that era. After two years at Solestruck, I was given the role of creating the in-house brands which was a great experience. After five years at the Portland-based company, it became clear to me that I had maxed out my potential there, and that I wasn't going to grow anymore. In a refusal to plateau personally---I started exploring my options outside of the company. Several months later I was fired and Intentionally ___________. was born. Being fired from this position wasn't something I ever thought would happen, but it has changed my life for the better in ways I cannot even count. I got to a breaking point there, I was flat-lining, and for me, that wasn't an option. I spoke up, I got fired, and it turned a light on in me I needed to explore.
2. When creating, where do you start? From a stylistic standpoint or from a designer standpoint? Take us through this process…
This is such an important question for me. I view myself as first and foremost a creative director. I do style all our shoots on my own, and cast everyone from the model to the photographer. I have my hand in all the creative concepting, and I feel that voice and the voice of a brand is more important now than ever. I'm not sure people realize how difficult it is to create a tangible brand image when your budgets are invisible. When I created IB, I knew it was going to be cash strapped for five years minimum, so I created the brand dialogue with that in mind. It's lo-fi, it's gritty, it's real. The photos are not retouched. I want the brand to be really tangibly pretty, but I also want it to loudly say " I DO NOT GIVE A FUCK."
I write our copy, oversee and do the bulk of the social media and feel that is such a huge area of importance when you are starting a brand. I am a line builder second. I have never identified as a classical shoe designer. I can't sketch. I can't CAD. I am very very creative, but I am NOT artistic at all, does that make sense? I can barely draw a circle! I am obsessed with trend cycles and colors, tendencies and decoding the market. I base my collection on a lot of vintage styles that I then rework. Sometimes it's a matter of material, or changing a heel, but sometimes I have to get in there with a pair of scissors, cut up an old shoe, and make a new pattern by hand using tape, pens, and Google image search honey! I think my factories want to kill me sometimes, but I am happy with the outcome.
It is very important to me to realize and focus on the fact that STYLE and FASHION are not the same things. They are not even close, related yes, but not identical. I keep this in mind when working. I know my shoes maybe aren't for everyone, but I don't let that get me down. I focus on the vibe I love and the vibe I feel the woman I resonate with is searching for. I keep price in mind at all times. Wearability. Can the shoe be styled in a bunch of ways? Can it be worn to work? Can it be worn for several seasons? I also refuse to take what I am doing too seriously. I do not relate to stuffy people, status based individuals or those who's ego drive them. I like to try to keep that all at bay---make fun shoes and keep the market guessing. I want to change the shoe market, and in a way, I think I am, even though I see the ripple I am creating in this pond to be a small one.
Photo by: Brady Hammes
3. NY, LA, SEA - How would you define the style of these cities? Does this influence Intentionally ___________.'s style?
My Top US cities sales wise are NYC/BROOKLYN, Los Angeles, SF, PORTLAND, and SEATTLE. I think this is interesting and I am inspired by this. What these very different cities have in common is that they women there are moving, they are living, they are pushing boundaries---I want to be a part of that style wise.
I lived in Brooklyn for almost 9 years. The diversity of style is so inspiring. I love seeing a girl on a ten speed driving to a BBQ on her ten-speed with a case of beer in the basket. I love the power of strong black women, in Brooklyn, you see that. I love the range of amazing stores in Brooklyn and the insane amount of sexual energy. I love meeting a person right when they have moved to NYC, then see the magic of the experience literally morph them, push them, and in some cases totally break them. I love the influence of the gays in areas like Brooklyn. Of course being a proud gay myself, I might be biased---but come on, who doesn't love a good gay and how they impact neighborhoods, shopping, style, and vibe. Nobody can gentrify like a group of gays.
I think my shoes grow in popularity in these cities because of the stores I sell in, and the people who shop there. It becomes cyclical. They find my brand in a store they love. They buy. They then also start shopping with me, following my Insta, get into the vibe, then share it with their circle. I don't have marketing budgets, ad money, or even any money behind this brand---so I rely on this kind of tipping point organic marketing. I know it takes longer, but for me, it's more genuine--and it's all I have. It feels genuine, and I am not someone afraid of hard work.
4. You talk a lot about a 'Muse'. Who is this and why is she your muse?
I have two sets of Muses. My "muse at large," which is this client I see myself being coveted by. A strong 30-year-old who is spontaneous and wild. She might be a mom. She might be single. She might be 100% career focused. But at the core, she is all about the experience of life---about getting shit done. This muse keeps me going. Strong ass women. When I break down our client she seems to be like 25-55 and really insanely varied. I like this about our shoes---because its all about how you style them.
My other Muse, are my style icons. Right now, I am super into Solange. I saw a pair of my shoes recently on her insta-story, and I nearly had to be put on a respirator. I was floored. I like her style, and how she doesn't let living under a giant persona like her sister overshadows her quirkiness. I secretly think we will be friends, but I don't want her to know I'm stalking her, but with pure interests at heart!
If I were to tell you my other main points of current inspirations right now I would have to say: Slim Aarons, Palm Springs, Helen Mirin, Rachel Comey, and a very strange fascination I have with Detroit. I'm also inspired by the music of Juice Newton and Sylvia right now---this crossover country glam moment that happened. I should also note I am super into drag queens.
Photo by: Brady Hammes