Over the past few months, I’ve become obsessed with redecorating my apartment. It feels like a natural progression from my obsession with clothing, and I’ve noticed that as I get older, I’m focused on surrounding myself with beautiful things inside my home, as opposed to spending all my time outside of the house. Who’d’ve thought. And that’s where Tariq Dixon and Nick Nemechek come in. The dynamic duo founded homewares/interiors e-commerce/editorial site TRNK after noticing a distinct gap in the market for guys like me who are keen to dip their toes in the ocean that is creating a home. Where are we supposed to shop? Who’s catering to us? Where do we start? Since first logging on a year or so ago, I’d be lying if I said I don’t visit TRNK at least five times a week. Often more. I’m also a regular customer, having bought everything from hanging planters to art to coffee mugs. Needless to say, I’m a fan. So I sat down with Tariq and Nick to find out more about their business, and get some tips in the process. Win/win.
You both started out as menswear buyers — what sparked the transition from clothing to interiors?
We wanted to do something entrepreneurial and we were thinking it would be in fashion, so we were laying the groundwork for a menswear brand, but in the process of that, our own lifestyles and interests began to evolve and we started spending more time in the home and investing in the home, and as we were doing that we realized how difficult and exhausting of a process that was, because in reality there wasn’t a single retailer who was speaking to us as customers. We were clearly not the target customer of any store we went into. So we had to go from store to store and cherry pick things, spending hours upon hours and never really feeling satisfied. So it raised the question: ‘Why is this so difficult and does it need to be?’ And after taking a step back and observing this whole phenomenon around men’s style, we realized there was an equal opportunity when it came to the home that nobody was addressing.
That’s what attracted me to what you do in the first place — I’ve worked in menswear for over 10 years so if there’s something I need, I know exactly where to get it, but then all of a sudden when I got interested in my apartment, I had no idea where to look or start.
I think that’s a pretty common occurrence for a few reasons — you start dressing yourself from about the age of eight, but you don’t dress your home until you’re a lot older. You don’t have that experience or exposure to it. But there are also a lot more considerations — it’s about proportion and creating the right balance between old and new and color — it’s an intimidating process. That’s one of the main motivations behind why we create content — to alleviate some of those daunting aspects.
One thing I’ve noticed since I’ve started shopping around is that it’s actually the same price to buy from big box stores as it is to buy the legit version that they were ‘inspired’ by. I just bought an Anglepoise lamp, and the big box retailer knock off was literally only $20 cheaper. That seems crazy to me.
They’re playing on people’s ignorance. They know what people are willing to pay, and so there’s just no transparency around what you’re actually paying for. It’s also an industry where knocking off isn’t that taboo. In apparel there’s so much more newness, so H&M or Topshop will be knocking off Givenchy every collection, but it’s new season Givenchy; but with furniture, the same designs are still being used from 60 years ago, and everybody is knocking them off in much more obvious ways.
True. So with menswear, we had this big boom and now the average male consumer is a hell of a lot more educated than he ever was before, but I guess with furniture and interiors males are still lightyears behind. How do you start educating that customer?
In some ways we’re piggybacking off of the phenomenon of what’s happening with menswear, so that’s why we did the GQ column — aligning with that guy we know has an interest in style, and whose next big investment will be in the home. We’re making the assumption that this guy wants to take an active interest in his home, and he wants it to be reflective of his tastes. Traditionally, the average man gets one room in the home — often the basement or the garage — where he can do whatever he wants so long as the door stays closed; but that’s just not reflective of younger generations of people like us who live in cities and who have an interest in design and style. And there has to be some level of personal agency in the process, because imagine walking into your home one day and someone else has chosen everything without your input.
So say you’ve got a guy like me who’s getting his first proper apartment and he wants to start creating a home out of it… What’s a good place to start?
We always say start with the accents. Start with the least expensive things. Those little details make a space look considered and thoughtful. Your sofa might not be the best sofa, but it could look a lot better with some throw pillows; or maybe what your space needs to tie it together is a new rug. Or all of your walls are still blank, how about putting up some art. Or you could hang one huge, dynamic light and then you don’t need any art. The big furniture pieces are among the least important things if you’re thinking about where to start. It’s not about having to replace your sofa and your armchair and your side tables all at once. Before buying a new coffee table, you might want to consider styling your coffee table with beautiful books. Why are we discouraging people from buying (laughs)? Buy all the sofas!
You started as an online-only store, now you’ve opened up this amazing showroom… Any other plans for world domination?
We’re still in the formative stages of the brand, but we are working on our own product.
Oh wow cool! Are you able to offer that at a lower price point?
It’s kinda tough to do that. It’s going to be made in LA, and it’ll have a relatively low markup because it’s important to us to retain a level of accessibility, but we’re also very protective of what we want to do, so we weren’t willing to make too many concessions on style or quality for the sake of price. But that’s the thing about consumerism right now. Nobody wants to pay a lot for things, but we want quality products and fair wages for workers. Our sofas are designed to be timeless and they’ll last a long time, and they might be the last sofas you ever buy. It’s important to keep that in mind.
Check out TRNK here.
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