JEFF HALMOS & LISA MAYOCK

JEFF HALMOS & LISA MAYOCK

FADE IN:

EXT. PRATT SCULPTURE PARK AT THE PRATT INSTITUTE, CLINTON HILL, BROOKLYN – MORNING

The Pratt Sculpture Park at the Pratt Institute is relatively quiet, as school’s out for the summer. Gardeners tend to the lawn and various bushes, while a light breeze keeps the humidity at bay. LISA MAYOCK, and her husband JEFF HALMOS stroll the grounds, as he pushes a baby stroller carrying their newborn son, Pascal.

CUT TO:

LISA and JEFF sit on a bench in the middle of the sculpture garden. As LISA takes in the summer sun, JEFF admires the art.

JEFF
I love coming here with you on the weekends, to have a coffee and chill. This spot is so beautiful that it’s hard to believe we’re in the middle of Brooklyn.

LISA
Do you remember how we met?

JEFF
I don’t remember the time you think we met.

LISA
It was the night you won the CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund for [your then brand] Trovata in 2006.

JEFF
There’s some room for debate here. [LAUGHS] Don’t we wish that the story was more romantic, like a chance encounter on a bridge in a foreign country?

LISA
Well, that’s been our running joke for nearly 10 years! [LAUGHS] I’d never been to a big fashion party, and was extremely nervous — I didn’t know anyone there. But, you sauntered over to me, and we talked for 10 minutes. You couldn’t have been nicer. I then had a random conversation with Marc Jacobs for half an hour. He was nice, too, but you clearly left an impression.

JEFF
You and I already kind of knew each other, because the New York Fashion Week presentation for your [then brand] Vena Cava was produced by the company Trovata was using at the time.

LISA
Sophie Buhai, my then business partner, and I had Vena Cava for 10 years. We started it in the summer of 2003, after we graduated from Parsons. Sophie and I designed the collection in three months, while working multiple side gigs to make a living. We planned Vena Cava’s first-ever presentation — which coincided with New York Fashion Week that fall — by ourselves and hand delivered the invitations to Condé Nast and Hearst. Our show got an incredible response — I didn’t know it at the time, but Lynn Yeager was there — and was so popular that we decided to turn it into a clothing brand.

JEFF
I had a similiar experience with Trovata — I started it with two friends when I was in college. We’d pitch the brand traveling salesmen style by carrying the clothes in a suitcase and going to stores all over the country: Chicago, New York, Los Angeles. We made the lookbooks by hand. My friends and I were 22 years old with nothing to lose. I kind of wish you and I had that now, with Monogram, our vintage-inspired graphic t-shirt line.

LISA
We have two young sons, and a lot going on — we didn’t need a business together, too.

JEFF
But Monogram was something you had in mind for years.

LISA
I had always wanted to start a t-shirt line that hit on the same notes and captured the same spirit of vintage: well-worn, loved fabric with really cool graphics.

JEFF
At first, we both hesitated about starting it, but once we researched the current market — which mostly consists of licensed band tees, or t-shirts with pop-culture references like #Brunch — we realized it was a perfect opportunity. Then, last fall, we met with factories, screen printers, fabric suppliers, and wash and dye houses in Los Angeles. Before we knew it, we had developed the products, designed graphics, and built an ecommerce site.

LISA
Launching the website was so exciting, because our business model — direct-to-consumer — was, and still is, entirely new to us both. We’re learning so much!

JEFF
Wholesale has its merits but —

LISA
The vision of your brand may not be in sync with the people selling it. Direct-to-consumer allows us to be very concise with Monogram’s message. We can show the product how we want to show it, and engage directly with the consumer. There’s no filter.

JEFF
The product itself is seasonless, and if a graphic sells really well, we’ll make more. We don’t adhere to the traditional sales calendar and release new pieces all the time. We’ve had a lot of fun so far.

LISA
Running the business with you has also been very efficient. We both knew what we’d bring to the table from the beginning, which I think, is a plus of spouses working together.

JEFF
And there was a level of respect that was already built in. We know each other very well, so I can always tell when you don’t want to talk about work, and vice versa.

LISA
There’s a natural stopping point, because we have our children to take care of.

JEFF
We’re always conscious of that, and Monogram is truly a family business. Pascal was born a week before the website launched! Thankfully, your parents were here from California — the timing worked out perfectly.

LISA
I love visiting them in Los Angeles, and going there for business is the perfect excuse. The factories that produce our Monogram tees are only 20 minutes away from their house. In the past, a work trip meant going to Hong Kong and staying in a hotel with techno music playing in the lobby, and a weird pool scene. We love LA — it’s the antithesis of that in the best way.

JEFF
I think we’d love to be there at some point, to be closer to the product — and your family. It is, after all, t-shirt weather year round!

CREDITS

Photography by Sania Tharani

Conversation moderated by Michelle Rizzi

Jeff Halmos and Lisa Mayock are the Brooklyn-based husband-and-wife team behind Monogram.

Did you see? Husband and wife Stephen & Erica Malbon talk business, family, and living in Los Angeles, multi-media artist and illustrator Miguel Villalobos takes The Thick Questionnaire.

THE END