As Yet Untitled

Thursday, March 30, 2006

M+F - Esef

His name is Steven Paul Finch. He's 23, has a strong Boston accent, restores cars, and runs his own clothing label. Called ESEF, after his initials, the line showcases Finch's distinctive style and memorable leaf trademark. M+F caught up with Finch on his birthday in Boston.

Interview after the jump.

This will be in the next issue of M+F.


At 1:55 PM, Blogger Tyson said...

M+F: How'd you get started?

Steven Finch: Ever since I was about nine years old, I was in an elementary class, and a teacher told me--actually she told my dad--that I should start taking art lessons. So, ever since then, I've been doing that. Then, once high school came, I took the basic art classes in school and actually went a totally different direction, restoring cars, which is something I still do on the side. Restoring old cars and painting. Eventually that led to painting musical instruments and painting leaves on drum shells and guitars. I always loved clothing and nature, because my grandfather used to always take us up to New Hampshire and built a cottage there and things like that. So I just combined everything together and brought it to clothing. I'm sick and tired of seeing black t-shirts with white writing on them, and I wanted to do something with earth tones and a nature theme.

MF: What was the genesis of the clothing line?

SF: Since I was young, I always wanted a t-shirt company--still do--I didn't necessarily have nature in mind, it just came about. One day I was at a local club, observing everyone and noticed that everyone had the same thing on. I was like, 'I need to do something' and basically started the company in my head that night. I went home and drew some things up. I started with a painting of a magnified view of birch trees and leaves. I did fifteen t-shirts, screen-printed, and gave them to all my friends. That's all I did of that one design. We'd walk around the city with all my best friends and every time we saw a leaf in the window or in a display, we'd go 'that's so S-F'. That's where the whole leaf obsession started; it was originally knee-jerk, and it still is, but now my logo is the leaf with the stem wrapped around the leaf, and I've just stuck with it. A lot of people have really dug that, and I'm glad that I've stuck with one thing instead of jumping all over the place.

MF: And is that how you got started with the instrumental bands?

SF: Definitely. Mostly, I'd start to bring t-shirts to concerts and things. I just write the artists a letter and make t-shirts especially for them as a thank you for endorsing my company, and inspiring me to be artistic. People really seem to be into that. Actually the one thing that keeps me going at it is a band from Japan called Mono, and they've helped me so much ever since I gave them t-shirts. I've never met them, but they came to Boston and I gave the guy at the door t-shirts for them, and he said, 'yeah, I'll make sure they get it.' I didn't really think anything of it, and went out to dinner and came back and they were inside talking to their fans and wearing the t-shirts and I was like, 'wow'. As soon as I saw that, I realized I could make something of this. ESEF has actually taken off more since then, and every time Mono comes back to Boston they're always wearing my shirts.

MF: Who else do you like in the instrumental genre?

SF: One of the biggest inspirations to me is a band from Iceland called Sigur Ros. I've been trying to email them for the longest time, trying to get some shirts to them, but being such a large band, they probably have no time to write back. Two weeks ago, I got a message from their tour manager saying 'it'd be great if we could meet you.' So they got me tickets to the Orpheum theater show coming up and a backstage pass so that I can meet them and personally hand them my garments, and that's going to be one of the best things that has ever happened to my company and to me.

MF: That seems to fit nicely with the upcoming fashion show you have planned.

SF: I read so many books about starting a business and advertising and marketing, and I was looking for something that set me apart from other clothing companies. I thought I should start having fashion shows, but it'd be at an actual show, so all the bands would be wearing garments from my clothing line. It went from that to me naming it The Nature Glows Festival. It just came into my head and sounded right, and anyone I put the idea out to said, 'yeah, that sounds great.' It went from being a fashion show type of thing to now it's more of a promotional idea for my company and for all these instrumental bands, so I can help them out. A lot of the bands have been sending me emails, and they really inspire me, so this is a great way to help them, and to help my company in my future. I'm going to bring all my items, show off my collection, have give-aways and the whole thing like that. I think it's going to be great, because there aren't too many instrumental music festivals around now, and I'm going to keep it going. In October, I'm going to Japan, and there's a band called Euphoria and Mono who are going to help me out, and we're going to throw a Nature Glows festival in Japan. And I just hope to do it at least twice a year and do it all over the world, wherever I can.

MF: Starting a business can be hard work; I would imagine a clothing line doubly so. How much of a struggle has it been to get where you are now?

SF: When I started the business, it was definitely difficult. I had no idea where it was going to go. It was just a way to express my art, to put it on clothing, just mixing two of my favorite things together. It's been really fun. I started painting, and I got a really good response from that, and it pushed me to do more. I would do leaves in paint and put them on paper to see what they looked like. Then I got sick of doing trade runs; I found that even though my company was a little different from the others that you found in boutiques, I wanted to step it up. So I bought a sewing machine, and with no experience at all, I practiced doing stitch design and different things like that. Reading books on it, eventually just cutting out leaves and trees and sewing them onto t-shirts and I just got a much better response from that. People liked how personal it was and I've been doing it all myself. I'm going to get some help, but I never want to go huge, mass-produced. Maybe, at the most, 300 shirts per design. I don't really want to go too big. I want to keep it the way it is, so that everyone has something personal, and I'm always coming out with new designs. It's been really hard. The first year, I didn't think it was going to be my main job. I just put out the t-shirts and I'll see where it goes. The year after that it was really off and on. I was in a slump and didn't know what to do. And then once I met Mono, and they really loved the designs. They're on the same label as Explosions in the Sky, and they're a really big band that paved the way for a lot of smaller bands. They were really into it; they wore my shirts onstage once and everyone was really looking at it. After those two shows, I got a lot of requests from people who are into that type of music, nature, and those kinds of things.

MF: So where do you want to take your company? Where do you want to be in five years?

SF: My goal is in a year, a year and a half, I'd like to get my own boutique, preferably in the city of Boston. There's a few other clothing companies that have started, and they all get boutiques around my area, but it's really not a good area to do it. I'd rather just save and save and save and just sink all my money into something in the city. I want to have a boutique and have everything controlled through me. I don't want to go too much with having my stuff sold in places like Urban Outfitters. I'd rather people came to my boutique and my personalized collections. And that's why I want to travel around the world, so I can meet people and make those sorts of connections with everyone.



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