I’ve known Mike Jackson for a long time. A very long time. He was one of the first people to flow me stickers from his original brainchild “Grubwear” and eventually some very excellent threads. He even managed to get a photo of me printed in Concrete Magazine doing a flat-land-ollie-tail-grab over a garbage can (with a fresh baby blue Grubwear fleece along for the ride). Nothing but love for this guy. Over the years, I’ve followed his progress from creating clothing to a successful snowboard brand, “Jackson Boards,” which propelled him and his brand(s) to a shop called Thriller on West 4th Avenue right in the thick of Westbeach and The Boardroom. His current project, Studiotique, is located in the Kingsway and Fraser vortex of awesomeness. I stopped by to catch up with Mike and got a chance to fire off a series of questions that will fill you in on his current labour of love.
What is Studiotique? Tell us about the idea behind it.
Studiotique emerged as the next natural evolution of my retail business Thriller, which I officially closed when we left Main Street. I wanted to decrease costly retail operations (inventory, staffing, overhead and seven days a week) to a small Studio workshop in the back and Boutique in the front, hence Studiotique. I work mostly by myself each day and I love it. My focus now is to offer small run products of my own goods under the Grubwear brand and the back end I focus on custom clothing and branded merch and goods for others. Full service from creative to completion, screen-printing, embroidery, digital direct printing, and stickers, anything you need your logo on.
Tell me about your creative process and why you’ve coined the term “Quality Crap” in some of your branding?
I don’t question where the creativity comes from and I am very thankful that I am able to think of ideas, prints, designs, products, and procure a few items to test the market. From conception to reality within house, if I want. Quality Crap? Well, a little self-deprecation I suppose. There’s a little stuff in the shop for everyone.
How do you find the collectables for sale in your store?
I’ve always had a perchance for pop culture and retro design. I started collecting about seven years ago, with the intent to sell and flip and enjoy the goods while I had them. The corner in the basement was filling up so I made a decision to bring it all to the shop. It fits in like eye candy and while it confuses some, I tell the story and most often sell a few items each day.
If Vancouver were a 35-year-old person, what would he/she dress like?
I dare say many of those folks are tending to the hipster side of fashion but one can’t cast stones .I’ve seen some of my fashion crimes in pictures from years gone by—baggy pants, wallet chain, flannel, etc. I do think people want to be super individualized while paying homage to their fave mantra like punk, prep, hesh, skate or even jocky. I really like when people walk into my shop and own their get-up.
What is your favourite neighbourhood in Vancouver?
I think the Kingsway-Broadway-Fraser corridor is the place, and if not now then in the next two to 10 years. I plan to be right in the thick of it. We’ve been on Main Street since 2004, and KWF since 2010. And I’ve lived in East Van since early 2004. I love it. I have a four-minute commute.
Why did you choose Mount Pleasant for the shop?
I just had a feeling it was untapped, and rent was lower. Though not so much anymore. Diamond in the rough for me, close to home and loads of potential.
What changes have you noticed since opening? What do you think is in store for the area in the future?
Foot Traffic, and hence retail money. I’ve seen change in clientele, more cool shops in our area, development on our street. This area, expanding east down KWY will continue to blow up with little pockets here and there with killer small shops.
What makes Vancouver such a likeable and liveable city?
Big picture: the climate and proximity to the ocean and mountains. You can do four sports in one day. You can skate, golf, skim, hike, snowboard, bike. I think the Vancouver creative arts and young small business climate is like no other in Canada. So many cool young people are doing cool things. I almost wish I was younger (but not really).