We had the good fortune of connecting with Ian Segal and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Ian, what do you attribute your success to?
My father used to say that nothing was boring the more you studied it. I never liked to hear it because it felt like the “eat your vegetables” of homework apologia. But as I’ve grown a little older it has become something of a lodestar for me.
We tend to focus on our perceived strengths, find our lane, and stick to it. I think we are far more perspicacious thinkers and effective operators when we delve into everything around us with brio. And particularly for folks in the creative/freelance world, being at least a “dabbler of all trades” is a matter of necessity and basic survival besides.
So whether it’s in my work or my hobbies, whenever something strikes me as dull I try and turn it around on myself—and challenge myself to learn more until it’s interesting. I frankly don’t know how good I am at this but I keep mindful of it.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
Nine Lives is an L.A, brand that started on a dark night in Tokyo. The advice “Own fewer, better things” was our jumping off point. Nine Lives uses the best of primarily Japanese artisanal production to make apparel that hews to the Jurassic Park ethos of “spare no expense.” But it’s not just luxury for luxury’s sake. People have grown used to a luxury industry that has been fixed since the seventies—everybody knows they pay less for quality and more for marketing budgets.
What Nine Lives does is try and restore a little balance to the universe—and get people something handmade, something special. A singular garment that will patina with time and in time with their own lives.
We have sourced some of the most exclusive custom leathers and fabrics on earth and have, as we like to say, “A symphony of furiously dedicated craftsmen, all playing something weird and feral.”
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
I love the notion that LA is still in a large sense brand-new. Ya know, in the scheme of things. So I like the places that strike us as old. I’m obviously talking about the Apple Pan.
Truetone Music and McCabe’s always have something special. The Good Art Hlywd foundry and family room is one of my homes and one of the most curated spaces in the city and created by the the most generous-spirited and talented folks. It’s one of my greatest joys to be so humbled by my friends and so that’s the city that I like sharing—people staggeringly good at what they do, whether it’s burgers or gold jewelry.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
I often compare running one’s own business to sailing your own pirate ship—and I think that metaphor captures quite accurately the romance and nausea inherent to enterprise.
But I think the comparison breaks down at the level of mechanics. I don’t survive but for my friends. There is nothing solitary about running one’s own business, and such business, by its very nature, will always stretch you thin and run you a little ragged. The friends in and out of my industry quite literally allow me to live my life and I have trouble articulating to them how grateful I am and how much I love them.
And I’d like to steer folks to the poets who are my mothers and fathers: Gabrielle Calvocoressi, Yusef Komunyakaa, Paul Muldoon, Frederick Seidel, Susan Wheeler, and the late C.K. Williams.
Neil Berrett Eeva Suutari