Just a cute pic to lure you into chapter 2…
On the same bench in the same playground on the next day, I pitched my idea to James: “Baby gear for stylish dads”.
He nodded his head.
I scanned the playground to make sure Big E wasn’t stealing other kids’ toys or climbing a 20-foot ladder.
“That doesn’t already exist?” he asked.
I caught a glimpse of Big E scooping sand onto the bottom of the slide. No harm done. Back to James.
“When I was prepping to be a dad, everything I found was soft, girly pastels or the basest kind of masculinity. For example, baby blankets – everything’s light pink, baby blue, light green and yellow. I get that those colors are calming for the parent, but does the kid care? I read some report that says bolder colors, even blacks and whites, are more visually stimulating for the kid. What about a baby aesthetic that’s bolder?”
I looked around at the playground, again.
“Can Big E climb those ladders over there to that slide?” James asked.
“No,” I responded, glancing to see Big E running around the base of the slide. “But then there’s diaper bags,” I continued. “A diaper bag is an extra appendage when you’re a new dad. And living in the city, it’s also your lifeline, your car, your statement of personal expression, etc. etc. And I could never find masculine diaper bags with style. They were all frumpy and plain. Or worse, of the two companies I found that specialize in daddy gear, you could get bags in camouflage or any sports franchise logo you want. As if to say, ‘I’m a dad, but I’m still a man, too.’ That nauseates me.”
I looked at Big E. He was halfway up the 8-foot ladder to the slide. “Apparently he can climb the ladder.” I ran over to help him.
I kept talking to James from a distance. “So I’m not that guy whose hyper-masculinity needs to be expressed with bad style. I want stylish. Call it metrosexual, call it dandy’ish. Whatever. It’s stylish and masculine for a proud dad. But such items don’t exist in the baby-making industry.”
James laughed. “Baby-making.”
Not sure baby-making is what I meant.
“How about baby-raising industry?”
We both laughed.
James was jazzed and on board with me. Though he tends to jump from Broadway show to Broadway show and is constantly busy as a titan within the Broadway community, he said he had the drive and interest to work on this with me.
“You don’t think you’re too busy?”
“I’ve got plenty of time.”
“You’re not worried about intense rehearsals for ROCKY?” (his upcoming Broadway gig, at the time.)
“I can’t stand it when people say, ‘I’m in intense rehearsals. I’m exhausted.’ Come on. You don’t start work til 10. There’s hours before that you can get stuff done.”
I agree, wholeheartedly.
Further, James doesn’t drink alcohol or coffee. While I wonder how he forgoes such pleasures, ain’t that a perfect attribute in a business partner?
That night, he demonstrated his excitement for this venture, emailing thumbnail images of bags from Army-issued knapsacks to duffels designed by Jeep (the car company) to Louis Vuitton satchels: all masculine styles that inspired him. For example. This was all new to me: beginning to collect images of things that just inspire. Online scrap-booking to draw inspiration.
I never thought about doing that.
And we’re off.