Posts tagged composure
A Guide to Crown Heights, Brooklyn ft. Alex Harvilla

Alex is a marketing strategist living in the Crown Heights neighborhood of Brooklyn, in a space filled with storied histories of punk, new wave, and Brooklyn's local flavor. Responsible for guiding the direction of iconic beauty brands in consumer media, Alex shared the various ways his perspective is shaped by powerful artists of decades past and the vintage character that makes its way into the corners of this historic neighborhood. His notes below tell a few stories of things that matter most in his life and what makes Crown Heights his home. 🔮🙏 


King Nothing

My favorite piece of art titled ‘King Nothing.’ I love the high-energy colors and morbid subject matter. One of my best friends, Laura Haas, painted it. I love that when people are creeped out by it, they say “that’s interesting” OR “It’s not MY taste, but I’m glad you like it.” Side note: WTF is that supposed to mean? #Seriously. All in all, if you have a piece of art that creeps as many people out as it impresses – it’s safe to say you’ve found a good piece. 


Photo table

I’m a big fan of 80s new wave, dark wave, and synth music - so I made a table. I know each person/artist included and they’ve impacted my taste in one way or another. Why all of the 80s things? I love the experimentation and depth of sound, the contrast of depressing lyrics with a happy tune, and all the pretty people. 


Red balloon

No that’s not New Jersey, It’s a piece of a red balloon. For my 31st birthday, I had the chance to see Nena preform 99 Luftballoons with one of my best friends, and they dropped 99 red balloons on us (yes, they let us know it was exactly 99). It was the first time they had performed in the US in 30 years! New Order made me crazy about New Wave, but Nena made me crazy about the 80s. I still get pissed when I request this song and receive the English version. 



From the jerk seitan and alcoholic slushies to the always summer attire, this place is has become a life-staple for me. I bring every out of towner here to help paint the illusion of having my life together. I hate snow, and I love coming here during the first snowstorm and drinking away the ickiness (no shade snow lovers). I also like that the staff never judges me for coming in hungover AF after a dance-centric Saturday night.  


Bearded Lady

For risk of sounding like that hipster everyone hates, I live out my mid-century modern dreams here. I’m a sucker for excellent lighting and strong drinks. This used to be my first date spot (because the lighting is so good) but then I started running into ex-dates, and that’s an awkward story for another time. 


Antique shops

It’s awesome to live in a neighborhood that can support multiple vintage/antique shops. You can always find that one piece that you didn’t know you needed until you saw it. 




BKW has some of the best local wines I’ve ever had and the dips of my dreams. It’s on the corner of my street so safe to say I always find an excuse to dive in there. The intimate setting and family-like staff make knowing everyone super easy. It’s one of those places that makes you feel like you’re that popular character in a movie. 


A Patient Explorer's Guide to Retracing

I grew up around snow in the mountains of Salt Lake City, and I've always liked fresh fields of snow. I have these blurry recollections of being with my brothers in snowbanks that feel like they never ended, at least in memory. Other blank canvases feel dauntingly permanent, like a new notebook waiting for whatever first & everlasting words are scratched ungracefully across. But snow is impermanent, and it'll come again. Your footprints will last for maybe a few days, etched only into ice like a brilliant and beautiful memory that has been layered over once and then and over and then over again. Which makes it all the more important to at least try to occasionally retrace impossibly lost steps, reflecting on places we've been and time we shared with others, all like it never ended, even in memory.

"First you’re effervescent snow, then you’re the endless ocean"


recommended scarf: Constellations Series
model: Deborah Han


Also please remember

From Louis CK's newsletter:

"...Well so that’s all the news.  I hope your holiday is going well and that it goes well.  And I wish you all a Happy New Year.  Meaning that I wish for your New Years Eve to be happy.  It’s hard to wish hundreds of thousands of people to have an entire happy year.  That’s a lot.  That feels greedy and hopeless and also some of you might not deserve a happy year.  Everyone deserves a happy moment or day now and again but a whole happy year I would wish on maybe eight people and four of them are terminally ill children.

Also please remember that the turning over of one year to another is a mental construct that bears no more weight than the things that keep us apart and in competitive categories as human beings.  Time is not moving.  You’re not losing or gaining ground.  You’re not separate from “them” anymore than you’re separate from your own umbrella.  It’s now, we’re us and this is here.  If you’re in pain, this too shall pass.  If you’re in luxury, this too shall pass.  Ask an old lady how she’s doing.  The internet is not real.  Draw a picture on a napkin.

Love to all of you.  
Louis CK"

Terrifying self-awareness

“I think now more than ever it’s important to be clear, to be singular...and to have a perspective, one you didn’t generate as the result of doing a lot of focus groups.”

—Jonathan Ive in Vogue

I occasionally mention that Composure is an exploration in self-awareness.

It's easy to assume that self-awareness is a natural or even trivial thing. But from what I can tell, genuine inner perspective is a vivid, terrifying thing.

In part because it requires believing that you have the capacity to say what's important and meaningful in the world. The much easier alternative to this kind of personal vision is to shift most or all of that power to make meaning off to others.

For a certain kind of religious person, that "other" is God.
For a certain kind of business person, that "other" is "the consumer."

Saying that an "other" is responsible for the meaning we get from things is a safe & simple alternative to understanding, believing in, and articulating one's own complicated inner perspective (not to mention doing the difficult work of sharing that perspective through the things we make). 

In other words, pushing vision off onto others means you don't have to make anything that says to the world: this is *me.* 

But I think that making these kinds of things is beautiful, and that they're important, and that they're worth it. 

We are patient explorers of challenging places

I'm very intentionally building Composure as a "lifestyle brand," and I've known from the beginning that the most difficult part will be clearly articulating what that lifestyle is. It's relatively easy to make up a generic lifestyle brand for the sake of building an audience, but much more difficult to build a unique and deeply authentic one. I'd like to build the latter. 

Making this more difficult is that I have a tendency to abstract things as a way to make them more rich and interesting. I've had to come to terms with the fact that if I want people to follow along, it first needs to be simple enough that they know what it is.

I think of this as being difficult enough a problem for me to spend at least 2 years on it. About a year ago I started honing in on "artistry" as a central pillar of Composure, which felt a lot more focused than what I started with two years ago, "virtues." Whereas virtues allowed this abstract sort of "people who follow Composure care about strong inner perspective" description, it didn't do a good job of articulating a lifestyle. And while artistry let me talk about the kinds of lives people in the Composure world lead, it still hasn't ever felt like the kinds of simple, clear lifestyle starting point like "travel" that forms the basis of simple brands that people can immediately get.

Combine all of this with the fact that I'm also aiming to balance two different kinds of audiences: those that follow the brand, and those that buy the scarves. Thus far they haven't been exactly the same audiences. And I ultimately don't think they have to be. But I'd like for them to at least be well-considered, and in that way they could at least become at the right amount of similar. 

All that said, I feel like I'm starting to crack this rather tricky code.

Last week the guy behind a nicely developed lifestyle brand reached out to me on Instagram, bringing up a conversation where we touched on much of the above. It got my brain firing. I found myself really digging into audience profiles on both Facebook's (incredibly useful) Audience Insights platform this last week, and through various hashtag rabbit holes on Instagram in which clearly understood lifestyle brands live. It brought a lot of clarity to the kind of lifestyle and audience I want to build around Composure. 

I don't want to make this post about all the nuanced details, but I'm excited to have landed on a lifestyle brand concept that allows for the simplicity that comes with those built around exploration and travel: we are patient explorers of challenging places. 

I'm seeing this world playing with the undaunted exploration of Vice Travel, the avant-guarde  aesthetics of Rick Owens, and the calm minimalism of Acne Studios. 

It's not perfect, but right now it doesn't have to be. All I know is that playing around in these spaces has generated some immediately positive reactions in the Instagram world, indicating that we're in the right direction. We'll keep going. 

"Just another social network"

I've been planting more seeds over at Ello, getting noticed by their fashion curator and black & white curator. Ello can't yet match the sheer volume of attention I can generate through targeted hashtags on instagram, but it's a nice niche that I can fill with non-scarf images—and will use later to connect with people to work with on future Composure lookbooks. The set above is from working with Rebekah during a fantastic sunrise shoot. I'm looking forward to more. 

For as much as people joked about Ello being yet another social network, Ello has been quite smart about honing in on a very particular kind of audience. Sounds like they know a thing or two about becoming a distribution hub 🔮💫