Interview with founder Jonathan Meltzer from Title Of Work

Coco: Good to see you.

Jonathan: Hi, Coco. How are you?

Coco: I’m very good, thank you. Thank you for being here. I’m a big fan of yours and I’m so happy to ask you a few questions.

Jonathan: Pleasure to be here. It’s great seeing you.

Coco: Thank you. Jonathan, what did you make first? What is the first thing you ever made? Jonathan: Well, the first thing I ever recall making was an illustration of a pickle that I gave to my mom on Mother’s Day. Random, but I think it was supposed to be a car or something but it was a pickle with little legs on it. And I think she kept it on the refrigerator for a few years or so.

Coco: That’s too funny. I would love to see that.

Jonathan: It’s somewhere still, but that’s it, yeah.

Coco: The second question is, “Before I started making…” finish the sentence.

Jonathan: You know, before I started Title of Work, my world or life took a few different iterations, meaning that, I was in school and I went to school for film and graphic design, and an art history background, and I worked in film in LA where I started my fashion career. And that culminated into a men’s sportswear, to a women’s sportswear collection, then ultimately, a women’s couture collection. And so, before Title of Work, I was retailing these couture gowns, basically. They were selling at Bergdorf Goodman and private clientele.

Coco: How would you describe your brand?

Jonathan: Well, Title of Work first and foremost is an accessory brand. We create neckwear, everything from ties and bowties, scarves, and pocket squares, and the full jewelry collection, and objects. And we’re venturing now more into home, which is exciting.

Coco: More into home?

Jonathan: For the fall, I’m launching a candle collection. I’ve always been obsessed with fragrance and scents. I remember, like, when I was growing up, my dad especially, was like, “Why do you always have to smell everything?” And I’m like, “I don’t know.” I was obsessed with smelling everything. I would just go outside and it’s like, yeah, it’s just one of those things. So one of these…

Coco: I totally understand. That’s great. What inspired you to create your brand?

Jonathan: Again, I think it’s a culmination of, you know, my past and the present and where I see myself in the future. I’ve always been a creator. And so, when I parted ways in my previous company, I thought I was going to go into more of a menswear focused brand and create a new brand. And as I was researching that and then really understanding where I wanted to go, as an artist, I thought that it was best for myself at the time to fuse the two worlds together. That’s why Title of Work is a culmination. The name, Title of Work, is an art piece. And everything from there just started building and growing in that way, and yeah, here we are.

Coco: Great. Where do you produce your line, the main products?

Jonathan: You know, the majority of the line is produced in-house in our Lower East Side Atelier. So all the ties and the beauties are created here as well as all the jewelry. It’s produced in-house. We actually also design our own fabrications and those are custom woven for us in Italy and England and Japan, as well as we do printing in Como, Italy. But I like the concept of sustainability and having a low-carbon footprint, and using fabrications that are natural, all that blends itself into this whole kind of sustainable world that we stand by.

Coco: See, that’s why Coco-house had to be a fan of yours because that’s what we need. Where do you reside, or where do you plan to go, or…

Jonathan: Well, now we reside in the city, on the westside in Hudson Yards. Well, it’s now known as Hudson Yards. When we were there, it was sort of a desolate wasteland with sort of, like, a just the Javits Center. And now, it’s sort of grown tremendously with, you know, commerce everywhere, construction everywhere. So it’s pretty intense. I can’t say I don’t prefer it. I definitely prefer the way it was 10 years ago, but New York constantly changes, morphs and shifts, so here we are.

Coco: Where is your location for your store? Where can people find you?

Jonathan: So we’re located in the Lower East Side. For those that don’t know the Lower East Side, it’s an amazing, awesome, still, it has the grit of the city still, or it will have the grit of the city still when we reopen, bit by bit. But it’s sandwiched between the Chinatown and Alphabet City and the bridges. So there are a lot of new restaurants. There’s a lot of young design happening here. It sort of has that little kind of New York City vibe.

Coco: Great. I love the Lower East Side. What music do you listen to?

Jonathan: I think that aside from like, Nina Simone, and Bill Withers, and Marvin Gaye, and Stevie Wonder, that kind of old-school vibe, I really love these new, more chilled vibes, more modern takes. A lot of DJ. I do a lot of mixes. I like a lot of new bands, as well, that I listen to. So it’s sort of all over. I go all over from classical. The only thing I really don’t like is country music, I have to say.

Coco: I totally understand. What’s your favorite quote?

Jonathan: Favorite quote… Again, but I think the simplest one and the easiest one that I can remember is, live and learn. Straightforward.

Coco: Absolutely. Describe what would be your perfect date.

Jonathan: White sand, blue water, clear sky, pasta. Good, like, ceviche, fresh ceviche. Be on a desolate beach with some friends, amazing.

Coco: Sounds like Brazil to me.

Jonathan: It could be Brazil, it could be Mexico somewhere. It could be Sardinia. Wow, there’s so many places. Either that or working.

Coco: Great. Yeah, it’s never good to have too much of one. Coco. Absolutely. What’s your favorite flower?

Jonathan: My go-to flower is a tulip. Simple, clean aesthetic. I love when it actually opens up and then sort of like, morphs into these different shapes. Yeah.

Coco: Do you have a hard thing what you don’t like to do? What is one of the hardest things for you?

Jonathan: Yeah. Okay, you know what? What’s the hardest thing for me? Reading contracts.

Jonathan: I gave a friend of mine one of the candles, just yesterday.

Coco: Oh, nice. What’s your favorite piece of advice?

Jonathan: I think the best piece of advice that I’ve given is, again, it’s part of living and learning. If you make a mistake, it’s okay to mistakes, as long as you don’t make the same mistake more than twice. It’s part of life and I think everyone does it. And, you know, expect to make them. And when you fall backwards, you just get up and don’t do the same thing again that you did that made you fail before. Take another tack.

Coco: Do you have a hidden talent

Jonathan: A hidden talent. I would say singing, but everyone else around me would say, “Hell no.”

Coco: I want to hear that one day.

Jonathan: Nope, don’t think so. You know, I was a good dancer at some point. And then everyone would be like, “Really?” And then they see me dancing and they’re like, “Oh, you are actually a pretty good dancer.” So I think it would be dancing, truthfully. And I really love, you know, dancing as well, so…

Coco: Good. Where were you born? Jonathan: I was born in Boston, Massachusetts.

Jonathan: And that’s where I grew up, as well. I was raised in Newton which is a suburb of Boston.

Coco: Okay. East Coast. Jonathan: Yeah. I was born and raised on the East Coast and then I went to school in New Orleans, and then, upstate New York. Lived in Europe for a few years in Vienna and in London. And then I moved to California and then from LA, I moved to New York in 2002.

Coco: You came back to the East Coast.

Jonathan: Yeah. I always knew that I would live in New York at some point in my life, and really, there’s no other place I think that I encountered in the U.S. where I’d like to be, so..

Coco: What brings you the most joy to cook? I know you’re a really good cook. I’ve been making gazpacho for the last like, month or so, and it’s so delicious. It’s really super easy. I love the flavors. You know, every time you make it, it tastes a little differently depending on the tomato to cucumber to pepper to onion ratio. It’s awesome and depending on how thick it is or chunky or light. So yeah, I think that would be it for now.

Coco: What’s your favorite movie?

Jonathan: Oh, god, that’s a good one as well. I have so many. I mean, classics of growing up. It’s been everything from Peter Weir’s “Picnic at Hanging Rock”, to.. Sorry. I will start that one again. So my favorite, there are quite a few favorite films that I have. I think that from old school, it would be everything from Peter Weir’s “Picnic at Hanging Rock,” to Terry Gilliam’s “Brazil.” When I first saw that movie, I thought it was brilliant. “Don’t Look Now,” Nicholas Roeg, amazing, with Donald Sutherland and Julie Christie. And Woodie Allen, “Annie Hall.” Just incredible. Funny, neurotic film. There’s a film called the “Handmaid” which is a Japanese Korean film that’s brilliant, as well.

Coco: Would unlimited income change your way to live?

Jonathan: I think that it would just give me a little bit more freedom to move. I think that that’s really the key of like, being able to move from one place to another and it’s really quite ironic that we’re not able to move right now. But no, I don’t think that. I think that’s what it would do, is that I would be able to move from one place to another a little bit more freely and not be contained in one space. I am fortunate that I’m able to travel quite a bit, as you know. So a little, you know, more injection of that, I think it would be a little bit more so.

Coco: Yes, absolutely. What’s the most difficult project you’ve ever engaged in?

Jonathan: I mean, I would say, difficult… I think that you know, starting Title of Work, although it was incredible and a lot of it was very fluid, and it worked, you know, you have obstacles, as you know. I think when you create something, you’re growing something, and you always are…you know, it’s like, things work for you and it’s like, three steps forward, one step back. That’s been the way it has been for me. Seeing the growth of Title of Work has been amazing, and that has been challenging, as well, especially navigating. Every season is a different season. You’re only as good as your last collection. Now, the pandemic, what’s the state of retail? What does the state of anything look like? So we’re going to see…you can ask me that question again in like, a couple of months and see where I am next year. Male: [inaudible 00:20:15].

Jonathan: There you go.

Coco: That was totally on the point. Jonathan: That’s Lower East Side, what we love about the Lower East Side. There you go.

Coco: I was like, what is that? Okay. I’m not used to it anymore. But thank you, Jonathan. That was amazing and totally true. And I know you longer than you launched Title of Work and I think the progress you make and what you made out of it is just unbelievable to see.

Jonathan: Thank you. Thank you. I know. And same with you. 

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