Nick Ling and Emmett Shine's new company, Pattern Brands, is on a mission - to create consumer brands which encourage you to enjoy everyday life and to create good habits. In this interview, we dive into why they formed Pattern, what the plan to do with it, and how they plan to change the world.

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Main Takeaways:

  • Nick Ling (Co-Founder and CEO) and Emmett Shine (Co-Founder and Executive Creative Director) of Pattern Brands join Brian and Phillip on today's episode.
  • Pattern Brands is changing the way that its brands connect with their customers and helping them find more enjoyment in their daily lives.
  • How do you address and counter digital burnout in a digital world?
  • Small and accomplishable tasks are actionable items that Pattern is encouraging its customers to complete to improve their lives.

What is Pattern Brands?: The Founders' Story:

  • Gin Lane has been a digital-based agency that has focused on the start-up economy that grew out of New York City.
  • Gin Lane became Pattern Brands, which is a family of brands that has products and guidance designed to help people find more enjoyment in their daily lives.
  • While at Gin Lane, the team asked themselves how they could work together for years into the future, and Pattern grew out of that process.
  • "We were all feeling this feeling of digital burnout, and Pattern itself is a reaction to that which strives to create an alternate reality in which we want to spend our time".

Bridging the Gap: Having a Professional Service and Turning Those Lessons Inward:

  • Gin Lane was a partner in bringing a lot of businesses to market and helped entrepreneurs go from a business-focused pitch deck, to what the business could potentially be.
  • Gin Lane's employees often felt like they were employees of the companies that were in their portfolio, so this created a different relationship between these brands.
  • At Pattern, the team is doing a lot of the same things they would have done during the Gin Lane days, but are focusing on their brands as opposed to partner brands.
  • By understanding digital technology and products, Pattern was able to supplement their staff with skills that they knew they needed more expertise in.

A Team of the Highest Caliber: Lessons in Hiring:

  • Brian was struck by that part of Pattern's mission is working with people that they want to work with and asks if that has led to the hiring decisions they have made.
  • At any moment, Pattern can call upon any of the fifty or more entrepreneurs that they have worked with in the past, which has allowed a broad array of talent to come across.
  • Newer entrepreneurs rarely are in the position of being asked by a company like Pattern for their opinion, and these insights pave the way for meaningful hires.  
  • Phillip asks if Nick and Emmett consider what they are doing at Pattern to be a reshaping of all of retail and where we are in that curve of change.

The Reshaping of Modern Retail: The Curve of Change:

  • The generation of consumer that is now entering their thirties has a very different set of values than the Baby Boomer generation, and the evolutions in consumer goods are a direct reflection of this change of values.
  • It is very hard for legacy brands to honestly say that they are serving this changed system of values.
  • Pattern is a reflection of the environment that we are in right now and is a direct response to the stresses of the current environment of the world.
  • Brian states that Baby Boomers feel to him now as they used to look at him, and points out that he feels digital burnout very strongly.

Digital Burnout: Reconciling Strategy and Self Care:

  • Is there a way to both promote digital strategy while promoting ways to deal with digital burnout?
  • A lot of the authors that are writing on digital burnout are in their early thirties, and one of the main issues is that it is so hard to identify what is happening as you are going through burnout yourself.
  • For comparison, technology is a tool that has moved exponentially in our lifetimes, but our biology is something that is firmly stuck in place.
  • We are in the infancy of technology in the grand scheme of civilization, so we do not have the tools or vocabulary to address and identify the issues that come along with that.

What Does Success Look Like?: The Failure of Meritocracy:

  • Emmett brings up a recent article in the Atlantic that talks about the failures of meritocracy and contrasts that to the opposite Attention Economy.
  • These competing forces are squeezing all of our personal time and even our sleep.
  • Consumers have an expectation of your brand that you didn't set, but there is a new expectation for brands to either build communities or have a conscious.
  • Pattern is trying to recognize the role we play in society, the marketplace, and government in a for-profit way.

One Small Step: Re-Focusing Attention Through Accomplishable Tasks:

  • Speaking to an entity that acknowledges you is very important as a consumer, even if it is something we don't consciously strive for.
  • Pattern is trying to help young adults recognize that the balance of where their attention is focused might not be the best for their well being.
  • One of the main ways in which Pattern is changing behavior is by encouraging small and accomplishable tasks that promote better self-care and remedy digital burnout.
  • We are eroding and losing touch with each other due to digital burnout and Pattern is hoping to reverse this erosion,

Rhythms of Life: Disruption and Connection in the Digital Age:

  • Brian brings up Care/Of and how they are focused on building a connection between the consumer and the brand in a way that hasn't happened since long ago.
  • Is there an active shift between how brands and consumers interact with each other?
  • Pattern is thinking about intimacy at scale and trying to give people the acknowledged experience of small-town general stores but on a larger scale.
  • Emmet comments that they are starting to describe their brands as "direct-with-consumer" as that implies a bi-directional relationship.

Changing Behaviors: Breaking Digital Chains:

  • Pattern is trying to change peoples' habits in a non-aspirational or patronizing way by meeting people where they are at and expressing and allowing vulnerabilities.
  • The guidance component of Pattern is human-led (not AI or automated) and this allows for a more human connection between the brand and the consumer.
  • What are the benefits of having a human-led guidance component as opposed to an automated system?
  • Nick states that they are trying to help people redefine how they spend their quality time, but that isn't easy.

Fostering Change: Power Through Commerce:

  • Commerce can connect people globally (as it has for millennia) and it can change the future.
  • What other areas could be ripe for fostering such a level of global change?
  • Commerce focus entrepreneurship is the way you provide global change and mobility for founders and businesses in the United States.
  • Phillip states that this journey of improving lives and addressing digital burnout is one that he has been going through himself.

Deeper Dives: Future Commerce Alumni Questions:

  • Emily Singer from last week's episode asks how Pattern balances philosophy with the need to sell products.
  • Pattern is trying to help people be intentional and conscious of how they use consumer products, just how the food industry has come to a more conscious positioning in the past twenty years.
  • As a brand, Pattern is intentional with how they communicate with their consumers through Instagram by restricting usage to only six hours per week.
  • Pattern is not selling a product, they are selling a way to use your time.

Looking to the Future: Personal Betterment For All:

  • Brian asks Nick and Emmett to talk about where they see commerce headed in the next five years.
  • Nick says that we are at the beginning of the revolution of commerce instead of at the end of it and we will continue to see legacy brands struggle as millennial values overtake the industry.
  • We will also see more and more personalized brands as technology is allowing us to serve smaller and smaller groups of people.
  • Emmett believes that automation and AI will continue to advance and that there are benefits to technology and what that democratizes.

Brands Mentioned in this Episode:

As always: We want to hear what our listeners think! How can your brand encourage your customers to make changes to improve their lives?

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Retail Tech is moving fast, but Future Commerce is moving faster.

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