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First comes love, then comes marriage, then comes baby in the baby carriage—and then comes a boutique in Greenpoint? That's how the story goes for Bethany and Max Vogel of Wolves Within, who met while working at the same fashion company and moved in together seven years ago, and have since opened a shop for both men and women in 2011, going against some advice they'd received.
"I remember my former boss told me never to open a store that has men's and women's on the same floor, but it works really well for us," said Max. "Couples like to come and shop together—they're usually like 'Okay, I'll see you in a bit!' and go for their own sides."
Read on to find out the couple's ethos behind the brands they carry, the reason behind their name change, and to learn about their new home goods store, which opened earlier this month. Also, click through the gallery for more adorable shots with their daughter, Olive, as well as their own "wolves."
Why did you decide to open a store in Greenpoint?
Max: There was a niche for a more curated vision, towards creative directors that were looking beyond the clothing line—they were looking to know the designer behind that. We felt like there wasn't a place in Greenpoint for that.
Did you consider any other neighborhoods?
Max: There was conversation about going to the city, [but] we felt the way to approach this was to go for the community we lived in—people that you know and people you see everyday. There's something about Greenpoint that we couldn't find in any other other neighborhood. It's a really tight community, and that was interesting for us to come and open a place where we can see familiar faces and work with them.
How did you find this Franklin Street space?
Max: We live a block away and saw this space was for rent, and we fell in love with the way it was designed. The front windows used to be covered with brick walls—this was someone's apartment. We liked it and we called the number and we got the space. It was really easy—the landlord's amazing, and we've become friends with them. The landlord was so excited about a young couple with a brand new baby opening a shop. They were like, "We want you rather than a big company."
What have you seen change in the neighborhood since you've opened?
Max: Greenpoint is now this hotspot. We were looking at Craigslist recently, and they used to advertise Greenpoint as Williamsburg, just to get you, and now it's the other way around. A lot of people are catching on that Greenpoint is a nice place to be—there's really nice spaces, and a lot of shops and restaurants are looking forward to coming here. Every week we get German, Swedish, and Swiss tourists. I think it's just crazy!
How did you transform this space to create your "Wolves Within" aesthetic?
Max: Since Bethany and I are both art directors, we know how to put things together and find the right people for the right work. The inspiration was a museum exhibition—super clean, so the product would show. We designed a lot of the fixtures, thinking that the product should be showcased. We designed the floors, salvaging wood from upstate. We bought some vintage pieces, but most of this was built by us and our friends.
Let's talk about your merchandise—you have an emphasis on fair trade and Made in USA products.
Max: We need to be responsible, with the customer and with everyone. We always try to find things that are green or fair-trade or have a story behind them. That's always really interesting to us, when a designer has something to say. That's part of our thing with the store—to educate the customer and let them know why were are carrying these pieces.
Bethany and I don't like fast fashion pieces. We want to see people wearing the same piece the next year. It's always fun to have that experience with a customer who comes back and is like, "I'm so happy, I'm still wearing it."
Bethany: We really want to know who the designer is, and like them, and want to support them. It's really about what's going to improve your wardrobe so you don't have to go to H&M every five seconds. It's against the environment and bad for society, so we're trying to do the opposite.
Where do you find what you carry?
Max: I find a lot of the brands doing research online, or they're friends of friends and I get in touch with them. Our relationships with our designers are really close. We like to keep it that way because we like to treat everyone like family.
What are some of your favorite pieces and brands for menswear?
Max: I'm working with this brand called Neuw, from Australia. It's a really good, affordable brand, their designs are amazing, and the fabrics are interesting.
There's also a brand called Reigning Champ. It's all made in Canada, and it's really premium fleece. I was so interested in the way they treat their materials and how they do everything.
We also like Objects Without Meaning. She's a designer that came from Australia and moved to California. She produces everything there. She does denim and a few shirts for men. Bethany also works with her for women—when there's a line that also has a men's or women's version, we try to bring it in. It works for us.
And for women's?
Bethany: One of my favorite designers is a girl called Myne. She's based in California and makes everything in Los Angeles, and all of her prints are hers—a lot of designers buy stock prints that you see everywhere. Whatever we bring from her is always our top-selling piece. Her line is really affordable.
We have a new designer named Hannah Dorothy who's from Canada, and we're the only ones in the states stocking her. She's a more curvy designer herself, so she knows how to fit for a true feminine silhouette.
What about jewelry?
Bethany: This really great friend of ours introduced us to a friend of hers who's a jewelry designer—Hannah Ferrara of Another Feather. She does all these really nice hammered brass pieces, and it does really well. We just brought it in, and people are really responding to it.
Our number-one selling jeweler is my personal best friend. She does the wolf necklaces, and a lot of other custom pieces for us. Her name is Acquaviva. She actually did my wedding set, mine and my husband's.
This ring [at left], she's been doing for over a decade. It just goes show the longevity behind her pieces.
You have a line called Found by Within Wolves—is that your own line, or a collaboration?
Max: That's a collaboration [with other designers]. Bethany is finding old overalls and she's reworking to make them more tapered and fit better on the body.
You also carry things like belts, pomade, and seaweed soap. What's the reasoning behind carrying these, and how does it round out what you carry?
Max: I think that goes back to how we're just big nerds about products—things that, to us, have something to say, like beautifully packaged soaps. They're affordable, and people love the smell.
What are the price points for your merchandise?
Max: Men's prices go from $90s [and up]. Women tend to have a broader spectrum when it comes to price point.
Bethany and I always try to find the balance—we don't go for just expensive stuff. We try to find things that are a little more affordable but also have a story behind them. We're into things you can wear for a long time—if you pay premium price for something, you want to be able to wear the next year and the next year and for seasons after.
So based on your merchandise and its price points, what kind of customer do you draw in?
Max: I think late 20s, 30 years old—professionals that are looking for specific pieces and are willing to go out of their price range for pieces.
What was the reason behind changing your name from Raised by Wolves?
Max: When we were starting e-commerce, we found out there were so many things named "Raised by Wolves." It was easier to change our name than be "Raised by Wolves Greenpoint," or "Raised by Wolves Clothing." We came up with Wolves Within, which is this Navajo story of the good and bad—you have two wolves inside, and your whole life goes within this balance between good and bad, kind of like yin and yang. We thought that was a cool name, and we wanted to keep the wolves theme with us. The funny thing is, when we changed the name, some customers didn't notice for months!
So the change was for your e-commerce site. What was the process in designing that?
Max: We did everything. We shot everything, we styled everything, we found all the models. Our really close friend, Anthony Blasko, did our lookbook. We went to this wolf hybrid reservoir in New Jersey and shot with these big, beautiful animals that are 80 percent wolf, 20 percent dog.
Have you noticed any differences between your online customer and the ones that come in the store?
Max: We get a lot of people from California and other cities that are not able to visit us, but there aren't differences. We do appreciate the fact that it's people from other cities.
Image courtesy of Home of the Brave
You've been busy setting up your new home goods studio, Home of the Brave, at 67 West Street.
When we went online, we decided to rent a studio to shoot and put all the stock there. We found this amazing space three blocks from here—it's this old factory building they rent for artists and studios.
Customers always wanted to see what we will buy for home, and we wanted to do a version of Wolves Within as a home store. Bethany and I bring in home goods for the holidays, what we can fit in the store. We started finding more and more objects—we were like, "Where are we going to put lamps? Where are we going to put pillows?"
Not like starting e-commerce and a home goods store isn't enough already, but is there anything else that you guys plan on doing, like a second location?
Max: We feel there's something special in just having one location. It's just Bethany and I—we don't want to spread ourselves too thin. Bethany spends a lot of her time here, and people appreciate that. People come here just to shop from Bethany. If they come, and they don't see her, they say they'll come later. That's super rewarding.
We're Greenpoint supporters. We want people to want to come to Greenpoint, the same way people never visited Williamsburg before, and now everyone goes there. So we're staying here for a while and making this a flagship.
Okay, time for the lightning round: 8am or 8pm?
Beer or Wine?
Whiskey or tequila?
Beach or mountains?
Cats or dogs?
Favorite vacation destination?
Favorite neighborhood lunchtime spot?
Both: Le Gamin.
Favorite happy hour spot?
Both: Milk and Roses.
Rap or Country?
Scandal or Homeland?
· Wolves Within [Official website]
· Home of the Brave [Official website]
· All Better Know a Store Owner Posts [Racked NY]