Happy Father’s Day! As we reflect on all the lessons we’ve learned from dear old Dad, we joined our friend and lifestyle blogger, Jay of Red Clay Soul, for a discussion on fatherhood. Our friend Jay is not only an expert on style, but also our go-to resource on navigating life with two toddlers.
For those who don't know, tell us a little bit about who you are and your blog, Red Clay Soul.
My wife and I are those rare exceptions in Atlanta, in that we’ve both always been here. I was born in Midtown, raised in what was once horse country and is now the suburbs. I went out west, to Carrollton, for college and have worked and lived in and around Atlanta since. I am married to the love of my life, and have two sons, Jack who just turned 1 and Henry, who is almost 3. We have a couple of golden retrievers and live 20 miles from each of our families. I have a pretty demanding day job and have always enjoyed Red Clay Soul as a means of maintaining a mental balance. What is Red Clay Soul? Well, it was an idea I had after getting involved in the Ask Andy and Styleforum sites, as well as getting deep into the first wave of #menswear blogs (A Continuous Lean, etc.). At that time, most of the online content was based around New York, and leaned a little more traditional or the very early inklings of street style. About the same time, Garden & Gun launched, which was an incredible concept. I, along with a few other folks, started blogs from our own perspective. Red Clay Soul officially launched in 2009 with an intentional focus on style, eating, drinking, traveling, etc. - pretty much whatever I wanted to talk about, where I thought I could lend some mental calories. Early on I decided that I didn't want the blog to be about me specifically. After all, I’m just a regular guy. A lot of the bloggers had started doing that, and it wasn't the direction I wanted to go. I had fun with it for a few years, and in 2010, I decided to make an investment - I upgraded from the blogspot site to a hosted model, bought the domain, and did all sorts of back end upgrades. Since then, the readership has steadily gone up, and I've made some amazing connections. The best part about running Red Clay Soul, by far, are the people I’ve met and the lasting friendships made.
We know that the past several months have allowed for more time at home than usual. How are you making the most of it?
Well, as a normal nine to fiver, it has been a shocking transition. Quite frankly, I don't like it. It's great to be around the house, but the days stretch longer, as there isn't a commute on either end of the day to create separation bookends. We decided very early that we are going to eat well, stay healthy, and stay positive. And I'm happy to report that for the most part, we've been pretty good about it. My wife is an amazing cook, so she's been really having a lot of fun. We've also limited our news consumption as much as possible. We're trying to read more, watch old movies, Facetime with friends for 'virtual playdates', etc. We've both purged our closets, we've dealt with a busted pipe, and thrown some pretty serious cul-de-sac parties.
In celebration of Father’s Day, what is the greatest thing you've learned from your dad? Has he had any influence on your style?
My Dad and I are exceptionally close, so there is so much that I've learned from him. A lot of it was passed down from his dad, my Grandfather. My dad is a big 'everything in moderation' guy, which can be applied in all facets of life. 'Speak less, say more', which I know we've all heard, but most extraverts have a tough time with this. He and Mom used the golden rule to shape my brother and I, in that being empathetic and understanding of how your words and actions can be perceived should be considered beforehand. We are raising our sons in the same vein. Dad is and was always a sharp dresser. He's been in real estate development for a hundred years, where all but the last ten or fifteen years required suits, sport coats, etc. After he graduated from Presbyterian College, he got a job with a real estate company in Sandy Springs, and used his first paycheck to buy a pair of Johnson & Murphy shell cordovan tassel loafers. He still talks about those shoes. While he did wear socks with his shell cordovan shoes, he rarely wore socks otherwise, which is a trend that I've been practicing for as long as I can remember.
What are the most important lessons you hope to teach your two boys?
I think about this a lot. My wife and I both do, and it’s something we’ve never discussed more. I want our boys to be kind, honest people, that are ambitious and also driven to always do the right thing, even when it’s hard or unpopular. I want them to practice the golden rule, being positive and empathetic, while also being accountable, and dependable. I want them to understand they can't watch TV until their homework is done. I want my boys to know they can't leave their room until their bed is made. We are teaching our boys that hard work yields the best results and the importance of putting others ahead of self. We are determined to raise them to be good stewards and faithful members of our community. We provide a great amount of privilege to our kids, and it’s incredibly important to us that they not only recognize that privilege, but also channel it positively.
We heard that RCS was founded with a pair of vintage Duck Heads as a part of the inspiration. Can you tell us more about how you were first introduced to Duck Head?
I got to know Duck Head when mom would take us school shopping. She'd cut the Upton's coupons from the Sunday paper, and we'd go down a couple weeks before school started. She would always buy me one pair of jeans, and then four pairs of Duck Head pants. I'd always get two khaki, one navy, and one green. Mom thought I looked a lot nicer in khakis vs. jeans. I'd wear those pants until either a) I outgrew them, then they'd go to my younger brother, or b) when they got holes in the knees, and she'd cut them off and hem them up as shorts. I remember the yellow tag, as most of the old school Duck Head fans do. Good stuff.
What is your current favorite Duck Head product?
I have a pair of the USA made "Gold Glory" chinos, which are outstanding. I love the military drill material, and the fit is nice and updated. However, I'd say my favorite product from Duck Head are the 5-pocket Canvas Field Pants. They are great - the leg is a little slimmer, and they wash really well. I like the texture of the canvas, and the touch of stretch is nice. I've worn these quite a bit during my work-from-home stint, as they are great for sitting on conference calls, but also good for going for walks, spraying weeds, running errands, the driving range, etc.