Editor's Note: The Harbor Light Newspaper has been following the progress of 2004 Harbor Springs High School graduate Jordan Breighner innovative new technology business accelerator, Cool House Labs, since its early 2013 inception. Located on Main Street in downtown Harbor Springs, Cool House is officially up and running with five startup companies in town for the first summer cohort.
Just as we love opportunities to celebrate longtime residents and businesses in our pages, we thought it would be fun to give readers a little insight into the young entrepreneurs making their home here for the next three months. We'll be featuring each of the five companies in the coming weeks. First up is TRNK New York.
There's something immediately endearing about Tariq Dixon and Nick Nemechek. Maybe it's the way they exude enthusiasm for their business, TRNK New York-- "the online destination for the discerning male who seeks an inspired and character driven home." Maybe it's the way they describe their love for all things Harbor Springs. Most likely, it's because they are storytellers who know how to captivate an audience.
And it's this idea-- to tell good stories-- that Dixon and Nemechek, both just 26 years-old, will leverage to set their online home decor retail space apart.
"We want to revolutionize how online shopping is done," Dixon said. "Curation matters, and by filtering down to the best of the best, and keeping users engaged with compelling content, we'll be providing a completely unique experience."
On TRNK New York's website, the pair's ability to weave a designer's eye with practicality is clear from the moment it loads. The site is filled with strong pictures and content that's refined, but also, accessible (the first line of their "about" page story is "our journey began with a red pickup truck and empty apartment").
"We have a specific point of view," Dixon noted. "We want to stand for something."
Both Dixon and Nemechek were in the fashion world prior to making the leap to starting TRNK New York, and though they are new to interior design, Nemechek said they are leveraging their merchandising experience, and have constructed a "muse" to help guide their decorating sensibilities.
"We want our company to reflect us, as people," he said. "We think a lot about the young, budding fashion designer, or the young-at-heart academic. We think of someone who is an emerging artist. The person in our head, our muse, isn't necessarily someone with a lot of wealth or who is a star. It's more someone who is influencing their field, who is guided by knowledge, not power."
In an age where Internet shopping is most often an "overload" experience, Dixon and Nemechek are focusing on doing one thing really well.
"Instead of trying to be all things to everyone, we want to be the best at what we do: finding quality products, having that storytelling component to really hand-sell items to a target audience of creative, new urban intellectuals," Dixon said.
TRNK New York's goal is to provide a consistently perfect online "salesman" through multi-media content like video, home tours, written features, and interesting photography. With a clearly carved out mission, Dixon and Nemechek plan to use their time at Cool House Labs to hone specific, targeted goals for the near future.
"We want to create a plan of action while we're here, and we're already so amazed at the work we're accomplishing. We have access to incredible resources in our mentors and advisors, who have already been tremendously helpful," Dixon said.
"It's a gift to be working here," Nemechek added. "We're able to slow down and really focus on what matters. We take conference calls and lunches along the lake. Our desk faces the water. What more could we ask for?"
Dixon added the sense of community here has made Harbor Springs "a hidden gem" they are so glad to have discovered.
"Everyone is so kind. We get coffee in the morning, and the girl behind the counter says to 'have a nice day' and really means it."
"And people are genuinely interested in not only what we're doing as a company, but who we are as people," Nemechek said. "This place has been incredibly welcoming, and for us-- who want to tell the stories of small designers and artisans-- it's also really inspiring."
"I think we're not only going to leave this August as a better business, we're going to leave here as better people, too."
Check out TRNK New York, www.trnk-newyork.com or swing by Cool House and say hello.