Winemaker. Sommelier. Author. Creative Director. Designer. These are just a few words that describe the force that is André Mack. Whether he's at his vineyards in Oregon or opening up a new business in New York City, André is proof that you can do anything you want to do in life if you have the drive, passion, and creativity to make it happen. Our conversation begins with a look into André's current life, and from there he shared how he switched careers from finance to wine. He also talked about his design agency Get Fraîche Cru, and even gave us a little information about his latest project — a new book titled 99 Bottles: A Black Sheep's Guide to Life-Changing Wines. André might not be a fan of titles, but after this episode, I can think of a really great one for him — changemaker! Enjoy!
Winemaker. Sommelier. Author. Creative Director. Designer. These are just a few words that describe the force that is André Mack. Whether he's at his vineyards in Oregon or opening up a new business in New York City, André is proof that you can do anything you want to do in life if you have the drive, passion, and creativity to make it happen.
Our conversation begins with a look into André's current life, and from there he shared how he switched careers from finance to wine. He also talked about his design agency Get Fraîche Cru, and even gave us a little information about his latest project -- a new book titled 99 Bottles: A Black Sheep’s Guide to Life-Changing Wines. André might not be a fan of titles, but after this episode, I can think of a really great one for him -- changemaker! Enjoy!
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Maurice Cherry: All right, so tell us who you are and what you do.
André Mack: My name is Andre Mack and I'm a winemaker, sommelier, designer, kind of a Jack-of-all-trades. I'm an entrepreneur.
Maurice Cherry: Okay. Now, many folks listening might not know what a sommelier is, so how would you explain what a sommelier is to a five-year-old?
André Mack: A sommelier is just basically a wine waiter, right? It's the person who retrieves the wine from the seller, brings it to the table, opens the wine and actually does the service on the wine. That's how I would explain it to a five-year-old. But so that's basically what it is. I mean, there's a lot more to it than just that. You're engaging with customers, with guests on the floor, talking about their wine needs, those kinds of things. And then selecting wines for them, helping them select wines for their meal and then actually going and doing the service for that. So educating the beverage team, not just the beverage team, but all the other waiters, ordering, all those kinds of things.
Maurice Cherry: It certainly sounds like something that you would hear about in very high end restaurants, there's a ... maybe because it's French, but it certainly sounds like something you'd hear in very high end establishments that they would have their own sommelier.
André Mack: [crosstalk 00:01:57] That is true. That is true. And over the years it has changed. I think the whole idea of a sommelier that's tuxedo-clad with a chain around it, snag for tasting wine. Those restaurants still exist, but far and few between. And you do have sommeliers at high end restaurants, but you also do have sommeliers at some neighborhood restaurants. Wine has really become an important part of the American dining experience.
Maurice Cherry: Now, usually when I'm having guests on the show, I try to do a bit of research just to kind of find out who they are and what they're into and everything. And I mean, you're a mover and a shaker. You are a celebrity. I'm really curious to know what is a typical day like for you these days?
André Mack: Man, it's really interesting. Most weeks I get on an airplane. So my main residence is here in Brooklyn, New York. Our winery is in Portland, just outside of Portland, Oregon, so in the Willamette Valley, in Dundee. And so that's on other side of the country. I spend about one week a month in Oregon generally. But most Mondays I get on a plane, I travel somewhere in the world to talk about our wines and sell our wines. So I work ... Monday's a travel day, I work Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday. And generally I'm on the last flight on Thursday night or early Friday morning back to New York. Hopefully to have dinner with my family on Friday.
André Mack: So no two days actually look the same. It's all different and I like that. It kind of reminds me of restaurant service as I cut my teeth at working in restaurants. So yeah, generally I'm up by 6:00 or so. You know, I get some exercise in, I try to. I try to have breakfast with my kids if I'm around. And it's constantly changing. I just bought a wine shop right down the street from my home in New York, so that's kind of new, but new to our mix. I just came back from there and just fixing the flowers and making sure all the orders were done. And then I came back to hop on this call with you.
André Mack: But I'm building a wine bar on the same street a little bit further down. And then there's a cheese shop next door, so lots of stuff, construction stuff. So I was over there this morning checking with them on construction. We should be about ... I want to say three weeks, four weeks out from opening. So that's it. And then, generally speaking, no matter where I'm at, I'm on the phone call with my assistant, just trying to structure his day and trying to figure out priorities. It's just not the same, you know what I mean? It's just different.
André Mack: Last week I was in Oklahoma and Chicago. Next week I'm in LA for the day to film and then I'll come back. It's just constantly moving. It's lots of phone calls, lots of texts. And to be honest, without an assistant it would have been ... it's really hard for me to function. And I made that leap about three years ago and that really kind of helped me manage my day. Just embracing my calendar has really kind of changed my life, and it allows me to do lots of multiple different things at a time. It's the best way for me to stay organized. I wouldn't be talking to you right now if it wasn't on the calendar.
André Mack: That's how strict I am on it. It's every single thing. I don't add anything to it. I don't want to touch it. There's one person who is responsible for the calendar and that makes it all work for me.
Maurice Cherry: Yeah. I'm going to say, me with my calendar. I'll tell people if even if they want to invite me somewhere, just even just for personal reasons or whatever, send me an invite or something because if it's not on my calendar, to me it doesn't exist. It's not going to happen. I never knew that it happened. And so I totally, totally understand that.
André Mack: It's so important and I realized the busier I got, I needed more structure. And even things that are on the calendar just like, "Hey, we're going to devote 35 minutes today to organizing your closet." You know what I mean? It's down to that, trying to have structure for everything because then I feel like I get the most out of it. Otherwise, who knows what I would be doing? I might just be on my phone, you know?
Maurice Cherry: Yeah.
André Mack: I don't know if that answered your question, but my days are wild and crazy. There is some room. Sometimes there is room for impromptu stuff, but that kind of throws everything off. But that does happen as well.
Maurice Cherry: Okay. So what is the name of your wine for those that are listening and want to check it out?
André Mack: Sure. The name of my company is called Maison Noir Wines, so black house wines, is what it roughly translates.
Maurice Cherry: Where did the idea to call it that come from?
André Mack: Well, originally the name of my company was called Mouton Noir Wines, which translates into black sheep.
Maurice Cherry: Black sheep. Yeah.
André Mack: Black sheep. And so I was in a legal battle with a very famous winery for seven years over the name, and finally we just decided just to change it. So Mouton Noir was a nickname that was given to me when I first moved to New York. So you got to imagine, being a sommelier, one, there's not that many sommeliers to begin with, but they're not a lot of people that look like me that do what I do. And I kind of garnered this nickname as the black sheep and not just ... obviously for the way that I look, but not only that. I just did things differently. I looked at wine differently. I talked about wine in a different way that I felt like was maybe more relatable to people. And somehow I got stuck with this name Mouton Noir.
André Mack: And instead of making it something negative, I embraced it and I designed the logo and I made it my screensaver at work and I joked all the time that I was going to start to make wines and this was going to be the name of my company. And that's kind of how it evolves, right? That whole idea of being a black sheep, embrace what makes you different and harness that thing and help it propel you to success. That's kind of how it started. And then when we got into all this legal stuff, we decided to change the name to Maison Noir, which just seems a little bit easier as we had been around. We had been in business for over eight years and so we decided it was an easier transition just to change one part of it and not rebrand the whole thing.
Maurice Cherry: Yeah. When I started my studio back in '08, we were called 3eighteen Media and I was trying to be, I guess, creative and I had the name basically the number three, the word 18 spelled out, and there were some issues with that. I think the first issue was that no one wrote it right. They would just write 318 or they would spell it out like three eighteen. The other thing was I found out that it was really difficult to use in forms sometimes because for some reason some business names, they didn't want you to start a business name with a number.
Maurice Cherry: But then also here in ... and that's why I'm in Atlanta, there were other three blank blank media places. There's a 325 Media, there's a 360 Media. And people were getting us confused because we did similar types of things. And it's funny, I actually worked with 360 Media with a client. They're a PR firm, and we all just ended up kind of just trading emails back and forth on like, "What are we going to do?" And for me, I just said, "Well, I'll just change," because I was kind of the newest business out of the three, just in terms of being established and I wanted to change the name anyway. I was sort of trying to move away from it.
Maurice Cherry: And so I think it was when we rebrand in 2015 or 2016 just rebranded to Lunch, like breakfast, lunch, dinner. And it was ... I'd say it probably took about a year for it to really stick because people were still kind of calling us 3eighteen Media. But eventually we just moved everything over to Lunch and embraced the whole metaphor/food and lunch, and we'd call our little downloadable snack packs and all that kind of stuff. And so people were able to kind of glom onto a really easily, because it was a more understandable concept than 3eighteen Media. They're like, "Oh Lunch. I get it." So it ended up kind of working out that way. So I know what you mean about rebranding can be difficult. Definitely.
André Mack: Yeah, for sure. And so we just decided that the easiest thing to do would be able to just change the name and just keep it moving because nothing was going to stop the momentum. We just wanted to keep going. So we changed and so now it's called Maison Noir Wines, and so if you want to find us, that's what you can look up and type in.
Maurice Cherry: Okay. So I want to dive more into your career in wine. I also definitely want to touch on kind of your background that you've done with design through wine. We'll talk about that later, but I want to take it back to the beginning. I'm curious. Where did you grow up and was design and wine and creativity, was all of this like a big part of your childhood?
André Mack: I grew up kind of all over. I was born in Trenton, New Jersey, and my mom was in the army and we kind of traveled all over. We lived overseas, and we spent a big chunk of time in Texas. My mom really fell in love with Texas. And so I spent from middle school to high school there, and the first 15 summers of my life I spent going back to Trenton, New Jersey and hanging out with my cousins. It was a big thing for my mother, for us, to never forget where you came from. So a lot of my summers were spent with my cousins in Trenton, New Jersey.
André Mack: And design and wine were never a part of anything that I did. I've been thinking about it a lot lately and it just wasn't even around. I wasn't cognizant of it at any point. My parents didn't really drink outside of the occasional holiday cheer. There was alcohol in the house, but it would be there for years. So it wasn't even that. I think design never ... I mean, maybe I thought about things in my head, but just never ... it just was never anything. I didn't critique stuff or anything like that. I think it was much later in life.
André Mack: I got into wine by watching old episodes of Frasier, so that's much later in my life. The show about the two pompous brothers who had a sherry ritual. They just seemed like, from the show, they seemed like they were just having fun. They were having fun. They had wine in their life. And from watching that show, I felt like I was missing out. Not that I ever thought that I would make a career out of it or anything. It just like, "Hey, these guys look like they're having fun and they're drinking wine. Maybe I should have one in my life."
André Mack: And that show gave me the courage to walk into a wine shop for the first time and to ... because generally speaking, there were no young black people inside of the wine shop in my neighborhood. And so that's kind of how that started. And just wanting to learn more about wine and drinking it and just wanting to know more about what I was drinking and where it's from, and you realize wine is not only just a tasty beverage but it's history, it's biology, it's chemistry, it's all of these things wrapped into one. You can go down that rabbit hole if you choose, you can go down really far, and you want to know country politics, you can really look at the wine and the wine history plays a role in that.
André Mack: And so that was what drove me, and then its connection to food is also another thing. As you started to peel back the layers of the onion, you realize that wine just wasn't just something that you drank and got messed up. It is that, too. But that was a real thing for me. I didn't realize until ... Maybe during college I was kind of starting to be a little bit creative, and that was when I got my first computer. I worked at some really crappy restaurants during college and so I worked at Red Lobster. But I remember us waiters being disgruntled, and we called a manager's meeting.
André Mack: And I designed ... I took a bag that had the logo on it and scan it into my computer and then made it read Dead Lobster. And then I printed them out. We made these [inaudible 00:14:27] T-shirts. I put Xs through the eyes and then changed from red to dead and that was kind of really the first foray into doing anything like that. That was my first foray into that and never did I think that I was anything, you know what I mean? It was just like, "Hey, I'm just a kid playing around on a computer." And then later, I kind of dropped that for a little bit because I got into wine.
André Mack: But when I started to work at fine dining restaurants, when I was working at per se here in New York, I actually spent 30 to 40 minutes a day designing the sheet that we just use for pre-shift. It was for our eyes only, but it wasn't anything for the guests to see. But it was for our staff. I was doing page layout, so I made it look like ... we had the whole back of one page and I designed it to make it look like a magazine and had all our topics and the wines and things we wanted to discuss. And that really bought me joy, you know what I mean? In a way that was just so weird. I was like, "I really look forward to that every single day doing that."
André Mack: And people started to ask me, "Hey, did you go to school for that?" And I was like, "No, I didn't go to school for that."
Maurice Cherry: What did you go to school for?
André Mack: Finance.
Maurice Cherry: Okay.
André Mack: It's kind of that thing. In my circle it was like all the kids who knew what they wanted to do generally they were artists and they knew what they were going to do. And the kids that didn't know what they were going to do, we went into finance. It just seemed like ... You know what I mean? You went to finance, you're like, "Okay, maybe I can figure this out. I can make some mean cash for a little bit, until I figured out what I'm doing." You know what I mean? I could work up until I'm 35 and make a whole bunch of money, and then at 35 really try to do what I want to do or start a business or something else.
André Mack: So I ended up going to school for finance, but that just wasn't it for me. And then, yeah. So then the whole design thing, that's when I started to believe that "Oh," that I'm creative. It's so weird that I didn't believe that I was. I was just doing stuff that felt good to me to design, made me feel good and to create something, suspend 30 or 40 minutes on it. People thought I was crazy for something that they were going to throw away. You know what I mean? Seconds after they had it. But it meant something to me.
André Mack: And it was a challenge. For me, a new job when you've mastered or started to master or felt like you've mastered certain things in there, for me I turned my attention to something else. At the beginning I was definitely afraid of getting in front of people and talking to them. It's different if you're waiting on, if you're talking to a table. But a group of your peers and explaining something to them, that was something different. I think, isn't public speaking is like number two on the greatest fear of dying? Actually, it might be number one now.
André Mack: But the fact of it is that was something that I was very uncomfortable with so I made myself do the meeting every single day because I wanted it to be uncomfortable in front of people and realize that that can be a tool that I could use later on in life. And it is something that has prepared me for this part of my life where I am getting in front of a whole bunch of people and I am being paid to get in front of a whole bunch of people and speak, and I feel pretty comfortable and confident about it because of the work that I've done years previously.
André Mack: And so kind of the same thing. I turned my attention, a critical eye in designing and putting things together, within the same job that I had and I felt like that helped me tremendously from when it was time for me to leave and strike out on my own.
Maurice Cherry: Yeah, because you're coming to the table with more skills than just this one thing, just wine. You're coming with wine and art direction and creative direction and all this other stuff that comes with that.
André Mack: Yeah. Also I feel like I've done all the jobs in my company, you know what I mean? I'm not asking. When I hire someone new, I'm not asking them to do something that I've never done before. Plus, since I've done the work, I know what the expectation is. I know how long it takes. You know what I mean? And I know how much it costs. If I had to outsource it from somewhere else, I know how much it costs. I've done that work. You can't tell me that it takes ... it costs this much when I know it only it's this long.
André Mack: And also what I realized is by learning to do design, graphic design, it put my company above a lot of other companies very quickly, especially since social media. You know what I mean? To be able to do stuff very quickly. And that's kind of what happened. At some point I just realized like, "Hey, you know, I got a friend and they're a graphic designer. I'm going to just ask him to do it." But it was never fast enough, and you can't press them because they're doing it for free or for very cheap.
André Mack: And I was like, "You know what? Shit. Just show me how to do it." And that's really what happened. I was just ... I got tired of waiting and I said, "I got more time than I have money and then I'll learn it myself." But at some point that flip flops. Before I had a lot of time and no money and now I have less time because I am making more money. My time is more valuable that I can't actually sit in front of a computer like I used to and do those things. So those things have changed for me.
Maurice Cherry: Now I want to go back just a bit here. I'm curious about the finance part because as I was doing my research, I saw that you worked in finance for a number of years. When did you decide to make that shift from finance to wine and during that time was your family kind of supportive of you making a big change like that?
André Mack: I don't know about the family part. I don't even know if I was even talking to my mother. We'd go through these spats where we don't talk to each other. So let me fix that. But that was when I was younger. I decided to make the switch because I was unhappy. It just sucked. It just wasn't what I thought it would be. And for me, I just said, "You know what? I can't do it anymore."
André Mack: And I think it was having that feeling and not sure if I should take the leap or not. But what ended up happening is Citi Group merged Travelers. So Citibank had merged with Travelers and they were laying people off and that whole thing was like ... They came to my desk, they're talking to us like, "Let me just be clear. So I can quit and I would get severance? So you can continue to pay me?" And they were like, "Yeah, that's how that works." And I was like, "Oh shit, sign me up." You know what I mean? There was something in place.
André Mack: They were looking for people to leave. And I was like, "Oh shit, I will leave if I'm going to get paid." And that eased the transition. But there was no plan, really, on the other side of quitting that job. And for me, it was like, "I can always go back to restaurants." I didn't really want to figure out what I want to do, but in the meantime I can wait tables, I can make ... for the hourly, I can make some decent money. And so I quit and I didn't rush to get another job. But I started waiting tables again.
André Mack: And it was at that time that I was watching old episodes of Frasier and it was at that time that the interest in wine started to come up, and that was it. To me to go to the sommelier route was easy because I was already working in restaurants, I could do that blindfolded. And so now I was just adding wine to it. That made sense to me. That seemed like the natural progression. I didn't have the influence of upsetting my parents. And also, what I would say is, because I feel like this is later in life for me. I'm 27 years old now, so it's not ... You know what I mean?
Maurice Cherry: As a safety net.
André Mack: Yeah. Well, and after 27, I came off my parents' insurance. They had nothing to do with my life. And I could be honest. I'm sure that my parents were grappling with like, "I don't know if this kid's ever going to amount to anything." Kind of thing. Where they had aspirations and hopes for me and sometimes when you didn't do the things that they wanted you to do, they were upset. And I feel like at least my mother would maybe fit into that. They have that idea of, "I'm not sure what's happening. He seems to be okay." And it was leaving and then going and inviting wine in my life and starting to learn about it more and more. Then I worked in a restaurant that had a better wine list and the rest was history. I was like, "I want to learn about this. I want to know as much as I can about this."
André Mack: And that was it. I didn't let go. I studied my ass off and learned as much as I could. And that made working in restaurants fun again for me, and I made more money than I'd had before because I knew I could talk the talk. You know what I mean? If you looked at the menu, the menu taps out at 50 bucks. $50 entrees, but the wine lists, $1,000 dollar bottles of wine, $800 bottles of wine. I get 15% of that. You know what I mean? That was really the driving force too. It was a financial thing, that's something that I just totally fell in love with it and became less about ... knowing more about wine so I could make more money into it. It just felt good, where other waiters would come over to me and say, "Hey-"
André Mack: So I just felt good where other waiters would come over to me and say, "Hey, can you go talk to my table? They want to talk wine." And that's when we worked in a restaurant that didn't have a sommelier. And so you had the respect of your peers, and I fed off that too. That felt good that they were like, "Hey, you know enough about wine that I feel safe for you to go talk to my table and go sell them some wine." So that's how that started, I never experienced the approval of my parents kind of thing. To be fair, I felt like probably at 27, I didn't give a shit anyway, I didn't care. I didn't care what they thought. Because at this point it was my life and I was going to figure it out somehow. I see that a lot nowadays where people talk about the approval of their parents and would that fit in along the course of them choosing a career or what decisions that they make. I think it did for me much early on, but at 27 I was my own man.
Maurice Cherry: Yeah, that feels like such a parallel to what my career has been in a way. I think my mom started getting on board with what I was doing when she saw that it was successful. In the beginning she's like, "I don't know, you went to school for this." And I went to school for math, and I didn't want to teach math. The jobs that involve me doing math on a regular basis were not jobs I wanted to do, it was basically be a math teacher or an actuary and I didn't want to do either one of those things.
Maurice Cherry: And so I was doing just random little odd jobs before I fell into design. And I had been doing design as a hobby, but even then I was making money doing design. But it wasn't something that I think my mom was like, "I don't know." And then when I quit my job and started my studio, that's really when the doubts started coming in like, "What are you doing?" And it wasn't until I started really being successful and I was getting recognition that she's like, "Okay, well I knew all along." And I'm like, "Did you? Did you know?" Because I remember it a lot differently, but sure let's go with that.
André Mack: But that's generally how it is. I was telling a friend of mine the other day, I was like, "Your spouse is supposed to believe in you." And they tell you that all the all the time. But I can remember a moment where it all changed where it was like, "Oh, you believed in me. But you believe in me, believe in me, right?" And now it's different. And my mom was interesting. Like when I said, "Hey, I got a job at the best restaurant in the world." And she thought that was like my opinion, I was like, "No, no, no, no, no."
André Mack: I was like, "No, this publication, which is worldwide, said that this restaurant I'm going to is the best restaurant in the world." And she's like, "Really? And I was like, "Yeah." And I was like, "I'm moving and I'm selling all my stuff." And she's like, "What?" She knew it must've been a big deal. And she's like, "What?" And I was like, "I'm selling all my stuff." And she's like, "Well wait a minute." She goes, "Send me over list of all the stuff you're selling and how much you're selling it for." And then she bought it all. And then she's like, "Okay." And I was like, "Thank you, You didn't have to do that." And she's like, "No, no, no." She bought it all and I was like, "I got to go, because I got to go buy some suits."
André Mack: And she's like, "No, no, no, no, no." And then she took me to go buy suits. And it was just this great feeling that she didn't know, but I guess from my reaction, she's like, "Well, what is this?" And then I had moved out there and then six months later she comes out to come visit and she got to dine at the restaurant and then she was like, "This is so cool, this is so interesting." And it just went from there. But she's always been that way, and I can tell she didn't know what was going on. I don't know if she really believed it, but she believed that I believed it. And that was kind of our thing. And I was going no matter what. If I had to sell all my stuff, I didn't care. It was just I had an opportunity and I was willing to be there in a week and a half. It was like, "I got the job? I'm coming." And that was it.
Maurice Cherry: When did you found the winery?
André Mack: 2007 is when I started. I went out to California from Texas to work at The French Laundry, and then in 2004 I moved to New York, on site on scene to run the beverage department at the sister restaurant called Per Se. And at the time it was the most anticipated restaurant opening in New York City in the last 20 years. And it was a hell of a ride and it was great. I had a really great time, I worked there for three years and then I quit because I wanted to continue to learn about wine. And I felt like the only way to do that was to make my own.
André Mack: And if I could make my own, that could scratch several other itches I had too. One wanting to be an entrepreneur and then two, wanting to have more creativity in my life. And so I finally had made the leap to quit. And then, like anything else in life, it was this long, windy road, stop and start, and that lasted for three years. So from '07 to 2010 I was taking on odd jobs, working for other people, doing all kinds of other stuff. At one point I was opening a little wine bar on the Lower East Side and when all that fell through with the partnership, I was out there trying to do stuff and I just had a kid in '08 and was just trying to hustle and get my dream off the ground.
André Mack: And it was funny because all your peers are trying to figure out what the hell you're doing and then they might see you working at some place that they thought was beneath you. I think it's like, "I got to do what's right for me." And that's what's so funny, most people don't leave jobs like the one I had, it's because where do you go from there? If you don't open your own place, then everything else is not where everybody else thinks that you should be. And I tell people, "Man, you have to keep your eyes on the prize and understand where you're going." And so for a lot of my peers, they we're like, "What the hell is this guy doing?" But I knew what I wanted to do and sometimes you have to do the things that you don't want to do to get to where you want to go.
André Mack: And I didn't want to work as a general manager of some other restaurant, but I did for a little bit because I knew that's what I needed to do. And then in 2010 I stopped working for everybody. I stopped working for other people and haven't taken a job and I had built it to enough where I could actually work for myself full-time. And that was a great feeling and that's kind of where I've been ever since. So I started the company in '07 and then really kind of took three years, stop and start, to really get it on it's feet where it could actually support just me as the sole employee at the beginning. And that worked out.
Maurice Cherry: Yeah, basing your life on other people's expectations is a sure shot for disaster. And I really empathize with what you said about you kind of have to do the jobs that you don't necessarily want to do to kind of get where you have to go. That's certainly how I felt once I first graduated and I didn't want to go into any sort of math stuff. And the only jobs I could find were telemarketing, I think I was selling tickets at the Symphony at the time. Actually I remember this, I was selling tickets at the Symphony here at the time and I remember I got my degree and I went to work, I think it was the next day or the day after that. And the manager congratulated me on my degree and took the calculator from my station like, "Well you don't need this now because you have a degree in math so you can count change out of $100."
Maurice Cherry: But I was working a lot of little, not great jobs. I worked at the Atlanta Opera for a day doing telemarketing. I remember because they had the CD on loop of Boyz II Men, I'll Make Love to You, which is a great song, but when you've heard it eight hours straight and you're trying to sell Aida, I don't know you're trying to sell it to some rich patron somewhere. I took all the stuff they gave me when I left for the day, took all the stuff they gave me, put it in an envelope and mailed it to them. Like I'm not coming back, I'm not doing this.
Maurice Cherry: Then I got my first actual legit design gig in '05 but even from working for other companies from '05 to '08 I was like, "I can do better than this." Because I still sort of felt like I was living up to what was sort of expected of me in that way. And it's like once you break out of that cycle and break out of that prison, life is just so much better after that.
André Mack: It's true, it's true. Being an entrepreneur is not easy and it's not for anyone with a faint of heart because it all feels very fleeting. And even Steve Jobs talked about it, it all feels like a house of cards. And I was asking some of my other friends, "When does that end?" And they're like, "It doesn't." And sometimes that's the driving force to keep pushing yourself. And it's weird, because some days you're flush. Some days it's like, "I got way too much money out on the street and I can't make this move until I get it back." And so it's really interesting and you can see how some people, some people don't like that.
André Mack: They need like, "Okay, I know that I'm going to get paid every two weeks." And I was never one of those people, I mean I waited tables. I didn't care, I was willing to take that risk because I knew that nine times out of 10 it was going to be more than what I would make sitting at a desk and talking to someone.
Maurice Cherry: And you'd be happier too.
André Mack: Yeah, because I worked less hours, it was great. But yeah, it's all this talk about like, "Are you happy with all this other stuff?" I was like, "Dude, you can be happy." I was one of those people that thought like, "Oh, I can be happy once I get this and once I get that" and it was based on goals and all these other things and I was like, "No dude, you have to take the time to be happy along the way because at the end you're still not going to be happy."
André Mack: Like once you accomplish those things, you're not going to be happy, it's the next thing. Because I know how I am. You know what I mean? Like for me it's someone asked me to do something and I said, "Yeah, sure. What took you so long?" You know what I mean? What took you so long to ask me? I thought I should've been on your show years ago, you know what I mean? That kind of thing, that's always the mentality I've had. There's bad things to it too, but I'm sure it's gotten me to where I am. Where it's like I want to do things but I just, anyways a lot of my happiness at the beginning was tied to doing things in life and checking things off a list.
André Mack: And I really had to retool and refocus and say, "You know, now it's a little bit different, I have four children. They make me slow down and really take inventory." And as much as some days it's a pain, it's not what I want to do that day, it's great. And I think it's really evened me out for sure.
Maurice Cherry: What was it like to work with Anthony Bourdain?
André Mack: It was great, I mean he was awesome. To me, he was just like you saw him on TV. That's why we all gravitated to him, like in the way that he spoke and the way that he carried himself, it was no different. That was truly who that person was, he was authentic. And I remember when we were shooting, I was filming his show and I didn't know anything about TV. I've been on a couple of commercials before and this was the first big production thing I had ever been on. And they gave me an earpiece, and so I have an earpiece in and you can hear different, I don't know who it was, you had different people talking to me. And I remember I was messing up my lines, I couldn't get them. And then I'd fumble and then I'd yell "Cut!" And Anthony pulls me aside, he's like, "Andre, you don't ever yell cut, only the director yells cut." He's like, "Collect yourself, take a deep breath and then say the lines again. But you can't yell cut." You know what I mean? He was like, "You can't do that."
André Mack: And then I remember he was like, I just was feeling uneasy about it. And I think after we shot for the first day, we were walking back to the trailer and I was like, "Hey, so are we going to do that again?" And he goes, "No. Why you don't think we got it?" And I was like, "I'm not feeling 100% confident about my part." And he goes, "Oh no, no, no, don't worry about it." He goes, "This is ..." he had explained to me this is not like a reality show where it's their job to kind of like fumble you up and make you look bad. They got tons of stuff, they're going to make you look good, you did great. You know what I mean? Like it was awesome to be in the set and to be involved in it and to be on the show. It was an honor and more so now in hindsight now that he's no longer with us.
Maurice Cherry: Yeah. Now you started the winery in 2007 and then in 2009 you started this design firm. I love this name, the Get Fraiche Cru, F-R-A-I-C-H-E C-R-U. Where did the idea come from to kind of go that route?
André Mack: Well, what had happened is, so I quit the restaurant and I quit working at the restaurant full time and then I started Mouton Noir Wines. And then what I realized is like, "All right, so I'm doing all this stuff, I've got all these ideas." But what happens is I needed labels. So I had signed up for the bottling line, meaning that so my wine was ready to go into the bottle and they had a list. So I hired for the bottling line so someone could come bottle it. And what had happened is, is that they're like, "Well, wait a minute." So all labels for wine have to be approved by the government. And I hadn't done that yet. And they were like, "Hey, you can't do that, it's not smart to do that. So you should go."
André Mack: And so I asked the friend. I was like, "Hey, I need someone to design a label for me, can you recommend a designer?" He's like, "Yeah sure, I'll give you the people we use." So I called this company and they told me, and they're like, it's $25,000 per label." I don't know, I was like, "Whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa, wait a minute. $25,000?" And they were like, "Yeah." And I was like, "I don't even have that kind of money." And in that moment I was like, "You know what?" And so I thought to myself, "Well maybe if I can get the idea out of my head and maybe sketched a little bit or whatever, I can hand it off to a designer and it wouldn't be $25,000."
André Mack: Now I realized that designers fucking hate that, they don't like that. [crosstalk 00:38:24] It's a big, big no-no. And so I was like, "Okay, let me see if I can figure this out." And it was kind of like in the height of Apple. And all the commercials showed all these creative people. Like if you were creative you used Mac. And so I didn't know Mac and I didn't have a Mac. So I went on Craigslist and I bought an old iMac for $200 and our old maitre d' at the restaurant, her boyfriend worked for Adobe. And so he got me the Adobe Creative Suite for $75 and that's when it was like $3,500, you know what I mean? So he got me [inaudible 00:15:04], and I remember him saying, "Now this is really powerful software." And I'm like, "Okay."
André Mack: And so I load it all onto my computer and everything and then I just stared at the screen. And it was so funny I was like, okay. So Jack said that it was really powerful software. It takes a long time for it to load and then the only thing that pops up is like this little fucking toolbar at the top. You know what I mean? Like how powerful could it be? You know what I mean? It was this thing ... trust me, I knew nothing about any type of design software. I mean I had used like CorelDRAW number three or seven or whatever it was years before. But it was that thing of, it's like just a little toolbar came up on the top and you could still see your desktop behind it. I was like "What is going on with this thing?"
André Mack: And yeah, we just stare at it. And it was this kind of that thing of your only limit is your imagination. And that's tough for people. People don't write fiction for the same thing, because they can write about anything, they can just make up shit. Sometimes there's no parameters in it. And that's kind of how I felt about the software. And I stared at it for hours and then slowly started to work at it. And then I designed the label and I thought I was going to hand it off to another designer and I never did. And those labels were very simple, stark black and white labels. And that's how it started. And then I needed practice, so I have like a whole bunch of other ideas and practiced doing stuff.
André Mack: And so I designed all these t-shirts and all kinds of different stuff to be better at it. And that's kind of how it all started. And then what happened is social media came around and then other people started to see all this stuff I was creating and making and so at the beginning we weren't set up to sell our wine online, we weren't compliant yet to do that. And so what I did was I started to make t-shirts and not just t-shirts that had our logo on them, but t-shirts that were just for wine lovers or wine geeks that were kind of based off of street wear. It was more like a street wear, wine geek t-shirts. And I started to put them online and started to sell them as that drove traffic to our site.
André Mack: Because we didn't have anything to sell yet. We were selling wholesale in different states, but we couldn't sell online. And that's kind of how that really started. And then slowly people in the wine business started to approach me and asked me if I was on retainer with someone and I was like, "What?" And that's kind of how that started. And then slowly people started offering me wine jobs, to do design. I just started doing that work for other people and after we got three or four, that's when I just said, "You know what, we'll go ahead and just start a company and do the work." And then that's when I started the Get Fraiche Cru.
André Mack: And it's funny. I had a friend, actually he was a captain, so he was a waiter at Per Se, and he went to school for design. He had worked in design after school, worked on a whole bunch of the Absolut campaigns and all that other kind of stuff, and then found himself back in restaurants and he said he couldn't get any work. And he's like, "Dude, you get more jobs and work than I do and I got a degree for this stuff." And I told him, "Yeah, it's just because that I'm in a niche." I mean it's something different, it's wine-related. And that made me feel pretty good. It's still not good enough to the fact that I wanted to say, "Oh yeah, I'm a graphic designer" or "I'm a designer", It's just that we got jobs and that was really fun.
André Mack: When I left working as a sommelier wanting to go make wine, for me it's because I really wanted to have an impact. I said to myself, "I want to have an impact on this industry that I love and I don't know how I'm going to do it, but maybe I thought it was going to be through wine and through the wine I made." What's really interesting now is that my biggest influence on this industry that I love has been through design. And that's been interesting to me. That's something that I would have never thought of.
Maurice Cherry: And speaking of design, we talked about this a little bit before recording. I mean wine is something that has been produced for hundreds, thousands of years really. How do you see design and technology kind of playing into the wine industry now?
André Mack: Well it's all changed, right? I mean they fully embraced it. If we we're just talking about label design, I've always thought Australia was number one and then Spain was number two, but it's all different now. Now that there's younger generations drinking it, the labels are more irreverent, there's more design, I mean there's some wineries that you download an app and you hold it up in front of the label and the label starts to talk to you. It's animated, so they fully have embraced technology and not using the technology on the marketing side. Even within wine making technology has been a big thing. Well now there's apps that I can check the temperatures of my fermentation tanks from anywhere in the world on my phone.
André Mack: You know what I mean? So they've embraced technology and I'm really excited to see where it goes. And even on the marketing side, people rock t-shirts. Now I'm like, "You get stickers with your wine." Like swag, you get swag with all this other kind of stuff now. And wine has really, really embraced technology and the times. And with social media, it's just really interesting to see how everybody's evolved and I'm excited for the future and to see what that looks like. But yeah, you're right. It absolutely is an old [Stagi 00:44:45] at least that's the rap, but it is changing a lot. Very fast.
Maurice Cherry: And now speaking of that evolution you even in your career have undergone a bit of an evolution. Talk to me about Small Thyme Cooks.
André Mack: Small Thyme Cooks is the world's first culinary coloring book/activity book that I designed in 2014. I had the idea for a long time and kind of when I talked about making a mark on this industry and I was like coloring book. What chef wouldn't want to be immortalized in a coloring book? I just think it's really fun and interesting. And so I had the idea for awhile and the first drafts of it we're just wine-related. And I had worked at Charlie Trotter's for a little bit in Chicago, a famous restaurant and he passed away and I was busy and I couldn't make it to the services and I think I was walking down the stairs in my home one day and I got the idea that it should include chefs and so I was like, "It should be about chefs too."
André Mack: And that's when the whole idea changed. I didn't even make it down to the bottom of the stairs. I turned around and went back upstairs into my office and six weeks later I produced this book called Small Thyme Cooks. And it was a fun project, it was just something really cool for me. In my mind, I've committed to 20 volumes, so we'll see. We only made one and we self-published that book at the beginning. I wanted to do everything all by myself, I didn't want anybody to tell me what to do, I wanted to embrace the experience all by myself. And that was 2014, I think we sold somewhere like 8,000 copies or something like that. And then in the meantime I sold a different book to a publisher, to Abrams. And so on October 22nd I have my book coming out, it's called 99 bottles: A Black Sheep's Guide to Life-Changing Wines.
André Mack: So it's part memoir, part wine book. It basically tells my wine life story in 99 bottles. And so for me wine is really a snapshot of a moment in time. For me, wine is just a place holder. So a lot of people talk about like, "Oh yeah, we were in Italy and we were out by the rocks on the coast and we're eating these amazing oysters and we had this wine, it was amazing and it was only three euros." What you really remember is when you see that bottle of wine, you remember the story, what you were doing, it reminds you of something. And that's what this book is about for me. And so it looks like a wine guide. It has wine information all throughout, so you'll learn about wine. Each chapter, it's one through 99, so it's told in chronological order.
André Mack: So you can skip around to different wines if you wanted to but reading it straight through, it tells my wine life in a really fun way. I just finished recording the audio book yesterday, so that was a fun experience. And so I wanted to do one thin where I got to do everything by myself and then on this latest book, on 99 Bottles, I had to work with the editor with a publishing house, that was a really great experience and kind of hard. Kind of hard in the sense of now I had all these other outside influences saying, "Well no, we want the cover to look like that." And I'm like, "No, that sucks." But there was a lot of compromise in it and it was great. I embraced that experience.
André Mack: You know, there was a lot of compromise in it and it was great. I embraced that experience as well. But small time cooks... You know, so we're just revamping and getting ready to come to volume two, and I'm super excited about it. Whether or not we sell that to a publisher or we do it again on our own, that's kind of where we're at right now.
André Mack: But it's been a fun project and all of the chefs and food personalities in it are people that I have met over the years, and it was very great to be able to include them in the project and it was really fun.
Maurice Cherry: One thing that I think I'm certainly getting from this conversation, talking with you and listening you do all these projects, that you have this like incredible sense of drive and passion for what it is that you do. Where does that come from? Like what helps kind of fuel that ambition for you?
André Mack: I don't man. I just want to do shit in life. I don't know where that comes from. I always knew that I was a hard worker. Like work ethic is something that I knew I always had, and I did that for other people, you know what I mean? I worked really hard. People were like, "Dude, this not your place. That's shit the owner should be doing."
André Mack: But it didn't matter to me, I think because I just realized like I'm going to do it once in life. I used to put the cocktail sauces on the plates at like Red Lobster, you know? But at the end of the night I would be on my hands and knees wiping the baseboard by the floor and people are like, "Why are you doing that?" My thing is like because that's the job, it needs to be done, and I'm never going to do it again.
André Mack: Like if I want to ask people to do that, I want to do it myself. I want to know what it feels like. I want to embrace. I want to know that like does it feel good, or whatever it is. I want to absorb all of and then move on from there. It's like I've done that, I never want to do it again.
André Mack: For me, I don't know, I just want to do shit that's fun and that seems... You know, I live my life by like hey, wouldn't it be cool by, wouldn't it be cool if, and that takes me to all these different places. Like hey, wouldn't it be cool if we did this and it looked like this and did that, and then I do it. I just want to feel alive, and I think by doing these different things and working on it. it makes me feel alive.
André Mack: I'm not solving or coming up with a cure for cancer or anything like that. Nobody needs anything that I make. You don't need to drink the wine that I make. No one needs this coloring book. You know, no one needs to wear these tee shirts. It's not a necessity of life, but the fact that you do support it, there's a sense of gratitude, and that makes me happy, and that's the fuel that I need to keep pushing to do other stuff, because people gravitate to it.
Maurice Cherry: What does success look like for you now at this stage in your career?
André Mack: To continue to do whatever the fuck I want to do, you know what I mean? If I didn't... It's that kind of thing. Like if I didn't have a calendar I wouldn't know what to do. For me, like to not know what day of the week it is, I love that. I want my kids to experience that, to be so in love or to be enthralled in what your passionate about and what pushes you so much so that you forget to eat, you don't know what day it is, you haven't taken a shower in three days. To me, I don't know, I just love that. I love it, you know what I mean?
André Mack: I walked up to our wine shop maybe... I think it was last week, and as I was opening the door I realized... It was like oh, my God, I think I've had these same clothes on for three days, and I had been to the shop every single day.
André Mack: So when I walked in I was talking to one of the guys that works for us and I was like hey, I know I've had these clothes on for three days. I'm well aware of that. I just wanted to bring it out in the open. It was funny, because he said, "I didn't know. I thought it was something that rich people did." I was like, "Trust me, this has nothing to do with money."
André Mack: It's just like I had been up. I had been up working and excited about something and fall asleep at my desk. I'd wake up and I'd start cooking breakfast for my kids and rolling, I'm already in it. I don't know, there's just something about that.
André Mack: We homeschool our children because I want them to pursue their passions at an earlier age. I want you to be in it. Like if you're into swimming, it's not like okay if you get all your work done we'll swim on Friday. It's like, no, every day we'll get you an instructor and you're going to go swim every day, right? Not like cannonball shit, like [inaudible 00:52:27] jumping in the pool. Like have a swim instructor.
André Mack: I don't know, I just think that, you know, that life's too short. If that's something that you're into, then pursue it with vengeance, and I'm going to help you do that. Like go do it. Then you figure out that that's not for you, that you want to do something else or that leads to something else, then let's attack the next thing the same way.
André Mack: That's how I feel about it and that's how I kind of feel about life. Success to me looks like being able to do... And now it's just not even like just me. It's like helping other people realize that as well, you know, like growing a business and being... Now that I can do business with my friends to help them get that bag. You know what I mean? It's like oh, okay. Of course. Of course I'll support you man, and I understand you can't do it this way, so... And our policy is to do it that way, but I want to do business with you, so we've going to do it this way, right?
André Mack: It's just... You know, I feel like we buy faceless things all the time. All the time we buy faceless things and things from people that don't matter, but when there's opportunities where there's someone that you know them, you know their family, like you know them, and that you should support them, and I do that. I want to support that person.
André Mack: I know how hard it is to build something. I want to help you do that. I want to say that I contributed, right, I was there and I bought that thing from you. I bought that thing from your cousin who was... I bought that thing from your son, so that's where I'm at. That's what success looks like, more of the same shit.
Maurice Cherry: More of the same shit. So how do you balance all of this? You mentioned like at the top of the interview that you're kind of on a plane everyday, you got a book coming out, you're opening up a new wine shop. How do you balance all of the work stuff that you're doing along with the family stuff?
André Mack: It's all the same. There's no difference in it. I'm lucky enough that I found a partner who understands that about me. The V word is a bad word in my household. There's no such thing as a vacation. Now they might be on vacation and I might be there, but I'm working and they're off doing something else.
André Mack: I bring... My family travels with me once a quarter to wherever I'm at, right? And we moved to Europe for four months when my third son was born and I worked from their. Their education is about moving around and being involved. It's not just that... Our motto is don't let school get in the way of your education.
André Mack: For me, I want my... You know, not only does my kid know... Has been to the Louvre, but he knows where the best croissant is right around the corner because he's been there. They've all been there, and that's kind of our thing.
André Mack: I think the greatest gifts that we can give as parents to our children is the gift of language and the gift of travel. So there's no difference... The other day I was like, "Hey, we're all going over to the wine bar, which is under construction." So I try to take them there once a week so they can see the progress, so we can look at the plans to help them see if they can visualize it.
André Mack: We just looked at a dairy farm that was for sale in upstate New York. We all went on that trip. I wanted them all to see it and see the process, and like at the dinner table we're always talking business. We're talking entrepreneurial things. I mean me and my kids, we started a company called Block Party Catering over dinner one night. And then I hired them, I hired their company which I gave them the loan to open... I hired their company to serve lunch at our block party. Now they've catered or done their friend's birthday party.
André Mack: I got in an argument with my kid because he wanted to open a Etsy account and I told him that his work sucks and that it wasn't good enough on Etsy, and he didn't want to hear that, but it was the truth. It's like dude, you just learned how to make jewelry two days ago and all of a sudden look at that. That was a hard conversation for him to hear, but he buckled down and he started doing it. I was like you can only... It's got to be at least six months you're making jewelry before you can be able to put it up there.
André Mack: So we have those things... So our lives and the work are all intertwined, like it just is. There's nothing... It's their lifestyle. My nine-year-old, he tastes all the wine at dinnertime, every dinner. He opens the bottle of wine and he tastes the wine and then he pours for everybody. It's like what we do. It's like oh, hey, we're doing a taste test. They're there when we're picking out the wallpaper. It's just part of our lives, and so that's how... It's never off, because it's just who we are.
André Mack: I'm sure sometimes they don't like that, but that's just how I'm built. It's just... It's all together. We take family trips. Our outings, our excursions, all of those things are focused on the things that we're excited about or that it's R&D or it's something for this. It's like you drive four hours just to go eat at one place and then we come back.
André Mack: It's so funny, because we were trying to tell someone... It's like I probably get to spend more time with my kids than someone who actually lives in the same... Like who lives in the same house and doesn't travel at all, because collectively we get to do things.
André Mack: It's like we'll fly to Dallas for a football game. It's just we... You make that time. I read them books via Face Time in the back seat of a car before I have to go do a wine dinner like in Wyoming. We stay connected in that way.
André Mack: What I try to explain to everybody, that nothing is permanent. If all of a sudden what happens is not working, then I can change it. I have the power to change it. That was hard to get used to as an entrepreneur at the beginning, because I realized like oh, I don't want to be here. Oh, there's nothing saying that I need to be here. So then I'd call my assistant and I'm like, "Hey, book the ticket now. Move it up. I want to leave right now."
André Mack: That's how me and my wife... That's how we live our lives. It's like okay, I'm going to go hard for nine years. Let's see what that looks like. And if something is not working we realize that we have the power to change it. Or even if it's not, it's like hey, the little baby, he's only going to cry for a little bit. It seems like forever. Or he's not sleeping through the night. All of that, it's not permanent. It will change and be different, and if it's not working then we figure out a way to change it.
André Mack: I operate... I don't celebrate small victories, because I'm the person that thinks that I should have done it a long time ago. We talked about that earlier. My wife is someone who needs that. I didn't know that until she said that, so now it's like oh, hey, I forgot to tell you, last week we sold three containers of wine to... Shipping containers of wine to Sweden.
André Mack: She needs that to feel like okay, this is... Like okay, I'm feeling good now. You know what I mean? Like I needed to share those what I would call small victories. I needed to share those things with her, and that didn't mean that I was celebrating them if I shared them with her. It was giving her information so she felt a part of the process, and ever since that our relationship has been great.
Maurice Cherry: I think from what you said earlier it sounds like the goal is for them to experience their education... For your kids I mean, to experience their education out in the world, and not necessarily in a classroom.
André Mack: Yep. Absolutely. Absolutely. It's so funny too, right, because... And I think that's a trend that you'll start to see more and more of. When I say homeschool, a lot of people think oh, my God... They think religious reasons and they talk about socialization, and at that point I already know that they're lost.
André Mack: In New York City homeschool is like going to college. There's people all over the city who offer classes in all kinds of... I mean we had an archeological dig in our backyard, where the guy comes up and he'll set up any type of time period, and then we invited other kids and they come to the backyard and they do an archeological dig.
André Mack: I mean it's really awesome, the things that you can set up for your children to learn. I think it's awesome. And with New York City being the backdrop of that, I think it's the most wonderful thing ever.
Maurice Cherry: With everything that you're doing now, where do you see yourself in the next like five years or so? What kind of work would you like to be doing?
André Mack: The goal is... You know, I think I'm going to be in the hotel business. Yeah. I have this whole thing, concept. It's called 360 degree hospitality, 360 hospitality. I realize that people want to experience this now. Hospitality is being able to do all of those things, so I feel like the next thing for me is to own an inn, something like that on the smaller scale and that's more of a curative experience.
André Mack: In the future your favorite designer is going to have a hotel. That's just the way that it is. When you think about that now, I'm like a designer... They pay a lot of money for rent and then they spend a lot of money marketing, trying to get you to come into the showroom. It's going to flip and you're going to pay them to stay in the showroom, and the showroom is a hotel or a resort or some type of an experience where everything is for sale and curated.
André Mack: It's just the way that it is. You see everybody... And restaurants, you even see... You should see clothing brands embracing that. Brooks Brothers has a café in the bottom of one of their stores. Restoration Hardware is starting to open up restaurants. The Gap has an Airbnb. It's all about experiences and going to those places.
André Mack: I try to say to people it's creating a real live place for the ads. So if you look at a Ralph Lauren ad, it's always this mythical... You know, it's like on a ranch and horses, whatever. The next part of that is actually bringing people to that place and people paying to be at that place. It's like making the ads come to life. You'll start to see it.
André Mack: For me, I realized that it's about lifestyle and people want to... You know, I stay in a lot of hotels over the last nine years, and a lot of them are sterile. They're all the same. But being in a place that... You know, if I'm there for a longer period of time I stay in like... I'll get something off of Airbnb, because some of them feel lived in and they feel personal and it's different, and I think that's what people are willing to pay for, and hotels are really changing.
André Mack: So I think that's kind of more of the work that I want to do. We do a lot of stuff now with entrepreneurship and young kids and students, so doing a lot more of that work seems... You know, it's really fun and interesting. But that's kind of where I see myself, on the business side still pushing, doing fun and great things, and keeping myself motivated and inspired and just working with people I love.
Maurice Cherry: Yeah. Hotel sounds really... I don't stay at a ton of hotels. I mean I travel for work and such, but I know what you mean about them all kind of essentially at one point just... They all sort of blur into each other. I imagine for you they really do just blur into each other.
André Mack: Yeah.
Maurice Cherry: Do you have like a favorite hotel or favorite chain of hotels or anything?
André Mack: Yeah. I stay in a... It's called 21c. They're an independent hotel. I try to stay at the independent hotels. They're not in every single city. But 21c is my favorite hotel. It's basically an art museum, so they have a 24 hour... The lobby is a 24 hour art museum, and then it's all the great art all throughout the rooms.
André Mack: Basically they purchase buildings that are basically historical buildings, which are art themselves. You really find them in like the capital of the south, so like Nashville, Oklahoma City, Bentonville, Atlanta might be getting one, Durham, North Carolina, Louisville. They are to me some of the best hotels in the integration of art. They're just beautiful.
André Mack: But you can just imagine say like Beyoncé having a hotel and in it is her memorabilia, things that are personal to... Like all of those things, it's going to be interesting. Once like the big hotel companies realize that, you'll start to see designers and celebrities who have hotel deals with them and people stay there.
André Mack: It's kind of a museum of sorts, but it's all... The game's all getting ready to change. People are saying retail is dead and the only way you can get people in is restaurants, because people go out to restaurants. So Urban Outfitters, they're putting pizza joints inside of some of their stores to get people to come in.
André Mack: On the hotel side, I just think like that's... To me... And, you know, it's a way of melding all of my stuff into one life, like it's a way for me to buy a property. It's a way to pay for said property, right? It's like by renting it out and doing events and putting all those things together, and out of the travel, out of the shop, these are a collection of things I've collected over the years from all the places I've traveled, and being able to put them in one place... I mean it's the same... That's why I'm into... I think the hotel thing is like really cool and it's going to be a lot more better options for staying in places coming up soon.
Maurice Cherry: Now that I'm thinking about it, it is like a total 360 experience from the staff, the check-in, to the rooms of course, but then the restaurant in the hotel and the décor. A chain that I really like is Le Méridien. I think Marriott owns them.
André Mack: Who?
Maurice Cherry: Marriott or... Yeah, I think it's Marriott.
André Mack: Yeah. Our wines are in all the rooms there.
Maurice Cherry: But I love that hotel chain because every one that I've stayed in in a different city, it's sort of... I mean I feel like it's geared design wise toward the city, but then there's just so many interesting little things, like the hotel has a playlist. Like you go and you check in and they're like oh, check out our playlist on Spotify, and it's pumping in the hallway or it's pumping in the elevator or something like that.
Maurice Cherry: One Le Méridien I stayed in, they had a house DJ that just... It's like a whole... It's an experience, and I could definitely see that being something celebrities or designers get behind.
André Mack: Yeah. You have them, like the Ace Hotel, like those are great. You go into a Ace Hotel to check in, you're like I don't know if I should start dancing, but like the lobby is like a club, not just the music. It is jammed full of people hanging out, and you're like wait a minute, this is like off the hook. You're like hey, you know what? Just take my bag up to my room. I can come up later. I'm going to go have a drink in the bar. You know what I mean?
André Mack: That I love, and the way they're designed and... I don't know, there's just something about it, and that's kind of where I'm at. I'm like you know what? That's where I see myself.
André Mack: I'm doing a little bit more than that. Obviously I've got a lot of work. I'm opening my first place, but these are all... You know, I have a little wine bar. It's really to show people what we can do, right?
Maurice Cherry: Yeah. Well, Andre, just to kind of wrap things up here, where can our audience find out more about you? I mean online, everywhere... It sounds like you're everywhere, but where can people find you?
André Mack: Yeah. So I'm probably most attentive to Instagram, so definitely hit me up on Instagram. It's just AndreHMack, M-A-C-K. You can find me there. Also if you... There also is a link to our wine company, Maison Noir Wines. You can find that also on Instagram. That's M-A-I-S-O-N Noir, N-O-I-R, Wines, W-I-N-E-S, and you can find us there, and both places online.
Maurice Cherry: All right. Sounds good. Well, Andre Mack, I want to thank you so much for coming on the show. I mean one for sharing just your story about how you got into wine. I think... I'll be honest. As I approached this interview I was like I'm not sure if it's going to be just about wine or just about design or how it's going to work, but I mean you've dropped just so many just like pearls of wisdom about this creativity and perseverance and self-determination that I think our audience is really going to like latch onto it.
Maurice Cherry: I mean I was getting excited just listening to you talk about doing your own thing and everything. I was like yeah, I need to go back and do my own thing too. No, this really great man. Thank you again so much for coming on the show. I appreciate it.
André Mack: No worries. Thank you for having me. It's been an honor.