Leah McMullen and Carrie Erickson of Blackjove, a personal shopping and styling duo for men, are a lively pair, always bringing the party. They frequent both Urban Bean locations where they slam back black coffee and espresso while the plan, plot and strategize how to revitalize their frumpy, unfashionable clients. They frequent places like Martin Patrick 3 (where we found them shopping) and roll around town in a pristine white retro SUV, bumpin' tunes as loud as their personalities. Below they share the vision of Blackjove and a few styling tips. So guys, take note.
Who are you guys? What is the origin of the name Blackjove?
Jove is another word for bird of prey, so Blackjove is the silhouette of a bird in the sky. Also, we’re both from Minnesota, we grew up here, it’s a spiritual connection for us both.
What do you do?
We are personal stylists and shoppers just for men. We help guys find their look, shop for them if they’re too busy, or give men a little bump up in the style department. We also, work with a lot of guys who are in transition.
What do you mean by transition?
For example, trying to start dating again, or someone far along in their career and they don’t know what happened along the way, or they have a wife and bunch of kids and they lost sight of grooming and their style. They get stuck in a rut and don’t realize what’s going on and all of a sudden they look up and you say I want to look better and want to take better care of themselves or be different.
What brought you guys to being stylists? What did you do before you became Blackjove?
Leah: I was a buyer at a boutique for a while and had my foot in a couple doors for of jewelry and handbag design. Also, I worked in a mens store for a little while, I got the hang of styling along the way.
Carrie: I have always thought about styling, especially after I finished my degree in entrepreneurship, but instead I went down another avenue, which was my passion for coffee. I owned and operated two Dunn Bro’s coffee shops for five years. I sold them about a year ago, and that’s when Leah and I decided put the peddle to the metal with Blackjove.
Who is your ideal client? Do you have a specific style you like to work in?
Leah: We have tried really hard to not have a certain style aesthetic that we put every guy in, because it doesn’t work for everybody. For example, not everyone is a businessman.
Carrie: Not everybody is the right person or lives the right lifestyle for raw denim, two-hundred dollar shirts or thrifted jackets. So we really cater to each individual client, their lifestyle and their budgetary needs. A very tailored approach.
Leah: So right now we’re working what a guy who’s mid 40’s who works as an investment banker, so his look is very different from another client we have who is at the X-Games right now, into graphic design and is a photographer. So our clients' interests and lifestyles really differentiate.
What’s your ideal day in Minneapolis?
Leah: Wake up and have tons of Urban Bean coffee!
Carrie: I have a dog, so I like to walk him around the lake. In the summer I’ll paddle board on lake harriet, I love that.
Leah: Biking around the lakes or down to the falls, that’s a Saturday afternoon activity when there isn’t much going on.
Carrie: But, we have our favorite haunts that we like for night time fun. We’re good friends with bartenders or other staff members, so we tend to end up at the Butcher and the Boar a lot, hanging out with Gerald, Adam and the guys there or Jesse at Parlor. Also, We’ll go to Tin Fish, sit in the big chairs, drink beer and watch people go by.
Leah: In the winter, Bar la Grasa is one of our favorite spots, we drink wine and eat shit tons of pasta.
Carrie: And we’ve been hanging out at Pat’s Tap a little here and there. As long as nobody is playing skeeball. We’re sensitive to sound.
Leah: We tend to hit places for a while then switch it up, but we spend a lot of our time together. We work together, we hang out a lot on the weekends, we also vacation together, with or without the kids.
Carrie: We're together all the time.
How old are your kids?
Leah: I have four year old, he just turned four.
Carrie: I have a daughter who’s about to turn four, and a son who’s about to turn seven. Sometimes, I think back to when I was twenty-seven or thirty, when I didn’t have kids, when I was busy running around the city. I would never want to go back to that. It’s so much more fun to go out with them or be out all day for work and come home to be a mom.
Do you have a philosophy behind who you are as a pair and how does that affect your work?
Leah: We started seeing hawks and eagles during all the crazy times in our lives, haunting us and flying over us. This was something that we both experienced at the same time.
Carrie: Some people think that clothes are superficial, but in fact they do matter. Our goal for our clients is for them to feel good in their skin everyday and teach them to do what they need to do to feel good as a person when you’re out in the world.
Leah: It’s really cool! When we decided to work only with guys we had a much stronger impact on them than the women we worked with. The girls were appreciative, they liked it, but the fun thing about working exclusively with men is how their confidence grew so much, it was so obvious.
Carrie: It felt more like a lifestyle makeover, so we quickly became very passionate about that side of our work because we felt like we were making a difference. When we talk about Blackjove, it’s not about making guys look better, it’s about making guys feel better. When guys feel better, their families feel better and their business associates feel better. It’s a ripple effect that we talk about a lot.
Do you guys have plans for Blackjove?
Leah: Not really, we are taking things as they come. Our work and directions seem to be constantly shifting.
Carrie: This work goes against everything I have learned from my business background. Most people would say, make a business plan and project it out five years, run the numbers and do all these things. Every time we sit down to do plan, we end up not wanting to put limitations on what we can, and cannot do, or put ourselves in a box that we can’t get out of. So, we work day-to-day and talk about it day-to-day and figure out what our next best opportunity is.
Do you have any tips to help a guy get started in changing his look?
Carrie: If you don’t know where to start, buy new t-shirts and new jeans. For shoes, buy new boots, pick up a pair of Redwings. They work in every season and will always be cool.
Does Blackjove thrift?
Leah: Not really, we usually can’t return thrifted clothes. Also, it’s much more a process. There is a lot more to go through when thrifting.
Carrie: Sometimes you’re not doing their budgets any favor by thrifting because they’re spending hourly. Our hourly wage is going up, clothing budget stays down, but it’ a wash in the end.
What’s you drink at Urban Bean?
Leah: We get more than one usually. It depends on the season. Now, it would be be beer.
No, at Urban Bean!
Carrie: Oh! We’re black coffee with extra shots of espresso.
Leah: When I’m feeling fancy I will have a cappuccino.