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The #StayFresh Roundtable: Episode 2


The #StayFresh Roundtable has returned!

...which would make sense, since it’s a recurring segment we love.

On our second episode, host CJ Johnson is joined by filmmaker and photographer Kyle Meeks, creative producer Grant Yoshino, and our very own Fresh Clean Tees co-founder Matthew Parvis.

Together, the four men unpack everything from releasing one’s ego amid a world of uncertainty to the power of vulnerability within the presentative realms of masculinity and social media.

These may seem like curious topics for a tee shirt company to explore, but when we develop our products, we don’t rattle off checklists. We consider how, where, and when our clothing will be worn. We wonder what lifestyles people are living in the tees, tanks, hoodies, and jackets we sell. Will this fit every type of man? Will this be comfy for movie night? Will this look sharp on a date? How many tacos can you eat in this? [That last answer’s irrelevant for R&D. We just like to challenge ourselves.]

So we started this roundtable series to expand on that and dive deeper into what guys are thinking, doing, and feeling. Understanding our customers provides us with the opportunity to better support them and their lifestyles. We never know where our #StayFresh Roundtable will steer, but it’s eternally in good hands with CJ Johnson at the helm.

Our latest episode is a feel-good half-hour — just four guys chilling by the marina, peacefully offering their thoughts on what it takes and what it means to be happy. We’ve included a few highlights below.

The wise men talketh. L-R: Meeks, Parvis, Johnson, Yoshino

Staying Creative, No Matter What

"Something can always be made. No matter what ingredients you currently have, there's still a dish to be made out of that,” says Meeks, reflecting on his family’s southern roots. “[It’s] the whole concept of gumbo — literally using whatever you have, whether it's scraps or the best ingredients, but just making something out of it.”

The Apparently Not-So-Tricky Business of Mixing Personal and Professional

“All of us here, as entrepreneurs, we talk a lot about relationships and dating and how difficult that is because, you know, we’re always on the go. Sometimes, we work long hours,” says Johnson. “There’s a lot of freedom in what we do, but there’s also a lot of ‘I have to do these things because if I don’t do these things, nobody else is going to do them.’”

This quickly turns into a question for Parvis about starting Fresh Clean Tees with wife Melissa — but Parvis is ready. [It turns out the Parvises get this question a lot.]

“You’ve got to throw some pro tips,” Johnson says with a laugh.

“The reality of it is that we have been a team, really, since day one,” says Parvis. “We formed a very close bond really, really early on when we were dating and it was clear to me that Melissa was my partner in life.”

“Interesting,” Johnson notes, as Meeks and Yoshino nod.

“We’re a team outside of our business and that translates to us being a team within the business,” continues Parvis. “I think that very rarely do people see us have friction within the work environment and it’s because we don’t have a lot of friction outside of the work environment.”

How to Work From Home (Without Losing Your Mind)

Parvis: “I’ve worked from home, really, for the last 15 years, so that concept of having a workplace within your home, I think, has been more comfortable to me than it is for a lot of people. I’ve talked to a lot of people, like, ‘How do you structure this?’ And I think the key, as I’ve always had, is don't have your workplace be in your play place.”

Johnson: “Creating your space is so undervalued, because you make a space where you feel empowered and it’s kind of easy on you; it’s really easy to navigate through these batches of bad days and bad thoughts. To your point, it’s like, why would you want to work in the area of where you’re supposed to rest? Because you’re tricking your brain into always staying on.”

Yoshino: “There’s certain things that I personally like to do on a daily basis to allow me to get into that certain state of flow and then also breaking work in different chunks during the day. But, also, like what you were saying, it’s about staying flexible too.”

The Inevitable Hardships and Unexpected Opportunities of 2020

Meeks: "[2020] really accelerated a lot of the plans that I wanted to do because I kind of saw it as an opportunity that the rest of society was on pause, so I can do the inner-work. I can work on my writing projects. I can work on filmmaking things as well as photography. I felt like I just got more time.”

Yoshino: "Living can kind of be like attrition, you know? Like, a battle of attrition, right? So I think the more that you work on yourself and the more that you’re honest with yourself and the more emotionally intelligent you become and the more empathetic you become in the process, then you can just allow these moments to kind of wash over you but also have your grieving period as well.”

Parvis: “You have to really keep an open mind and understand [how to] roll with the punches. I don’t think [2020] is going to be a blip on the radar for me or for a lot of people. I think we’re going to look back at 2020 as a shift. Overall, our culture is going to shift, based off of what has happened this year, and I think that now we’re just seeing the start of that throughout, not only through our business but through our personal lives and, really, through the world around us.”

New Year, New You

Yoshino: "Just show up every day and get 1% better at some specific thing. So, for instance, with boxing, I teach my students to get 1% better at the jab or 1% better at throwing that cross, or those sort of things, but that can also be put into many other things regarding life.”

Meeks: “Embrace all of yourself. If you want to wear some colors, wear colors. If you want to wear all black, wear that. But definitely just wear what you feel most comfortable in. ‘Know thyself’ is a huge quote I kind of keep in the back of my mind.”

Parvis: “We take a very, very focused approach of ‘okay, we know who we are’ and we try to stay within those guide rails, so to speak. It’s okay to float outside of those guide rails, if you’re comfortable doing that, but also realizing that if you are trying to go down a specific path, whether it’s personally or professionally, know what you’re really, really good at and focus on it. And if you can stay focused, you’ll make such amazing leaps and bounds by just staying in your lane, and I think that’s a really, really nice way to move forward.”

Be Good, Get Better

Reflecting on the day’s discussion, one that quoted everything from African proverbs to Bill Murray, Johnson establishes the main takeaways on how to survive and thrive:

- Stay the course.

- Be able to adapt.

- Be open-minded.

- See things as opportunities.

- Communicate well.

- Go with the flow.

If you want to add “Stay fresh” to that list, our first roundtable — with host CJ Johnson welcoming content creator/influencer John Baptist, social media counselor Bret Hoffer, and hairstylist/model Graham Nation — can be found here.

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