Emmett Shine is the Chief Creative Officer and Co-Founder of Pattern, a family of brands that work together to help people enjoy daily life. He co-founded Gin Lane, where he served as Executive Creative Director over its 11- year duration.
Gin Lane helped usher in a new wave of consumer-led, digital-first brands, helping to launch and grow Harry’s, SmileDirectClub, sweetgreen, Hims, Stadium Goods, Quip, Recess, Haus, Sunday Goods, and many more. Emmett is on the founding team of JAJA Tequila and an advisor to Care/Of, Sunday Goods, Swell Energy, Shhhowercap, and Recess.
Emmett grew up in Southampton, New York and attended NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts for Photography & Imaging, dropping out senior year to start his first business, LOLA New York, with his childhood friends. He still enjoys skateboarding, being in the ocean, making art, and hanging out with his tight-knit group of childhood friends, as well as his girlfriend, Sandra, and dog, Tommy Girl.
On the first hour of his day. I live with my girlfriend, who I’ve been living with for half a decade at this point, and we have a little pitbull-mutt rescue dog who’s 4. During the workweek, I set my alarm, but our dog sleeps at the foot of the bed so she just wakes us up like clockwork anyway every morning. It’s nice to have a natural alarm clock versus fumbling for your phone in an early morning haze. I make my bed every morning before going out. Then I’ll put on my Apple watch (with all notifications turned off), go walk the dog and grab a matcha, which is less intense than the caffeine in coffee.
When I get back, Sandra sometimes makes a light breakfast and we can spend some time together before work. Then I’ll shower, collect my thoughts, and get into a nice routine. As I’m heading to the office, I’ll finally check what the day holds via Slack, Gmail, and texts from friends and family before going into work mode. At work, the team knows I don’t really check Slack or Gmail after hours, but I’m always available via text. I find texts are more familial and a happier place to hang out then getting deep into emails or work messages. So, when out of the office, I try to mostly communicate over texts.
On prioritizing health. I walk every day in Seward Park (the oldest permanent, municipally built playground in the U.S.) near our office in Chinatown. I love being outside, and on a meta-level, is aligned with Pattern’s 10 Steps for daily enjoyment. I need to spend time outside, walking and moving. Like probably most of us, I work in an office. I try not to compromise on walking every day. Friends in the neighborhood joke that they’ll see me pacing around in circles in the park - whether there’s rain, sleet, or snow.
By no means am I a Luddite though, and I really do like my Apple Watch in that it encourages me to get up and move. I love the activity and health monitoring of the watch. I try to be inwardly motivated to stay active because it’s easy to feel lethargic after a bunch of meetings during the day. Walking around NYC is the one thing I always try to make time for. I’m not always able to work out or go for a run every day, especially after two knee injuries - but without fail, I walk a ton. I find it helpful for my mind and body. When I have the time, I also love surfing, basketball, and skateboarding (all activities that NYC is great for).
I'm ‘hydration nation’ all the way and always drinking as much water as possible. I also haven’t eaten meat for the past few years, but I’ll eat fish near my home in Long Island if it's caught locally. Other than that, I’m mostly eating veggies. If you’re active, moving your body, eating healthy, and drinking water, you’re doing great.
On turning 30. When I started Gin Lane a decade ago, I didn't know what it meant to be part of an agency. I was doing freelance design on my own and had talented friends around me, but a friend of mine pushed me to explore the agency world. When we started, he gave me an important piece of advice. He told me, “You’ve got something here, but remember to think in terms of chapters. By the time you’re 35, you’ll be pretty burnt out.” Now I’m 35 and have always kept that in the back of my head.
When I turned 30 I decided to change my life and really focus on my career. That year was really hard for me and I put too much on my plate because I was overly ambitious. I told myself it was time to focus on growing the company and taking on new challenges. I bit off a bit more than I could chew and soon I was well on my way to burnout. Prior to that point, I could use brute force to get through any challenge. That year was filled with a lot of reflection and was the catalyst for changing the model at Gin Lane.
Without a better balance, I realized I couldn’t be as ambitious as I am about going deep into the most competitive areas of creative services with venture-backed, incredible entrepreneurs. While running my own business, I was the point person for everyone, working 7 days a week and knew it wasn’t sustainable long-term. That’s when I asked the universe for help, and when my business partner Nick Ling came on board.
On the transition from Gin Lane to Pattern. The inspiration to start Pattern really was organic. We weren’t sitting in a boardroom writing up the most effective business to architect and raise money. The main catalyst for starting Pattern was ourselves. As a small, independent agency led by young adults transitioning into the next phase of their lives, we began realizing we were feeling burnt out a bit too much. We wanted to play a role in shifting not only our habits but our generation in general. That’s where our focus on ‘enjoy daily life’ came into play. We also wanted to keep our incredible team together, and that was another important driving force for changing our business model.
To use a basketball analogy, when KD, Harden, and Westbrook were all on the Thunder, there was something so bittersweet about it because you knew it wasn’t going to last. Looking at Billy Bean’s Moneyball approach, small-market teams with smaller budgets work really hard to create a culture and bring up great talent, but then all of a sudden those talents perform super well and there’s not enough room to hold the superstars together. That’s something that we were feeling at Gin Lane, and we didn’t want to happen.
We have a world-class team that organically came together, and we asked ourselves, “How do we stick together and do the best work of our careers?” We’re good at building brands, creating content, producing digital experiences, and putting together marketing campaigns. At the core, we wanted to keep doing that and not just reinvent ourselves at this point in our careers. Pattern was the opportunity to focus on something we are passionate about, and to provide the runway for us to all grow professionally, and continue working together.
On communal activities. To have great ideas you can’t force them and sit in a room, sketching out a new model on paper. Great ideas happen in the shower or when you’re going for a walk. At Pattern, it happened when we were just catching up after going through some pretty intense launches. Launching startups can be tough and, at an agency, they tend to cluster around a single timeframe.
Internally, our team was talking about cooking a lot and using physical activities to combat the stress and pressure of our work. How you combat your stress isn’t typically a big part of the narrative in the creative industry.
We coalesced around daily activities that we enjoyed and the next thing you know we were sharing tips via text and photo threads. It led to this notion that it’s okay to be ‘mediocre’ and not feel the need to have to excel to show off. When we shared photos of our kitchens with each other, they didn’t look anything like sponsored posts on Instagram, and that’s okay.
Then you start to not feel as vulnerable, but comfortable. Organically, this notion worked for us. We felt better, we didn’t feel alone, and all of a sudden we had 25 people on a photostream and group message threads sharing our daily activities. That’s why our first brand, Equal Parts, is in the cooking space and offers products as well as personal guidance.
On Pattern’s mind-body connection. When we realized we were onto something, we knew that we couldn’t just give people products and that the guidance, community, and support group aspects were critical. The breakthrough for Pattern was centered around these daily activities that you can do at home where your hands and mind are engaged as one.
We wanted to provide compelling alternatives to the default post-work experience being a routine of sitting on the couch, watching TV, and ordering food. It’s all about the simple things you can do on a daily basis at home, that ultimately are more rewarding.
On burnout and vulnerability. We’ve been careful at Pattern that we’re not out of touch or unrealistic. I still struggle with checking my phone during the day, sometimes I’m not as active as I’d like, and many days I come home and want to sit on the couch after work and order take out. That doesn’t mean I’m a bad person, but I just have to seek out more balance so it doesn’t become the default. Our generation has to be aware of the importance of that balance.
What you don’t often hear in the press is that “I didn’t have the answers.” “I had no clue.” “I just didn’t know what to do.” I’m not scared of vulnerability and saying I don’t know what to do, or I want to change. If you put that energy and vulnerability out into the universe, people will help you. That’s what’s so powerful about community building - finding support through the honest and shared empathy of others.
I'm 35, founding Pattern, and have been through so many ups and downs. I don’t buy into the Superman trope that working 80 hours a week without any hobbies will bring you joy. There are bigger macro issues that have made it challenging for young adults to fend for themselves. I’m excited to raise awareness and be a part of the solution within our area of consumer goods and culture.
At a base level, Pattern’s mission is to help people take a step back and be aware of the world that they’re navigating through. I’m proud of Give One, the non-profit arm we’ve set up to donate 1% of all our brands' annual revenue to local neighborhood causes, as well.
On his nightly routine. I try to wean myself off the screen as much as possible and get between 7 and 8 hours of sleep per night. We all know the blue light in screens suppresses melatonin and makes it harder to sleep, yet we still stare at our screens before bed. You have to try to wind down and find alternatives to being glued to your phone or watching TV because it’s difficult to turn off your brain.
I'll typically walk my dog in the evening and try not to eat too late, but I’m definitely a night owl like both of my parents. My mom still paints until 3 or 4 in the morning, so I’m definitely my mother’s son in that regard. It’s not always easy for me to fall asleep because my mind is racing from things throughout the day, but I’ve found that reading books and listening to podcasts are two things that create a buffer zone between sleep and work. When I’m reading before bed, I’ll often highlight paragraphs with a pen and listen to podcasts outside of my industry to give myself a mental break.
— Emmett Shine, Co-Founder & Chief Creative Officer at Pattern