What a great addition to Uptown Kingston. How did this all come about and can you tell us what inspired you two to start your own retail business?
ANDREW: I have wanted to own my own business since I was 17. I started working for a local farm and greenhouse and eventually spent the last 15 years of my professional career working for the GAP and DKNY. I have loved Ulster County since my first visit in the summer of 2010 and knew I wanted to make it my home. This store seemed like a natural choice based on our experiences, the community and the potential to grow both of those things together.
Hamilton and Adams is very a catchy name, how did the name come about?
CLARK: It’s our middle names! I’m Clark Hamilton and he is Andrew Adam. We wanted something authentic that could be easily perceived as a Men’s Store, but not limiting. It was a quick decision.
Can you tell us about how you came up with the logo and if either of you can claim the design for it?
CLARK: The tagline for Hamilton & Adams is Stay Curious, and by that we want to encourage people to engage and explore the world around them. The logo was designed with this thematic in mind as the binoculars are symbolic of looking forward and exploring new horizons. We are both history buffs so the name is relevant to notable historic figures, but it really ties back to us as our real middle names.
What drew you to Kingston? What’s the concept behind the store?
ANDREW: Kingston is the heart of Ulster County and ultimately we believe it to be the heart of the Hudson Valley. There was no doubt that the Stockade was the right place for us to open. We’re just steps away from the Senate House (c.1676), amazing restaurants and bars within walking distance. It’s overall an incredibly historical location. There is a renaissance starting to take hold in Kingston. Everything from the Stockade Works movie production studio to the Kingston Stockade Soccer Club, people are doing fun and unique things in Kingston. We want to add to this momentum and be a part of this vibrant community.
Who’s your customer?
ANDREW: We are a men’s shop, but want everyone to come in and see what we have selected to offer. There are many brands, creators and artisans who we have selected to sit along with our apparel assortment. We believe that we can be a destination for men as well as anyone who needs to buy something for the man in their life.
You both come from interesting backgrounds. Can you tell us about where you’re both from?
ANDREW: I grew up outside of Buffalo, NY and went to Alfred for a degree in Horticulture. I then went to Cornell and got my next degree in Marketing. These two areas are really my passion and I believe this first step will allow me to continue leveraging them. Clark is a 5th generation Californian who’s been in New York since December 2000 – upon arriving on the East Coast he’s been on a mission to explore as much of the land as possible and his career in media and marketing have taken him all over the world. We both have a very curious spirit always taking on new challenges and adventures which in turn has inspired our new endeavour.
Andrew, you come with quite the retail experience, did you ever see yourself owning your own retail store?
ANDREW: Always. I love product and I love people. I often feel like I can talk to anyone about anything. I’m naturally a connector and love the energy from trying to meet people and fulfill their shopping desires. We are both curious about the environment which we live in and experience and want to encourage others to be as well.
Your store is well designed and very authentic. How did you personalize the store to make it your own?
CLARK: Every inch of the store speaks to our style and spirit. We were aligned on the creative direction from the start. We worked hard to make the store emblematic of who we are – casual yet interesting bringing in lots of historical moments for our customers to explore.
How does your store align with the Upstate lifestyle and to Kingston? Do you carry any local products from the Hudson Valley?
ANDREW: We will continuously adapt the store based on customer feedback. We really want to be a resource for multiple demographics. The shop must be relevant for immediate local residents, weekenders and seasonal vacationers. We hope to have offerings that speak to each group, bringing them back over and over again. And yes we’re very focused on local products. We’re continuing to meet local artisans and craftsmen making everything from leather goods to natural skin care lines. We actually encourage your readers to reach out and let us know if they have a unique product offering that works for men – we’re all ears.
What’s something people might be surprised to learn about you or your business?
ANDREW: We’ve been dreaming about starting our own business for years, but no real activity. Then one day in early December a friend mentioned a vacant storefront on John Street. We looked at the space, which was the former DNC of Ulster County offices, and we took it…no business plan, no branding, nothing. From that moment we had 3 months to build everything…and we made it and now we’re super excited to be part of the Kingston Uptown business community. We look forward to doing great things for our customers and the Upstate community.
Can we look to your store for any new Spring 2017 trends?
ANDREW: Spring for us, and most of menswear right now, is about mixing comfort and the ability for pieces to serve multiple functions. Most of our items can be worn daytime/evening and workday to weekend. We have focused on styles and brands that we ourselves wear and that we feel will resonate with anyone coming in. We’re really trying to support smaller independent brands as well as American and locally made and owned brands.
Any advice for inspiring entrepreneurs?
CLARK: You just need to start. We had a dream, but needed a push to get the ball rolling. So I would suggest focus on your dream, don’t be afraid, and just do it! And don’t forget to ask for help- you’d be surprised how willing your friends and networks are, and how they can contribute in ways you would never imagine!
Finally- are there any plans to relocate full time upstate?
ANDREW: We are hoping to be able to invert our relationship between the 2 areas so we can spend the majority of our time in Kingston and then in NYC as needed. Stay tuned.
This interview originally appeared on Kingston Weekender.