Marketing maestro. Hair model. “Necker” proponent. We work from home with the Beacon and Metsa co-founder in Toronto.
“My advice is to start the morning sweet. Who knows how the rest of the day is going to go.”
Steve Tam answers the door and the first thing we notice is his t-shirt: ‘NO MAS NYC’, which is ironic because we’re from New York, but happen to be standing on Steve’s porch in Toronto. Before we can sit down, Steve’s phone rings, and he apologizes. He shakes his head and hangs up. “That’s how my morning begins a lot,” he smiles. “With people complaining.”
Steve is relaxed like a lot of folks from Toronto are relaxed. And friendly in the way a lot of folks from Canada are friendly. And has really nice taste – as evidenced by the home he bought and renovated several years back with his roommate, Jeff. “He’s still upstairs asleep – fuck his morning routine.” Steve laughs as he shows us around. Over the past several years Steve, 28, and his business partner, Marcus, have started and developed brands – a bike light startup, Beacon, that has given way to a bicycle project called Simcoe, and their line of overdyed shirting and accessories, Metsa. Steve’s independent spirit was kicking when he graduated from University, so instead of jumping into a 9-5, he headed out to Whistler, where he skied, surfed, and chatted up entrepreneurs on the chairlift for three years. “I’d ask them ‘how do you actually make money in your job?” By the time he came back to Toronto, he was driven to find a way to work for himself.
Steve’s morning usually starts by rolling over and grabbing his laptop. “I’ve been trying to implement some kind of routine. My girlfriend Elizabeth will be downstairs, coffee made, smoothie on the counter, and I’ll still be in bed returning emails.” The light pours into his room – he installed thin blinds so he has no excuse to sleep in. “I have a friend who works from home,” he says. “But wants to feel like he’s heading into an office. So, he gets up, does his routine and walks around the block once. Then he walks back into his house and sits down at his desk. Amazing, right?”
Steve showers, gets dressed and flips some some Davines Medium Hold Paste through his hair. He tells us, “I was at a party and a hairstylist approached me and asked me to be a hair model. It sounds ridiculous, but I go in when the stylists have workshops and they cut my hair however they want and give me products and stuff.” He shrugs.
He knots up a bandana around his neck – as he does every day. “I have a weird reputation for wearing ‘neckers.’ It started when I was a young guy. I was obsessed with a Japanese brand called R by 45rpm, and all I could afford at the time were the handkerchiefs, so I started putting them to use.”
“I have a friend who works from home, but wants to feel like he’s heading into an office. So, he gets up and walks around the block once. Then he walks back into his house and sits down at his desk.”
We head downstairs, where he makes tea. (“I’m wading slowly into coffee. I still can’t do drip.”) He packs his bag and we jump into his black Volkswagon. “This is always the most interesting part of the morning,” Steve says he tries repeatedly to rock the car out of six inches of snow and ice. We end up having to get out and push. Welcome to Canada. Steve drives us to visit his friends at Lost & Found, just off of Queen West, where he orders a London Fog: Earl Grey tea, steamed milk and vanilla sugar. He takes a sip. “My advice is to start the morning sweet, man. Who knows how the rest of the day is going to go.”