Social Luminary Patrick Janelle on Instagram, Cocktail Culture and Co-Founding His Coveted Creative’s Club

Walking into Patrick Janelle’s SoHo apartment is like entering a behind-the-scenes montage of what’s portrayed in his Instagram newsfeed—tasteful posters gifted from friends, refined souvenirs such as the apothecaries from his time living in Germany, and a monotone palette accented with pops of coral and navy—and this is exactly the image that the creative strives for. “I feel like so much of the work that I do, on the surface, is just making things pretty,” he says. “But to me, it’s so important to have substance to things that I find, document and amplify.”

A man of many labels, Janelle humbly describes his work as an entrepreneur, co-founder of Spring Street Social Club, The Liquor Cabinet and of course his enticing presence on Instagram as, “different facets of a similar story.” This story is one that formulated with Janelle’s move to New York City in 2012. An unbelievable snowball effect of happenings that resulted in three individual products under one brand; A Guy Named Patrick. Having moved to the city with a freelance background in graphic design, Janelle accepted his first full-time position in the art department at Bon Appétit, while he focused on a variety of side projects—the first being his presence on Instagram.

“That first year of Instagram was also my first year in New York, so I was meeting people on the platform and finding my visual voice to showcase to a larger audience, while also growing an audience,” says Janelle who remembers following a repetitive morning pattern that consisted of: gym, Instagram-ing at his favorite coffee shop, and more than occasionally meeting up with like-minded creatives from the platform. This routine allowed Janelle to meet his now business partner, Amy, when their mutually favorite bartender invited them both to her birthday party.

As we stroll to one of his new favorite coffee shops, West~bourne, Janelle shares how the now business partners organically clicked and how he eagerly offered his performance background to help Amy produce a cabaret she’d been working on. Although he pauses multiple times for brief conversation with passersby–explaining it’s a part of living on a small block–I can’t help but attribute it to his personality as his genuine passion for people shines through his smile, and it becomes no wonder that Janelle not only offered to help Amy plan the cabaret, but also to host it–in his backyard on Spring Street. “That was the beginning of Spring Street Social Society, even though we didn’t know what it would become, or that it would be more than just one night,” reflects Janelle.

Within a year, this one-off cabaret evolved into performances and dining experiences with artists and creatives who shared Amy and Patrick’s collaborative vision. This was when Janelle realized he could no longer consider the events as a part-time project, therefore, he left Bon Appétit to officially establish Spring Street Social Society. With an Instagram presence, and the Society progressing, Janelle’s long-term, “slow burning” project of The Liquor Cabinet was also integrated into his brand, as he began developing the app with his two brothers.

Five years later and Janelle has created a name for himself across all three spaces, seamlessly bridging the cultural and entrepreneurial identities of New York, to bring city dwellers a sense of community, all while sharing his eclectic visions along the way. We sat down with Janelle on the day of Spring Street’s initiation to learn more about what this ritual entails, while also revisiting the past five years of hustle to learn more about what it means to be @aguynamedpatrick.

 

Tell me about your life prior to settling and establishing yourself in NYC. Did you have a dream job or foreseeable path as a child?

I moved to NY just before my 30th birthday. So, I had a whole decade of 20s under my belt before I got to the city. I studied graphic design in school, moved to LA, then subsequently moved to Germany—and this whole time I was more interested in developing my understanding of the world, and culture, and different places—while graphic design was the thing that allowed me to sustain that. So, I didn’t necessarily have a dream.

But when I moved to Germany, I was pursuing love so that became something that was a priority for me at that time. I broke up with my ex and then I moved to NYC. The one idea that I had in my mind when I moved to NYC was the idea for The Liqour Cabinet but a couple months after I moved to New York, I got a job at Bon Appétit Magazine and I was working in the art department. Working at Bon Appétit was really my foray into both New York cultural life and professional life… And then it kind of transpired from there.

What was the transition like in going from editorial to developing your own ventures?

The first year was so uncertain. I had no money. I had a following on Instagram and I was traveling the world but totally broke. I was figuring out how to continue building my visibility and starting to work with brands, and also still wanting to make Spring Street work. It was really tough but I’m really fortunate now and what I have created in business partners and we’re all making something—and we’re really moving steadily along and creating business opportunities. While it was daunting, and sometimes scary, and not easy, it was really kind of a magical time.

 Would you consider the move a giant leap for you?

Yeah, it was a giant leap but I’ve lived my life in giant leaps. Going to school in Florida, moving to school in LA, moving abroad to Germany, picking up and going to New York—never having a real, full-time, stable job, always working from project to project. So, I’m used to that kind of culture of taking leaps.

We caught you on a day as you prepared for the initiation event of the Spring Street Social Society’s newest members, what’s one thing you always look forward to when welcoming new members?

Every January we have a new crop of members who join and the best thing about it is that these are typically people who’ve been watching from a far—maybe they’ve attended an event before, maybe not, maybe they’ve seen activities happening through social media, whether it’s Spring Street’s Instagram or mine—and this is the first time that they are really a part of the thing that they’ve been watching. It’s so humbling to know that there are people who are investing their time, and energy, and money into being a part of something that I, and my team, created.

It’s really seeing people being so eager and excited—it’s really, really rewarding. And it’s less about something individual and specific but it’s about the collective energy and the collective diversity of the group of people who are attracted to what we do.

What can one expect at a Spring Street Initiation?

So, it’s the first time that we meet new members, they meet each other, also our continuing members are invited as well. We love the duplicity between the words that we use to describe things and also the actual feeling of what we create—the tangible, real life feeling–because, initiation can sound really scary or daunting or dark even. But for us, it’s fun to play on those ideas of our past expectations of what being a part of a “thing” is all about and then really flipping it on its head and just making it the most lovely, fun event.

Your latest project is The Liquor Cabinet. What can you tell us about it?

My goal has always been to create a real, inspirational and educational place, specifically for liquor. So often we are talking about doing shots late at night or just having a fun cocktail; and there are certainly a place and a time for doing those sort of things. But, I grew up not drinking, in a very conservative household where drinking was looked down upon. So, when I made the transition into drinking, it was not about rebelling against that—it was how can I participate in this in a way that is really honest and genuine?

For me, it’s understanding the ingredients of a cocktail, and where did those ingredients come from? What are the stories of the people who are distilling spirits around the world? What are the stories of the history of these certain types of liquor and liqueur and how people have had them in their culture? And then maybe how we have reappropriated things into our new cocktail culture. Our app–The Liqr Cabinet with 101 classic cocktail recipes–is really just a place for telling those stories.

 

 

Is there a particular story or alcohol that resonates with you more than the others?

I’m really interested in the stories told by tequila and mezcal. For the longest time, we’ve known about tequila, and it’s only in the last 10 years or less, that people started hearing about mezcal. Now, it is really growing in the U.S. market, but there are also other types of agave-based spirits that are being made, that we don’t even know. The story being told about these spirits is so much about the local and often indigenous people—farmers who just have a whole ecosystem to create this stuff–and it’s only a small percentage of that which makes it to the U.S. but so much of it is about how it’s being consumed by locals.

I’m also particularly interested in the way that alcohol is a means to understand politics and culture. I read a book called “And A Bottle of Rum” and it basically traces the history of Europe conquering the New World and of the slave trade, and of the political relationship between England and the United States—all told through how rum was produced and distributed and consumed. I think that those kinds of things are really interesting.

With a background in marketing, graphic design and as a content creator, how would you describe your style? (from foodie flatlays to your interior decor)

I’m sort of eclectic in my style. I definitely gravitate toward things that I have some strong, visceral connection to but I’m hesitant to stick to one style—whether it’s home furnishings or the types of things that I wear–I love change and contrast and a mix. Everything in my apartment goes really well together, but so much of it is just things I’ve collected on my travels. 

I think it’s easy for me to say I collect things, but I still have a very strong sense of understanding how everything that I bring into my world is going to fit together. I have a very quick, internal way of framing the context of something, so I can easily tell you if I like something or not because of how it relates to other things that I like–or why I don’t like something because it feels like it fits within a world that I don’t connect with. 

With travel and social obligations at the forefront of your work duties, how do you stay grounded?

I try to make time for physical activity because that’s always been a way for me to take a moment, outside of everything else going on, and focus on existing. I guess it’s like my form of meditation. I’m terrible at working out on my own, or going for a run on my own—I love being around people, so a class setting is really great for me.

Also, this may sound really pretentious, but honestly, my favorite thing to do is go sit at the bar at a restaurant and have a drink and eat some food and read a copy of The New Yorker. It’s honestly the only time where I feel so uplifted by the thoughts of other people. Ultimately, my continued education of myself, whether that’s just traveling, or reading a copy of The New Yorker, or buying a new object—all of those things help contribute to help making the work that I do actually more authentic than knowing how to make something pretty—because it means the things that I’m documenting are just as important as how I’m portraying them.

 

 

Throughout your personal and professional paths, what is one of the greatest lessons you’ve learned? Or the greatest piece of advice you’ve been given?

For me, personal life and professional life are so similar. I don’t know if I have advice that somebody gave me, but I’m constantly learning lessons on my own and from the people that I’m interacting with on a daily basis. Whether it’s my romantic partner or my business partner, and so often those lessons are very similar—it’s about communicating well, which I’m still working on.

I’m a pretty firm believer in the fact that there’s not an objective truth. You have to understand that each person has nuanced ways of seeing things that are going to conflict with the way that you’re seeing things. And ultimately, giving other people room to be right–even if you don’t think they appear to be right from your own perspective–I think is one of the most important things that any of us can use to help us get along in this world—honestly, whether it’s someone very close to you or a stranger on the street.

 


Photos by Amanda Villarosa

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