Grey Goose Notable young professionals and entrepreneurs are influential tastemakers who have made it beyond their years and, though their careers are still evolving, are now able to enjoy the success they have created and the life they have created. These selected individuals share how they got to where they are today, how they are able to enjoy what they have earned, where they love to travel, how they entertain and how they celebrate all that life has to offer. Being exceptional means going above and beyond, and Hardip Manku is experienced in the unique, as reflected in his and co-owner Zoum’s Montreal-based company Plain Jane Homme, a finely tuned contemporary sportswear line designed for the modern gentlemen…with a twist.
In 2004, Canadian designers Hardip Manku and Zoum launched PLAIN JANE HOMME via a t-shirt line, which has now evolved into a full men’s ready to wear collection. With a creative focus that was shaped while Hardip was a senior at McGill University majoring in psychology, and partner Zoum was at Concordia studying economics, the two friends collaborated to create the concept that began their journey of dressing and designing for the “man in search of Jane.” Plain Jane was thus created as homage to the quintessential and untouchable girl next door. Call it the refined playboy look, with the philosophy of PLAIN JANE HOMME man being someone with a Casanova of a personality, with an innate charm that knows the essential nature of courting his lady luck and looking good while doing it. Think the ultimate GQ gentleman. The collection is a complete men’s lifestyle brand that is rich with detail and materials, once known for their graphic tees that now includes outerwear, knits and a selection of bottoms. PLAIN JANE HOMME has a worldwide presence and is carried in top stores such as TSUM, Harvey Nichols Hong Kong, Soho Soho, Atrium, Boys Co., Lisa Kline, and Big Drop +. This week’s Grey Goose Notable is PLAIN JANE HOMME co-owner Hardip Manku.
If there was one location everyone must see, what would it be?
I am a huge fan of Germany lately, and Berlin in particular – it is one of my favourite places to hang out. I love the energy, the arts scene, the history and the vibrant nightlife. I was introduced to the city through trade shows and am typically there twice a year. The young people are cool and driven and I have made many friends there.
What is your general perspective on life? Advice for fellow young professionals?
Not to sound cliché, but I am a firm believer in the Golden Rule, to treat others the way you would want to be treated. I try to be fair, respectful, play by the rules and practice good business. My advice to young professionals is to keep plugging away – nobody said it was easy, especially in today’s uncertain economy. As an entrepreneur, you have to expect that there will be ups and downs, but the downs should not be viewed as negative. The downs are essential in the learning process and to discover what you are capable of.
Who do you admire most?
I wouldn’t say that I admire one person in particular. The type of people I admire are those who are their own person and don’t follow the pack. The type of people who march to the beat of their own drum, take risks and don’t try to adhere to the status quo. This may be reflected in their style of dress, interests and career choice, all of which they are confident about and comfortable with.
Why were the early stages of your career worth what you are now able to enjoy?
It was just a brilliant learning experience, it is all a part of the creative entrepreneurial process. We both have learned an incredible amount over the years – in everything from human behaviour and the motives that drive it, what works and what doesn’t, and what we ultimately want for life and our business. We have learned who our true supporters and friends are and who has been more in it for themselves. We have learned from times where we should have, in retrospect, spent more or less time and money on certain initiatives and adjusted for the future. Because of our experiences, I have learned to do every aspect of my business, from design, to finances to the dirty work like packaging.
What makes the best host at a dinner party?
The best host is one who is comfortable and at ease, and not a “total stress case,” because that energy will rub off on guests. If problems arise, a good host should try to handle them with grace and ease. He or she should make sure that they are able to enjoy the meal and their guests as well, while keeping the guests engaged. Good hosts know their audience and think strategically in terms of inviting the right mix of people who will gel well and organizing seating to facilitate conversation.
What’s your favourite restaurant?
I’d have to say it is a tie between two here in Montreal. For lunch, I love Aux Vivres, which is the best vegan and vegetarian restaurant in Montreal, and that’s coming from a lifelong vegetarian. For dinner, there is a brand new place called Dolcetto and Co, which is owned by my friend Thomas. It is a little Italian-style pizzeria and wine bar that looks completely different than the typical restaurant and really feels like you are in Florence.
What’s your favourite drink?
Well, since I don’t drink alcohol, I would have to say pineapple and tonic.
One thing always in your fridge?
Two things: Diet Coke and Hot Sauce
Do you cook?
Yes, I try to cook as often as I can. What I cook depends on the company I am with, but I tend to cook a lot of Indian food, mostly drawing on recipes of my mother’s, who is an amazing cook. I also am big into Thai-fusion these days, with things like green curry and coconut soup.
How do you stay fit and healthy?
I eat healthy by virtue of being a vegetarian and I stay active by hitting the gym regularly. I am a certified spinning instructor and am starting to get back into it. I try to maintain a healthy mind by minimizing my stresses and simplifying my life.
What is your ideal Sunday?
An ideal Sunday is a sunny day where I can unwind with a long drive with my favourite music and the top down, all by myself. Otherwise, I may wander around alone, taking in the city…I deal with all kinds of people on a regular basis so sometimes it is nice to clear my head solo.