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Sunday, 23 February 2014

GarconJon Meets: Rameet Chawla

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As with many of the people in my life, I met Rameet Chawla through social media. Having a quality beard means he had a vested interest in the 100 Beards project and it was only a matter of time before his great facial fuzz made it onto the blog. Once I pinned the man down from his global jet setting, it quickly become apparent that his story stretches far being the hirsute. He's the founder of Fueled, a New York based mobile app agency, and has been the architect of some of the most exciting apps this year. I couldn't resist but wrack the brain behind the technology and the superb styling.

Where did you grow up and where do you live now? I was born in New York, and consider it my home. I grew up between the Big Apple and Boca Raton after my parents retired for life in the sun! I moved back to New York for university and despite buying multiple one way tickets since, I always end up back in Manhattan. I’ve slowly accepted that this is my home.

How would you describe your job title? My title is Founder, but I like to think of my role as that of an architect. I’m behind the design, development, and vision of Fueled’s work, and architect captures this well.

What's your star sign? Capricorn.

How would you sum up your work in five words? Innovative. Intelligent. Mobile. Fluid. Polished.

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What music are you into at the moment? MDM, which stands for Melodic Dream Music. It’s music that you dream to, and tracks last for hours rather than minutes, it gets your hips moving instead of fists pumping.

When you were a child, what did you want to be when you grew up? It’s slightly embarrassing but I dreamt about being a stockbroker. I starting trading when I was 12 and was fascinated by the idea of buying small parts of a company and having them pay you back in dividends with capital appreciation. It’s a notion my grandmother put in my head the summer of ‘93, I was 10.

Do you remember your first forage into technology/design/digital? What was it? My parents had an old school Apple computer at the house when I was growing up. It was 1995, so applications were very rudimentary but I remember running simple games and coding basic websites in HTML.

When did you realise technology was truly your calling? When I graduated from college, I worked in finance, which is what I had wanted to do for years. Technology was a passion and finance was the obvious career path. But the finance culture was stifling, and when I found myself working on development projects on the side when I was supposed to be working, I realized that it was time to make my passion the focus of my career.

As I work mainly in fashion, I'm often drawn to what people wear. You've got incredible personal style - is this influenced at all by your profession? Working in tech gives you the flexibility to dress as you wish, and while many take that liberty to wear a t-shirt and jeans, I prefer to use it as an excuse to dress at times like gentleman from 1940s Vienna one day and then a modern Parisian designer the next. There aren’t too many industries that let you get away with carrying an antique bamboo cane or appreciate Victorian-era watch fobs, but for me it works. We’ve actually gotten a lot of new business by people noticing my style.


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Are there any menswear shops you particularly like? Carson Street Clothiers right now is my favorite. They’ve nailed everything. From the decor of the shop to the accessories to the coffee books. It’s a real menswear shop.

What brands do you normally wear? Brands are much less important to me than your average human being. I tend to fall for individual pieces rather than designers. I’m currently obsessing over a hat I just got by Borsalino. This past season I bought a ton of Sage de Cret and discovered Paul Harnden, Shoemakers. I also shop on eBay a lot for vintage accessories.

How is your unusual dress sense received in a work environment? My dress definitely contributes to clients perceiving me as creative. I think it can generate a certain trust, too. A client might see in my fashion choices what they want to see in their products - individuality, artistry and immaculacy.

You travel a lot - what's the most interesting place you've ever visited in the world? Tokyo. It’s truly a different world, and feels like being on another planet. I was very inspired by their local style and local gastronomy; and I don’t just mean the fancy cuisine, I even loved their food vending machines!

You come to London frequently, my current base. What do you think is unique about the city? Overall, men have a stronger appreciation for style in London. As much as I like to stand out from the crowd in New York, I would prefer if men were more aware of style here. If I could bottle up that awareness and taste and import it, I would!

You must know New York very well - I'd love to know some of your favourite places...
Favourite store: BDDW is a furniture store I love because it’s sharp while still maintaining a classic aesthetic. I can’t wait to furnish my next apartment and finally purchase something from there!
Favourite cafe: I don’t drink coffee, but I do enjoy a well balanced cocktail. My favorite spot for a drink right now is ZZ’s Clam Bar. I limit how often I go to keep it special.
Favourite gallery: While played out, I still have to give it to Morrison Hotel.
Favourite Neighbourhood: I’d rather tell you my favorite street. It’s Crosby St. I walk up it every day when I walk to work in the summer. My favorite lunch spot is just off of it (Smile To Go). It’s just a simple brick road in a paved town, and while it’s in the center of Soho, somehow only the locals walk on it!

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What’s an average day at the office for Rameet Chawla? I have an unusual schedule - something I call 7-and-1. Over the years, I’ve learned how to make the most of my waking hours by dividing my day into three shifts segmented into 7 and 1 hour blocks. Abiding by this rule, I’ve optimized my time at the office by splitting my work schedule into two distinct shifts. I wake up at 11am and start my “heads up" shift, which spans from early afternoon to early evening when I meet with clients and field questions from the Fueled team. Then, after a short break for dinner and socializing, I’ll start my “heads down” shift, which is mostly comprised of email management and creative strategizing. I leave the office around 3:30 after spending a few hours by myself, undisturbed. Then I’ll shower, sleep, rinse and repeat. In total, these shifts combine to roughly twice that of the average worker. Fortunately, my work is my passion, rendering my rigorous agenda amicable.

What excites you in culture right now? Right now, I am obsessed by how obsessed people are with “Likes” and how much they let it affect their behavior online. I’m releasing an app called Lovematically on Valentine’s Day to address this directly! Keep your eyes peeled!

What’s the most challenging thing about your job? Getting through my inbox on a daily basis. I get just over 300 emails per day and I try not to go to sleep until all of them are dealt with!

What do you like most about your job? Travel and more specifically the people I get to meet while traveling. Recently, I was fortunate enough to go to Davos for the World Economic Forum. It was a fascinating crowd to say the least.

What's the next big technology on the horizon? Look out for devices and applications in the energy space. Right now, power is the one thing holding us back from being truly mobile. Innovation in this space will reshape and redefine how consumer electronics look and function.

I'm a huge fan of print publications which you may consider outdated in your line of work. Do you still read on paper? I respect print, but it’s very separate from my universe. I do however have one favorite: Bullett Magazine.

What's on the horizon for Mr. Chawla? Aesthetically, a longer beard (not sure when I’m going to stop) and longer hair. Geographically, more trips to London while I expand the business. Mentally, more clarity from practicing yoga and daily meditation.

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