Sophie & Matt
Photography by Jacob Pritchard
Interviewed right before Beau was brought into the world at their cozy home in Boerum Hill, Brooklyn. Sophie Green teaches Art Therapy and yoga. Matt Kliegman is a restaurateur for spots including The Jane, The Smile, and Blackseed bagels in New York, OTL in Miami, and a new spot di Alba in Los Angeles.
MATT: We were introduced by a friend staying with me from Toronto. When he left he texted me and said, "I totally forgot to mention this, but there's this girl from Toronto who used to date a guy I know. But they're not together and she lives in New York. And she has great bone structure." I happened to be sitting with a friend of mine, who coincidentally grew up in Toronto so I had shown him the phone and was like "Do you know this person?" And he's like "Sophie? Of course I know Sophie. She's best friends with my cousin Sam." And he said "I'm gonna talk to Sam." That was on a Monday or Tuesday. And we were introduced at The Jane on Friday.
SOPHIE: Sam texted me "I've got the perfect guy for you." I was like, "Okay, what's his name? Should I call him?" She was like, "No, no, we'll figure it out."
MATT: We might not be here if you called me.
SOPHIE: So Sam was like, "Do you want to go to the Jane tonight?" I was like, "Obviously." But she knew that Matt would be there. In her mind she was setting us up. I went to the bar, and Matt was behind the bar getting me a drink. I was thinking who is this guy behind the bar, what is he doing? Then we ended up talking the whole night, and ended up making out a little bit. I was really not in boyfriend mode. I was so excited to be single but I did think something's a little different about this guy. He was really interesting. The next night was funny because my parents came to town.
MATT: There were a few things that happened the next day that were kind of interesting. One, my parents anniversary was happening, and I had put them up in a hotel as a present. So that they could come to New York and go to dinner and stay in a hotel. I get a phone call from my dad at noon, he was like, "I just got to the hotel your mom's not gonna like this place." I was like, "What do you mean? I sent you the link to website." He's like "It's old in here. Your mom's not gonna like it." I was like, "Okay, relax. I'll get you a room some place else." But I couldn't cancel the room. So now I have a hotel room. Sophie's parents happened to be in town and-
SOPHIE: My sister and I kept going to The Jane and my parents were like, "What is this Jane place? Maybe we should check it out after dinner." I was like, "You guys can come see it, you'd love it." They love to dance. So I texted Matt 'this might be a little weird, and soon, but do you think you could get my parents into The Jane tonight?' He said sure. So we all went to The Jane.
MATT: It's this night where I meet her parents. The second night of knowing one another. And I had this hotel room.
SOPHIE: He was like, "This might sound strange, but I have a hotel room tonight, if you want to come." I was like, "Do you do this every time?" We went and the fire was on. It was very romantic.
MATT: And we've been together ever since.
I was really not in boyfriend mode. I was so excited to be single but I did think something's a little different about this guy.
TWP: Did you two talk about marriage?
MATT: We were together for I think three and a half years, maybe four years before we got engaged.
SOPHIE: We never talked about getting engaged. We talked about spending our life together and 'when we get married.' The proposal definitely came as a big surprise, not because I didn't think we'd get married but because of the timing I had no idea when it would happen, but that was nice. A really big surprise.
MATT: We had been renting a house upstate for three years and so we were moving in there and I had been looking for rings with my friend Sarah's help. When I found it was very obvious to me that this is the ring that I'm gonna buy. I didn't really have a plan for the engagement, I wanted to get a ring and figure it out. I wanted it to be a surprise. I didn't want it to be too obvious. I didn't want it to be like “we're going to Paris for the weekend, pack your bags.” So we rented this house and I had it in my head to propose our first night there. We rent this CC Rentals van, packed some stuff up. I had a couple things I really wanted, because in my head, these things would make it more special. I wanted to get these strings lights so that I could string them in the trees and and I wanted to get a picnic table and a couple of Adirondack chairs.
SOPHIE: We didn't have anything for inside. We had a mattress and we'd sleep on the floor.
MATT: So we were driving this CC Rentals van, and I had to do a little research because I didn't want to buy plastic or fake Adirondack chairs, I wanted nice wood chairs. In order to get them, for whatever reason Woodstock didn't have them, we had to drive 45 minutes past Woodstock, to some place that sells them. So we go, and sure enough we get this picnic table, and these two Adirondack chairs and we head to the house. We get to the house, we're pretty exhausted but I wanted to set up. I take the Adirondack chairs out, take the picnic table out. Sophie's parents knew that I was gonna propose, because I had called her dad.
SOPHIE: This is my first time at the house, I'm like "This place it amazing, but there is a giant six foot long, freshly shed snake skin, on-"
MATT: On the porch. It's this really magical piece of property with a waterfall, it's 35 acres. You drive on this crazy driveway up to the house. We finally get there and there's a giant snake skin, freshly shed.
SOPHIE: I texted my mom a photo, she's like, "How is it?" I said "It's beautiful up here but look what I just found." She's totally terrified of snakes and she says, "That's great, new beginnings." Something along those lines, it wasn't like a "Whoa, that's crazy scary," but fresh start, new beginnings. I was like, "Yeah, you're right." Thinking she meant renting this house, but she obviously meant our engagement and I had no idea.
MATT: Now, I couldn't get the lights in the tree because the trip to get the table and the Adirondack chairs was so far out of the way it's getting dark, and I had to get pretty high on a ladder so I laid them out onto the ground. It's dark and now don't even know where to go to eat. I didn't really have plans. We go to this one place, the only place close to the house.
SOPHIE: We had a really good dinner. The Red Onion.
MATT: It's a really charming place. We get to the end of the dinner and I'm starting to get a little nervous, obviously because it's night time, we're leaving, we're going back to the house, I'm going to propose, but I need to figure out a plan. I had brought a bottle of wine and I wanted to get dessert to go, but we had no cutlery at home. I ask the guy, the waiter, I'm like, "hey, this might seem ... can we have dessert to go?" He's like. "Sure." I'm like, "okay, great." We order a tiramisu, and we're like, "do you have any silverware?" He's like-
SOPHIE: "We can't give you silverware."
MATT: I'm stirring like "you don't have any of that plastic silverware? Can I borrow a couple spoons? I'll bring them back tomorrow." He's like "No." I figure I will get some the gas station or something. And he comes with the cheque, and I open up the cheque presenter and there's a spoon.
SOPHIE: It was really sweet. So we went back, we had dessert outside, we were drinking wine, and-
MATT: We were sitting in these two chairs right on the river, where the waterfall is, and that's when I proposed.
Sophie: Matt said "I've got a gift for you." And I was like, "What do you mean?" I thought it was for the house. I was like, "Oh, a gift for the house?" And then he pulled this ring. There were a little bit of tears. I was really in shock. I had no-
MATT: You were like "Is this for real?"
SOPHIE: Everything, where we were, it just felt so surreal. I was like this isn't hap ... this is actually happening now. We had never talked about it. I never talked about a ring that I wanted or anything. We just had never had that conversation. It was so nice. It was such a surprise.
MATT: Proposals happen in a billion different ways. We didn't have someone hiding in the woods taking photos, our families weren't popping out of somewhere, it was really just the two of us, together, in the middle of nowhere. And yeah, it was perfect I was so happy.
TWP: What is it like being together?
SOPHIE: Matt balances me out really well. We're similar in some ways, but so different in others. He is so even keeled and chill. Matt's energy is really relaxed, and I come off as relaxed, and I am, but inside I need someone to bring me back down.
MATT: Sophie's mom is French-Canadian, and so Sophie has a little bit of that DNA, where I have seen them both be a little wound up. But I think our relationship is just easy, being around each other is easy.
SOPHIE: In the beginning it was harder because part of Matt's work is running nightclubs. That was pretty hard for me, but once we got through that, I've found that was our only real tension, him having to be out all the time, and me just being not comfortable with it. My life's all waking up early and being a yoga teacher, and him the complete opposite felt off.
MATT: Even though I still wake up earlier than you.
TWP: haha, what is an average week for you guys?
MATT: Now that we've moved to Brooklyn I try to go out only on Thursday and Friday. We spend the entire weekend in Brooklyn and Saturday night we usually have friends over. I'll cook. Sophie will help me.
SOPHIE: He's a good cook.
MATT: Sophie does the dishes. On Sunday we literally do absolutely nothing.
SOPHIE: We just chill out.
MATT: On Sundays we do as little as possible. We walk, we take a nap, we lay on the couch. Sophie teaches yoga in the evenings during the week and so we'll usually have dinner in the city on Thursday, and then I'll go out, and she'll come back to Brooklyn.
SOPHIE: I'll finish teaching between six and seven-thirty depending on the night and we will head home together. Thursdays and Fridays we'll be in the city. Saturday and Sunday we're here. Weekdays Matt leaves around seven thirty - eight and is at The Smile most of the day.
TWP: Matt, how do I describe your work?
MATT: I own and or operate restaurants and nightclubs, and coffee shops, and bagel shops. We opened a little place in LA called Di Alba and we opened a little place in Miami, called OTL. Those are the newest ones, and then there's The Jane restaurant, and we're actually opening we're doing another nightclub on Chrystie Street in a hotel. We've got a couple more Smiles-to-go happening too.
On Sundays we do as little as possible. We walk, we take a nap, we lay on the couch.
MATT: I feel like we've traveled a fair amount together. We have gone on some amazing trips. We've seen a lot of beautiful places. We spend a good amount of time in Canada also.
SOPHIE: My family has a little cabin on a lake three hours North of Toronto and they spend the whole summer there. So we go for couple weeks and it’s amazing. It's simple and quiet and easy. That's how our relationship is, I feel like I have had friends go through difficult relationships. And of course relationships can be challenging that's all a part of it, but it should be so much easier than not.
TWP: Enjoy your time, most of the time.
SOPHIE: The difficult times are so important to have. They make you strong and help develop the relationship.
MATT: I'm always uncomfortable giving advice; I think we can only share what's worked for us and what I can say is that we're really supportive of one another and we trust one another.
SOPHIE: Honesty, trust and communication.
MATT: And it's important to carve out time to be alone with one another.
SOPHIE: We've found the right balance. I don't work as hard as Matt, he can be working 20 hours a day but I always feel the sense of him wanting to spend as much time as possible with me. It's the best feeling. Matt could be needing to be at work, or he could be on his computer, I mean his places don't close, but I know that he chooses to be home earlier, to be with me, always. You have to a balance between work and real life.
MATT: It's certainly not a stress-free life. I think the key is being supported and supportive as much as possible.
SOPHIE: We definitely go to each other when we're stressed and get, I think, what we need from each other.
I always feel the sense of him wanting to spend as much time as possible with me. It's the best feeling.
MATT: Sophie's birthday is August first and I was trying to figure out what to get her this last birthday. Jewelry, art, pottery classes, I was like, you know what, I know that we're thinking about having kids at some point so I'm gonna go to tenth street to that totally weird New-agey crystal store and I'm gonna buy some sort of fertility stone, just sort of put it out there. I go to the place and the guy didn't really know, he had to call somebody, and then he had to open a book. I thought these guys were like wizards, you know. He said "Well a fertility stone is a blood stone." So I said "well which one is the blood stone?" He shows me these rocks, and it looked like just a green rock.
SOPHIE: A big rock.
MATT: It wasn't even a crystal or quartz-like. Totally overpriced for what it looked like. I said "okay I'll take that one." It had a nice shape, this green rock. And so for Sophie's birthday I gave her this crystal. We put it on our fireplace mantel in our bedroom. We have since lent it to someone we know who wants to get pregnant because it works.
SOPHIE: We have a really good balance of life and work. My dad has always made family such a priority. I grew up going on many family vacations, so much family time, and time in the country. I feel like the last six years he has been a big influence on us. You can get so wrapped up in stuff in New York, with businesses and other stuff, and when you step away from it you see that there's so much else out here in life.
MATT: Stress can be so bad, there's no question about it. Stress, besides the fact that it can be completely debilitating, I am certain causes illness. I think it's just about figuring out how to minimize that. I think we do a good job helping each other minimize that.
SOPHIE: It's so easy to be contacted and feel pressure to respond. Matt is especially hands on and on-call all the time. But even just moving to Brooklyn has been such a nice change, being further away from his businesses. Both of us being together on weekends and not feeling the pressure to go into work.
MATT: It also helps having a wife that's a yoga teacher.
SOPHIE: We both have flexible jobs too, and so I think we're also very lucky that way. Not everyone gets to put their own schedule together. That also allows us to spend the time we want together, or not book things on some days. I think you can get so sucked into the work world in New York. It's so inspiring and you catch that energy and want to work as hard as possible. But then, and I am from Toronto, from Canada, which is a similar big city, I start remembering my dad at home every night, every dinner he was home, even though he had his business and his work he made family the top of his priorities list. You don't have to be so wrapped up in New York life or work life, there's so much more to life than that. We're both on the same page about that and really making each other a priority in the relationship and spending time with friends. Life stuff that makes you feel good.
MATT: I've always found New York is like a highway. You know, you merge onto the highway, and you gotta speed up to merge but once you do you don't have to drive super fast. But you can. I think we have found a way to be in the middle lane. We're not in the left lane speeding past people. I see people struggle with New York because they have a hard time finding their place, and merging. It's such a big city, so much stuff going on. You can feel weirdly lonely and isolated. Which is unusual when you think about that fact that it's such a huge city, and there's all this stuff going on. If you don't merge on properly, then you're heading off to the exit ramp.
You don't have to be so wrapped up in New York life or work life, there's so much more to life than that. We're both on the same page about that and really making each other a priority in the relationship and spending time with friends.