Nancy & Zach
Photography by Jacob Pritchard
Interviewed at their home in Brooklyn, Nancy and Zach are new parents to Maia. Nancy is a fashion account exec, now freelance, she has spent the last 10 years building brands like Rag & Bone and Isabel Marant. Zach is a VP Senior Music Producer at Townhouse/WPP, Co-owner of the 9yr old Twosyllable Records , the founder of 1m1w1d, a monthly event showcasing artists and musicians with an annual $10K artist grant program, and Co-founder of Likeminds, a creative conference happening for the 2nd time September 2017.
ZACH: One Month One Week One Day's first art show had a mix of well known and no-name artists. It came out really well and a lot of people showed up.The thing about throwing art shows is that when you put 10 pieces in a group exhibition, it opens your audience to 10 different groups of friends. Whereas, if you hire one or two bands for a show, which I've done a hundred times, it's only two groups of friends. (laughs)
After the success of the 1m1w1d art shows, I added an annual Short Film Festival every October, now in its 4th year. Each event raises money and at the end of the year, every sponsor who gave money becomes the panel of judges. They help choose one artist who gets $10,000 and then I produce the project.
The first year, our grant recipient made a body of virtual reality work for the elderly. We partnered with a senior center on the Upper West Side and made a little documentary about one of their residents that it impacted. This year's winner is installing something insane that hopefully you'll hear more about a little later this year.
This will only be 1m1w1d's second year co-hosting Likeminds. Last year we had 150 people staying in tents at an old summer camp, but this year we have a functioning summer camp with real cabins and bathrooms. It's going to be a step up for sure. The theme this year is "Growth". Speakers will be talking with one common goal, so it's not so scattered. I think people are going to appreciate that. We've identified four categories of growth: personal growth, community growth, business growth, and natural growth. Our very last speaker is from Google Creative Lab. Her speech is going to be about what Google does with a good idea. Hopefully people will walk away not only inspired and full of new connections, but also will go out and actually make some shit.
TWP: What is it like doing so many things and being a dad?
Zach: I have gotten to the point where I'm starting to have to make decisions in ways that I didn't have to before. Almost every one of my side hustles I've ever done has been fun stuff that I've worked on because it just seemed fun. Now, I recently set a new criteria: new projects outside work need to make money or I'm not going to do it. I'd rather be home with Maia! 1m1w1d is in its fifth year and I've never made a dollar. That's insane. It's a lot of work.
TWP: I wonder too, it's probably opened opportunities up for you.
ZACH: In some ways. 1m1w1d has definitely forged some relationships. What I'm hoping is that I'm able to monetize some of the things that I have been already doing, eliminate things that aren't money making, and create new opportunities, too. For example, the dude who did the VR project got written up in WIRED and after the article ran, all these people started reaching out like, "We want you to shoot our VR thing." I don't have much experience doing it, but I know I'm capable.
TWP: Let's get to the story of you and Nancy, how did you guys meet?
ZACH: Nancy and I met 12 years ago in college. I don't know the actual first time we met, but I know that we floated around each other for a while. We were in different social circles that went to the same parties. There was a big party at this house that some friends of ours lived at called EPCOT. Our friend Mike and I always DJ'd. It was a big costume party they threw a couple times a year. We probably met there.
NANCY: For the next two years we were dating other people. We moved to New York around the same time because a bunch of people from Bloomington migrated here together. All of our friends decided to get jobs and try to figure it out.
ZACH: I lived with three dudes in Bed Stuy and Nancy lived with a good friend of mine. That's when we really started to hang out more.
NANCY: I had a big crush on him. He had no idea who I was.
ZACH: That's not true! I thought you were cute. I just didn't know she was cool...yet!
NANCY: That year we went to this Halloween party and I was following him around all night and he was like, "Why are you following me? Why are you coming with me to the bathroom? Who are you?" At the end of the night he was like "Ohhhh, you like me!"
"We floated around each other for a while."
ZACH: I had also just broken up with my girlfriend, and Nancy was waiting for the right moment to break up with her boyfriend.
NANCY: I was just like, "Okay. Let's do this."
ZACH: These were the party years of our lives, so we were going out seven nights a week. Nancy would just take the train home with me and I'd be like, "I guess we're dating now?" A month or so into it I said, "Can I take you on a date? Can we go on a real date?" We went out for dinner and to a show at a spot which isn't even open anymore 'cause we're old and have lived in New York for so long.
NANCY: I took Zach, our friend Anna, and another friend, Benny, to Vermont that summer where my parents live just to hang out in nature 'cause we were so immersed in New York at that point. A couple weeks later I called my mom to tell her I had boyfriend and she's like, "Which one is it? Zach or Benny?" She knew that something was happening with one of them, but she just didn't know which one it was. That was 2007.
TWP: The advice is if you like a boy, just hang in there.
NANCY: Just pounce.
ZACH: Nancy put in the full effort.
NANCY: It was a lot of effort. It was like, "You will like me, I promise. Just get to know me."
ZACH: And I did after I got to know her.
Moving in together
ZACH: When we had been dating for a little while I asked my friend Anna, "How do you have the boyfriend girlfriend conversation?" The BFGF convo. She was like, "The best way to do it is to ask Nancy what she calls you to other people." It was the end of a work day and I called Nancy and I was like, "Hey. Where are we meeting for dinner?" We made plans and I was like, "Oh, by the way, what do you call me to other people? Just curious." She goes, "I call you 'my man,' why?" I reported back to Anna. I was like, "What does that mean? Does 'my man' mean that we're dating?"
NANCY: That's just my Denzel Washington way of calling you 'my man'.
ZACH: That was how I knew that we were dating. After a few months, in the way that only happens in New York, Nancy's lease was up and I asked her to move in. At this point I had lived for a year in a loft on Frost Street in East Williamsburg. It was a five bedroom, all dudes and their girlfriends. It was an old showroom for a skateboard company. There was a showroom in the front, three offices, and then the owner's office in the back, which was our room. It was a huge room. Then, there was a closet where we put somebody and a men and women's restroom. The women's restroom had been turned into a laundry room. We had the whole roof, too. We threw shows up there and had massive parties in the living room, which were super fun.
NANCY: It was $800 a month for the both of us. It was dirt cheap. We thought it was really hip at the time to have exposed brick in your apartment so we took the drywall off the wall. Literally knocked down the walls. We were sitting there in bed in the winter time with our ski hats and our robes on because we could feel the cold air.
ZACH: And slippers.
NANCY: And slippers! We could literally feel the cold air coming through the brick.
ZACH: It was also impossible to heat. We just didn't turn on the heat in the winter because it was so expensive. Even when literally 10 people lived there. Body heat and robes. And booze.
NANCY: Everyone was in robes all of the time.
ZACH: That said, Nancy moved in in August and by November she was like, "I can't do this anymore." We moved out. I found a replacement for my room and we moved a block away into this beautiful converted old school house, which was a major step up and we lived there for four years. That was the big decision.
NANCY: It was so nice to just have you as a roommate.
ZACH: It was a really major upgrade. I never got the chance to live alone in New York City, but living with Nancy is kind of like living alone because we don't get mad at each other about dirty apartments.
NANCY: My dishes are your dishes. But the cleaning is so communal at that point. I wouldn't be upset if I had to clean up after you, but I would if I did another roommate.
My dishes are also your dishes.
NANCY: I felt like we were pretty young to get together and our relationship strengthened really quickly. From an early point I knew he was 'it', but we got together when we were 22. In New York and the culture of our friends, it felt very early. It's that theory of, 'Why rush into it if you know it's permanent or why wait if you know it's permanent?' We were like, "How about if we get married after we're together for five years?" We set that as a goal so we would be 26.
ZACH: That felt like a no brainer. We talked about it a little, but not a lot. One summer, I was talking to my mom on the phone and I was like, "I think I'm going to ask Nancy to marry me." It just felt really natural. I think at every age you feel old. I felt old then not realizing that now, five years later, how young I really was at the time. I was already close with her parents, too. Asking them was hard, but felt natural.
NANCY: Our families had merged already. We already felt like a family. Getting married was kind of just a ceremony to solidify what we already knew about our relationship. That's kind of how we saw our marriage.
TWP: Were you surprised, Nancy?
NANCY: I was super surprised.
ZACH: We'd also been through some shit. I feel like in some ways you can fast track a relationship when you've seen the darkness. Pretty early in our relationship I lost my job and some shit went down in my family. Nancy was there in a way that no one else was. I feel like that one year was worth five years of our relationship. When our grandparents passed away, when other shit happens, you get to know someone well when they're going through rough stuff.
NANCY: I feel like if you've seen each other's true colors, maybe gone through something fucked up together, and have had to support one another, it's indicative of how your relationship might be and how you're going support each other.
"How about if we get married after we're together for five years?"
NANCY: There was a lot of travel that we wanted to get done before we had a baby. Our big hoorah, pre-baby trip was India. I had just always wanted to go and so we set that as a goal. We had this romantic idea that we were going to conceive in India, but of course nothing goes as planned. It took a couple months to get pregnant.
ZACH: Also, Nancy's parents are hard core travelers. I think that was so inspiring to me. They've been to everywhere in the world and it's incredible. So when Nancy and I had real jobs we were like, "Let's blow this money on travel." So we did and we went to a lot of cool places.
NANCY: I feel like early on in our relationship we decided, "Let's spend money on experiences."
ZACH: It sort of stuck. Yes, we'd like nice things and we want to have a comfortable apartment for sure, but I'll spend money on a trip to Morocco.
TWP: How has life changed since having a baby?
NANCY: I feel like I have a different confidence that I didn't have before. Just like now knowing the strength of my body and my mind because a lot happens to your body, for sure, but a lot happens to your mind in those first few weeks or months, too. You're just part of this new club. You can't believe there are so many other mothers out there, but it gives you a whole new purpose. People always said that to me before, and I was like, "Yeah, yeah, yeah, anyways ... What do you want to order for dinner?" But now I get it. I get that everything you do in life is now for her, but we make a really conscious effort not to have her change our life that much. I don't want to start buying a bunch of plastic. I go to Mommy and Me Yoga classes, but I still go to yoga classes and she just plays on the mat. We really don't want her to change how we travel. We're like, "Who's running the show here?" in a way. We run the show, and she's part of our family. We don't want her to change our family dynamic; she ends up part of the family. We're of the lazy parenting mindset.
ZACH: I think you could call it, 'laissez faire parenting'. It's a lot of work to be chill! Nancy and I have fever dreams five out of seven days a week about shitty things that could happen to Maia. We're stressed, but I think a part of it is that when she wakes up, we just hang.
NANCY: I also think, going back to our relationship, you have to be in a type of relationship that's based on support. The way that Zach supported me in the beginning allowed me to support Maia to, basically, survive. The dad's role is really important. A healthy dad, is a healthy mom, is a healthy baby, is a healthy dad, is a healthy mom... it's circular. In those first few weeks when I wasn't getting any sleep because I had to feed her I was like, "This is your nap time. You need to nap. You need to function so that I can function."
ZACH: I think that Nancy, as a mom, loves giving other moms advice and talking to other moms and pregnant women. She's super honest about it, and I think that a lot of parents and moms, especially, hide the nasty parts and Nancy's like, "You're going to be exhausted." Also, I think a lot of our friends saw us after week six or week eight. Those first six weeks were extremely intense.
NANCY: A lot of it was shock to me and I didn't appreciate when people didn't talk about certain things because it was taboo. This is really common and you need to talk about it. I mean, a lot of the stuff, the actual details, are not fucked up, but the way you feel in the moment is pretty fucked up.
TWP: Any relationship advice you can give? Like taking time out for yourselves?
NANCY: For many years we would have what we called the ‘Thursday Slump’. We would spend Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday all day at work and usually doing different things after work every day not together. And by Thursday, we'd be gChatting each other when we both walked into the office like, "Why do I miss you so much?"
ZACH: "Where have you been all week?"
NANCY: We realized it was the 'Thursday Slump'. So we usually went to dinner on Thursdays or just made an effort at that time to be like, "For the rest of the week, we stay together."
A healthy dad, is a healthy mom, is a healthy baby, is a healthy dad, is a healthy ... it's circular.
ZACH: I have a friend who's always saying, "You and Nancy are so perfect together. Why is that?" I feel like the thing that I like most about Nancy is that we approach situations in the same way. When we encounter a big job decision, or a big life decision, even minor social decisions, I feel we have the same perspective. Either we developed that together as we grew older, or we came that way. There's literally nobody that has the outlook on life like mine more than Nancy does.
NANCY: That is very true. I'd admire how Zach is very motivated by his ideas. He's got a million ideas in his head. Putting even three or four of them to paper or to action is exciting to him. He's constantly working to make these ideas realities. He's an idea man.
TWP: Do you usually consult each other on everything?
NANCY: I have a listening problem. Zach usually tells me things three or four times before it actually clicks. Most of the time because his ideas come to him when he's in bed and wide awake and my head has already hit the pillow so I'm fast asleep. I just nod like, "Uh-huh. That's a great idea." Or I just don't respond and it kills him.
ZACH: We do consult each other on stuff. I feel like Nancy is the last one to discuss before stuff goes out the door. A lot of the things that I do, I'm the only person working on it and without a group ... I'll work on projects like, "Is this cool? Somebody tell me."
I feel we have the same perspective. Either we developed that together as we grew older, or we came that way. There's literally nobody that has the life outlook like mine more than Nancy does.