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Community Highlights: Meet Anya Shakhmeyster of MATR

Today we’d like to introduce you to Anya Shakhmeyster.

Hi Anya, please kick things off for us with an introduction to yourself and your story.
I always knew I would own a business. When kids were saying, I want to be a doctor or a singer, I was saying I want to make something for people. I, of course, had no clue it would be a men’s brand that champions masculinity at the time (that would all come together later on). I did know that I was obsessed with art, collage, and painting so I grew up always wanting to “make stuff.” My art teacher’s wife was a fashion historian and she’s the one that brought me into the world of fashion. It’s amazing how when we look back we see that everything that we experienced was not an accident – it’s all little pieces that we gather leading us towards our purpose – on purpose. I fell in love with the cultural, social, and economic implications of what people wore and why. That brought me to attending the Fashion Institute of Technology in NYC and falling in love with menswear. I just didn’t know why it would matter (cough MATR) to me so much then!

After studying in Milan, graduating at the top of my class, and working at John Varvatos; I was named one of the top ten designers to watch by V Magazine. My design aesthetic had a laid back/athletic approach to it and I had been dreaming of surf culture for a while, so I packed up my stuff and moved to LA. I worked for a few other brands (Ella Moss, Splendid) to gain experience, then I switched gears and went into marketing. I wasn’t quite done gathering the pieces I needed to create the brand and company I had in my heart yet. For me, I didn’t want to create clothes just for their own sake, I needed a larger purpose behind it and within the next six years I found it – supporting men and debunking the harmful myths about masculinity. This is important to me because I grew up with a lot of hurtful machismo around me and I realized underneath it all were just men that needed to know that they mattered. It’s as the saying goes, “hurt people, hurt people” and I know now what a difference it would have made in my upbringing if the men around me knew that. That brings me to today and my brand, MATR – a lifestyle brand for men that celebrates masculinity.

Can you talk to us a bit about the challenges and lessons you’ve learned along the way. Looking back would you say it’s been easy or smooth in retrospect?
None of the best roads are ever smooth, and I wouldn’t have it any other way! I have learned so much during and especially right after each struggle. One of the most important lessons that I have had to learn over and over again is to let go of the how and take hold of the why every time I have no idea what to do next. Creating something from nothing and pulling together elements from different disciplines like self-improvement and apparel manufacturing to make something brand new means it hasn’t been done before – there’s no roadmap. I am making the roadmap so there’s no right or wrong, there is only trial and error. On top of the practical work of designing, producing, and selling there is the emotional work of intuition and self-belief that are equally important. Understanding on a subconscious level that when something “fails” or “doesn’t work” like a product or social media post, it has nothing to do with my inherent value – it’s just feedback that’s saying “time for something else.” This is imperative to get for longevity, otherwise it’s easy to give up when things don’t look like they are progressing or worse, going backwards. Owning a business is a non-linear process so it takes inner work to see the outer results.

I’m all about mixing the emotional with the practical so here’s an example of how this came to life. I ran a kickstarter last year to raise money for our capsule collection of three pieces – I had a lofty goal of 48K in a month. I worked day and night, making calls, creating hype any way I could. Three weeks in, we raised 20K (which is amazing in and of itself!) but it became clear that 48K wasn’t going to happen. Instead of seeing this as a failure, I quickly pivoted and asked our manufacturers if they would do a smaller run for us. Because they saw the 20K and how hard we worked, they agreed! I went back and personally reached out to every backer to send the money in a different way so we could move forward anyway. Lesson here: just keep going (and celebrate the wins).

Appreciate you sharing that. What should we know about MATR?
MATR began in the heart of LA. We are a clothing and lifestyle brand dedicated to making products that make men feel seen, appreciated, and supported. We’re also filling the white space that exists between athletic and non-athletic wear. The choices men have are limited; t-shirt or button down, white or black, this or that. The way I see it, this is a metaphor for the narrow way that society sees the male experience and I believe that men deserve so much more.

Men are as multidimensional as women, so we’re dedicated to making products for them that celebrate everything they bring to the table leading with their masculinity. We honor men for their strength, their presence, their provision, and their integrity so each piece we design has that in mind. Our seam lines and signature contrast piping enhance a man’s shoulders and back. Our fabrics are all-natural quality wool blends imported from Japan, they are soft as butter, and will last for years.

Currently, we have our latest capsule collection for sale online (shopmatr.com) and at The Optimist Men’s shop at The Platform in Culver City. We are also very excited about an upcoming collaboration with Men Who Take Baths  – we are creating the ultimate bathrobe that will be available for purchase this fall. We are also building our social presence online so join us @matr_men and enjoy our man-positive content and stay up to date for new product releases.

In terms of your work and the industry, what are some of the changes you are expecting to see over the next five to ten years?
I see that we are moving away from a compartmentalized economy towards a blended one. What I mean by that is that the walls separating the aspects of people’s lives are disappearing more and more; work is home, home is work, leisure is creation, creation happens during rest, pleasure impacts productivity. We live life differently than even ten years ago. Shopping happens between a work meeting and a therapy session while on zoom with one swipe up on Instagram.

The Post-COVID economy has definitely helped with this, but I believe we were headed this way even before. On a cultural and human level, we are realizing that we have the power to create the lives of our dreams in every aspect from how we eat, move, work, and connect with each other. Out are the brands that “sell stuff,” and in are the brands that help people live the lives they aspire to be living and support them with getting there. We’re redefining success, productivity, and what we value as a society and I believe successful brands will reflect that.

Pricing:

  • 30% off Ironia T-shirt $134
  • 30% off Tolik Turtleneck $156
  • 30% off Travel Jacket $298

Contact Info:


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