Meet Ed Fladung, one of the coolest cats you'll come across around these corners. Ed is a photographer, designer, surfer, the brainchild behind the rad t-shirt brand Quality Peoples and a recent shop owner here in Sayulita. His store, Manyana, is one of the most stunning boutiques in town with a clean style that reminds me of home with its Scandinavian feel. In addition to his own t-shirt brand, Quality Peoples, Manyana also carries an interesting mix of both international and national brands. I asked Ed a couple questions on how he ended up in Mex and to tell us a little more about the cool things he's doing... We also did a fun photoshoot with photographer home girl Jessica.
Q: How did you end up in Mex/how long have you lived in Mex?
A: My family has vacationed in Mexico since the early 80s, first on the east coast and then on the west coast. My parents bought a piece of property here in Nayarit, in the late 90s and built a vacation house. In early 00’s they retired and moved to Nayarit full-time. A few years later they started a small business designing and building houses. At the time, I was creative directing and producing online marketing for the movie studios in Los Angeles and slowly burning myself out. In 2004, I came down for a few weeks to help my parents with their business. We had some family friends staying with us. I worked in the mornings and our friends taught me to surf in the afternoons. I was hooked. I went back to LA, put all my stuff in storage, rented my house out, sold my car, told all my clients I was going to take 6 months off, bought a surfboard and went back to Mexico. And that was 12 years ago.
I met Marcia about 3 months after I moved here. She was in town, taking some time off from her family business in Guadalajara. We got married two years to the day we met. Two years later, we had our son, Luca. He’s 8 years old now.
Q: How did you get into design?
A: I’ve always looked at things from a design perspective, in high school my friends and I had a small skateboard collective and brand. We designed and printed t-shirts, stickers and hats, anything we could put a logo on. I studied graphic design at CalArts and over the years, I’ve applied the ideas I learned there to various different mediums and projects. At some point, in my Mexico adventure, I began to think about what was next. I remembered the t-shirt graphics I had done in high school and college. The idea of creating some kind of t-shirt brand seemed like a fun project. Around that time, I met John Esguerra, a graphic designer and art curator based on the North Shore, Haliewa Oahu Hawaii.
Q: What is the story behind Quality Peoples? Where does the name come from?
A: John and I began collaborating on a small art zine he curates, called Chinese Wax Job. I was heavy into surf photography at the time and with no formal training, my surf photos tended to be more arty than functional. More like water landscapes. We talked about the idea of doing a surf t-shirt art project and collaborated over instant messenger. Quality Peoples was born in 2010. I’ve used the name Quality Peoples (QP for short), for various different things over the years, and as we were putting together the brand, we went over a million names and QP just kind of stuck. It seemed to work for what we were trying to do with the project. We put together our first season of graphics and started talking to stores. That proved hard with two guys living in Hawaii and Mexico, so we were fortunate enough to have a showroom in New York that agreed to handle our sales. And we’ve been growing QP slow and steadily ever since.
Q: You’ve recently opened a hip shop called Manyana in Sayulita, what is it like to have and run a shop in Sayulita?
A: Marcia and I had been stealthily looking for a store front to rent in Sayulita, for the past few years, but it had proved difficult to find and rent a space. At various points, I had thrown in the towel, always with a small, vocal group of friends urgently pleading with me to open a shop. When I was approached about renting our current space, I jumped at the opportunity and turned to concepting the shop.
Marcia and I have complementary skill sets, I am the creative and she is the business lady. She’s keeps Manyana running smoothly and I keep things fun and interesting. It’s been quite a change in our lifestyle, opening the shop and being there on a regular basis. But it’s also very exciting. It’s been great working with Marcia to make Manyana a special experience for our customers.
One of the things we’ve tried very hard to create, is a sense of calm in the shop, from the minimal wooden fixtures, to the music, to the scent in the air and the air conditioning. Sayulita is a busy, colorful place and we wanted to make the shop a place for people to come and rest their brains and eyes a bit. We probably should have opened a cafe instead :)
We work closely with all our brands and projects, to make sure that the items you can find in Manyana are unique to the area and that the concept is original. We hope it shows.
Q: What other brands do you carry in Manyana?
A: Quality Peoples is our cornerstone brand and Manyana shares a lot of DNA with QP, as they are both projects that I’ve poured my heart into. We carry a small curated collection of imported clothing and accessories. All people I’ve met over the years of doing QP, or brands who I think are doing something interesting and unique. To name but a few: Industry of All Nations, Battenwear, Alex Crane, Sunbuddies, Scout & Catalogue.
We also carry a curated collection of contemporary home goods and objet d’arts made here in Mexico. These projects are created by people I know personally, or have been introduced to through friends. Most projects are by young architects and designers working with artisans to create a more contemporary or modern take on everyday Mexican objects with traditional production techniques. Most of the projects are dedicated to fair-wages for the artisans and made by hand or in small batches. Some of the items we carry: tablecloths and placemats, copper vases, beach towels/throws, ceramic bowls and cups, wool rugs, ceramic candlesticks and palm baskets. I’m really proud of the selection of projects we carry, to name a few: Diario, Estudio Pomelo, Pop Dots, Kino, Taller Revez
Q: Any exciting collaborations/projects or plans for Manyana in the near future? What is your vision for Manyana?
A: As far as vision, we see Manyana as it’s own brand or experience, and we’re definitely exploring ways to expand it. Nothing solid yet, we’re been open for about 3 months now, and I think we’re still getting our sea legs. But we’re constantly thinking about it.
We’re just getting started with curating contemporary design from Mexico and Latin America. That part of Manyana is a lot of fun for us. We’ve been meeting a lot of talented people through curation and and look forward to finding new projects and sharing them with Sayulita.
We’re also working on a few different things for Manyana at the moment. Marcia and I are both interested in the idea of doing clothing, accessories and home goods in Mexico with the Manyana name. And so we’ve begun exploring different areas of Mexico for their possibilities. This takes me away from the shop a bit as I hit the open road, but I think we both really want to push the idea of making quality goods in Mexico, especially clothing.
Q: How often do you get to surf these days? What else do you do during your free time when not working?
A: I still get to surf a fair bit, not every day. I suppose I could surf more than I do, if I dedicated myself to getting out there. But it’s definitely been a bit harder now that both of us are working in the shop. A balance will come, nothing stays the same, so it will all eventually work out.
These past few months I’ve been taking a small break from surfing in the mornings, in favor of practicing yoga. Marcia and I have been practicing together at our local yoga joint. It’s nice to do something with her, that we can share, that isn't family and isn't the shop. She doesn't surf, so it’s something we can do together that is both external and internal. I’m a reluctant yogi. My teacher probably would refer to me as a yoyo: one who only does yoga every other day. That’s a little dharma joke there :)
When I’m not working on Manyana, I’m usually working on QP or vice versa or sometimes even concurrently I’m working on both projects. When not “working”, I’m usually just hanging with Luca, he’s learning to skateboard which is something that I grew up doing, intensively. So it’s fun to watch him learn.
Q: Favorite quote?
A: I don’t really have a favorite quote at the moment.
Times are kind of crazy now, so I’ve been keeping my mind limber on a steady diet of Noam Chomsky lectures (Chomsky is my spirit animal), Arcade Fire (I really get into their “preparing for the apocalypse” vibe) and when I’m feeling optimistic, I listen to Elliot Smith Live recordings. Haha.
One last thing: both Marcia and I would like to mention that we are humbled by the reception of Manyana by both Sayulita locals and visitors alike. Every day people come into the shop and say how wonderful they think the shop is. We appreciate that beyond words. Manyana is a labor of love for us both and in a lot of ways, we’re both putting ourselves out there in ways neither of us have done in the past. It feels good to see that people can connect with the shop and enjoy it, especially local Sayulita folk, that’s golden.
So thank you, Sayulita, con mucho cariño. From Ed & Marcia.
When in Sayulita, make sure to pop into Manyana on Calle Marlin 18 (just across Naty's Tacos, next to the town plaza). You also want to follow them on their ig accounts: @manyana.co and @qualitypeoples