Arts | September 2015
As the owner of Oxn (pronounced ‘Oxen’) in Memphis’ South Main Arts District, Zac Woolfolk has his own take on why clothes indeed make the man. Now the 30-year-old Internet marketer is working to take his joint venture with MEMshop to the next level as he talks about quality, craftsmanship and that feeling you get when you put on the perfect pair of jeans.
Click Magazine: What’s the inspiration for the name ‘Oxn’?
ZW: I was inspired by the definition of the word ‘auxin,’ which is a growth hormone in plants. The idea of growth in the city of Memphis is something that really set with me. So I played with the spelling a little bit and ended up with ‘Oxn,’ which is pronounced like the animal, oxen.
CM: What is it about the clothes and goods you sell that inspires you most?
ZW: Until I was about 26 years old, I didn’t care one thing about what I wore. I didn’t care about who made the clothes or where they came from. I read something along the lines of, “You get dressed every day. Why not care what you put on?” and it really resonated with me. What we wear represents who we are and how we present ourselves on a daily basis. Around the same time, I began to come across brands and makers around the world that care about the things they make and the products they use.
The idea of those two things together helped me develop as a more confident person in my appearance, my attitude, and my professions. Dressing better made me feel better at the end of the day. Like most people, I like to feel good about myself day in and day out. The simple change of wardrobe was just the beginning of that and I soon found out I wasn’t alone. So to answer your question, it inspires me to introduce quality goods to a new market and tell the story of the brands and the makers to people that step into Oxn.
CM: What is, in your opinion, the perfect wardrobe staple for a man and why?
ZW: I feel a great pair of blue jeans is a staple for every man’s closet. A good quality pair of denim jeans will last for years, be suitable for 99% of situations (I am living proof), and can be dressed up for a business meeting or dressed down for a weekend out of town.
CM: Why did you choose downtown Memphis as the location for your shop?
ZW: Downtown Memphis kind of chose me actually. I’m part of a program, MEMShop, that helps retail shops get up and running. I applied to this program, and after submitting some more applications I got accepted and took a leap of faith to hope this works out.
CM: Has this store been a long-term plan in the works and how has it been seeing it become a reality?
ZW: This store has been a dream for about 3 years now. It’s been nothing more than a dream though until May 1st when I got the keys to the place knowing it was going to open on May 29th. I wanted to open a store for guys that has quality products that they will be proud to wear and something that will be sustainable. It’s been great to see that develop and with only being open 2 months I know this is just the tip of the iceberg.
CM: You talk a lot about the story of the brands at Oxn and why those stories are so important, what’s a good example?
ZW: A good example is a Apolis, a brand that creates global advocacy through how they operate. They get their fabrics made all over the world with fair-wage cooperatives, which then send the fabrics to LA, where Apolis creates their collections and bags. When you purchase an Apolis product you are becoming a ‘global citizen’ by supporting efforts to make the world a better place. There are stories like this behind almost every brand I carry.
CM: What’s different about the clothes you carry versus what other men’s stores in the area sell?
ZW: While there are other quality men’s stores in Memphis. My approach is more to a Made in USA, small brand, curated line up of heritage, workwear, classic pieces that will suit the modern gentleman in everyday wear. I can shake the hands with the people that make the products that are in Oxn.
CM: Where would you like to see Oxn go in the next 5 years?
ZW: I really want Oxn to be the start of a community spot in the next few years. A place for people to get quality clothes and lifestyle goods, but also a place to get a cold brew coffee…or beer, listen to live music, host special events, and more. Oxn’s goal is to become a place where it has exclusive products as well as super fun events.
CM: Who most inspires you and why?
ZW: My dad, Woody. He passed away in 2012 and was not able to see my dream develop or become a reality. He was very inspiring in all aspects of life. Taught me about humor, how to deal with money, and how to be the best man I can be. I wish he could see all of this.
CM: What item of clothing do you own that you can’t possibly imagine living without?
ZW: I recently wrote about this on oxnshop.com, but it would be a limited edition workshirt that’s slightly too small. I wouldn’t trade it for anything. It’s kind of like a like jacket that is developing beautiful natural indigo fades. Only 30 were made and I couldn’t be more proud to have one. Next up would be my first pair of Rogue Territory blue jeans. They’re retired in the shop (most of the time) now, but they show my story of how Oxn came to be.
When the Clothes Make the Man
Entrepreneur and marketer Zac Woolfolk on dressing for success
Interview by Tonya Thompson | Photos by Casey Hilder