Mighty Life List
Aug 27 2009

Born to Upgrade: Larry Angell of Uncrate

Over the next few weeks, I’m doing a campaign for Gap that features profiles of other design bloggers. The interviews are an extension of Gap’s Born To… Campaign, which is about pursuing your passion. As you may have noticed, I’m into that. You can find out more about the campaign on the Facebook page here. For completists, the whole set of interviews is over here.

This week’s interview is with Larry Angell, founder and curator for Uncrate, which is a killer shopping site for guys. Of course, this essentially makes him the male me. We’ve never met in real life, but it’s probably for the best, because I think if we collided we could potentially annihilate one another, matter/anti-matter style.



Larry grew up in Ohio, where he settled with his wife Julie, and he’s been interested in design since he was a kid.

“Early on, in first or second grade, I started paying attention to other kids,” he says. “What they were doing, wearing, using. I specifically remember that this one boy, Eric, had a plastic, neon-orange supply box that held his pencils, crayons, glue, what have you. But instead of the normal label where your mom would write your name, he had a large rectangular camouflage label. Camouflage. I couldn’t contain myself. How awesome was this box? This was in the mid-’80s, mind you, so my obsession with G.I. Joe was strong. I had to know where he got this box with the camouflage label. I asked and prodded until I knew exactly what store I could acquire both the box and the camouflage contact paper used to make the label. That was the beginning of my madness.”

Since Larry is a products geek, we mostly talked about stuff. Awesome stuff:

Larry’s Favorite Shops

homage-shirts

Homage Clothing
One of my friends in Columbus makes these handsome tees. The buttery-soft shirts feature terrific, mostly sport-inspired, vintage designs. I wear one almost every day either by itself or under an Oxford.

filson-bags

Filson
They’ve been churning out American-made outdoor gear since 1897, when they began as an outfitter for the Great Klondike Gold Rush. Nowadays, Filson’s last-a-lifetime bags are all the rage among the workwear posers. Buy one knowing they’ll never go out of style. And that they get better the more you break them in.

portland-general-store

Portland General Store
With scents like whiksey, tobacco, moss, and wood, this is the manliest skincare line I’ve seen. The Maker’s Mark-infused old-fashioned wet shave jelly is just what the doctor ordered. They sell a cigar box full of samples for $25. It’s worth getting, even if you just use the bottles for decoration.

Larry’s recent upgrades

logitech-keyboard

Logitech diNovo Edge Keyboard
If Jesus made an input device, it wouldn’t even come close to this thing. Not only is it sleeker than anything Apple could design, this keyboard’s laptop-like keys are so precise and silky smooth that you’d keep typing through a house fire. It’s completely wireless and has a built-in rechargeable battery that literally lasts for months between charges.

viking-pool

Viking Pool
This is probably the biggest upgrade I’ve ever made in terms of before and after (think plastic Kmart wading pool). They cost a little more than other in-ground pools, but these fiberglass monsters are so worth it. They come in a slew of different shapes and colors, and get delivered to you on a flat-bed semi. Your pool guy just digs a big hole and drops it in with a crane. A combination of in-floor cleaning and an automated cover keep me free from ever vacuuming. Oh, and another benefit of the fiberglass construction is having built-in seats and ledges all around the pool.

nike-driver

Nike SQ Dymo Squared STR8-FIT Driver
This club added about 20 yards to my drives. I’m still terrible, but this thing keeps me on the fairways (usually) and gets me that much closer to the greens (where the real fun begins). And when I’m slicing and shanking worse than usual, the driver is fully customizable with a few turns of a wrench, letting you adjust face angle, lie angle, and loft.

What’s Inspiring Larry

The iPhone’s camera and all the camera apps. On its own, the iPhone’s camera isn’t the greatest. But with apps like CameraBag, QuadCamera, and ShakeItPhoto, you can take really awesome, vintage-style photos. These apps answer the question of how do you make a crappy picture look better? By making it look crappier. With just a couple taps, your photo is instantly turned into something that looks like it was taken 20, 30, or 40 years ago. This is having a major affect on the way folks are using their camera. I’ve been inspired to turn my photoblog into something entirely new (old?) by documenting my days using only Polaroid-esque iPhone pictures, as ShakeItPhoto’s developer is doing. Some other, non-vintage camera apps I’ve been liking are AutoStitch (panoramas), Photogene (image editing), ColorSplash (cutout style photos), and Camera Genius (multi-function).

If He Could Buy Anything He Wanted?

tesla

Tesla Model S
I guess it’s only a dream purchase because you can’t buy one yet, but the Model S is exquisite. It’s really unbelievable that it was designed in the U.S. Besides the beauty on the outside, this eco-ride has crazy numbers — a 300-mile range, a 45-minute recharge, a 0-60 time of 5.6 seconds, and a top speed of 120 mph.

bengals

Cincinnati Bengals
They’ve got an inept management system that borders on tyranny. In the history of professional sports, their lack of office talent only rivals the talent they’ve put on the field in the last couple seasons. It’s tough to watch, and I could turn it around in a couple off-season months. Although a new defense this year, led by Roy Williams, Ray Maualuga and Tank Johnson, might be hardcore enough to spit out a winning season.

in-n-out-burger

In-N-Out Burger franchise
What is wrong with this company? Expand east, you a-holes. I don’t go to Vegas now to gamble or ogle girls — I go for the burgers. If this (currently private) company would franchise their joints, every man, woman, and child would have access to the deliciousness of these burgers. FedExing fast food shouldn’t sound reasonable in this day and age. Those are good burgers, Walter.

18 Responses to “Born to Upgrade: Larry Angell of Uncrate”

  • Becki Says:

    I loved this interview. I must introduce my husband to Uncrate as he loves many of the things on this list, and should love them all. Thank you!

  • famousamy Says:

    OMG, I love this guy and I’ve just met him! As a fellow Ohioan (just north of Cinci) I couldn’t agree more with the last two things he would buy! Stupid Mike Brown and his stupid management skills. If we do happen to do well this year it will be very lucky.. though as usual, I’m holding onto a thin thread of hope because it’s too hard to let go completely.

    And the “Expand east, you a-holes” comment is seriously something I’ve been saying for years about In-N-Out Burger.. DO NOT UNDERSTAND THEM.

    Thanks for this article, I will have my husband look into Uncrate (and frankly I probably will myself) and I’m also going to seriously look into the Viking Pools. Those look awesome!

  • Desiree Says:

    If you buy an In-n-Out burger right before you get on a plane (there’s an In-n-Out a couple blocks from LAX), stuff it in some tupperware, stuff the tupperware in your luggage, the burger will still be completely delicious when you get to the other side of the country. Or so says my close friend’s fiancee, who was greeted with just such a tupperware when she returned to Savannah from visiting me. Not as good as having your own In-n-Out, but it’s something.

  • Meredith Says:

    As a lifetime Ohio resident I love him for his Bengals comments alone. :giggling:

  • Rachel Says:

    Look at this, two Ohio people commenting already! As a relocated (to Tennessee) Ohioan, I was so happy to see someone inspiring on your blog from OHIO! Go Midwest!

  • Bonnie B. Says:

    I loved this post and his writing, but the last entry is what made me completely convinced that he’s a genius. And just FYI – I grew up in Los Angeles and ate those delicious burgers for 22 years, moved up to northern California and had to wait 15 years for them to get their a-holes up there!!

  • Rose Says:

    I have to say as a long-time reader I’m really disappointed with the corporate influence on this site recently. Maggie, I understand you have to make a living — but there’s a difference between selling advertising space on a website and actually integrating commericials into your content. “Over the next few weeks, I’m doing a campaign for Gap”? “Mighty Life List, with a little help from Intel?” It cheapens the weight of your creativity and integrity when you use it to directly shill for big business.

  • Elizabeth Says:

    I have to disagree with people who say that Mighty Girl has gotten too corporate or too intertwined with its sponsors. On the contrary, I appreciate that Maggie has removed the transparency of her relationship with her ad partners. Instead of pretending that she is sitting around and plunking the keys on her computer just for the sake of being chatty, she is being completely honest about the fact that, hey, her site makes her money, and here is some of the work that she does in exchange for that money. Nothing is hidden, and I like that.

  • Nicole Says:

    I agree with the other comments. Also, Outblush is the female counterpart to Uncrate, not you. Sorry.

  • Sassafras Mama Says:

    In defense of In-n-Out, the company won’t expand to far out of their supply-line network, which is west coast-based. They keep it small(ish) on purpose and that’s how they turn out such a quality product. So, yes, this transplanted Californian (now in New Jersey) would love some In-n-Out action closer to home, but I understand why it ain’t happening.

    And I’m okay with that, because this is a good company.

  • Megan S. Says:

    Um, I’m fine with the ads, I’m just wondering where the rest of the mighty sites went. I can’t seem to get to mightygoods.com or and of the others.

  • David g Says:

    In n out gets all their beef from a few farms that I believe are in Arizona. They promise not to freeze their beef, so they can only expand as far away from the farms as they can truck the beef in a refrigerator and not a freezer. After four years in Palo Alto, I’m missing it just as much as you guys are at my new homebase in St Louis…

  • Nellie Says:

    So… also a transplanted Ohioan here… and an Ohio State alum. I stumbled upon the Homage tshirts a few weeks ago when looking for Ohio State tshirts – via a generic Gmail ad, actually! Larry, tell your friend his ad strategy is working! I loved them, but didn’t buy. I am SO. EXCITED. to learn that they are recommended by someone who seems as cool as Larry does!

    Thanks for writing this, I’m about to go subscribe to his blog and probably buy some tshirts. And dream about In-n-Out. I respect their devotion buy BOY do I miss that food.

    Maggie, from a long-time lurker who absolutely loves reading your blog, I don’t mind the sponsorships at all. It’s still creative, fantastic, inspiring stuff on this site… whether or not the Gap paid for you to do it. I’d rather you find sponsors and write about their campaigns and thereby KEEP DOING THIS than see it all end because you can’t sustain it. You go girl! Keep up the good work! Enjoy Greece!

  • Nellie Says:

    …but* BOY do I miss that food…

  • Paul Says:

    As a California refugee now living in Oregon I want In’N'Out as much as anyone so why not up north, here? We’re West Coast, too! Everytime I wear my in’n'out t-shirt (I mean everytime) someone asks me why we don’t have one near Portland.

    Love the rechargeable wireless keyboard. So 2010!

  • Sharon Says:

    The last time I went to In’N'Out in Burlingame, the burger was cold and tasted like ass.

  • Kirsten Says:

    I love it Maggie. Don’t listen to the haters. I’m so happy that a person as fab as you has figured out how to make an income doing what they so obviously love.

  • B Says:

    #8 Elizabeth, most likely Maggie has not, as you phrased it, “removed the transparency of her relationship with her ad partners” (though that’s a touching altruistic sentiment), so much as she’s fulfilled contractual obligations with said ad partners.