Interview: Luke Harwood, Happy Bones Cafe

Words by Angela Bevan

From New Zealand to New York, Stolen Girlfriends Club founder Luke Harwood is taking his “thing” for Kiwi culture as far as he can. With big things happening for SGC , and a great new project off the ground, he is one very busy man. But the proud co-owner of new cafe Happy Bones was happy to talk hurricanes, hipsters and hospo with The News.

Tell us the story of Happy Bones… Who, why, where?
It’s a hidden coffee store based around great espresso coffee, art publications and some design pieces… old Japanese department store iron benches / French 1960′s Circa Canvas palm tree sculpture… we change it up. We work with DAP, Karma, OH-WOW and Ditto Press to name a few of the book publishers… some really nice books and publishing. The main idea is to offer inspiration and a good environment around daily coffee rituals, catching up with a friend, business meetings, or just a morning coffee. I think good coffee is an important element.

How have locals reacted to your arrival?
It’s taking time to build but we are starting to getting regular repeat business. There are not many cafes that play THE CLASH or STONES full tilt so it’s getting noticed and has a good vibe. It’s great to have the acknowledgment from people such as Garance Doré and the owner of Cafe Gitane swinging by for a coffee.

How has New York been for you in the aftermath of the hurricane? Has business resumed? How different is the city?
There are parts of coastal New York that have really been devastated – it will take a long time to rebuild. They are suffering right now.
But generally speaking New Yorkers are very resilient and everyone is back to business as usual and hustling in the daily grind and after good coffee.

Why was it important to bring this project to NYC?
I saw the population and environment here had a real lack of good coffee, or overpriced bad coffee. I liked the idea of a simple business with espresso coffee being the core product showcasing what I felt good coffee was from a New Zealand standpoint but being able to have fun with the environment and break away from the rustic/country theme that is very dominate in hospitality in NYC. New Zealanders should be really proud of our cafe/coffee culture because it’s so superior on a world scale.

Can you tell us about your role with Stolen Girlfriends Club?
At the moment I’m working on a diffusion line with Urban Outfitters which we will roll out in the USA and hopefully with their UK counterpart for 2013.
It’s a great project to build our brand’s awareness and confidence to a further mainstream, high-street style customer.

I’m also in the middle of building a sunglasses line/category with a New York based design/manufacturing team which I’m really passionate about. Both for the product and the category build. I’m feeling black statement style Japanese acetates with inserted detailing… we want to bring in different elements of our brand with that, make it fun and keep the wit alive!

I recently worked with photographer and film maker Cara Stricker on our latest STOLEN menswear campaign which will be out soon. We shot out at Far Rockaway just before the storm. Being in NYC opens up the potential to work with some of the best rising creative talents in the world.

What’s life like outside of work? What do you get up to and what do you love about life there?
I like to travel and get out the city when it’s possible… go upstate for a drive, go surfing.
I’m also into collecting things, really into old guitars, amps, speakers… certain furniture. I love equipment and contemporary wooden materials… really simple analog stuff! But at the moment it’s mainly work. New York is the city for opportunities and work… so grinding it out!

Where do you see yourself in five years?
Keeping it really simple! Spending a few months of the year with my wife on our property back in the Coromandel – New Zealand, and the other months either in New York or California.

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