Manpersands Ethan Feirstein & Ari Heckman
May 08, 2014
Ladies, step aside. It’s time for some Manpersands! This week, we caught up with power couple Ethan Feirstein and Ari Heckman, two Manhattan-based entrepreneurs whose ventures span industries and cities. Boutique hotel in a former brothel? Check. Liquor company that shills cocktail-inspired Jello shots? Done. Sultry karaoke lounge? Nailed it.
The list of projects goes on, but the theme is clear: If it’s cool, they’re doing it. Below, we visited Ari and Ethan’s West Village apartment to chat about their careers, lessons learned, and Ethan’s controversial stance on guacamole.
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What do you do?
AH: I run a company based in Brooklyn called ASH NYC. We are a multi-headed hydra in that we do many different types of work whose common thread is design. We are real estate developers, interior designers, product designers, hoteliers, etc. Right now, we are finishing up the development of a boutique hotel in Rhode Island, starting construction on a 75,000-square-foot mixed-use development in Brooklyn, designing homes for private clients, and shopping the world to source pieces for our fine furniture “dealership.”
EF: I own two nightlife venues in Providence, Rhode Island, one of which just opened this past month. It’s a karaoke bar called The Boombox, located in the Dean Hotel. I am also a partner in a spirits company called Ludlows Cocktail Co. that is launching its first product this spring!
Ethan (left) and Ari (right) with Georgie, the lady of the house.
What are some lessons you’ve learned from launching your own businesses?
AH: It’s important to have (selectively) blind optimism. Recruit people you want to work with and make them your partners or employees. When a group of people start working together in sync, it’s shocking how much can be done.
EF: Have a clear point of view when creating a place or product. Don’t respond to Yelp reviews. Hire good people, because firing is no fun.
Best business advice you ever got?
AH: My grandfather, architect Norton Salk, told me: “Make your work your pleasure (and vice versa) and then you’ll never need a job.”
What’s your personality at work in three words?
AH: Quiet, purposeful, determined.
EF: (At) my own pace. The preposition doesn’t count.
When you were little, you wanted to be…
AH: A real estate developer.
EF: A business owner, but I think it was a bookstore.
When you “grow up,” you want to be…
AH: A real estate developer, art collector, hotel owner, gentleman farmer.
EF: Well-traveled, well-dressed, well-fed, and well (in the health sense).
If you could have a power lunch with anyone, it would be…
AH: Michael Bloomberg.
EF: Diane Von Furstenberg. She has a great attitude about life. I heard her say something about hating nostalgia once that I have been unsuccessfully trying to find on Google ever since. I guess I could ask her to repeat it at our lunch.
If you could have happy hour with anyone, who would it be?
EF: Frank Sinatra. In Vegas, please.
AH: Juice cleansing.
AH: Rye toast with cream cheese.
– Interview & photos by Tory Hoen