Joe Goodwin | Footpatrol Meets

26.01.24 Footpatrol Meets

Footpatrol: Hey Joey, Hope you’re good and the Xmas/NY break was chill. Can you start by telling us a bit about yourself and what it is you do? 

Joe Goodwin: Hey. It was all good, thank you! So, yeah, my name is Joe, or Joey as a lot of people call me these days. I’m a 25-year-old kid, who is not so much of a kid anymore aha! Time really flies. I’ve blinked and the last 3 years of my life have gone by. I’m from a super small town called Worcester where I worked in branding, and now I kind of do a bit of everything. 

It’s quite hard to describe what I actually do. I do a lot: producing, marketing, writing, art direction. I guess I’m a ‘creative’. I hate saying that though, because it makes me sound like I’m really talented. I’m not, I just know a lot of talented people that I connect with other talented people to create cool things.  I also know a lot of great people who have given me the opportunity to work on a load of things, and somehow I’ve always been quite good at them. At least, I hope. 

FP: We’re aware you’ve recently gone freelance, a challenge fraught with great rewards but also uncertainty. Before we get onto that though, can you take us back to what I can only assume was another big lifestyle choice and tell us about when you moved to Japan? 

JG: Going to Japan is the biggest, best, and most important decision I’ve ever made so far. Maybe the most important that I will ever make. Before Japan, the world was so small. 22-year-old me could never believe the things I’m doing now. It all started writing for sabukaru, and Bianco, the Editor-in-Chief,  invited me over to work in Tokyo. 

At the start, I kind of thought this was like those times when you tell your friend who you’ve not seen for years that you should get a drink together soon. The thought is there, but you both know it will never happen. But then the borders opened, Bianco hit me up and told me ‘Let’s go, book a flight, we’re ready’. So I did, and then a few months later I found myself on a flight by myself heading to the other side of the world to live. I owe a lot to Bianco. He barely knew me then, but believed in me right from the start even though I had no college or university degree, and had never worked in fashion before this. 

Since moving there, I have met friends that I’d call family, I’ve gone from never working in fashion to working with brands that I adore, and I’ve had interviews with, eaten meals with, and even got drunk with idols of mine. In my short 18 months there I feel like I lived a lifetime with the amount we worked (and partied), but in return, it’s given me a whole new life now that I’m back home.

FP: Some of my favourite creative campaigns have come out of Sabukaru, and it’s great to know you’ve been at the helm of a lot of these projects, can you share a bit more on your time at Sabukaru as it always seems like a portal into emerging and untapped talents.

JG: Thanks so much! In reality, though, I played a small part in what is an absolute beast of a machine. I was always hard working before Japan. Maybe it’s my dad’s bricklayer blood in me. But those guys, that team, their work ethic is different. I still remember my first day. Most first days are slow, relaxed, chilled. Not this one. I ended up needing to stay until 9pm making sure we hit deadlines. And that wasn’t a rare thing. But I loved every single second of it. It’s hard work, but if you work for 6 months there, you come out the other side a monster. 

sabukaru and its agency, Bianco Bianco, really do have something special going on. It’s got two sides of the coin. It has razor-sharp creative and strategic killers, but everyone is also such a lovable person that you want to work with or work hard for. We were a bit crazy, all partied too hard, but when it came down to work, no one did it better. I think this shows with a lot of the work we put out. It’s so different from other agencies and magazines because the people inside it are all so different. And this is because Bianco believes in young, creative people so much, and has a talent for creating an incredible community of people. 

Sabukaru is also likely one of the only agencies that are genuinely inside the culture. I know a lot of people claim that, and it’s partially true for most, but with sabukaru it’s completely true. At every party, we were there. If an artist we believed in was doing something, we’d support it. If there was a young kid who Bianco thought had potential, he’d reach out. We weren’t just watching stuff happen, we were experiencing it firsthand or even sometimes making it happen, which for anyone who wants to be a part of a subculture is an absolute must thing to do. Reading about things just isn’t the same. You have to be amongst it.

FP: Just how does Tokyo compare to Worcester haha? At the time, what were the things you missed about the UK when you moved? And now that you’re back, what is it you’ll miss most about Japan? 

JG: For anyone reading this who has been to Worcester, which is likely no one, you’ll know just how different it is. Nothing really happens there, it’s small, quiet, safe. Not bad, but definitely not good. Tokyo is basically a different universe. Huge buildings, bright lights, full of interesting people doing interesting things. It feels as if you can genuinely do anything there, and you can. Like I said before, I felt like I lived an entire lifetime just in my short time there, because you could just be anyone you want to be, as cliche as that sounds. 

That being said, I never realised how English I was until I moved out of England aha. I didn’t miss much. I’ve also been good at separation so being away from everyone wasn’t hard. But I did miss the realness of everything. Japan, Tokyo especially, feels like a different reality. This is great in ways, and other ways not so great. I missed the roughness of the real world, people yelling at you to hurry up, people barging past you on the train, people calling you out on your bullshit. It sounds weird, but when you’re surrounded by a culture that is so polite, you start to miss people being more ‘real’. A very pessimistic English view right there aha. 

As for what I’ll miss the most: the food. Without a doubt. Everyone says it, but you’ll never understand what people mean until you go yourself. Second to that, the partying. Tokyo nights out are special. Again, it’s like a different reality. You can’t explain it. Finally, my work husband Natsuki. I spent 90% of my time in Japan eating, drinking, and working next to him, and I owe him a lot for what he taught me. He’s the real person who should be doing this interview with you. 

FP: What have been some of your favourite projects to work on to date? And any creatives you think need a little shoutout? 

JG: A super hard question. There’s a few for different reasons. My editorial I art directed and produced for CMMAWEAR is up there because it was one of my last shoots before heading back, and it really showed how much I had learned in such a short time. I went from a kid who had never been on a fashion production, carrying massive bags for 7 hours in torrential rain, to then producing an entire editorial where I managed and creatively led something I am massively proud of. 

Second was the editorial we shot for OALLERY, an amazing store in Amsterdam run by our friend. It was for their 5th anniversary, and man do they know how to throw an activation. We were literally treated like royalty: staying in one of the best hotels in the city, dinners every night, anything we could ask for, we had. The editorial itself wasn’t a massive production, just a small and nimble team, but it was the fact that I had been flown out to one of my favourite cities in the world to style and produce a fashion shoot was what made this one so special; a kid from a tiny town where they used to laugh at me for wearing baggy trousers was now doing this. Also a huge shout out to Sacha and Gjis at OALLERY. Some of the best people in the industry! 

Finally, and the one I think is my favourite, was the most recent event I produced – The _J.L.A.L_x SoundSports London pop-up. This for me felt like the first project of the rest of my career. Sounds corny, it is, but this was a full circle moment for me. Having been in Tokyo for close to 2 years, working alongside people who were absolute bosses, this time it was on me to be the boss, on my home turf, after those same guys had already done the Tokyo and Korea pop-up (which Natsuki, my aforementioned work husband produced, so there was also some competition here to make it better). Long story short, after weeks of stress, the opening party was completely packed not even an hour after opening. I remember thinking about how back in the day, something like this was something I’d kill to go to, but could never because of living in Worcester – and now I am the one throwing it.

 As for creatives to shout out, every one of the guys at _J.L-A.L_. Not only for the trust on the project but also for everything they are achieving. Same for the guys over at Omar Afridi, Hayate and Jun. Incredible guys, incredible brand. A huge shout also to Graeme Gaughan, who never hesitates to lend me advice when I need it and who is also a stellar creative. Without him, I don’t think I would have even made it to be a freelancer. And finally, a massive shout to Aaron Dezonie. He runs the brand Dark Circle, and helped me out a tonne when it came to the recent event.

FP: Now on your return to the UK, what was the driving force to go freelance? 

JG: Honestly, I pretty much fell into it. Well, it was more like curated luck. I obviously knew I needed a backup plan if I was to move back to the UK, so over the months I made sure to meet loads of new people. But, it was all about making friends first, never clients or contacts. That’s important for anyone wanting to be a freelancer. Every chance I had I would ‘network’ (which in Japan translates to going on a night out and getting drunk). I met so many amazing friends through both work and in general, and luckily managed to build myself up a great list of people who just so happened to have projects happening by the time I landed back in the UK.

But that being said, I did always love the idea of being freelance because I have worked agency side for now almost 6 years. I started to want to go brand side to get more of an understanding of it, and I also felt like I was missing some passion having to constantly work with different brands on different projects. So, freelance for me is perfect. I am kind of like a tiny agency but am able to put my focus on specific brands, and luckily I have had the pleasure of working with some of my absolute favourites in the short time I have been freelance.

FP: We know you’ve orchestrated a lot of events too, often heaving with creatives and like-minded people, is this something that you will continue to try and do in 2024?

JG: I would love to. It’s a lot of work. More work than anything else I have ever done. There are so many moving parts, things that could go wrong, things to worry about and that will likely keep you up at night, but the feeling you get when it’s over and you see what you’ve achieved – no other type of project compares. You can create an amazing editorial, but all you usually do is see it on a screen at the end of the day. Nothing compares to physical experiences like an event. It’s a perfect excuse to go and meet new, like-minded people, make new friends, and keep building up your network.

FP: Are there any projects in the pipeline that can be discussed? Or anywhere people can keep a close eye on what youre getting up to? 

JG: Absolutely. I have a tonne going on during Fashion Week, one mainly being an event with the bag brand côte&ciel and MRBAILEY. A small, intimate talk between the two designers, which will be a really lovely change of pace compared to other events I’ve done. Also, in a few weeks, I’ll be producing an editorial in Milan, with an art director that I have loved for a while now. It’s going to be incredible, definitely my best one yet, and I’m hoping it will be a catalyst for many more projects like this. 

Apart from that, it’s actually not to do with fashion. One of my best friends has recently launched a skincare brand that I worked on before going away to Tokyo when I used to work in branding. Now that I’m back, I am back working with him and we have some wild plans. It’s going to be amazing to see all that I have learned in Tokyo and implement it into what I used to do. The brand is called KHO, and you should all check it out.

FP: Well, thank you for taking the time to talk to us Joey, and we look forward to seeing what’s to come! Again, if there are any shoutouts or any words of wisdom for wanna-be freelancers looking to take the leap, or even people looking to venture to another country to live, what can you give them? 

JG: Perhaps this is terrible advice, but I think it’s important to say that sometimes it’s okay to be naive. Luck favours the brave. Reach out to people you think will never get back to you. Try out different things and push yourself. If you feel like you can’t do something, do it anyway. You’ll make it work, and if you can’t, then find someone who can. A hard pill I had to swallow was that I am not really that talented at most things I enjoy doing, but I am good at finding someone who is. So go out, meet as many of these talented people as you can, and be nice to them when you do. Good people gravitate towards good people, and eventually, you’ll find yourself with a huge list of contacts who not only want to work with you but who are your genuine friends too. Win-win.

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