Peer Portraits: Keith Abrams
Keith Abrams is the Brooklyn based Director of Brand Partnerships at Kamp Grizzly and a friend of HNDSM. Known as ‘The Mayor of Brooklyn’, Keith has firmly embedded himself into New York’s fashion and media landscape over the last 15 years. We grabbed a coffee in Greenpoint and I learned that his time in New York started in 2004 after moving from Portland, Oregon. “I came out here to work for my friend’s clothing company that was based in Japan. They were expanding to the US. I was supposed to be the US sales rep for their expansion into North America but I had no idea what I was doing. I went from there to Mass Appeal where I worked on the publishing side for the next 4 or 5 years. During that time we launched a book that I was very proud of called Missbehave. That was a women’s magazine that I had very little to do with but I did my part to help get it off the ground. The editorial staff on that was like a who’s who of women doing their thing. Everyone was very young and optimistic. When independent publishing died around 2008, I started working for a company called Colossal Media. They were doing hand painted outdoor billboards. It was photorealistic painting. I worked there for a long time and then started at Kinfolk in 2012. I was at Kinfolk until this year, 2019. And that’s my New York resume.”
I was curious to know where else he would choose to live, if it wasn’t New York.
“Well, I’ve travelled a bit in Asia and I really like Tokyo. It’s an amazing place. I really like Osaka also but I think my favourite place that I have been to is probably Hong Kong. It is having a tough time right now but I feel like Hong Kong is what New York thinks it is in terms of being the city that never sleeps. I’ve just never been anywhere that had the same energy that Hong Kong has.”
Did you like your name growing up?
“Yeah, I didn’t mind it. I never really watch Family Guy but people send me this clip maybe once a year where they are trying to break into some vault and the security question was ‘What’s the worst name in the world?’ and the answer is ‘Keith’. I never thought about it that way but apparently other people didn’t like it very much. But yeah, I like the name Keith. I was good with it.”
Did you ever want to change your name growing up?
“I never really thought about it, no. For me personally, I never really thought of any other name that I would want for myself. A couple of times I got arrested and I told the cops that my name was Kevin. I was trying to keep it believable but they didn’t take my word for it. But I just had a kid a year ago and going through the naming process was definitely a lot more difficult than I expected. It felt like a lot of responsibility. It really says a lot about you. If you meet a parent and they introduce you to their child whose name is Brock or Baron, it says a little bit about who the parent is. You want to pick something cool and unique but also not so out there that the kid is going to get a tough time for it.” We contemplated what we would have named our sons, had we had them very young. Of that, Keith said, “He probably would be called Eminem.”
What Keith said he thinks everyone should experience in their life was something I could relate to.
“Well, there is a lot but moving to a new city and forcing yourself out of your comfort zone. Maybe not moving but being outside of your comfort zone and I think that moving to a new city does that. When you’re an adult and you have to start over and make new relationships and you’re not just friends with people because you grew up next to them. You get to learn about yourself and who you are and what your actual interests are. I have a ton of friends that I love that I grew up with but if i met them now, I would never be friends with them. When you move to a new city you learn a lot about yourself.”