One day, when Cat Greenleaf was getting out of the subway stop near her home in Brooklyn, she looked up and noticed a building she’d never seen before. She realized that most of the time she was so busy checking her messages as soon as she got above ground that she wasn’t looking at the things she walked past in her neighborhood every day. Greenleaf, who describes herself as a “total nameplate necklace whore,” came up with the idea of making necklaces with “look up” and “stop texting” on them. Now, she has a line of T-shirts and a website, LUST Brooklyn. She spoke to TheGloss about texting addiction, raising kids in a mobile world, and who she’d love to collaborate with.
How did the T-shirt line get started?
I was wearing the necklaces in L.A., and I walked into Fred Segal. A woman at the store said “I have to have those.” My friend said I had a T-shirt line too, which I didn’t at the time, and the woman [at the store] called my bluff and invited me to do a window for them. We will launch the line at Fred Segal in September.
How have people responded to the concept?
People love it. Everyone admits they are addicted to technology and has an opinion about how texting is bad and eroding our world, but we’re all addicted anyway. It’s like alcohol. People talk about how bad it is but they drink a bottle of wine every night. I was in Canada wearing one of the shirts and a lady stopped me and talked about how she was addicted to texting and it turns out she was the president of Michael Kors. Everyone admits “that’s me! That’s me to a T!”
You sell two separate necklaces – Look Up and Stop Texting. Do you worry that people won’t wear them together and the message might be lost?
It’s two necklaces and you’re supposed to wear them together. But I like that message means whatever you want it to mean. One necklace might mean more to one person and they don’t have to wear them together. But we have sold equal amounts of both of them.
My husband always jokes that we’re going to get a picture of me on the internet somewhere out texting in public. I have stopped texting as much because I practice what I preach. I started this [company] because I was a disgusting textaholic and realized I was missing stuff. My workaround is that sometimes I just stand still, send my message, and then walk. No need to miss experiences because you need to get a message out.
What’s your goal for the line?
What I would love? Oprah picks it up as part of her No Phone Zone! I have not seen any other trendy products out there that make a joke to put it in the cultural conversation.
My goal is to take this as far as it can go without being preachy or obnoxious. I just want to start a conversation, and I want to sell some stuff. We’re donating some of the proceeds to the Common Ground Foundation. I would love it if brought back manners, and I am worried that kids are missing out on communication skills. [Greenleaf is the mom of a 15-month-old.] We are going to be Luddite parents.