Brands Who Became Agencies: Gin Lane Media

Brands Who Became Agencies: Gin Lane Media

PSFK talks to brands who have started creative agencies. This week, we look at Gin Lane Media.

Arthur Soleimanpour
  • 2 april 2010

Over the next few weeks PSFK will continue a weekly feature on on brands that have become agencies. Our goal is to see what kind of thinking and work these brand architects are putting into the market, and how their experience affects what kind of advice they give clients. No matter what types of services they offer as agencies all of them have one thing in common, they have already built a successful brand from the ground up. In addition to last week’s article featuring the Decon Creative Group, some of the people we will be talking to include Alife Creative (Alife brand), and Virtue (Vice brand).

Part two of this interview series focuses on Gin Lane Media. They are a creative agency located in downtown NYC that was started principally by Emmett Shine after he found success with his t-shirt brand Lola. The fun thing about Lola is that it’s a legitimate business that was started by a bunch of kids who hung out together since elementary school and were brought together by their bond of being different and love of skateboarding. Emmett and his partner Henry Lihn were able to capture that innocent energy and infuse it into Gin Lane.

Gin Lane Office

What was it like making the transition from Lola to Gin Lane? Did your experience making t-shirts help start the agency?

Henry Lihn: We were the company that had no dollars. When we first started with Teany beverages we were like, “Imagine what we could do with $10,000 dollars!” We really understood the framework and constraints of a manufacturing based business. In that scenario your biggest issue is sales. So, coming right out of the gate one of the first things we tried to do was link all of our initiatives to sales. So, when we did an outdoor promotion for Seamless Web we made sure that we requested from the client all these trackable codes.

A lot of people were really impressed with us in that we were a company that blended advertising, marketing and PR together and tried to justify them at every point. It’s evolved now into us returning evaluation docs to our clients pointing out where the hours were spent and what the returns are. As we evolve, we’re also a lot more strategic in our approach from the beginning of initiatives in terms of the research we do on the product and consumer base that allows us to lay down a strategy. Rocawear is a great example, we built a community platform for them that increased their online sales by around 27%.  It was predicated on a an assumption that if we do something and aggregate all these people it will result in sales. Most of the businesses we work with really appreciate that we came from a brand.

Do you use that in your pitches? Does it help?

HL: All the time. It doesn’t matter that it was Lola, or that we have separate ventures on the side, it’s the fact that we are doing it. Emmett in particular has the luxury of being able to talk about more recent ventures like the Lola Gallery in Southampton. That came into play even with your Stella McCartney Adidas pitch. So, you know it keeps coming back and that’s great.

We had a guy in who was a former BBDO guy and he was talking about building a company with the former CMO of so and so and it’s going to be all about strategy and all about building a product. He wanted to do major campaigns for Coca-Cola because he felt like he understood the product. At the end of it and listening to all the good stuff he has from all his experience we were like, “we don’t want to be this guy. He isn’t in touch. He does work with major brands. Ultimately, we can see where his money is blown and wasted and we are going to have to build ourselves up from a grass root basis.”

Lola Lookbook

What client represents your biggest evolution to date?

Emmett Shine: The Stella McCartney Adidas project. That’s a digital campaign. The design, development, management, marketing, overseeing the ads, and the strategy of the media buy.

Talk to me about how Lola started and evolved into what it is today?

ES: We were a bunch of kids living in the conservative leaning town of Southampton and needed something to do. When you’re a kid and you don’t fit into being “Bobby and Johnny”, you know we were bunch of wild little kids skateboarding around lighting firecrackers and stuff. There was no real stuff to do in terms of a recreational center or after school program or something. We would skate around and no one wanted us to be skateboarding around the shops in the village, they said we were making noise and being loud and our skateboards would keep getting confiscated by the police. We went to the mayor’s office basically after a year and said to the mayor that it wasn’t fair and asked him to give us somewhere to go and skateboard. He surprisingly said “okay, I’ll give you an abandoned plot of land, go skate there and I never want to see you in town again.”

They paved the land for us in Lola Prentice Park and we went and stole construction wood from housing sites on the outskirts of the village, watched 411 skate videos and learned how to build ramps. We ended up making a whole skate park. After a while, if you were young and from the surrounding areas the place to go was Lola. We ran it and self enforced rules and everything, At that young age we learned how to be self managed in a way.

All of our parents were first generation Hamptonites and they were all artist leaning non traditional types. So, by nature the kids of those people were going to hang out together. We were the kids that didn’t necessarily fit into this small town. From first grade we used to put our money together to go buy chicken sandwiches and stuff like that, everything was done together. So, when it came time to make money when we got older we just knew we had to do something together. So, we started a skateboard company. We got a team together in the city, started making boards and promoting though t-shirts.

Once the t-shirts hit we saw that people wanted to the shirts more than the boards. We started making more t-shirts and kept reinvesting the money. Then we did hoodies, hats, stickers, party’s to get attention. A half dozen of us are the core group who started it, but it turned into a real brand. It had gotten to a point where we were making $25k a month online.


How do you divide your time between Gin Lane and Lola? Is there a crossover in your staff from Gin Lane to Lola? Where are you at with Lola at the moment and how does that play into Gin Lane on a day to day basis?

ES: The majority of my time is on Gin Lane and that helps sustain everything. Lola keeps us culturally relevant and helps us give back. We have two art shows coming up soon. We have he gallery in Southampton. Everyone at Gin Lane helps out on Lola at some point whether it’s working on the site or helping with an event. Gin Lane has it’s own culture that’s being created, but I try to integrate Lola into the agency culture.

We have five people living down in Atlanta now running a gallery space and taking care of Lola. New York does the design and selling and Atlanta runs the web site and takes care of the shipping. Every shirt is still printed by hand, every customer that buys it get a personal note. I think we’ve applied that mentality that to Gin Lane.

Is there a current project that you want to tell us about?

ES: We’re doing some cool work with


The Story Behind How LYNK & CO Created A Car Brand From Scratch

Technology Today

Google’s Gyroscopic Camera Lets You Shoot VR Content On Android

The experimental device called Sprayscape takes photos inside a sphere to create 360-degree virtual images

Syndicated Today

Why Fashion Labels Are Moving Away From Overt Branding

New research suggests brand are shying away from logos and flashy displays


Get PSFK's Related Report: Future of Work

See All
Fashion Today

Scientists Have Developed A Furry Wetsuit Material Inspired By Beavers

MIT researchers created the lighter and warmer fabric to maximize speed in the water and to keep swimmers dry

Advertising Today

Coca-Cola Has Created A Custom Gaming PC

Maingear developed a computer featuring a fully functional coke bottle water-cooling reservoir

Social Media Today

Chipotle’s New Weekly Show Broadcasts Over Snapchat

The Mexican fast food brand is trying to build goodwill with high school and college students through the social media platform

Media & Publishing Today

The NBA Is Filming Live Games With A Special Camera Just For Your Phone

Subscribers to League Pass can now access a feature called Mobile View, which is shot to be optimized for phones and tablets


Future Of Automotive
Scenarios Driving The Digital Transformation Of An Industry

PSFK Op-Ed october 26, 2016

Health Expert: Nutritional Meal Replacements Are A Solution To Corporate Wellness

Ample Foods Founder Connor Young explains why supplements are the next food trend coming to the workplace

PSFK Labs october 25, 2016

The Keys For Exceptional Performance On And Off The Field

PSFK Labs' new report highlights five important insights for businesses to perform better than the competition

AI Today

Film Touchingly Portrays The Challenge Of Relying On AI To Combat Loneliness

Director David Wilson takes viewers on a journey of the benefits and ultimate deficiencies of replacing human interaction with robots

Travel Today

Delta Lets Flyers Track Their Luggage From The Airplane To The Airport

The airline's new app allows customers to see exactly where their baggage is throughout their journey

Food Today

Chef Turns Invasive Species Into Delicious Sushi

Creator Bun Lai is adapting strange new ingredients for his menu, which responds to the ecological impact of overabundant creatures in the local environment

Gaming & Play Today

Build Your Own Subway System In This Minimalist Game

Mini Metro lets you design your own fully functional transit network, simulating the flow of urban commuters with pared-down visuals

Work Today

Keyboard Designed To Help Women Use More Assertive Language

The device is a commentary on gender roles in the workplace, and features easy access to "power verbs" that help reinforce a habit of being direct in writing

Arts & Culture Today

Spanish Artist Dreams Up What Animals Would Look Like In Modern Clothing

Yago Partal's portraits depict the fantasized style preferences of creatures worldwide, from an Arctic wolf to a zebra

Fitness & Sport Today

New Data Technologies Make Hyper-Personalized Training A Reality

The Sports Debrief from PSFK Labs looks at how analytics tools are being developed to optimize human performance across all industries

Technology Today

IBM Watson Helps Grammy-Winning Producer Craft An EP

The computer system's data technology generated musical scores for Alex Da Kid's first solo project

No search results found.