Routine Behavior is a series where we talk to guys who successfully juggle businesses, careers, and parenting about the routines that keep them on track. Up next is Jeff Carvalho, a snowboarding menswear guru and cultivator of all things cool at his day job as the partner and Executive Editor at Highsnobiety. Carvalho has a penchant for weird, old personal notes and barely alive cars, but he’s mostly preoccupied these days by tending to his newborn son, Adi. And the first fatherhood lesson was arguably the toughest: Lose the crappy car.
What time do you start answering emails in the morning?
I promised myself about 6 months ago I wouldn’t check an email before I got to the office, and that has helped keep my blood pressure low. It’s also stopped me from responding without sitting and thinking about things. I check the mail but don’t respond; I think that’s important. And I stop responding to mail at 9 PM. I figured this is the only way to stay sane, and it’s helped me be less reactive.
What is something that became essential after you had a child?
I’ve had a car — a beater — my whole life. I think having a car is a lot fun, but I had an incident when Adi was 3-weeks-old. We were returning from my parents’ house and my beater broke down on the highway. It was about 91 degrees out, and we had forgotten our dog leash. So we had a dog without a collar and a baby. It was a little stressful, and that was the first time that I was like, “F—k this. I need to get a car to take care of my family.”
That has been one major expense that if I didn’t have a baby, I’d be like, “Eh, do we really need this?” But it was very clear to me then that we had to get this done. So I bought a car. I ended up going super dad style, and I bought a Volvo, an XC60. It’s amazing.
How often do you travel for work and do you look forward to it or dread it?
For the last at least 8 years, it’s been a lot travel. Fashion is very big for what we do, so we tend to be on the road in January during market and fashion weeks. And in July and August we travel a lot. I’ve spent the last 7 summers in Berlin and Europe. Actually, this was the first July that I’ve been in United States in some time. Next week, I’m going to Alaska for 4 days on an expedition to test some product. I was traveling last week for the big Converse Chuck 2 launch.
To say I look forward to travel wouldn’t be very kind to my situation, but …
It’s not so much that I look forward to travel; it gives me time to catch on my personal self a bit. That means being able to wake up, put on a pair of running shoes, and just go. I do that here on a bike but never really get out just to run. Traveling allows a little bit more time just to kind of stop thinking about work, even if I’m traveling for work. To say I look forward to it wouldn’t be very kind to my situation, but … It brings me a little bit of calm to know that, at one-month-old, Adi is very tied to breastfeeding and his routine. I don’t think I’m letting him down as much as giving his mom a little bit of stress.
Does your wife work?
She doesn’t work; she’s a full-time mom. We could have gotten a nanny, and we know so many people with nannies, but the math didn’t make sense. The savings wasn’t large enough, and both of us very feel it’s very important for her to be there.
What services do you pay for (cooking, cleaning, yard maintenance, etc.)?
We actually just got a new housekeeper who’s amazing. Couldn’t be happier. I have a simple 2-bed in Fort Greene [Brooklyn]. But nothing brings more pleasure than walking into that place when it’s just tidy and put together, because it’s the sanctuary.
[My wife] is an incredible cook, and before the baby she’d cook incredible meals. Now, we’re actually spending more time in restaurants, which is interesting, how you navigate that with a baby. Just, where do you safe, getting there early, being ready for anything. In Europe, I’d never have this feeling because kids are just accepted everywhere, but I’m sensitive to the people around me. Still, we decided it’s time for us to eat out and take the baby around. That’s very important, ensuring that we get out and live our life. Don’t revolve your life around the baby, make them a part of your life.
What gear have you found vital now that you have a kid?
Gear-wise, our car seat amazing. We have a Cybex Aton 2. What’s amazing is that they’re incredibly easy to buckle in when you don’t have the base. There’s also this 4Moms automatic rocker that’s incredibly impressive called the Mamaroo.
Don’t revolve your life around the baby; make them part of your life.
What’s your go-to when you need work-related inspiration?
We use an internal chat system for our offices interface, and I spend a lot of time in the main editorial room that’s populated by 20 or so sub-30 guys and women just dropping links off all day. I spend a lot of time getting a sense of what’s happening within their worlds there. That’s inspiring.
I come from the DIY world of self-publishing. I still get a lot of inspiration from print. I go to a lot of self-publishing book fairs. Brooklyn has one that happens over at PS1; it’s amazing, incredibly crowded, but a lot of great art.
I’m obsessed with ephemera, especially anything paper. I buy weird oddball stuff in stacks, like postcards with stamps from the 1850s. I buy anything weird in paper, and that’s where I get a lot of inspiration. We’re a digital-first company, but I don’t think my father understood what I did until I put print in front of him. Oh, and I’m always obsessed with music.
What’s your go-to when you need to completely turn your brain off?
I tend to get on my bike. I wear headphones and plug into a mix or a podcast. In winter, snowboarding is incredibly important to me. I can’t wait to put Adi on a snowboard. I just want to get out there and do those outdoor activities with him. I didn’t have any reservations about having a kid at 40, but there’s a part of me that wishes I’d had him at 35.
When it comes to getting my kid into what I love, I just remind myself that this is something you do. If you want to introduce it, introduce it, but don’t force it. It’s not going to stop me from nudging a little again and again, but I certainly don’t want to make him afraid. And I would hate for my boy to feel he’s letting me down because he didn’t want to do that.