Our Favorite Brooklyn Places
At .Bk, Brooklyn’s not just an idea, it’s our home. Where the company and the Dossier were both born, New York’s biggest borough is the fertile soil where many dreamers, artists, and entrepreneurs plant a flag, leading to a stunning diversity of people and places.
We wanted to share a few of the unique institutions that make this place what it is, starting with a company that bridges the gap between Brooklyn’s industrial past and its bohemian renaissance today.
Part I: The Institution, Grado Labs
A few weeks ago we had the pleasure of getting to know Jonathan Grado, the grandson of Grado Labs’ founder. He showed us around, shared a little of Grado’s history and gave us our favorite headphones that we now wear all day long in the office.
A Little History Never Hurt Anyone
Grado Labs was founded by Joseph Grado in 1953. Already a master watchmaker, Joseph then decided to enter the vinyl needle and cartridge market. When the vinyl industry peaked in the mid 80s, Grado was making 10,000 cartridges a week. But with the advent of the CD, cartridges sales soon slumped to a mere 10,000 a year. Joseph Grado was about to close up shop, but his brother John bought the company and started developing what are today considered by audiophiles to be some of the best headphones available.
What’s the noise about?
The Grado difference in sound lies in it’s open-back ear construction. The high end models utilize wood in the can design, creating an audial aesthetic that resembles a church hall or opera house. Musicians and producers from George Martin to John Mayer champion them… and whatever your opinion of John Mayer, if you have one, he probably knows headphones.
A conversation with Jonathan Grado, VP of Marketing / Prince of the Grado Empire
After we got the lowdown on the Grado headphones myth, we chatted with Jonathan Grado about what it’s like working with family, how you can bribe him (peanut butter cookies), and what song has been stuck in his head.
How is it working for the family business?
Working with the family business is great. What’s nice is that no one ever wants to strangle each other (most of the time), so there’s a really positive dynamic. Everyone is quick to help everyone else, and we’re all usually on the same page. I grew up with most of the present employees, so I consider them family as well.
What is your favorite song right now?
I have about 100 favorite songs, so there are too many to list! But I’ve noticed two songs coming up in my playlist recently that I don’t immediately skip, Mother We Share by Chvches and Naive by The Kooks. The type of music Chvrches plays isn’t usually in my daily music mix, but it’s been stuck in my head (in a good way).
If you could only eat one thing for the rest of your life, what would it be?
A food question?! Love it. Bread pudding. Actually, scratch that. Peanut butter cookies. Good peanut butter cookies. Right out of the oven. You have full access to my wallet if you give me a good PB cookie (just kidding, but seriously).
Who was the most interesting person you’ve gotten to make headphones for?
Knowing how big a fan my dad is of The Beatles, and then becoming friends with Giles Martin (the son of George Martin, who produced The Beatles) was one of the best coincidences. I was working at Sonos when Giles visited. He spoke about Grado Headphones and it turns out I was in the other room. We actually weren’t introduced there, but over email a few weeks later. The next time he was in the States he even got to visit Grado, too.
If you could have one superpower, what would it be?
Teleporting, flying, super speed, telekinesis, time control. All at the top of my list and the usual suspects. My number one though is the power to always have a parking space in front of wherever I’m going.
If you could go anywhere in the world, where would you go?
Wherever the freshest sushi is served. That’s where I’d be.
Where’s your favorite place in Brooklyn?
I’m a twentysomething, so Williamsburg. Just as predictable as my list of superpowers. If we’re getting really specific though, my favorite place in Brooklyn is my bed.