Raan and Shea Parton are the brothers behind Apolis, a B Corporation certified brand reshaping the global economy with an advocacy-through-industry business model. Their socially motivated lifestyle brand empowers individual makers worldwide while supplying Los Angeles locals with menswear staples and unisex accessories.
When the California natives are not traveling the globe researching potential partners for their business, they can be found running a community lecture series out of the DTLA storefront (panelists have included everyone from Quincy Jones to Clare Vivier), curating the new coffee shop/bodega Flowerboy Project in Venice Beach or launching more stores like the popular gallery/retail store/event space Alchemy Works, which Raan opened with his wife last year.
Unsure of if and when the Parton brothers find time to sleep, we decided to check in and chat with them directly about their different interior aesthetics, their favorite LA coffee shops and how they strive to maintain healthy work life balances among their many endeavors.
How do your roles for Apolis differ? Explain the dynamic.
Shea: The way Raan and I have been able to build a partnership is that he does everything creative and I make sure we stay profitable. Raan has an amazing appetite for being a connector and my role is more behind the scenes. If Raan wasn’t the absolute social butterfly that he is, we wouldn’t have 1/10th of the opportunities that we have. Raan has an amazing appetite for being a connector, and I feel like my role is definitely behind the scenes.
As brothers who work together, how do your interior styles differ?
Raan: I don’t think Shea is as sensitive to what his interiors are as I am. I am not obsessive compulsive, but I am very specific when it comes to my space and things. I mean, it’s my job here! Alchemy Works started from what was in our living room and evolved into a retail store. As a brand, Apolis is very undesigned, simple and modern, but from a personal and home interior angle, my style is much warmer but still has a brightness to it. I think that coastal, salt-water aesthetic is where we feel the most comfortable. That’s how we grew up.
We are big believers that bedside tables can reveal a lot about a person. What is on your bedside table?
Raan: My bedside table is usually a mess, Shea’s is probably really organized. I have a lot of crumpled business cards, a collection of different pens that I steal from our partner and production director. I steal one every day and don’t even think about it. Then I go and deposit it in my bedside table and he has no idea where his pens went. We just moved and I was trying to figure out how I ended up with 100 pens.
Shea: Until I get around to cleaning it up, mine is usually a shit show. I have a handful of books. We just moved into a new house and I decided I wanted a big bedside table so I could put the computer there. I am on the more tactile side, I really enjoy paper and pen so a lot of the stuff that I do everyday is in a spiral notebook, which is there, too.
What is your favorite midnight snack?
Raan: Midnight snack! Whoa, that is so 80s.
Shea: My wife is pregnant and I basically just stopped grocery shopping because I couldn’t keep up with her cravings – I would get home from the grocery store and then she would want Chinese food. So it’s probably better to go with Raan on that one…
Raan: When we work late – which happens a few times a week – my favorite place to get a midnight snack is Milo and Olive. We usually hit them right before close. I love their meatballs and they have a ridiculous burrata pizza.
You have both traveled extensively. What are some of the best views to wake up to around the world?
Raan: Right now the Middle East is so underestimated. It has the most incredible landscapes, people and extensive amounts of fun things to do. Waking up in Jerusalem is the best – it’s like a Middle Eastern London. It gets all these bad headlines but it’s a place I’ve fallen in love with. We released a cross border collaboration between Israel and Palestine: it’s a product we spent a couple of years creating with a designer in Tel Aviv and a leather maker in the West Bank of Hebron. I would have to say the Middle East is the best view to wake up to.
Shea: I have been really inspired by spending time in Mexico lately. We have a project we are developing in Oaxaca; it’s a glass blowing studio, such a unique and crafted artisan legacy. I think most Americans have a misguided perception that it’s really dangerous to be in Mexico, but I think it’s a really exciting spot in the front of my mind right now.
Where is the perfect cup of coffee in LA?
Raan: Shea will say Blacktop and I will say Flowerboy.
Shea: I am falling in love with the little neighborhood Proof Bakery in Atwater Village, sorry Raan!
You’re both involved in various entrepreneurial projects to grow your businesses and to promote global citizenry. These are not light tasks to undertake, how do you unwind after long days?
Raan: We just did a cool field trip to a fellow downtown B Corporation company, The Reformation. One of the issues discussed was how to prevent employees from getting run down. We don’t think of it as work-life separation. We think of it as a work-life integration. For example, my wife and I opened another concept store called Alchemy Works. It was 24/7 at the start and we didn’t really leave the premises. We didn’t have the support of an entire company like Shea and I do at Apolis. Lindsay (my wife) and I had to learn to be really conscious to at least take Saturday or Sunday off and go rogue or off the grid to recharge the batteries. It’s a little easier in LA versus New York because of the quality of life here – the access to fresh air, the beach scene– it’s easier to maintain a really intense work week and then balance it with off duty activities.