Introducing: The Sporting Project
By Jenny Bahn
A few years ago, two young women working in the fashion industry began to daydream of ways to blend all the things they love –- food, fashion, and art. In June 2012, Jenny Capano and Tara Gilson decided to develop all three and transcend boundaries in these categories. Together, they jumped off the proverbial cliff of independence, quit their day jobs (developing the 3.1 Phillip Lim brand), and moved to Paris — thus the birth of Sporting Project. The Sporting Project launched this past Paris Fashion Week, hosting a series of dinners whipped up by lower Manhattan favorites, The Fat Radish. Jenny and Tara spoke to The Inside Source about bonding over clothing hangars, and powering down European style. We also asked the TSP team to tip us off to some good Paris/NYC recommendations too.
Jenny Bahn: How did the two of you meet?
Jenny & Tara: Tara and I met working at 3.1 Phillip Lim. We had both started as… [MORE] interns and were hired on soon after. We became friends immediately and worked really well with each other. We had to do everything at that stage. I remember when [the company] changed the logo, Tara and I removed all the old logos from each wooden hanger for the new one to be printed on. We spent days doing this in our canteen. I think that was the bonding point. We didn’t even notice the amount of hangers we had to deal with; we couldn’t stop talking and asking each other questions.
Q: What was your “eureka moment” with The Sporting Project?
A: Ahhh, yes. Well, it all goes back to this one moment, and this is actually where The Sporting Project’s name comes from. We were traveling for Phillip Lim with our CEO, Wen Zhou, to Istanbul and then Beirut. It was a nonstop, no-sleep kind of work trip, but we loved it. We changed our flights to have a day off and enjoy Beirut and spend time catching up with friends. When we asked everyone what we should do, multiple people told us to visit Sporting Club, a beach club with no frills, just cement and the Mediterranean. We loved it! It was there that we had a moment to breathe and really talk about our next moves and where we wanted to be, how to combine our passions and make a business out of it.
Q: Tell us about your pilot launch this Paris Fashion Week.
A: We launched TSP with our first pop-up restaurant this September with the ever-amazing Fat Radish team. We really picked up the restaurant and brought it to Paris, bringing owners, Ben and Phil, and the executive chef, Nick. Open for eight nights, we debuted with a private VIP dinner with Krug Champagne and then closed the restaurant out for the CFDA/Vogue Americans in Paris dinner.
Our favorite part of the experience was having our friends come, sit down together, and enjoy a meal. There were some surprise reservations, like Sarah [Lerfel] from Colette. She was nine months pregnant but still came to support us. Caroline Issa of Tank Magazine was also an incredible supporter. She came twice, once with Christian Lacroix and another time with Garance Doré. Everyone who came really appreciated all that went into it. The energy in the room could not have been better.
Q: How is life going as official ex-pats?
A: We have had so much change in the past few months –- leaving our careers in fashion, starting our own business, moving abroad. We are learning to appreciate that Paris is not a 24-hour city. The conveniences we had in New York are not the same here. There’s no Duane Reade on every corner. In Paris, everything is closed on Sundays (and sometimes Mondays, as well)… but we are starting to appreciate this. It allows us to slow down.
Q: What can Parisians can learn from New Yorkers?
A: There’s always a solution! New Yorkers are resilient; we don’t just accept “it’s not possible” as an answer.
Q: What can New Yorkers can learn from Parisians?
A: Slow down. Everything does not need to be on the go. If you actually sit down and enjoy your lunch, you will end up being more productive through out the day. Enjoy it!
Q: Care to share some favorite places in Paris?
A: l’Office — This place has great food, well-priced tasting menus, and is always playing The Rolling Stones. This has become one of our weekly spots to eat!
Le Dauphin — It’s the wine bar next to Chateaubriand. Incredible small plates with a fun and casual atmosphere.
Roseval – Mikey and Simone are extremely talented chefs. They opened Roseval over the summer and have been coming up with some of the most inventive tasting menus in Paris.
Le Verre Volé – Our Sunday night dinner spot. Incredible comfort food and organic wine list.
10 Belles – Our go-to coffee spot. No work is getting done here! We go to sit and enjoy the coffee and conversation.
Bob’s Juice Bar and Kitchen – Our other home. Delicious fresh juices and veggie friendly lunch fare, even pancakes on the weekend!
Q: Any favorite spots in New York you wish would just magically appear at your French doorstep?
A: They’re all food related! We are cliché pizza junkies and miss all of New York and Brooklyn’s offerings. When we were trying to get TSP off the ground, we would work after we left the 3.1 Phillip Lim office on our business plan and we always ended up having pizza. It was a ritual. We are still in search of good pizza in Paris. I’m also a huge oyster fan. I’m missing Maison Premier, Prime Meats, and Hotel Delmano. Those were always my go-to spots. We need a little more of that here in Paris!
To learn more about The Sporting Project, check them out online.