Zach Frechette appears to be a very rare breed of Los Angeleno: the unabashed prep. With a full, finely groomed beard, round tortoise shell glasses, and a cowl neck Ralph Lauren sweater, he lounges on a settee shoeless, relaxing. If you didn’t know him, you would probably guess he had just cleaned up after a crew scrimmage or a squash match or any other WASP-esque activities you can imagine.
Frechette comes from the Northeast, originally from Boston, which he clarified as “real Boston–not fake Boston, suburbs Boston, or New Hampshire Boston, like a lot of people claim.” He didn’t make the trip out to Los Angeles until six years ago, when he started working with GOOD Magazine, not too long after finishing Brown and working at an advertising agency in Boston.
But, although a New Englander, he has definitely found life in Los Angeles to be fantastic. “It’s cliche to care about the weather or whatever, but I think it’s underestimated. I think it really profoundly impacts the experience of people living in LA,” he says, cradling a cup of coffee, “You become adult about [the weather] because you realize you don’t like being in the cold all the time.”
Like many, the weather is such a strong selling point for Los Angeles–but it’s so much more than that. “I feel like after a year in LA, the realization I had was that on the East coast you have the first Spring day where people are just freaking out. People are in t-shirts and euphoric and, in LA, it’s pretty much like that everyday. I feel like that really has a profound impact on how people live their lives and the vibe of the city.”
That euphoria seems to touch every aspect of Southern California lifestyle, from the way people dress to the way people create to the way people do business. Zach definitely sees this and feels it is one of the best parts of the city, a philosophical appeal innate to the Los Angeles population. “One of the other wonderful parts of Los Angeles is that so many people come here pursuing their dreams. Beside the weather, that’s another cliche because it’s a city full of people trying to be actors or whatever. But, I think that does end up having an impact on the way people approach everything, which is a sort of ‘No reason we can’t do this and no reason we can’t figure this out’ mentality. I think that definitely informed how we were trying to do our business.”
And, like many, the path out West was not something he had planned on: “I certainly didn’t know I would end up in Los Angeles. I would have considered that very unlikely when I was in college. But, I think working in editorial and in content was definitely something I was on the path to do.”
That path came very easily, as GOOD Magazine knocked on his door not long after he started his first “real” job. “I got a call from the owner and founder of GOOD, this guy who I had gone to high school and college with, who was like, ‘Hey: we’re thinking of starting this thing and trying to put together a team of young people who would be excited about the opportunity and wouldn’t have to pay that much. Are you interested?’ It sounded pretty good. I left [an] advertising job, after six months or so, and got in my car and drove across the country to a city I had never been.”
GOOD had a clear sense of what they would be, yet Zach was the editorial minded co-founder who got it on its sea legs. “GOOD was really like an idea that they knew they wanted to happen. By the time I got out here, there were four of us: Ben–the founder–and two other guys, Max and Casey. And, when I came, it became real for all of them. They were really good friends and had all been in LA, doing a few different things but, as soon as someone had driven across the country to become a part of it, it’s time for it to be a thing.”
And, they weren’t always set on being a magazine: they actually were more “entertainment” based in the beginning. “It basically started as a film company, which is why we are in LA. The founder wanted to make movies that were also entertaining but had a social message or some sort of something for people to engage with to help understand and make the world better. He sort of realized, about six months into that, that movies just aren’t the best way to connect with people and they are expensive to make and takes a really long time.”
Zach ran the editorial end of GOOD for six years, helping form what the magazine’s content is today. He only very, very recently left his post to pursue new projects: “The thing that I am working on is a business called Quarterly. The idea is similar to a magazine subscription, but instead of getting a magazine in the mail, you are getting objects.”
Obviously, Zach still has magazines and subscriptions on his mind: “It’s sort of based on a lot of things I’m interested in and one is the idea of what magazines used to be. It was this thing you got in the mail that reflected your interests and made you feel like you were part of a community–but so much of the experience of magazines has moved online. It’s not something that exists as much for people anymore. There’s something so wonderful about getting something in the mail. It happens so rarely now. It’s a celebration of receiving awesome shit in the mail.”
This gets at many things, but mainly at the idea of connecting with others, sharing interests in a tactile sense rather than online. Quarterly seeks to recreate community in these sense that magazines created, bound by a desire to be a part of a group that is creating–that is the audience for his latest project. “If you can build a community that becomes a self-selecting community that gets people interested in a person or a group of people and they end up creating something, I feel like that’s a more organic way to get people interested in the same things yet, having a small group of people projecting that into the world.”
Speaking with Zach, it appears that his desire to share and to create stems from a willingness to take risks and to make something for others. He doesn’t want to conform to a construct of getting a job to get a job. Instead, he’s carved a means for himself to do new things, to be “uncomfortable”: “There’s this weird and somewhat unnecessary pressure to join the workforce than pursue what you want–which makes sense. There are paths and tracks you can go on which are comfortable, but it’s cool to realize you can take risks and it can work out. And, if it doesn’t, you can always go work on Wall Street.”
Zach’s being in Los Angeles is quite happenstance: he was working in Boston and hadn’t planned on leaving until he got a call. It seems like Los Angeles found him, in a sense, seeking him out to be a part of a growing creative community in Southern California. And, you can’t help but wonder when hearing Zach’s story: what would he have done if GOOD didn’t call?
“I think I would have stayed in Boston for a little while, tried to figure out if I liked advertising. But, I’d like to think I would have decided I could do something more interesting than advertising. I feel like I probably would have been sucked to New York, which I feel happens to a lot of people from New England or who go to college in the area.”
His answer gets at another question: is there anything wrong with getting “sucked to New York”? A desire to hear him speak poorly of Los Angeles’ biggest competitor city arises.
“No, New York is great. I love New York. I love to visit but, yeah, I think its more interesting to be sucked to Los Angeles.”
Ahh: it is far more interesting to get sucked to Los Angeles. It’s definitely is more interesting. Is there ever a possibility you could get sucked to New York–or anywhere else, for that matter? What could the future hold?
“Maybe there is some universe where [my girlfriend and I] are offered jobs in Paris and we move there. I think barring anything like that, I definitely want to stay here. Maybe, perhaps, live in Laurel Canyon. It’d be a little more adult.
“I’d like to be doing creative stuff. I think it’s harder to do that when you are trying to be the idea person who creates businesses or help run things. But, I like to think that, in ten years, I will have figured out some sort of balance where I can be doing both.”