With two nights worth of tips and not much entrepreneurial expertise, Nick Hogan and his best friend, Matt Shail, founded Jacksonville’s only cocktail pins and apparel store, Mover & Shaker, in 2017. To set themselves apart from their fellow bartenders, they created a brand that has harnessed attention across the hospitality industry, and most recently, that of Wu-Tang Clan rapper, Raekwon.
The idea for Mover & Shaker came after Hogan purchased an apron from Search & Rescue Denim out of Vancouver and wanted to “decorate” it with “flair” (reminiscent of the old TGIF days). However, he soon realized that there weren’t any bartender-dedicated enamel pin companies at the time besides Love & Victory, which was selling an iconic Negroni pin.
“We see the hospitality industry as a fundamental foundation of our society. There were almost 17 million people working in the hospitality industry in the United States in 2019, and those people were looking for an identity to grab on to,” Hogan, a 31-year-old Jacksonville native, said. “There really isn’t a company like us that caters to our demographic.”
Hogan added that, to cater to these employees, Mover & Shaker has taken a “guerilla approach” to infiltrating collaborations, in addition to working with huge brands and maintaining authenticity. In doing so, he has built a team of experienced bartenders, including marketing and events manager Shannon Michelle, who manages one of Jacksonville’s top cocktail bars, Sidecar in San Marco.
“Mover & Shaker is about building community, giving back and caring for what is happening in our industry, and right now our industry needs it,” Hogan said. “Jacksonville and North Florida’s bar scene is relatively small, but it’s a force to be reckoned with.”
Priding themselves on a “for bartenders, by bartenders” mentality, the company now employs everything from skateboarding and underground music and streetwear aesthetic to hospitality and more. Stemming the sale of four initial pins, Mover & Shaker has grown to offer over 150 pins, 70-plus shirt SKUs, dozens of custom strainers and other bar tools, air fresheners, shower curtains and more.
One of the original pins the company sold was a Charlie Brown pin, but instead of his shirt having the infamous zig-zag lines, he had the Wu-Tang Clan’s “W” logo on it. This was just one example of how the Mover & Shaker team’s love of the hip-hop group was manifested in their work. Since then, they have also featured Wu-Tang Clan-inspired cocktails online and have manufactured a number of Wu-Tang Clan parody shirts.
Adding to this collection, several months ago Mover & Shaker decided to create Wu-Tang Clan strainers for an Instagram giveaway. To the team’s surprise, someone forwarded their post directly to Raekwon.
“I was grocery shopping one day and got this very cryptic email from Raekwon’s representative, which I initially thought was some sort of scam email. But I responded, which set the wheels in motion. I listened to his inaugural album, ‘Only Built 4 Cuban Linx,’ the morning before our phone call just to hype myself up,” Hogan shared. “Once I heard his voice over the phone that first time, it was magical.”
“Somebody from my camp lined me up with their page, and I pretty much fell in love with it then. I never had the opportunity to work with someone so close in the bar industry before, and the collaboration made it dope,” Raekwon said. “One thing people notice about me is that I love quality craftsmanship when it comes to creative things, so when I envision [something] a certain way, it has to look like that.”
Hogan went on to call the collaboration with Raekwon “an absolute dream” and says the rapper has proven that he truly cares about the hospitality industry as well. This has been made increasingly evident through Raekwon’s raps over the years about fine wines and spirits, Hogan says.
“I think that myself and the bartending scene are similar in that we share creativity, being around people and engaging with communities. Bartenders are the ‘show biz’ to the community when it comes to the drinking world and going out,” Raekwon said. “I wanted to do something for the industry that I thought would be respected because we love the same things.”
Although the Wu-Tang Clan-inspired strainer is Mover & Shaker’s first true collector’s piece, the company hopes the product spurs more collaborations moving forward. The team aspires to continue bridging the gap between music, art and bartending while bringing attention to small business and young local artists.
“[When I first met Nick] I told him, ‘Listen so I’ve been checking your page out, it’s dope and I like what you’re about.’ I could tell he was serious about the bar world and that he’s his own businessman,” Raekwon said. “That’s what I love, to see people out there doing what they love to the fullest and making a living out of it.”
In the future, Hogan believes there is a lot of room for future investment and to build on the company’s culture. He also wants to teach consumers and guests about the bartending world and all that Mover & Shaker is doing.
“We plan to stay authentic, keep working on big collaborations and push the envelope for what a small, boutique brand can do,” Hogan said.