Michael Jordan once famously said “Talent wins games, but teamwork and intelligence win championships,” and it’s not hard to see why. Some of the biggest companies in the world may have been dreamt up by a single person, but it’s the collective effort of everyone on board that steers an organization toward collective success.

One such company is Rémy Martin, who’s been on a quest to produce the best cognac in the world since 1724. This is possible only with the help of many talents working together under the guidance of Baptiste Loiseau, the house's cellar master. Loiseau became the youngest cellar master in all of Cognac when he was named to the post in 2014 at just 34-years-old.

While Loiseau’s story may not be typical, his pursuit of excellence is shared by many individuals in our world who value teamwork just as much as the famed cognac-maker. We sat down with Luke Fracher, co-founder at the popular Round Two vintage stores, David X Prutting, co-owner of leading event photography collective BFA, and Highsnobiety Co-Founder Jeff Carvalho to pick their brains on what makes a team successful, how a strong team is essential to achieving excellence, their proudest team moments, and more.

Lucas Fracher, Round Two Co-Founder & Co-Owner

From left: Round Two co-founders Chris Russow and Lucas Fracher.
From left: Round Two co-founders Chris Russow and Lucas Fracher.
Lucas Fracher
Lucas Fracher
Lucas Fracher

We all know about the bond between you and co-founder Sean Wootherspoon, but when reflecting on the achievements of Round Two, who else from your collective did you lean on for inspiration to help take it from being a local vintage store into a national streetwear/footwear destination?

There's me and Sean, but there's also our third partner, Chris [Russow]. Chris and Sean are very close, and I knew Sean from when we lived in Richmond. There weren't many people who were into streetwear the way we were. I was lucky that me and Chris were able to get along and work together as well as we have, and do still to this day. The idea to move to L.A. was really a team effort between the three of us. It's more wide open and there's a little more acceptance of reselling and vintage clothing.

And that's the whole beauty of working with other people and teaming up on fun things like this, right?

For sure. Having people whose opinions you trust and respect is so important to me. I love collaborative efforts. Even when I'm doing something myself, I'll ask my friends, colleagues, and my peers, "What do you think about this?" My best ideas come from just brainstorming and talking it out with people. Stuff that I would never have thought about just comes out of my mouth, and I'm like, "Oh, that's a good idea. Let's go with that."

How were you able to leverage the unique strengths of your surrounding team members and transform it into a collective mission with a clear unified goal for everyone to strive towards?

It was tough at the beginning. Now we have this brand and mission, and we've been able to bring people on. We're lucky to be able to build a brand that people can get behind. Whether it's through social media of ourselves, social media through the store, the YouTube we have, where people feel like they know us.

From left: Round Two co-founders Lucas Fracher, Sean Wotherspoon, and Chris Russow.
Lucas Fracher

When you were and are introducing new talent to join the growing Round-Two family, what are the special qualities and characteristics that you look out for that let you know that they are a team player?

I look for people with good personality. Because at the end of the day, as someone who's worked retail, I view [it] as a service job. It may not be classified as that, but to me you're servicing people. Customer service is one of the biggest drivers and the biggest thing that separates us from other stores. We were one of the first in the game for resale, but we've stayed where we are because of our customer service. So I really look for people who can give customers a positive experience. I don't want you to be pressured to buy anything. I don't want you to feel uncool like you do in certain other streetwear stores. I want every kid who walks in to feel like the coolest kid who's ever been in a store.

Could you tell us about a moment where you were particularly proud of what you achieved with your team?

The proudest moment for me was when we opened the New York store. I'd always looked up to New York streetwear. We did L.A., and that was cool, and it was very successful, and I was very happy about it. But I was always just like, "Damn. I hope we do New York City."  To be able to walk into that space, see it completed, fill it with amazing product and then have thousands of people line up to the point where cops wanted to shut us down — that was a lifelong dream … and something I could never have done by myself. It was such a team effort, but it was one of the proudest moments in my life.

David X Prutting, Co-Founder at BFA

What are some of your team's proudest accomplishments so far?

I think the proudest accomplishments, to me, have been to see the sense of ownership that certain people have taken in their roles at the company. I see the growth in the people that have started in one role and have developed into really incredible leaders or managers of their team, or people that have this sense of responsibility for BFA to go out and represent us the best way possible. That's the greatest accomplishment for me.

Can you talk about how a strong team is essential to reaching excellence in your field?

Excellence is something we all bring out in each other, it’s never one person creating it. As a leader I’m merely trying to facilitate the environment for success. When you see your teammate is kicking butt and doing a great job it makes you want to kick butt too. I believe currently we are able to put a series of those performances together, in many different forms of our operation, in becoming an excellent team. We also follow a guiding philosophy to our business and that’s “Images Matter.” We care about the work and the people we service and it shows. Showing faith in your team to handle important business brings the best out in them. The strength within the team occurs when there are challenges along the way.

BFA / Sansho Scott
BFA / Sansho Scott

What’s the best team you’ve ever been part of? What were you able to achieve as a team?

Besides my current team at BFA, the best team I was ever a part of was my high school football team. We were able to win our county championship and go to state. I was the captain of that team and before the season started we were not expected to be a very good team at all. In fact we were almost written off completely. We knew the only way we stood any chance was if we all lost our egos and bought into a mindset of team first; that the sum of all parts was more important than any one's individual success. We also felt it was important to empower the younger guys and let them know we were counting on them to play major roles, and to treat them as equals.

When you reflect, tell us about a moment where you were particularly proud of what you’ve achieved with your team?

It’s always awesome to complete a huge job, like an award ceremony, for instance the CFDA awards; where the team is big, has an important role, with many different objectives and lots of moving parts. To then execute and deliver is incredible. From the pre-production, to the actual event performance, to the editing and post production. Nailing every element makes me super proud.

Jeff Carvalho, Co-Founder at Highsnobiety

What are the steps to find and surround yourself with a trusted group of like-minded thought leaders?

I think the important word here is people that you can trust. Like-minded is also important, but really what I'm looking for is people that I can have a conversation with. People that I can have dialogue with, and sometimes they are not like-minded. Some of my favorite people to have dialogue with are the ones that may not have the full agreement. We may not agree fully on the same topics, but how you do it is quite honestly, is when you're out there, and you start talking to somebody, I feel like very quickly I know if there is some sort of common ground that we can have a conversation around. Even if we're not on the same page about it.

Jeff Carvalho

How important is it to have a mentor? Did you have one?

Mentorship is quite interesting to me, because I think that more than ever, today's up-and-coming generation really looks to themselves for mentorship. So they look laterally. They're bringing each other up and that's great because you can help people empower people, who are maybe like-minded. A good mentor is somebody that's going to be able to help you deal with 90% of problems that are general to everyone out there. I'm a firm believer that every problem you have has likely been dealt with by somebody else. And if not, you're in a unique position to solve something.

What’s the best team you’ve ever been part of? What were you able to achieve as a team?

Certainly the current team we have globally is our strongest ever and the best to work for. We went from two people in NY in 2012 to more than 60 now. Our people are the most talented in the market and understand culture in a way that many simply do not understand. We're great when we best inform our audience with knowledge.

When you reflect, tell us about a moment where you were particularly proud of what you’ve achieved with your team?

Our first large scale activation where we programmed across seven cities globally in 24 hours. It was incredible to watch it all come together: from Tokyo, Seoul and Paris, to NYC and LA. I was proud of what we were able to accomplish with the resources we had. It required trust.

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