An Interview With Dan Rookwood

In celebration of Father’s Day this weekend, the La Coqueta team wanted to catch up with one of our favourite Dad’s to shed some light and tips on how founder Fathers can juggle a busy work life and parenting relationship. We spoke to Dan Rookwood (@danrookwood) , Senior Global Editorial Director for Nike, Co-Founder of and Style Council for Mr Porter, about moving with the times and managing three children as well as multiple businesses.

What was your first role in journalism?

I was a football writer for The Guardian – which was my sole ambition all the way through school. The reality did not disappoint. I was on the website during the week and then covered a weekend game for the paper. It was fantastic grounding with brilliant mentorship – and most of that team is still there. We pioneered minute-by-minute match reports which taught me how to write at speed. The Guardian remains my homepage 20 years’ later.

What motivated the move from journalism to a more brand focus?

In short: the demise of print (allied with the newspaper industry’s inability to properly monetise digital). It’s like I have been surfing a wave of editorial throughout my career, trying to stay on the crest of it but knowing that it could crash over me at any point. I had hoped traditional journalism would be a job for life but as it became clear that print newspapers and magazines were in terminal decline, I’ve strategically positioned myself for whatever’s next. And that meant moving into experiential and digital content with Time Out in Sydney, then into e-commerce content with MR PORTER in New York, and now into branded content with Nike in Portland.

What have been your experiences with the evolution of editorial content within the digital age?

A lot changes in terms of what works and the new storytelling platforms that keep coming along so you just have to constantly embrace the newness rather than resist it. (I’m all over TikTok and Clubhouse right now.) But one thing remains constant: nothing beats a good story, well told. So the medium may change but the fundamentals are consistent.
Lockdown has been very freeing in terms of how nimble and creative we’ve all had to get. (Turns out productions don’t need to be so expensive.) And I’m excited about the return to experiential content – more “lean-in” and actively engaging rather than “lean-back” and passively distracting. Post-lockdown, that’s going to be massive.

Tell us about Alott, how did the idea come about?

In a bar in Brooklyn on the back of a napkin back in 2017. My brother-in-law, Ross, is a barber with a couple of shops in the Northern Quarter of Manchester. (Check out RPB.) He came out to visit us in Williamsburg and we sketched out a plan for us to co-launch his own range of products. I looked after the grooming sector for MR PORTER at the time so I know that industry well. Anyway, we kept it on the back burner until lockdown hit and he had to temporarily shut down. But he was determined that by the time RPB reopened that he would have a gender inclusive, purpose-led product line. And we did it. My wife, Sam, deserves all the credit – she is the driving force. It’s called Alott, which stands for “a little off the top”. You can read what else it stands for here. It’s all-natural, vegan, organic and handmade in small batches down the road in Wales.

Any advice for founders-to-be with children?

To borrow Nike’s tagline: Just Do It. I have a bias to action. It might not start out perfect but that’s what editing is for. It’s a process of continual improvement. As for fitting it in around children, they force you to be productive with what little free time you have. Once our three little ones are in bed, my wife and tend to pour a (much-needed) glass of wine and from 8-9pm we go through Alott. But listen, it’s not like we’ve got it all figured out. We just muddle along as best we can.

Do you have any special projects on the horizon?

Can’t talk about anything at Nike due to our “keep it tight” policy but I’ve always got a few personal projects on the go that I find helps keep the creative synapses firing in the day job, and vice versa. We’ve got cool plans for content for Alott. I’m writing a book with my Dad on life lessons learned in lockdown, based on the deep weekly conversations we have had. I’m also helping out a friend who owns a menswear brand called Percival with some content.

What is one piece of advice you wish you had when starting out your career?

Be a life-long learner. Develop a growth mindset where you are a learn-it-all rather than a know-it-all. Far more opportunities will open up for you that way.

How did you first hear about La Coqueta?

Via Instagram. We follow quite a few parenting accounts always looking for well-designed and tasteful clothes and toys and crafts etc. for the kids. And we always like to support fellow small business where we can.

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