Mihai Botărel is the co-founder of RXM Creative, a NYC award winning agency, where he is also a Creative Director. He’s won several Lions at Cannes (the highest distinction in advertising) since he started it this way over a decade ago, after having studied philosophy. Mihai has been my friend for quite a while now and over the years we shared great conversations about life, career and style.
Mihai: “To me, being successful means adding value to the world and being naturally rewarded for it. “
He’s a thinker, he’s a doer aaaand he’s also known for being a pun master. Check out his Instagram, @Matching Ends.
ST: Hello Mihai and welcome to silviutolu.com. If you were to describe what you do to an old friend that you haven’t seen in a while, what would you say?
MB: Silviu (Sise), thank you for having me. So, in a very specific nutshell, I am currently living in New York – Williamsburg, Brooklyn, to be more precise, and I am a co-founder and Creative Director of RXM Creative, a boutique creative agency specialized in branded content and campaigns for lifestyle and fashion brands.
ST: Can you give us some background info like how did you get started and if this is something you’ve always dreamed of doing?
MB: Well, I’ve been in advertising now for almost 14 years, and it all started in my hometown of Bucharest, when I was 19. On my way to play basketball, I’d always pass by this really nice townhouse with an open yard where people would play ping pong, barbecue and apparently work. I later discovered it was an ad agency and a few embarrassing moments later, I was hired in advertising.
I didn’t even know what it was at the time, but the best part about getting hired at 19 is that there is no pressure on you to perform. And that really helped me take my time and shape my own way of doing things.
ST: What does being successful mean to Mihai Botărel?
MB: Tough one, but not really. To me, it means adding value to the world and being naturally rewarded for it. More specifically, I like to create things that have a positive impact on someone else. Or a group of someone else’s. Whether it makes someone’s day better, or it makes them laugh, or feel understood or makes them have an ‘aha’ moment of some sort. If I give something to someone through my work, then somehow the world rewards me naturally. So, fulfillment through positive impact is one dimension of success.
The other one is a having a good time/money/health balance. Meaning earning as much as you can, in as little time as possible, with as little damage as possible.
And the final one, because there has to be three, is having great relationships with great people. Kinda like you and me. (laughs in parenthesis:))
ST: How would you describe your style?
MB: Googled :). I don’t really think about it. But it has a little rock ’n’ roll because I’ve grown up with that to a certain extent. It has a bit of gypsy – I like rings and jewelry, which I also lose a lot, and it has a bit of old fisherman. Because I’ve always loved fishing, the water, the sea, and unconsciously I feel happier when my clothes remind me of that. This is me doing stylistic psychoanalysis.
ST: It’s Friday night and you are going out in New York to the new IT bar. What are you wearing?
MB: For sure a lot of black. Because it’s sexy, mysterious, rock ’n’ roll, adaptable, badass and all that. I mean New York is a lot of pressure and people have really long days that start somewhere in a work place and often times end up at a party / bar/ club at 2 AM on a Tuesday. Or Friday to stick to your question. So black, leather, badass can carry you through all of that. But I like to spice my black a little. Like add a colorful silk scarf that I stole from my dad, or a pair of brown suede boots or a silver chain over my t-shirt. A little accent that reminds people that I’m not in fact attending a funeral.
ST: Do you have any daily habits or rituals that help you being productive and creative?
MB: After stressing out for a while and also not being 25 anymore, I’ve started incorporating meditation and exercise in my weekly, if not daily routine. I’m hoping I’ll pick up yoga as well, it’s so amazing for the body. I also restarted playing the guitar, so I lose a couple hours a week trying to learn the chords for Californication. But I’m no Frusciante just yet. All these things help me stay relaxed and when I’m relaxed, I can flow creatively.
ST: Any tips or advice on how can someone develop a cool personal style?
MB: Go to the gym:) I feel like if I would be in an amazing shape all, I’d just need a t-shirt and a pair of jeans. Maybe leather jacket. But that’s that.
But really clothes are just stories, they make you into a character or transport you to someplace you love. So, if you’ve always wanted to travel to space or become part robot, maybe Daft Punk is your swag. Everyday is Halloween, so pick your monster.
ST: You’re going to a friend’s birthday party. What are you bringing as a gift?
MB: Depends on so many things. I’ve literally just been to a girl’s birthday recently and I brought her an old poster from Romania. Because she is Romanian and lives in New York so I figured it would score some nostalgia points.
But I like gifts that they would like for more than 2 minutes. I hate ‘creative’ gifts, they are super self-serving. This is not about you coming across as funny or creative, it’s about the opportunity to make someone happy with a small gesture. Boring but useful things like a nice flask to sneak into the club and save some cash, those I like. Fashion I generally avoid. I’ve seen so many fashion gifts turn into disasters. You know what I mean.
ST: What is a clothing item that every man should own?
MB: There are many to be honest. Boots, jeans, t-shirt, leather jacket. A sombrero.
ST: Who is the first person you think when you say Iconic?
MB: Well, Steve McQueen’s image was brainwashed into my head, but honestly, I like someone like Vincent Cassel, he has swag, he’s a bit nasty, talented, deep, funny, perverted. It doesn’t really matter how he dresses, it’s all attitude. Tom Hardy’s a badass too, he is a bit insane, that’s why I like his style. And they both seem to not really give a fuck. Then there is Bill Murray who found grace in giving up. I feel the moment he said ‘fuck it, I’m done’, we started shinning. He makes every guy hope that there is a second prime in your 60s. He’s amazing.
ST: Favorite watch?
MB: I would complete the question with ‘that you don’t own’. I’d say a gold vintage Rolex, metal strap. Classic.
ST: Car or motorcycle? Your dream model?
MB: Mercedes G Class. I love the idea of a motorcycle, I just don’t ride one, so yea.
ST: Your favorite clothing item?
MB: I have a Sandro biker jacket that I bought in Berlin 8 years ago. I am not a big fan of the brand anymore because I’ve been disappointed with the quality lately. But that one was made of heaven. It’s so good still, looks like a YSL. I’ve always called it my “social armor”. It helped me get into clubs, talk to girls, and generally navigate the savage land that is New York. Kind of ironic my favorite clothing item is a biker jacket, since I just confessed to not riding a bike. Just a little trendy hypocrisy.
Biker jacket, skater shoes, workman beanie. Welcome to fantasy island!
ST: What’s your go-to cocktail?
MB: Old Fashion. Or rum and coke with a slice of lime. Is that a Cuba Libre? Havana Club 7 years, if possible.
ST: Who is your female inspiration?
MB: Sophia Coppola. Talented, beautiful, soulful, romantic. ‘Lost in translation’ was one of my favorite movies ever and the soundtrack she chose is pure poetry. I love Emma Stone because she is the loveliest quirk and I love that adorable, witty self-deprecating humor in any human. Melanie Laurent is super beautiful in a non-traditional way. Monica Belluci I’ve loved since watching Malena, Jennifer Connelly is super powerful and sexy. But I also love Sia. Love the pain in her voice, her vision and how she turns her vulnerability into an uplifting piece of art. Amazing.
But that’s just off the top of my head. There are a million women I love and admire. My mother is my everything, but I’d rather stick to the famous examples here.
ST: If you were stranded on an island and you could pick one book (fiction or non-fiction), a music album and one personal item, what would these be?
MB: Damn, damn and damn. Alain de Button – On Love, The Kills – Blood Pressures, and a notebook/pen. Just something to start the fire with.
ST: What’s your favorite place in the world to have coffee?
ST: You are currently based in New York City. If it could pick any place in the world to live in, where would it be?
MB: It would be a gamble, who knows. I love London as well and it’s closer to my hometown Bucharest. I could live in LA for some years as well.
ST: What are your plans for the future?
To focus on writing more, to socialize less, to be on Instagram less, to be as healthy as possible. So block the bullshit and focus on the blessings. I want to write a book and a movie script in the near future.
ST: And lastly, Mihai, is there anything you’d like to promote on this page? It can be an idea or a quote, or anything at all you’d like to share with the readers?
MB: We all love a little self-promotion:) I guess this article I wrote a while back – The Fine Art of Not Giving a Fuck. A lot of people have reached out and thanked me for writing it. I think it’s had a positive impact on some people and that’s why I love it. It makes me feel useful to the planet, to circle back to question 3.
Thanks for having me Silviu, I’m far from a menswear icon, but I always enjoy a good chat. Congrats again on the blog and keep being the sweet handsome devil you are!
Thank you for these great answers, Mihai! A pleasure, as always.