How Nightlife Director And Clothing Designer Lyz Olko Does It All



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Lyz Olko, Founder and Designer, Obesity and Speed, Director of Nightlife, The Jane and The Westway

Yeah, that's right — Lyz Olko not only created one of our favorite causal brands, but she also runs the late-night circus at two of our favorite Manhattan hot spots. Since its founding 10 years ago, Obesity and Speed has grown from a single piece to a real, thriving brand, boasting big-time collaborations with Urban Outfitters, Nike, Court Denim, Lindsey Thornburg, Bona Drag, and more. But even as O+S continues to flourish, Olko's second career is no less demanding. As the director of nightlife for The Jane and The Westway, she's got two of NYC's biggest late-night draws to tend to — something that would be a full-time job for most of us normal folk. To figure out how she balances these two intense, all-hour gigs, we grabbed Olko for a precious few moments.

So, let’s get this straight — you’re a nightlife director and a clothing designer?

“Hahaha, yes. I have both night and day jobs, I guess.”

How do you balance all that?

“Look, a lot of what I do as director of nightlife for The Jane and Westway takes place during the day, and I can work out of my studio and home office a lot of the time. But we (myself, the owners, Matt Kliegman and Carlos Quirarte, and our coworker, James) also work out of offices in the owner's restaurant, The Smile. Also, I’ve worked with Carlos for over 10 years (I started at The Jane about five years ago as a doorperson). I‘m close friends with him, Matt, and James — so we’re able to talk at any time during the day or night. All that constant communication helps things run smoothly even though we have a lot going on.”

And as for the clothes?

“Well, I’ve been doing Obesity and Speed since 2003. The line evolved from one hand-sewn sweatshirt to a full-grown men and women's collection and has quadrupled in sales. Now, though, I have a great assistant, Olivia, which helps me a ton. I guess I am lucky that I’m able to balance all that. Also, it helps that I love what I do.”

Still, that’s a lot of late nights and early mornings. Do you have a secret hangover cure to deal with all that?

“Ha! My secret hangover cure is not drinking! But if I do, I swear by coconut water and the Ginger Fireball from Juice Press on 1st and 1st.”

Thanks. Finally, is there any way your night job helps inspire your day job?

“I’m sure being awake a lot more than the average person gives me more time to find that inspiration!”

Styled by Lauren Edelstein; Hair and Makeup by Bethany Brill.

Derek Lam sweater; Uniqlo hoodie; Obesity and Speed denim jacket; Pamela Love Cutout Ring, $500, available at Pamela Love; Pamela Love Small Tribal Spike Necklace, $225, available at Pamela Love.

Photographed at Apothéke, 9 Doyers Street; 212-406-0400.

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