Raised in Montreal’s West Island area, Zach Macklovitch was just a regular teenager who couldn’t land a job at the mall. Fast forward a few years and the young man is unable to take a stroll on The Main without greeting several familiar faces. At the fresh age of 26, Zach has already succeeded at what most take decades to achieve, starting with Saintwoods. The creative agency curating ‘‘cultural and social experiments’’, as he likes to put it, he co-owns with long-time friend and partner Nathan Gannage.
That, right there, is just the beginning. He is also the co-owner of Suwu, of Apt.200, now counting a sister branch in Toronto, and École Privée, the new Montreal Nightclub. At the other end of his expertise spectrum is his active involvement in the music scene, organizing events often attended by a wide-range of high-profile local and international influencers. If that wasn’t enough, he now also manages the career of up-and-coming Ryan Playground and WYLN.
And breathe in.
Did you always wanted to become an entrepreneur?
‘‘I always wanted to do my own thing; at 13 I was selling Pokemon cards and at 19, I launched my own clothing line. I grew up with both my parents having businesses of their own so I was never told that it wasn’t possible to do what is considered difficult. I also have two of my cousins, DJ A Track (Alain Macklovitch) and Dave 1 (David Macklovitch, half of Chromeo), people who share my last name, who I’ve seen do great things and tour the world. Looking at them, I knew nothing was impossible. They did stress though that to be successful, you’ve got to make it on your own.’’
Everybody’s impressed by your position at such a young age, how did you get started in this business?
‘‘I started promoting nightclubs at 16, but you know, we’re talking about 10 years ago here, it was really different then. I knew how to fill up nightclubs, but I wanted to learn more about booking artists and band. I was the Marketing Director of Time Supper Club at that point, and that’s when I met Nathan. I agreed to show him what I knew if he would teach me about his side of the business. Before long I became co-owner of Saintwoods, pretty much when it left the McGill community to become what it is today. We were part of the first year of promotional efforts of New City Gas as well as a big bi-weekly event at Velvet called Love on the Beat. It’s around that time that we were approached by A5 Management and when things started unfolding really quickly.’’
A5 Management is the client that came to you for Suwu and Apt.200?
‘‘Yes, they’re our hospitality partner now, but in the spring of 2013, they came to us because one of their locations, Cafeteria, wasn’t doing what they were hoping. We told them: ‘If you’ll let us, we’ll rethink the whole concept and come up with something interesting.’ That something turned into Suwu and the media started really talking about it. The concept worked really well so they asked us to work on another one of their locations, Ballroom, which is now Apt.200. We exported that concept to Toronto and it’s a huge success. It’s packed all the time!’’
Saintwoods is described as a creative agency specializing in the curation of culture. What exactly do you mean by that?
‘‘The word ‘curator’ often gets misinterpreted. We just didn’t want to be known as a bunch of guys who throw parties so we started integrating and upgrading our corporate presence. Ultimately, we just want to push forward what we think is cool, and our history proves that we have a knack for that. Basically, we just want to work with interesting people and good brands.’’
Is there an underlying, higher goal to every business endeavor you take on?
‘‘I love it when, in the same room, you have rich kids listening to deep house music, and regular students that are into cutting-edge hip-hop, and then you’ll have someone talking about political issues, and all of a sudden the X-Men cast walks in. Where else does that happen!? It’s really about creating these social experiences and introducing people to what they aren’t expecting. Great things happen when you aren’t stuck in a bubble. Life is better on the other side; we shouldn’t be afraid to check it out. That’s why we do what we do, that’s what gets us excited.’’
You are such a promoter of all things Montreal, is it weird to also be in Toronto?
‘‘You know, there’s no such thing as cheating on your city. Saintwoods is doing well here yes, but then what? I’m proving my city’s is the best by leaving and exporting projects to other cities. We need to go somewhere else to show who we are.’’
What can we expect from Saintwoods in the upcoming year?
‘‘Well we definitely have plans for the Apt.200 concept; New York City, Miami and LA. It’s absolutely something we think about. And then we also have Ryan Playground who will be dropping a new album in 2016 so we’re really excited to promote that.’’
Hennessy is living for #TheArtofTheChase. What does that embody for you?
‘‘For me, the art of the chase is best portrayed in how you keep growing as an individual and as a company. You need to be better, better than anybody else, because what makes you successful is by not repeating what made you successful in the first place. It’s that constant urge to innovate.’’