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Mickey Ashmore is the founder of Sabah, a maker of ultra cool and comfortable shoes that we just can't stop wearing. When he's not hanging out at his shop in Manhattan's East Village, you might find him enjoying the outdoors or planning his next great travel adventure. We recently caught up with Mickey over cocktails in downtown Manhattan. Here's what he had to say:

What were you doing before you started your own company?

I worked in strategy and finance at Microsoft. I started off working in the Seattle office, and after a year I was presented with a few different opportunities, one of which was an opportunity to work in the Microsoft Istanbul office. Since visiting Istanbul in college, it was a goal to live there. I wrote a poem about it. So I moved … a six month stint turned into two years. Best time of my life.

How did you end up starting Sabah? 

I started Sabah after having spent two years living abroad in Turkey. I was given a pair of traditional Turkish slippers by a girlfriend who was from the town where they are made. I wore them constantly – to work, out at night, to the beach and even with a tuxedo to a very fancy Turkish wedding. I moved back to NYC with that same pair. In NYC, they were quickly destroyed. My search for the maker and then suggestions to make a more durable pair led me down a path to starting Sabah. 

Did you always know you wanted to start something of your own? 

Since I can remember, I was starting businesses, selling things and thinking for myself. More than anything I just always wanted to live a rich life, which to me is about independence, freedom, a sense of ownership and the ability to travel and engage the world. That meant I had to chart my own course. 

What’s a typical day like? 

Every day is very different, but the common thread is that there’s a lot of energy output, a lot of communicating (i.e. writing emails), and a lot of focus on the customer. 

Any productivity tips? 

I don’t always do this, but I always recommend that people get the easy things done first, which really cleans the mind. I’m trying to improve on this myself. I believe a clean workspace leads to better work. I also think it’s best to keep it simple - whether it’s your wardrobe, daily routine, things you travel with, etc. I believe in having fewer things to distract you.


Also, just a general life tip from someone who spends a lot of time on the road - eating at the bar is highly underrated. When traveling alone, it puts you in the best place to have some fun. When on a date, it allows you to share a perspective with your date and make things a bit lighter. I also recommend turning your phone off at dinner. 

Why do you travel so much as part of your job? 

The company started as a passion, rather than a strategic play. Sabah was born in part from a love of travel and exploration. I prefer to travel when I have the chance and I let that carry through the brand. I also believe in engaging our customers. Our customers are all over the world so I want to travel and meet them.

How do you spend your time outside of the office? Anything you wish you had more time for? 

I really enjoy my work, and I do spend most of my time working. I also really enjoy cooking. I wish I cooked more. I also like to stay healthy – for me that is yoga, hiking and going for runs and walks; a lot less gym than ever before. I wish I read more. I try to read the Times or the Journal front to back Saturday and Sunday. Print edition only. That is the best way to spend a weekend morning…

Favorite things to do in New York?

Go for a long run with a good friend, that’s always fun on a nice day. Saddle up to a nice bar for a drink after a long day’s work, solo or with a friend.

Any favorite travel spots?

Istanbul is a place I’m very fond of. I also just spent some time in Tokyo. Just a really unique place and definitely worth a visit. I love Mexico, it’s a great country. An added bonus is that I also get to speak Spanish when I go there.


Have you always owned a watch? 

I’ve always owned a watch, though I wouldn’t say I’ve always worn the same one day to day. I’d wear something for a month at a time, then change it up and wear something else. 

What appealed to you about Martenero? 

Simple, classic, versatile and great value. Plus I really like the founder. He’s a hustler in the best way and I respect a hustler. 

We offer four different designs - why did you pick the Ascent?

From my perspective, the Ascent is classic, timeless, and simple. All things that I value and look for. I’ve been wearing mine pretty much every day since I got it.

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