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Photographs by Maria Ponce | June 3, 2011 | People
Through innovation, adrenaline and downright enthusiasm, Chicago’s young titans are changing the face of our city. Keep an eye on these nine guys as they make their way into the big leagues—and in one case, into a new major league home.
FROM LEFT: Christopher Frederick, Kevin Hauswirth, Tim Hiuzenga
Christopher "Brotha Fred" Frederick
Morning Show DJ, 103.5 KISS FM
The Scoop: A fixture on the North Carolina media scene for five years, Frederick was recruited by 103.5 Kiss FM to helm its morning show. As for his nickname? “It was given to me by the first guy I worked for,” he says. “My mom keeps saying I should use my real name, but there is no other Brotha Fred [in radio].”
The Stats: Though he inherited lackluster ratings, Brotha Fred’s show has quickly climbed the ranks. Since it began in February, it’s jumped from eighth to second place. We credit his lovable bluntness. “You either love me or hate me. Nobody is in the middle—but [then] no one [ever] remembers the guy in the middle.” His smoldering voice doesn’t hurt, either...
On Deck: Expect to find the 30-year-old out and about as he continues his work with local philanthropic organizations, including the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure foundation.
On Joining the Chicago Media: “Chicago is very [city]-centric. I don’t expect to just get respect because I won a job in media. I’ll do my best to earn it.”
ON CHRISTOPHER: Sweater, Paul Stuart ($298). 107 E. Oak St. Shirt, J.Crew ($70). 900 North Michigan Shops. Jeans and watch, Christopher’s own
Creator, Vote Naked Illinois and Vote Naked Chicago campaigns
The Scoop: In addition to being a social media and PR guru, 27-year-old Hauswirth created the Vote Naked campaign, which urged citizens—and made it incredibly easy—to take advantage of Illinois’ relaxed absentee ballot laws and vote by mail. (You no longer need an excuse to vote absentee.) “Vote early, vote at the polls, or vote naked [from your home],” he says.
The Stats: During the campaign, Vote Naked was featured on HuffPost Chicago, NPR and even on The O’Reilly Factor. In November’s gubernatorial election, more than 70,000 people voted by absentee ballot. “The governor’s election was decided by a little more than 19,000 votes. Absentee voting absolutely had an impact on this election.”
On Deck: Hauswirth was recently tapped to join Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s communications team as the director of social media. He’ll also soon be prepping Vote Naked for the 2012 election.
On Using Social Media In Politics: “It’s more egalitarian,” he says. “You’re not bound to traditional media to have a voice. People take action when they feel empowered that they can make a change.”
ON KEVIN: Sweater ($267) and tie ($140), Paul Stuart. 107 E. Oak St. Shirt, Brooks Brothers ($79.50). 713 N. Michigan Ave.
Managing Partner, Rock Saké
The Scoop: Huizenga and his friends liked sake, but could never recall the names of what they drank. “We realized there was a market for a domestically produced, recognizable brand of sake,” he says. He teamed up with founder Seth Podell to help create Rock Saké, a clean, light and smooth drink (with a memorable name) that comes in two varieties: Junmai Daiginjo, which is pear-inflected, and the sweeter Cloud, which contains hints of melon and coconut.
The Stats: Rock Saké has become a staple at top Japanese-fusion spots (think Sunda New Asian, Sushi Samba and Japonais), but it’s also on deck at watering holes such as Hub 51, Epic, Manor and Tzar Ultra Lounge, where mixologists are not only serving it straight up, but using it in cocktails too.
On Deck: While Rock Saké is carried in 14 different markets, including Los Angeles and Miami, Huizenga, 34, will be working to expand the brand further, putting it in the top bars and restaurants across the country.
On the Brand's Biggest Challenge: “We’re trying to change people’s drinking habits. We’re doing what Patrón did 30 years ago with tequila, and hopefully in 30 years—or sooner—we’ll be there too.”
ON TIM: Jacket, Paul Stuart ($697). 107 E. Oak St. Shirt, Gap ($50). 555 N. Michigan Ave. Tie, Mark McNairy ($150). markmcnairy.com. Jeans and watch, Tim’s own
FROM LEFT: Rockie Fresh, Jason Pritzker and Ben Finch
The Scoop: The 20-year-old Homewood native grew up rapping, but after winning a freestyle battle his senior year, he decided to pursue music seriously. Taking a thoroughly modern approach, Rockie has released two mixtapes via the Internet, Rockie’s Modern Life and The Otherside, and has built a devoted following through social media.
The Stats: More than 35,000 people have downloaded his music, and he’s played shows across the country, including a set at SXSW and two sold-out nights at Schubas. He’s also been featured in publications such as The Source and on NBC Chicago.
On Deck: Rockie and his team are launching a web series, Life on the Other Side, chronicling Rockie’s life on the road. “Before social media, you didn’t get to see what an artist’s life is like,” he says. “Now I can really show who I am.”
On His Sound: Rockie cites Kanye West and Jay-Z as influences, as well as John Mayer. “I was raised in the ’burbs and I had a diverse upbringing. My music is a crossover of hip-hop, alt rock, metal… I embrace other genres.”
ON ROCKIE: Sweater, Vince ($125). 106 E. Oak St. Watch, Omega ($6,350). 909 N. Michigan Ave. Jeans and sneakers, Rockie’s own
Cofounder & President, Visible Vote
The Scoop: Alongside tech whiz and cofounder Paul Everton, Pritzker, 31, is the business half of Visible Vote, an app that allows citizens to connect directly with their congresspeople. Download it and you’ll be automatically connected to the president, your senators and representatives (with the option to follow any other federally elected official) to find out how they voted on a bill and why. “It’s a one-stop shop for personalized politics,” Pritzker says.
The Stats: More than 200,000 people have downloaded the app, while more than 30 legislative offices are on board, including those of John Boehner and Eric Cantor, allowing them to directly reach constituents via mobile town halls, live feeds and direct messaging.
On Deck: The team is intent on refining its existing platform while developing new products. Pritzker and staff have just set up their first office in Washington, DC.
On Technology and Politics: “The two-party system, the idea that we pick a side, put our blinders on and say, ‘I’m with them wherever they go,’ is antiquated. There’s no reason not to know anything anymore… no reason not to communicate in real time, all the time, with our politicians.”
ON JASON: Cardigan, Vince ($165). 106 E. Oak St. Polo, Paul Stuart ($98.50). 107 E. Oak St. Sunglasses, Warby Parker ($95). Apartment Number 9, 1804 N. Damen Ave. Shoes, Sperry Top-Sider ($85). Nordstrom, 55 E. Grand Ave. Jeans, Jason’s own
Founder and Co-owner, Finch’s Beer Co.
The Scoop: As the owner of The Killswitch Collective, 31-year-old Finch helped develop dozens of other brands and finally decided to launch his own. He traveled around the country, learned the ins and outs of craft brewing, brought on Richard Grant as head brewer and set up shop in a warehouse on Elston. “[We’re] right in the city. We’re creating jobs, paying taxes. That’s part of what being a craft brewer is about,” he says.
The Stats: Finch Beer launched with two brews: Cut Throat Pale Ale and Golden Wing Blonde Ale. Even before hitting the market, the company already had more than 30 bars on board, including The Beer Bistro and Division Street’s SmallBar.
On Deck: Look for Finch’s Beer Co. to create several special-edition brews, as well as collaborations with other notable Chicago businesses, including Threadless.
On Why He Stayed in Chicago: “I looked at launching in other states, but locally we have Two Brothers Brewing Company, 3 Floyds, and Goose Island has been here for 23 years. Those guys paved the way for us. This is a good time [for craft brewers] in Chicago.”
ON BEN: Shirt, Club Monaco ($79.50). 2206 N. Halsted St. Jeans, James Jeans ($180). Blues Jean Bar, 2210 N. Halsted St. Sunglasses, Warby Parker ($95). Watch, Omega ($4,100). 909 N. Michigan Ave. Belt, Paul Stuart ($98.50). 107 E. Oak St. Sneakers, Converse ($45). Nordstrom, 55 E. Grand Ave.
Pitcher, Chicago Cubs
The Scoop: Though hardly a rookie (he has been in the major leagues since 2006), it’s Garza’s first season in town, having joined the Chicago Cubs during the off-season via an eight-player deal with the Tampa Bay Rays. And he’s thrilled to be here. “You can feel the energy,” he says. “Lots of great players have played on this ground.”
The Stats: With 27-year-old Garza, the Cubs add a killer 95 mph fastball to their starting rotation—and his last year’s 3.91 ERA isn’t too shabby either. A devoted husband to wife Serina and a father of three, Garza describes himself as “a big kid. I love being goofy and playing with my kids. I watch more cartoons than they do.”
On the Cubs' World Series Woes: “It is what it is. You can’t let the negativity get you down. You win by the way you look at things. I just enjoy being here.”
Blazer ($248), shirt ($70), jeans ($98), cap ($27), tie ($60) and belt ($45), J.Crew. 900 North Michigan Shops
FROM LEFT: Aaron Firestein and Raaja Nemani
Aaron Firestein and Raaja Nemani
Founder/Creative Director and CEO, Bucketfeet
The Scoop: The duo met while volunteering with at-risk kids in Argentina, and after reconnecting years later, they channeled their passion for travel, art and philanthropy into Bucketfeet, a line of shoes that showcases unique designs while partnering with organizations that help children in need.
The Stats: Buy a pair of Bucketfeet and five percent of your sale will go to one of three charities of your choice: Love.Fútbol, which builds safe soccer fields around the world; Children Mending Hearts, which provides arts programs for homeless children; and MAGIC, a youth-empowerment program primarily serving Chicago’s Woodlawn neighborhood. In its first three months of existence, Bucketfeet sold 500 pairs of shoes and received more than 20,000 hits on its website.
On Deck: “We want to make a global impact while selling a cool product,” says Nemani, 29. Look for collaborations with street artists from around the world, as well as the addition of laceup sneakers, hats, tees and hoodies.
On Their Monicker: “Bucket was my nickname in college,” says Firestein, 25. “It has no bearing on anything, but people love the name.”
ON AARON: Blazer ($696) and trousers ($345), Gant by Michael Bastian. Similar styles, Barneys New York, 15 E. Oak St. Shirt, Polo Ralph Lauren ($125). 750 N. Michigan Ave. Shoes, Bucketfeet ($60).
ON RAAJA: Khaki suit, Brooks Brothers ($398). 713 N. Michigan Ave. Dress shirt, J.Crew ($125). 900 North Michigan Shops. Shoes, Bucketfeet ($60).
Styling by Rebecca Malinsky; Additional styling by Eric Himel; Grooming by Ashley Bourdon for; Artists by Timothy Priano; Shot on location at Wrigley Field
January 9, 2018