To say that DanMichael Batista has taken a winding road to his current career would be an understatement. Batista has carved his own path from hypnotist to social worker to owner of the Hidden Haberdashery, the first resale gentleman’s shop of its kind in Minneapolis in a mansion at Blaisdell and 24th Avenue South. The shop will be moving to an online store format at the end of November, but Batista talks about his passion for clothes, why “trend” is a dirty word, and much more in this week’s Who The Folk?!.
How did you get started doing this?
That is kind of an evolution in that my passions in life have all been set by me reaching a fork in the world and my life, and having the desire for a certain experience and realizing it wasn’t available to me. It led me on a journey to realize I was going to have to figure it out for myself.
At what point in your evolution did you see this business as something you want to take on?
I’m a hypnotist. In 2001 I opened my practice and worked a social worker to supplement my income. I was an outreach worker going to the streets of Syracuse, N.Y., and I was trying to get these young men to work with me because they weren’t mandated. They all wanted jobs at the mall and I told them that I would help them get jobs at the mall if they would work with me, but the one caveat is they had to dress up. We have to dress for the life they want. We would go to Goodwill or Salvation Army and buy suits. We would walk into the mall and most of them had never been in a suit before. Walking in they’re really uncomfortable and they’re feeling like they want to untuck their shirt and get a little street swag in their dress wear. Finally, after a little cajoling, something phenomenal would happen: They began to show confidence. Their shoulders would come back; their head would be held high. And I’m watching this and it’s blowing my mind. I realized for the first time, they were being treated as responsible members of society, and nothing would be changed besides their outfit. That was the embryo state of what’s here.
How did you get into hypnotism?
My mom was. We joke that she did it just to show me. She only did it for two years. But I would sneak into her office and hypnotize my friends at lunch and read her books. I found I had an amazing ability in that world.
What brought you to the Twin Cities?
My wife’s family is from here. We met in New York. I thought I was an original but I guess that’s what Minnesota women do. They go someplace else, and all of a sudden you’re in Minnesota in the dead of winter wondering what happened.
How do you find the pieces you sell?
Everywhere from thrift stores to estate sales and everything in between.
What do you see as the big trend in men’s fashion now, and where do you see things heading?
“Trend” is a nasty word in this space. “Fashion” as well. They are two words I rarely use. I like to speak more about expression; then it becomes personal to each individual, which I think clothing should be heading. Whether it is or not is another conversation. Most of my work comes from consulting and helping men understand that there is power in expression. In our culture, we haven’t been taught how to harness that power. Men teach me what they want to say, I teach them how to say it with clothing. I teach them how to shop resale, bring them out to the stores, teach them how to work with the tailor, how they know they’re getting great price points and execution. Basically teaching them to fish rather than selling them fish. Sometimes you want someone to fish for you and I have the store for that.
When you’re doing consulting, are there must-have pieces that you recommend or is it about helping get the best style out of themselves?
We make a three-second snap judgement that we make on each other every time we meet someone. What that snap judgement is, is how we treat you. If I had a high estimation of you with my snap judgement, then this will be a pleasant conversation. If I had a low one, then I’m not going to spend much time talking to you, even if you had the key to my life in your back pocket. For men, it’s about what do you want to show up as and that leads the conversation to what they can do with their aesthetic so when they take that snap judgement, it gets really close to what they’re about.
Favorite Jewish holiday?
I love them all. I can’t pick one. Coming from a Christian background, I’ve spent these last years being immersed in Judaism and learning the significance of everything and the conscious thought and the evolution of thought and how it works in life.
Favorite Jewish food?
My wife’s baubie was a dessert woman. She could bake like nobody’s business.Click here to nominate your favorite TC Jew to be featured on our weekly Who the Folk?! series!