Kaelen Haworth, founder/designer of Kaelen: We have different recollections of when we actually met. We both went to school together at Dalhousie, which is in Halifax, which is in Canada, just to give you a little bit of a geographical background. We were both in first year at University, and we were in the same dorm.
Simon Haworth: Her best friend was my neighbor.
Kaelen: Simon, you were younger and weren’t able to legally drink yet in Canada.
Simon: Yeah, I had to go through the ringer for a fake I.D.
Kaelen: You falsified government documents.
Simon: I made it work. A younger gentleman stealing into the bar.
Kaelen: But we didn’t meet in a bar.
Simon: Yes, we did. We met at the campus bar.
Kaelen: No, we didn’t. So there —
Simon: Yes, we did. She was wearing Chanel glasses, a Kangol hat and a shirt that said, “Idaho?” — with the state — “No, you da hoe.” Urban Outfitters? No?
Kaelen: Yes, it was. You’re making it worse. That was pretty accurate, unfortunately, but that wasn’t the first time we met. We met when we had a fire drill and we all had to go down to the cafeteria or the basement of the cafeteria or something.
Simon: It was outside.
Kaelen: No, it was inside! And you were kicking a soccer ball around inside with a bunch of people and you kicked it at me. It was more of a meet-cute than like, “Oh, we were at the bar and you were wearing a ‘You da hoe, no Idaho’ shirt.”
Amelia: Did anything actually register when he kicked the ball over?
Kaelen: I thought he was cute from the beginning, yeah. He wasn’t like, “cool.” That’s gonna sound bad — but you know all the dudes that are so concerned about being cool? It’s university, it’s your first year; everyone’s so concerned about being cool. But Simon was just like, “Whoops, sorry about the soccer ball!”
Simon: It blossoms. Coolness blossoms. I was genuine! It’s the Island accent! Everyone loves that Island accent.
Amelia: So back to the meeting…
Simon: After that we met at a campus bar.
Kaelen: We met at the campus bar where I was wearing that horrible outfit. And then I don’t know what happened but a bunch of us — I don’t even remember when we first started talking, but we started talking there. We were in a group situation and then we got into a mini-van cab — you weren’t originally in it — and you pulled a last minute roll into the van.
Simon: I like to walk.
Kaelen: You were like, “I’m gonna come!”
Simon: Isn’t that funny to think about — how many years later now? — if I had rolled or not rolled.
Amelia: If you had just walked, you wouldn’t be here right now.
Simon: That’s sad. But yeah, that was that. Nothing crazy happened. That wasn’t our first kiss.
Kaelen: No, it wasn’t because you had no balls. It took three weeks. We talked a lot.
Simon: I just play hard to get and look where it got me.
Kaelen: Ok. Fair.
Simon: We started hanging out and we never stopped.
Kaelen: I feel like we had a couple of those “We stayed up all night talking” things. It was a bit more romantic.
Amelia: Rewind, how many years ago from today was this?
Simon: It was 2003. Thirteen years. Crazy. Yeah, so we hung out and then we started “dating.”
Kaelen: No, no. He had an ex-girlfriend who — there was some stuff there. Actually me too, I had a–
Simon: Well, yeah. I had rekindled the old flame for a minute and I told you. I was straight up. I said, “Hey, I’m going to follow up on this.” So she was pissed.
Kaelen: Yeah! He was like, “Oh, by the way, I’m going on a ski trip with my ex-girlfriend.”
Simon: Hey! I told her. It wasn’t like —
Kaelen: Well, I ended up making out with some guy who had just recently made out with Britney Spears so I think I win. Because, one person removed, I made out with Britney Spears.
Amelia: By transitive property.
Simon: You win, you win. But then we reconnected…
Kaelen: No, so what he did–
Simon: “He” is right here.
Kaelen: Ok, so, we were “unofficial” for the full first year. We had not firmly established anything. At some point there was drama because of the ex girlfriend and we weren’t talking, and then you decided that you had to make a grand gesture. So you called my best friend at home and arranged to come and surprise me.
Simon: In Ontario during summer break.
Kaelen: In Ontario during a birthday party for me and my ex-boyfriend.
Simon: In July. Didn’t know about the ex-boyfriend part.
Kaelen: So he came to surprise me and like everything was good, we got over this fight — this is the summer after the first year that we met.
Simon: That was in February–
Amelia: But did you guys keep hanging out after that?
Kaelen: Yeah, off and on, but there was a lot of drama.
Simon: Then it was summer break and that’s a long four months so we were like, “Ehhh.”
Kaelen: Still in limbo.
Simon: Still ICQ-ing across the Atlantic.
Kaelen: I think ICQ was over at that point.
Simon: It’s true, but whatever. And then I decided it was her birthday; I’m going to come like a white night shining.
Kaelen: And I got a guitar out of it!
Kaelen: I was still pissed at Simon, but without my knowing, he had called one of my best friends at home and arranged to surprise me. She was over at my house the day before and she was trying to be discreet, trying to tell my mom about it because my mom was all amped up. She knew there was a guy but she never met him, obviously. And she knew I wasn’t taking his phone calls at the time, so she was trying to figure out what was going on. Anyway, I busted them chatting in a dark room and I was like, “What are you two talking about?” My mom, trying to think on her toes, was like, “Oh, dammit! I was trying to surprise you: I got you a guitar for your birthday.”
Simon: Yeah, your mom still had to go get one, huh?
Kaelen: After the whole surprise I was like, “Wait, where’s my guitar?” And she was like, “That was a cover-up,” and I was like, “But you said!!!” Anyway, so he came to surprise me at this birthday party for me and my ex-boyfriend.
Simon: Nerve-wracking. Her ex-boyfriend is this huge guy. I think I gave him a couple bottles of rum.
Amelia: Simon, what was your thinking? Were you just like, “It’s gonna be fine, she’ll get over it when I get there”?
Simon: That’s a great question, man. Yeah, I don’t know what I was thinking. I must have figured I had a lot of explaining to do.
Amelia: Did you guys have a boyfriend/girlfriend talk after that?
Simon: Not that I’m aware of.
Kaelen: I think you were just like, “I like you,” and I was like, “Okay.” It also took you three years to say “I love you.”
Simon: Yeah, I don’t throw it out loosely.
Kaelen: Literally three years. Okay, this is how that happened. We were watching The Incredibles. The animated movie.
Kaelen: There’s the dad–
Simon: Amazing movie.
Kaelen: Yeah, great movie. The dad is talking to his wife and we’re trying to figure out who the voice is. The dad goes, “I love you,” and so Simon pauses it and he’s like, “Who is that? I love you. I love you. I love you.” Trying to figure the voice out. And I’m like, this is fucking ridiculous. It’s been, like, three years at this point.
He was just repeating it. I think he actually said it that night because I got mad at him and was like, “If you don’t love me by now, you’re never going to.” It was very dramatic.
Simon: You know whose voice it is? Craig T. Nelson.
I took her to Bermuda the summer after.
Kaelen: And I met his parents. Which actually resulted in another fight because you didn’t tell them I was your girlfriend.
Simon: You gotta walk on eggshells with this one, apparently.
Amelia: Did you guys date the whole way through college after that?
Amelia: No breaks?
Simon: No breaks. She graduated and moved to New York for college, to Parsons. I did a victory lap. That was weird.
Kaelen: It was super weird.
Simon: It was fun.
Kaelen: So basically, I graduated and went to Parsons. I didn’t love it immediately. I thought that I would just be like, “This is perfect. This my life now.” I missed Simon. It was an adjustment.
Whenever he came to visit, Simon was like, “Ugh, I hate this place.”
Simon: It was tough at first. I was an island boy. I like my decks and barbecues.
Amelia: Did you ever think about breaking up so that you could do your own thing in NYC for a while?
Kaelen: Not really…he was doing his thing, I was doing mine. But I was like, “This is getting a little crazy,” because I was now a year ahead, I had dog. I had a whole life…
Amelia: Right. But Simon, obviously you ended up moving here. Do you guys remember thinking, “This is it, this is the person for me, we’re locking this in?”
Simon: No, I don’t think so. It was never one moment.
Kaelen: You’re making it really not romantic.
Simon: It is romantic in that you don’t need these explosive moments. It’s a love that grows and matures!
Kaelen: Can you also clarify that we did not have an arranged marriage. That’s what people say when they have an arranged marriage! That you “learn to love someone.”
Simon: I remember being at the bar at Peels on Bowery —
Kaelen: That place is cursed, by the way. It was a noodle shop, it was a pop-up Target shop, it was Peels, which was good but not great.
Simon: Peels had really good egg sandwiches.
Kaelen: And now it’s the pasta place Primi…
Simon: Anyway, we were hanging out and talking and I forget what it was that prompted it, but that was the first time that we were like, “Yeah, maybe we should get married.” This would have been six years ago, I think. It was the first time the subject came up. It was kind of cute, kind of like, “Oh shit!” It was not something I had thought about discussing, I thought we would just stay together. I had thought that you don’t need to get married.
Kaelen: Well, I don’t think either of us cared that much. It wasn’t anything super important for us. Neither one of us needed that but I think the impetus was probably more rooted in logistics. It sounds bad to be like “we didn’t feel like we needed to get married,” but a part of us did want it.
Simon: There’s something to be said about sealing the deal and binding yourself through marriage. As the years go on, that helps it stick, too. If it’s hard to get out of something, you stay in it. On some level, right? Because, like, that amount of paperwork? Yuck!
Amelia: One thing that stuck with me from another It’s Kind of Funny Story that I did — I always bring it up now — is that you can’t hate one another or both hate the marriage at the same time. There always has to be one fighter.
Kaelen: I don’t know. We’re in a kind of unique place right now because of just having the baby. People talk about their problems and I’m like, “Oh, talk to me when you have a kid.”
Amelia: So the wedding thing came about how many years in?
Kaelen: It was Boxing Day.
Simon: December 26. That’s right. That’s when I proposed.
Kaelen: At my house in Oakville.
Amelia: That’s romantic.
Kaelen: It wasn’t. Simon gave me a Christmas card that said something to the effect of, “Mommy blew Santa so you get a new bike this year.” And then you didn’t get down on one knee, you just gave me the box.
Simon: I did get down on my knee.
Kaelen: You didn’t. And you didn’t ask my dad, either.
Simon: Well, I didn’t know that was a thing.
Kaelen: My dad was basically asking you at that point.
Simon: We were going to New Mexico for New Years, so I had in my mind that something would just come to me on a nice morning walk or whatever, but we were having this dinner at her parent’s house before we left — her parents were there, other good friends of the family were there and it just seemed like a better opportunity.
So, yeah. Slid that rock, she said yes, and we were married eight months later.
Kaelen: Yeah, we got married quickly because neither one of us are wedding-planning type. We were like, “Let’s just outsource and get this done.” Our wedding was awesome, I loved it. It was so much fun. We got married in Alder Manor which is an incredible old property, it’s very Grey Gardens.
Simon: Talk about shabby chic…
Kaelen: The bones of the house are amazing.
Simon: Half the people were coming from Canada, half from Bermuda and the UK, so it was about finding a logistical meeting ground.
Kaelen: The downside was that you had to bring in everything, like chairs. And we had it catered by the Fat Radish guys, which was awesome.
Amelia: The wedding almost seems like it wasn’t a pivotal part of your relationship. Not in a bad way, but it wasn’t defining.
Kaelen: No, it wasn’t. I mean, it was fun.
Amelia: What do you think was the most pivotal moment. Having your baby?
Kaelen: Oh yeah. That is still pivotal. That’s a fluid situation.
Kaelen: I think Simon moving here was more pivotal than getting married. I remember when you moved here, Simon, I was in an apartment on Bleecker — which was an awesome apartment — and we were still really young and you had just moved here full time so we were super excited and we had dinner in the apartment.
Simon: You cooked Italian pasta!
Kaelen: Italian pasta as opposed to American? And then I remember — he only drank beer or liquor — that was the first time you had a glass of red wine.
Simon: And here I am, drinking rose!
Kaelen: It’s The Evolution of Simon.
Simon: Back to having a baby, it’s the worst thing in the world and the best thing in the world. The highs are so high, the lows are so low.
Kaelen: People are doing you a disservice. When friends found out I was pregnant, they were like, “Oh my god, it’s so fun, you’re going to love it!” and I was like, “Yay! I know.”
And then, like, two weeks after he was born I texted one of my friends in Toronto and was like, “Fuck you. You lied. This is not fun. This is the opposite of fun.” And she was like, “Yeah, but you can’t tell pregnant people that.” I was shell-shocked.
Simon: There’s so much information, too. Especially living in a city where a lot of people don’t have their family nearby so you have to take the information from people around you.
Amelia: How has your relationship with one another changed since having him?
Simon: We’re so much closer. It’s a survival method.
Kaelen: Yeah. I noticed this the other day and said this last week, but we never used to cuddle when we got into bed, that didn’t happen…
Simon: We cling to each other now.
Kaelen: Now, we put the baby down and we’re like, “Oh my god, oh my god, oh my god, don’t breath.” And we hold hands.
Simon: Like “Shhhhh.”
There’s a maturation too, for sure, because it becomes less about yourself. You have to start looking after each other physically and emotionally — ’cause it’s a fucking roller coaster.
Kaelen: Yeah, you go through the ringer. Also, he saw me give birth to a human, so there’s a level of intimacy that you really can’t get elsewhere.
Simon: Yeah, it’s not cool, it’s not pretty…it’s real.. It strengthens you, because you’re like, this person is doing this for me and for us.
Kaelen: You go through so much that there’s not that much that’s left unsaid, I guess. Which, in the beginning of a relationship, you can go a long time with shit that buried deep. And when you have a kid, you really can’t do that anymore. There’s nothing that can stay calmly under the surface. It’s all there. It exposes a lot but it also makes you feel a lot more close.
Amelia: Has your job played a role in your relationship, if at all?
Kaelen: Behind the scenes, Simon has been an advisor for like, six years. So every single problem I had with my line, any difficulty, Simon has always been the problem solver, but not in an official capacity.
Simon: Yeah. I don’t know about a solver, but…
Kaelen: He has talked me down off a bunch of…let’s say, professional ledges.
Simon: Professional Arm Candy.
Amelia: Okay, so this is the point in the interview where I ask what your favorite things are about one another.
Kaelen: Aww. This is like a trust circle. I mean, my favorite thing is that you always put aside what is bothering you if I am down. If we happen to be in a low point at the same time, you more often than not fall on the sword. You are supportive. And, yeah, I have had a lot of low points with work. Full disclosure — the fashion industry is not easy. It sucks sometimes. So there have been a lot of times where you have sacrificed some of your own endeavors…
Simon: This is so sweet, I was gonna say that I love that you’re down for strippers, man.
Kaelen: Oh, come on.
Simon: No, I like your face a lot. That’s very important. Very understated, very important. I could look at it all goddamn day. And wake up to it. It’s beautiful, and it’s soft. And it’s warm. It’s mine.
Kaelen: I know those are all nice things, but…
Amelia: This is so great.
Kaelen: Those are nice things but I just said that you are supportive and fall on swords and you said I like strippers and you like my face.
And for the record: I don’t like strippers.
Simon: You’ve got a good head on your shoulders and a lot of wisdom. You’re great at dispensing advice that actually makes sense and isn’t just bullshit.
Kaelen: That’s better.
Simon: Which is hard to hear sometimes but is very necessary.
Amelia: What was the first thing that made you think, “She’s The One?”
Simon: Honestly, we can talk forever. We are very, very, very different people but we can chit chat forever.
Kaelen: Did you see Best in Show? That part where she’s like, “We can talk, or not talk, for hours….we both like soup.” That’s this.
Amelia: That’s actually wonderful. I love that movie so much. So last thing to wrap this up: advice. Offer up any advice you may have about relationships in general.
Kaelen: Well, it sounds like pretty obvious, but understand how special what you have is. I’ve never thought, “I wish we weren’t together,” but after thirteen years in, you’re married, and you have a baby, it can be hard. You actually have to remind yourself that it’s special and that it’s not a given.
Simon: We asked for marriage advice when we got married as part of the R.S.V.P.
Kaelen: And that was great, by the way, because some people were like “Keep R. Kelly in your 5 disc CD changer.”
Simon: Yeah…R. Kelly. Keep a lot of R&B..
Kaelen: We also got a lot of advice that was like “don’t go to bed angry.” It’s just not realistic. People are like, “Even if you’re really mad, just hold hands.” Like, no. There’s no way if we’re really mad I am going to be like, fine, let’s hold hands.
Simon: Just be cool. Be calm.
Kaelen: Accept that you’re angry.
Simon: Be lenient.
Kaelen: There are amazing times. But accept that there are rough times.
Simon: You’re on one side of the world together. I don’t know, I can’t give advice to everybody because every every couple is different, but don’t say anything you regret. A tub of ice cream never hurt anybody, either.