Jeffrey Grübb (fashion designer) and Quohnos Mitchell (publicist)
Income $124,000 (combined for 1999)
Health Insurance covered by employer
It is a riveting discussion. Will they buy one fluffy, perfect, white Ralph Lauren towel, or will it be the thinner, more noble 10 towels for the same price? “I say to Quohnos, look at this towel,” says Jeffrey Grübb. “I’ve had it 10 years and it’s still perfect. Let’s just get rid of all those other crappy, cheap towels you like to have around.”
Grübb, 38, a fashion designer, and Quohnos Mitchell, 30, a publicist for Tommy Hilfiger, met near the pay phone at Christopher and Hudson in 1994, but separated in 1997 after such discussions.
“My background with money is not about a lot of money,” Mitchell says. “I always look for the bargain. I was born in Detroit, the projects. I was in the marines from 1987 to 1993—three square a day, free medical the rest of your life. But then when I want a fax machine for my birthday, Jeffrey buys me a $499 fax.”
“I wanted to get him the best,” saysMinneapolis-born Grübb, who used to sell for Go Silk fashions in the ’80s, opened a gym in Miami Beach, developed the 2b! line, and started Fashion Active Laboratory, where he designs cashmere sportswear.
“I could have gotten a fax, a radio, and a phone for $499,” Mitchell says.
“Of course fax machines are so out-of-date anyway,” Grübb says.
“Jeffrey doesn’t think about saving for a rainy day. He’d write a $1500 check to rent a room for a trade show at the Plaza before we’d have our personal bills paid,” Mitchell says.
“My thing was I wanted to perfect my business to where the money would just show up,” Grübb says.
“That was really difficult,” Mitchell says. “He didn’t pay the bills and our credit card debt jacked up. I said, if you can’t figure this out, how can I trust you when we want to have kids, a house?”
They separated for a year. “I cut out every expense, including a pricey office space on Seventh,” Grübb says. “I moved from my apartment in Chelsea to Harlem and cut my rent way down.” He got a big, glamorous, renovated three-bedroom apartment with 15-foot ceilings in a former schoolhouse on 125th, where they live now.
And Mitchell? “I took this thing called the Forum. I decided Jeffrey and I should get back together. If you love somebody, love will fix it. One of my conditions was he had to take the Forum.”
“It’s kind of like a cult,” Grübb says. “It used to be EST, but they changed the name.”
“Jeffrey gave me this book, The Power of Awareness,” Mitchell says. “And I read The Artists‘ Way. We read a lot of books like that. The underlying belief is, if you think you only deserve a certain portion, that’s all you’re going to get.”
“But there isn’t a limit,” Grübb says. “The idea is there is enough abundance in the world and the ones who know that are the ones who get it.”
So now when Grübb wants a $700 gym membership and Mitchell looks at him as if he is insane, they sit calmly on their brushed-silver aluminum office chairs at their glass-topped table with the vase full of pale red roses and discuss it. “We have separate savings accounts now,” Grübb says. “Our couples therapist said we both need our own play money. And I’ve completely separated my business from my personal. I make sure the backers are paying for expenses. I’m not pretending I’m Daddy handing out $5 bills. I grew up in a hardworking German middle-class family. Work was everything. During the Depression, my father’s father stuck his head in the oven. It translated to my father—if you don’t have a job, if you’re not doing well at work, kill yourself.”