Let’s begin by talking about you. Who are you, what do you do, where did this project begin?
Roberto: I am Roberto Masucci from Naples. I’ve been in the fashion industry for the past 7 year, at first working as a graphic for Sottotono – a brand from Naples – and designing both garments and other graphic aspects of the brand, then doing projects on my own.
Erica: Hello I am Erica Penta, I am a web designer from Naples as well. I have been a freelancer working with local designers for four years.
How was the brand born?
We founded the brand in February of last year in Dublin but since then we have moved to Prague. We didn’t see a future for us in Italy, especially in Naples, so we decided to make one for ourselves and create this company. Erica takes care of all that has to do with online content, social media platforms so that we can create and online presence and identity for the company. I focus on designing garments, logos, etc.
Do you like living in Prague?
Yes, maybe we even like it more than Dublin. It is a very beautiful city and the cost of life is still very cheap in comparison to other places in Europe. We are also working towards opening a shop here and we would like to make it really the headquarters of all our operations. It is definitely an interesting market because even though consumption goods are very cheap, the price of clothing would still be profitable for us.
Where did you guys come up with the idea to create this brand and where did you take your inspiration from?
We met up when we were kids because we are from the same area and we have been a couple ever since. The idea was to combine our abilities and make something that was ours. It is a life-project meant to change the trajectory of our lives.
We didn’t want to stay in Italy because we felt that we couldn’t have made this all happen there and also because we didn’t feel like it was the right environment to start out with other things in our lives like having a family.
The name bust out came from the idea of escaping an oppressive reality to make something exceptional with your life, a life outside of the norms of your society. The project was born from a thousand different thoughts and factors, in some ways it has a clear direction but in others it is growing and changing with us. It is not just a brand for us, it mirrors our lives. It represents this break, this turning point when we decided to change everything.
So, at first I wanted to ask you, what the difficulties of launching a startup in Italy are, but obviously you didn’t actually start out in Italy.
No we started the brand directly in Dublin, but the decision was made after analyzing what our chances back home would have been. We were weighting all possibilities at first, but our biggest concern was Italy’s heavy fiscal pressure on small businesses. But anyways we were curious about starting a new life somewhere else so we didn’t insist too much on this option.
We decided to move to Ireland, which has a much more business-friendly tax policy for startups. We then moved away from Dublin because the cost of life was very high, and we chose Prague as our next destination, where we have been living for the past 3 months.
How does the product distribution aspect work?
We have 4 shops in Italy: One in Bari, one in Milan and two in Naples. The shops aren’t completely dedicated to the brand, they sell multiple designer lines and have a certain type of clientele interested in fashion. We design limited editions and sell them the garments, plus we have an online shop and a page on ASOS market place.
During this first year the important part has been consolidating the brand identity by getting the public to know us. We are also curating a lot our image and our online presence. That’s why we sometimes give away products to small tv and fashion personalities with a certain following to get people to recognize our brand.
We still don’t have the power to produce in big quantities and serve multiple stores. For the moment being we are not investing a lot online, so we are not receiving a lot of revenue from online sales. We are mostly focusing on creating a database of clients that might be interested in our new collections and our promotions, so that we can target our marketing campaigns specifically towards them.
Where do you locate the production process?
We chose Barletta, in southern Italy, for our main production site. I have some contacts there and we wanted to produce in the country to ensure the quality of our garments. Having a product made in Italy has value in and of itself, and even though we wanted to go abroad, we still care about producing in our native country because we are not trying to deny our identity. Our brand is an Italian brand and we would like to give back to where we came from.
So, for now your collection is mainly based on a male t-shirt line. How do you see your product evolve in the next years?
We are going to design a sunglasses line and a baseball caps line. Little by little with the revenue we receive from the t-shirt sales we are trying to expand the collection and integrate some new products, at first for men and then for women as well. We are just at the beginning but we already have some satisfactions. The next project will be the sunglasses production, my dad is helping with that because he has some contacts in the industry. We think that our sunglasses line would have success in the Northeastern markets, starting from Prague and going to Germany and Poland.
Thinking back of this year, was there a moment when you were like “ok, I am really proud of this”?
When we came back to Naples we met up with our friends at a local pub that was full of people wearing our t-shirts. Many of them had never even met us before, they got to know the brand first. That was a big satisfaction because, even though we are not living in Italy anymore, our most important market is still there.
Any final thoughts?
This started as an adventure, we had few money and few contacts but we were motivated and continue to be motivated to make it happen. For a brand, the first 2 years are the most difficult ones because you have to get your product out there, which is hard in such a competitive sector. This is why we will be launching our sunglasses line in the next three months, this kind of product is easier to place on the market.