Communities are an interesting place. We all come from a community, multiple communities actually. We are born into a family community, a cultural community and perhaps a religious community in childhood. As we grow, we craft our own communities in the places that we choose to live and in the people that we choose to surround ourselves with.
As many of you know, My Sole Sisters is a female & minority-owned small business based out of NYC. We aspire to be impactful across many communities, however, we recognize our roots and aim to lift up other females, minorities and NYC-based businesses. This week begins a new blog series where we will focus on entrepreneurs within our communities who are trailblazers in each of their respective industries.
In this first Trailblazer blog, we will speak with the local NYC entrepreneur behind the athleisure clothing brand known as Dave D’Marco Clothing.
My Sole Sisters: Thank you for joining us on this beautiful afternoon in NYC! We are excited to feature you as the first local entrepreneur in our trailblazer series.
Dave D’Marco: The pleasure is all mine. I appreciate you creating this opportunity for myself and my brand on your site.
My Sole Sisters: To get started, could you tell us a bit about the Dave D’Marco brand?
Dave D’Marco: Absolutely. The name, “Dave D’Marco,” was actually born years ago in 2016 and is a combination of both my and my best friend’s names (Dave + Marko). Back then, the idea was to build a business around sports, basketball specifically, since that’s one of my passions. Over the years, the focus has been refined to athletic wear, something that can be stylish on the court (basketball or otherwise) and then will remain stylish throughout the rest of the day.
My Sole Sisters: I love that you’ve continued to evolve your idea over the last few years. Could you talk more about how you got started and what your days look like now as an entrepreneur?
Dave D’Marco: So, once we finalized the name and the merchandise that we’d wanted to sell, I actually worked with a graphic designer to create the logo for our brand. From there, I taught myself the essential skills and platforms, including Photoshop and Shopify, and was able to build the site on my own. These days, I really focus my time on managing the site itself as well as interacting with customers on social media, primarily on Instagram and Facebook. I’ve found that customers will often tell you what they want and then leave it to you to figure out how to make it happen.
My Sole Sisters: Very interesting! Could you give us an example of something that a customer asked for and whether you were able to make it a reality?
Dave D’Marco: A great example came from a customer who requested a logo customized with the colors of the Philippines flag. We have a variety of logos on the site that include sunset colors, American flags, and Miami Vice colors, so this request was an interesting one for me. I worked on the design, tried to assess how it would be received on the site and then launched it (with great success). It’s actually one of our top-selling shirts from May 2019, which is when it was first launched for sale.
My Sole Sisters: Living in NYC, we know that our neighbors and communities are made up of people from all over the world. Do you think that this same idea may be expanded for other countries in the future?
Dave D’Marco: For the moment, we’re sticking with the Philippines, however we are very open to feedback from our customers. If there is an interest in shirts that represent other flags like Colombia, the Dominican Republic or China, for example, then we are happy to explore it!
My Sole Sisters: What’s one piece of advice that you have for people who are thinking about starting their own business?
Dave D’Marco: My advice is to start with what you’re passionate about and then keep your eyes and ears open for ideas. As I said, my passion was basketball. Every time that I played, I tried to think of opportunities to improve the game - whether it was related to training or something tangentially related to the greater basketball community. I went through many ideas through the years. Some of them were scrapped completely, but others have evolved and eventually fed into what came to be Dave D’Marco.
My Sole Sisters: It sounds like your website has grown from a place of passion for you.
Dave D’Marco: It absolutely has. While the idea grew from my own passion with basketball, I’ve found that the clothing and versatility of the designs really translates to any activity. From hiking to yoga to the beach and beyond, whatever you’re doing, do it with style. That's our motto. The aim is for it to be an athleisure brand, but designed with a young, urban edge.
My Sole Sisters: Well, Dave, I’d really like to thank you for sitting down with me today. It’s always a pleasure to speak with another local small business owner! Do you have any final thoughts to share with our readers today?
Dave D’Marco: Thank you again for having me. This brand is special to me and it’s been exciting to watch it grow so far! So far, all sales have gone into the engagement ring fund for my girlfriend. More sales will help me achieve that “Happy Wife/Happy Life” balance!
My Sole Sisters: Amazing -- I hope you achieve that balance soon!
To nominate yourself or someone that you know to be featured in this Trailblazer Tuesday series, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org and include a short note about the business that you’d like to nominate and why. We look forward to hearing from you!