Anton Babich launched the Anton Alexander line in 2011 for men seeking an edgier look. His shirts are bold and vibrant, yet top quality – incorporating innovative materials that keep the body dry. The custom clothing is handmade at his Fort Wayne production facility and ships within one day of ordering. Anton recently funded 130 percent of his operations by submitting his apparel ideas to Kickstarter.com, the world’s largest crowd source funding website. We sat down with Anton to learn more about his business and a get a few tips for entrepreneurs just getting started.
Why did you start your business?
I am passionate about clothing and have anyways enjoyed dressing up and following trends. The second reason would be based on the idea of a missed opportunity. I felt the men's market was missing a certain type of style and simply because I couldn't find what I personally wanted.
How did you come up with your business name?
I originally spent 3-4 weeks brain storming and researching what the label name should be, but nothing seemed to click or feel right. Then one day, I realized that most high-end designer labels are names. I knew that my name doesn't have a smooth sound like a lot of European brands, but then tried my first name and middle name, Anton Alexander. I instantly knew that was it! I posted the name on Facebook and received a tremendous amount of positive feedback.
Where do you see your business in the next 5-10 years?
More styles and designs are coming! We are adding a business collection and a neon collection in early 2015. I am also developing shirts for women. We will also expand into accessories such as rings, watches, belts, socks and company bags. Next year I will launch a new, more interactive website. The site will offer live chats, a blog and will facilitate more communication with our customers.
What are some future trends that you see in the industry?
American made products are a trend we are seeing in the marketplace, and for us, an American made product is a must. From a menswear perspective, there are many changes coming. For example, we created an Active Designer Dress Shirt. It is fabric innovation at its finest as the entire dress shirt is 9oz, wrinkle free, stain repellent, and moisture wicking. Another trend we are predicting is color; Men have been so afraid of wearing bright colors, especially in the business world and we hope to help revolutionize that.
What tips do you have for aspiring entrepreneurs and business owners?
The first thing that pops into my head is patience; nothing happens overnight. It takes a while to get the ball rolling when starting a business. Another is fear; have none of it. Don’t be afraid to try new things and mess up! People will tell you that you are crazy to start a business and that you need to get “a real job”. It is difficult in early stages because the income is not steady. You have to plan well and live VERY conservatively. Remember that your business is your baby, and you must feed it before you reap the benefits. I gave up eating out at restaurants, vacations, and even buying myself basically anything except necessities for almost 4 years to get things going. I put every dollar I could back into the business to try to get it to grow faster.
Please talk about your experience with Kickstarter
Kickstarter.com was my first marketing/sales challenge. I told myself, “If there is a market for my shirts, this will show me.” The campaign launched in January 2013, and in 30 days, I hit 158% of my goal by selling 88 shirts in 22 different countries. With my experience with Kickstarter, the exposure, as well as the new coverage, was tremendous! I had a few magazines, newspapers, NPR radio, and many bloggers reach out to do stories. This led to excellent credibility for a new company and that led to many more sales!
What does your line/brand symbolize?
At the end of the day, we create clothing to make you feel great; we hope to empower your spirit to make you feel like you can conquer the world! Yes, you do feel different when you wear something nice. We simply want to give you that excellent feeling no matter where you wear your Anton Alexander shirts!