Dante Catanzarite felt that there wasn’t a clothing brand that represented him. So, he decided to do something about it -- he created his own business.
Catanzarite, a senior studying integrated media, is the creative director and founder of Inferno & Co., a British streetwear clothing brand.
Inferno & Co.’s motto is “Grit N’ Grind,” which means “simply doing something no one else wants to do, for the simple fact that you have to! We strive to seek out those people, the real Grinders of this world to provide quality, and style to their way of life,” according to the brand’s website. “‘Grit N’ Grind’ defines us and people like us perfectly. Work hard, play hard, but more importantly knowing who you are.”
Catanzarite felt that there was a group of men who didn’t have an audience or a specific clothing brand that represented who they were as people. He was inspired by his experience with playing rugby.
“And what I mean by that with rugby, and this goes for anybody, not just rugby, but they’re guys who go out there and they hit people for 60 minutes,” Catanzarite said. “It's a tough game, but afterwards, we go out (and) we drink together. And you know these guys, they're not just meatheads that are always in the weight room. These guys are into film, they're into design…I felt that these diverse people that were into multiple different things didn't have anything that would necessarily represent them. And I've always been into fashion. It's been a real passion of mine forever. And I just saw an opportunity where you know, there was nothing like it on the market. I went for it (and) took the lead to start my own business.”
The brand is unisex. T-shirts cost $25, the long-sleeved t-shirts are $28, the beanies are $16 and the limited-edition jacket is $60. The t-shirts, beanies and jackets are part of a new launch not yet available.
Catanzarite classifies his brand as British streetwear because British streetwear isn’t common in the U.S.
“You don't see that in Ohio, really anywhere in the Midwest,” Catanzarite said. “So, I thought it was also an opportunity to bring something unique to the market. British streetwear is more higher-end clothing. I want people to look good when they're wearing it. Not in the sense of it's a cool shirt or cool sweatshirt, but I want somebody to be like, ‘Wow, I can wear this…nice sweatshirt with some khakis and some boots maybe…’”
Inferno & Co. is a one-man show. Catanzarite designs the clothes himself in-house, but sources the clothes from overseas.
“I do everything myself and I put a lot of time and effort into it, and I do everything for a reason,” Catanzarite said. “I don't ever just design something just because. I want to explain why I did everything, and I chose everything. And I don't know if people are going to even care, but it's something that I just wanna do personally because, like I said, everything's got a meaning. I hope people see that in my stuff, that there's something behind it more than just the piece of clothing and the design.”
The intensity and passion Catanzarite has is apparent in the upcoming jacket launch.
In an Instagram post, Catanzarite explains his reasoning for connecting Skeletor with Jim Morrison.
“This is all I really care about right now in the sense of this has basically taken over my life in a good way….” Catanzarite said. “I just want to express the things that I love and share (them) with other people. And hopefully they can appreciate that back. It's a mutual thing. I try to give back to other people who like my stuff, and they give back to me by supporting me and buying my stuff in helping me through this process.”
Paige Kirby was also inspired to create her own clothing brand.
Kirby, a senior studying strategic communication, is the founder and CEO of Whatever Makes You Happy. She started the brand because she felt like the clothes that were already available didn’t fit her body type, weren’t comfortable or didn’t represent who she was.
“The clothes that I sell are just the curation of the individual woman, the body positive,” Kirby said. “They're items that will make you look good, feel good, but are an alternative to Instagram or TikTok trends that you see out there. I just felt like clothes that were out there were just too specific for me and they wouldn't fit a wide range of body types and styles.”
Her clothes range from a size 0 to a 12.
Whatever Makes You Happy isn’t just about clothes. It also has a self-care line, which includes bath bombs, sugar scrubs, whipped soap, bath salts and soon candles.
Kirby is proud to be a student business owner. She lost her internship because of COVID-19 and decided to take charge of her future.
“It can be a mess sometimes, but it's so unique because I have so many resources here on campus…” Kirby said. “And there's just obviously something unique about being a bobcat student business owner.”
She thinks some students are deterred from starting a business because they’ve been told it's not a responsible career choice, but she says her business has been worthwhile.
“If anyone is reading this and thinking about starting a business too, definitely, definitely go for it,” Kirby said.
COVID-19 also inspired Rachel Braun to start her business. Braun, a senior studying early childhood education, is the maker of BeadsbyRachelB.
She makes customized wine glasses, shot glasses, mugs, canvas pouches or other requested items. Braun uses a Cricut to make the customized designs.
“It just kind of turned into a little Instagram business and it’s way more successful than I ever thought it would be,” Braun said.
Over quarantine, Braun started making bracelets to raise money for essential workers to buy them a meal at a hospital in her hometown.
Megan Hurwitz, a senior studying retail and fashion merchandising, is the owner of Hippie Hoopz.
Hurwitz makes jewelry, earrings, necklaces, bracelets and car accessories with crystals and beads. She gets her materials from Cool Digs, Joann Fabric and Crafts and Amazon. Her most popular design is the resin jewelry she makes and her mushroom necklaces.
The business is fairly new and to Hurwitz, is doing well.
“I started it over the summer because I just realized that I wanted to start making my own jewelry, but also my friends liked it and stuff so I should sell it,“ Hurwitz said.
Ohio University student small businesses also extended into the upcycling trend.
Baylee Wolfe, a freshman studying energy engineering and economics, is the owner and founder of OU Upcycle.
Wolfe resells clothing that she finds at thrift stores and in Athens and then dyes the clothes, cuts them or leaves them as is because they look nice. She then resells them on her Instagram page.
“I’m promoting sustainable use of clothing,” Wolfe said. “I really wanted to work towards more sustainable clothing, and my brother and his girlfriend (gave up) plastic and influenced me. Seeing other people work towards more sustainable living influenced me to start my page because I wanted to influence OU students.”