From Basement to Center Stage – Interview with Glamour Kills Founder Mark Capicotto : Under30CEO From Basement to Center Stage – Interview with Glamour Kills Founder Mark Capicotto : Under30CEO
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From Basement to Center Stage – Interview with Glamour Kills Founder Mark Capicotto

| June 4, 2014 | 2 Comments


Glamour Kills LogoGlamour Kills embraces the spirit of the underdog, from their flying pig logo to the humble beginnings of the brand. Nearly a decade after their start, this alternative fashion brand has gone from the basement to the center stage.

Mark Capicotto started doing freelance art designs of CD covers, t-shirts, and logos for friends’ bands while in High School. In his parents basement in New York with a grand sum of $300, Mark Capicotto started Glamour Kills. He was working as a pizza delivery boy and had no background in business. He had little to lose and dedicated all of his free-time and energy intro the brand. Mark admits that there wasn’t a conscious decision to turn in into an actual business. The brand wasn’t formed as an LLC until several years after initial work had begun on designs. “The first couple of years was just figuring things out.”

The clothing company was founded on Mark’s love and passion for music. The company started by working with bands he had relationships with. Glamour Kills continues to work with bands today by sponsoring bands, concerts, festivals and tours. “It just made sense that if I was going to start a brand and if it was going to stand for something, why not incorporate something that I know and love?” Musical artists who were friends with Mark were happy to show off Glamour Kills apparel on tour and it became a “badge of honor” to wear.

Mark Capicotto Resized

When Kills Started Killing It

Although Glamour Kills is now a multi-million dollar company, it didn’t happen overnight. The brand grew organically until it exploded several years after it’s humble start. The third year, 2008, marked an exciting and surreal year for Mark and Glamour Kills. It started with an email from one of the buyers at the home office of national retail chain Zumiez – they wanted Glamour Kills in their stores. Previously, the startup’s sales were made online and in a few local mom and pop shops. But with this opportunity came a significant challenge from all angles.

Instead of producing a line of 100 shirts, they had to produce 2,000-3,000. Capital had to be freed up to produce these expanded lines and Mark had to figure out how to draw customers into Zumiez stores to buy his clothes. The brand released exclusive designs and promotions that people could only get at Zumiez, which strengthened their relationship with the retailer and helped make sure that their clothes would be featured in the chain for years to come.

The other significant early event that Mark calls “the most shockingly cool experience of my professional career,” happened at the 2008 Bamboozle Festival in New Jersey. Mark and Glamour Kills employees brought clothes to sell at the festival. When the doors opened, kids came rushing to their tent solely to buy Glamour Kills apparel. Every piece of clothing sold out and by the end of the event, several employees had literally sold clothes off of their back to fans. “I was shaking.” They have done many events since, but this occasion marked a transition. Mark equated these situations to a baseball player who was being called up to the major league.

Keeping Their Style

Glamour Kills takes pride in being considered the underdog. But as any underdog, when you start winning, it’s hard to be considered an underdog anymore. Mark admitted that it does get harder as time goes by, but they are not changing their style or message just because they are a growing company.

As you get bigger it becomes very easy to look at dollars and cents. As you grow you have salaries, people, and it’s more of a business. I make sure that the integrity of everything from the first day I was designing a T-shirt myself to now managing a whole design team is still showing through the same core ethos and aesthetic. The same grassroots feel we had 9 years ago.”

Glamour Kills is coming up on their 10 year anniversary, which Mark referred to as “super crazy.” They plan on celebrating in several ways, including a commemorative collection, an exclusive concert with his favorite bands, some “really cool events” and something “big and fun.” Congratulations on the 10 years Mark, you’re killing it!

The best 30 minutes you’ll spend today! Listen to the full interview with Glamour Kills’ Mark Capicotto below.

Interview Highlights

- “If you feel like you have an idea and you’re driven, go for it…what’s the worse that could happen, you fail? Failure is always an option. Be Fearless and go for it.”

- “Anybody can come up with a great design or a great idea, but it has to stem from something that’s real and honest.”

- Find out about the severe mistake that was avoided. “It probably would’ve killed the brand.”

- In reference to personal goals and entrepreneurial dreams: “Don’t subscribe to what everyone else is telling you.”

Quick-Fire Questions

How many hours do you spend a week working on Glamour Kills? 40-50 hours a week. Mark used to spend 70 hours a week (at least) during the early days of Glamour Kills, but can now leave work at work and finds himself more productive by staying fresh and well rested.

What’s the craziest concert you’ve ever been to? Glamour Kills is involved every year with the Vans Warped Tour, which Mark says is “always crazy.”

What’s the worst idea for a t-shirt you’ve ever had? Glamour Kills did a mini collection of “cute/nerdy” comic sans t-shirts with cats. “It bombed,” but Mark was sure it would work.

How much sleep do you get a night? Early on it was 4-5 hours, now it’s 7-8 hours a night so he can operate at 100%.

If you could add one person in the world to Glamour Kills as an employee, who would it be and why? Mark Echo. Although their styles are different, both started in a similar way and Echo was able to build a brand organically. Mark says that Mark (Echo) would be an “asset to have in (his) corner.”

Listen to the full interview here:

About the Author: Michael Luchies

Michael Luchies is an entrepreneur and passionate supporter of everything entrepreneurship. Michael is Co-Founder of PitchJam and is National Growth and Programs Manager for the Collegiate Entrepreneurs’ Organization (CEO). He has been covering entrepreneurship over the past 5 years and has been published on Under30CEO, Yahoo!, Yahoo! News, ThinkEntrepreneurship, PitchingGreatness, and other websites and publications. On Twitter @MichaelLuchies.

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Category: Entrepreneur Interviews, Entrepreneurship

  • Suzanne

    where is the link to listen to the interview?

  • Michael Luchies

    Working on that now, thanks for the message!