The Story of Zachary Polito and Simply Thriving Brand
The Story of Zachary Polito and Simply Thriving Brand
Built with Shopify
Who are you and what business did you start?
My name is Zachary Polito. I was born in Pittsburgh, PA and lived there for 10 years before moving to Miami, FL. I attended college at Florida State University in which I majored in Entrepreneurship, Finance, & Professional Sales. I’ve always been extremely intrigued by Fashion and saw myself wanting to be in the industry from a young age. During my time in college I was a core member to a Marketing & Entertainment company in which I planned & lead 6 markets with 11+ events a week throughout the state of Florida. Despite our success, the desire to start a brand of my own and dive into the Fashion industry continued to eat away at me.
Simply Thriving is a lifestyle brand for those that like to push the norm when it comes to the way you dress. Yet our brand and ambitions go far beyond the clothing.
We are a social club thriving with individuals all sharing that same day to day positive drive. We are unique, outgoing and have a burning desire to succeed. They believe the world has so much out there to explore and conquer, we just have to go out and seize it. In our eyes, the way you dress should be vibrant, letting your emotions stand out, allowing you to Simply Thrive. We have intertwined a theme of outer space and splatter paint to represent the mindset of pushing toward the unknown.
Simply Thriving apparel is made in limited quantities to ensure the exclusiveness of your item. Each apparel item comes with an authentication card dictating the quantity number of your hand-crafted item. Items distinguished with the ST Signature Cut are our paramount fits. Beginning with some dope clothing designs and a core group of supporters, we set out to make an impact on the streetwear community and all those chasing their dreams from an early age.
Walk us through the process of creating your first product.
Creating our first product… wow. Boy how things have changed! Prior to Simply Thriving, I didn’t have any experience with the creation of apparel. To start, I knew I needed to prove demand. So I began by drawing out my designs on pieces of paper, mind you I am NOT a good artist, but luckily my graphic designer is a young Picasso in the digital world and was able to bring my ideas to life. From there, we took those designs, uploaded them to Printful, created a Shopify website & began sharing the mockups and link through Social Media as a one time limited release drop with only 50 shirts for sale. We sold all 50 shirts in the first 24 hours with $0 in marketing money, confirming the demand was there.
Moving forward, we knew for the brand to be successful we had to differentiate ourselves. We also knew we needed to improve the quality. Luckily, my college roommate had a custom wholesale T-shirt company of his own and was able to aid with making these improvements. First things first we needed to wholesale order the shirts.
As mentioned, Simply Thriving is all about pushing the social norm. These shirts weren’t to be your normal Gilden shirt. I knew I wanted to go with a longer length tee, with scooped lower hem, a trend I saw on the rise from the start. After ordering a few test products and picking the one liked best it was time to send them off to the printer.
Finding a manufacturer was definitely the hardest part. Given that our logo has 5 colors in it off the bat, multiple design placements on the shirt, and limited total quantities, many manufacturers didn’t want to take the job as it would take too long for a small amount of shirts. However, I kept at it, going door to door to local places and emailing all around for the best prices until finding a place that did Silk Screen Printing and would take our order. The company saw the potential with the brand and welcomed us in with open arms in creating our next release.
What was the process of launching your business like?
The business & brand was officially launched in November of 2017. Our main source of marketing was through Social Media and Influencers. My second venture, Social Thriving, is a Social Media Marketing Agency that specializes in targeted Instagram Growth. Using our proven tactics within the agency tied with our connections to fashion, music, athlete & entertainment influencers the word began to spread fast. I personally built the Simply Thriving Brand Website, www.SimplyThrivingBrand.com, upon launching and have continued to test & make improvements since.
Our 1st official drop, Drop 001 Simply Future, consisted of 25 white long tees with our comet logo on the top left chest, colorful falling corner pieces along the bottom front of the shirt, and the quote “What Are We Going To Do With All This Future?” on the back. The other apparel items released with Drop 001 were two ‘47 Brand Clean Up Hats, on white & one black, with a quantity of 12 each. We complemented these items with two accessories; a Simply Thriving Puzzle Set and a 2 pack of Luggage Tags.
The 1st ever sale came in from a supporting friend, Josh Kopman, and was followed by about 10 more from other supporting friends. This more than anything meant the world to me.
What are some of the most effective ways that attract customers and keep them engaged?
The most effective ways for us to attract customers has definitely been through Social Media & Influencer Marketing. A few of our premier influencers include the likes of DJ’s Nitti Gritti and Kevin Flum, Athlete’s Jordan Hicks from the St. Louis Cardinals, Mandy Alvarez from the New York Yankees and Larry Fitzgerald from the Arizona Cardinals, as well as other artists such as Kaylee Rose & Acre Media.
The name itself speaks volumes and has brought clarity to many that it doesn’t take much to thrive, just a matter of the proper mindset.
As far as Adwords & Paid Advertising campaigns go, we have dabbled in a few however considering we sell limited release apparel in order to increase demand for our exclusive items, most of our marketing takes place before our drops in order to set us up for sellout hours after releasing.
We do take advantage of blogs, email marketing, & other PR opportunities in order to help build a community around the brand. In our blogs we give insight to the latest streetwear drops, give tips on how to dress with the seasons and the hottest trends, as well as bring light to young entrepreneurs and thrivers within the community in a segment we like to call the Simply Thriving Lifestyle Series. In our emails, which you can subscribe to here, we offer exclusive discounts to all our subscribers. We also include monthly newsletters in which we include company updates, links to our latest blog topics, a new spotify playlist curated by our team each month, & other exclusive insights.
Which Shopify Apps are most important to your business?
The most important Shopify Apps to us at our current stage would have to be ShopSync, SurveyMonkey & Conversific.
ShopSync is used to intertwin our MailChimp & Shopify as Mailchimp was recently taken off the Shopify App Store. Within this is where we send out monthly newsletters, release updates & send emails out to new members in the community.
SurveyMonkey is an app we are particularly big on. Feedback and Data are absolutely everything and we like to collect it wherever and whenever we can. We are constantly asking for honest and constructive feedback on all our designs, marketing channels and business tactics in order to ultimately advance the brand.
Conversific is basically a data hub. It takes all your acquired data from across the web whether it be Store Traffic, Google Ads, Facebook Traffic, Instagram Engagement, etc. It puts it all in one easy to read app in which you can make educated decisions on what platforms are doing well, which aren’t, and even insight on which products should be featured or even grouped together based off of sales habits.
What are your sources of inspiration?
Brand inspiration would have to be Off-White, Supreme, Billionaire Boys Club, Palace, & Obey. From the limited release apparel, little advertising spends & community built brands these are a few I’ve continually looked up to for inspiration. In terms of online sources, I like to start my mornings going through Hypebeast, Streetwear & Entrepreneur Forums on Reddit and am also a huge fan of Pinterest. Some of our best inspiration comes from deep within Pinterest loops.
People wise, a few inspirations for me are Virgil Abloh, Pharrell Williams, Mark Cuban, LeBron James & most of all, my family. The first three mentioned have done such a phenomenal job in creating a brand built around their personalities, their interest and their line of work and use it to empower good in the community. That is what I wake up striving to do each day. My family is what keeps me going and pushes me to be successful in the life I want to live. For that reason, I always keep going.
What’s been the biggest business challenge you’ve overcome?
The biggest business challenge we’ve overcome is a toss up as there has definitely been quite a few being a sole proprietor in the company. However, past all the times we were turned down from manufactures for being too limited and all the times we had launches pushed back due to misprints and wanting to wait for the perfect product, the biggest challenge I’ve just recently overcome has definitely been the entrepreneur lifestyle that comes with running a fully fledged brand and company. Coming out of college I graduated with degrees in three separate majors, had offers from many corporate jobs and was a key member in a flourishing marketing & entertainment company that was in the midst of expanding throughout the East Coast. Job security was good, income was steady & there was a general path to follow.
However I wasn’t happy. I wanted to be working toward my vision that I had dreamt about. I wanted to be in a position where I could make a larger impact. So I left all that for the entrepreneur lifestyle in which things changed quickly. Money wasn’t as easily obtainable and everything I did have went straight into the business. I thought hours were bad before? My days began to start at 7am and end after midnight. It became very hard to stay level headed because if shirts didn’t sell, that was one less meal.
I kept reminding myself of the end goal and that this was my decision to make.
Accepting the fact that times were going to be tough, some shirts might not sell as well as others & some decisions made were going to be wrong but as long as I stuck with it and worked my tail off, the cream will always wise to the top.
Based on your success, do you have any advice for other entrepreneurs?
My advice for other entrepreneurs tends to generally always be the same. First and foremost is always just to START. Been wanting to put all the old clothes in your closet up for sale on poshmark? Grab your phone camera & laptop and do it. See yourself wishing that a certain influencer would wear your brands apparel? Message them! You’d be shocked how easy some partnerships can be to start. Have an app idea that you think could be huge? Get on the internet, indeed, wayup, do your research. Just get started rather than sitting back waiting for someone to come and do it for you. The only way you will EVER learn as an entrepreneur is by failing and experiencing. So start now & get it out of your system early.
The second thing would be to stop looking left & right and to focus on you and your vision. So many times entrepreneurs, including myself on numerous occasions, find ourselves feeling down on ourselves because our business or product isn’t where our competitions’ may be. Or because Nancy from college is out at the beach on a Saturday morning and you’re in the office going through emails. Comparing the two is never going to help you and serves no purpose. Everyone has a different path to success. Focus on your clients. Focus on giving your followers the greatest experience possible. Gain their respect and others will follow.
How are things today and what are your plans for the future?
Currently things are going great at Simply Thriving. We are constantly working on our designs for Drop 006 as well as continuing to expand the overall brand and message outside of just clothing. We recently released our 5th official capsule, or biggest release to date, and are nearly sold out. You can shop our remaining products here before they are gone! Our products are limited release so we only carry 25 of each item. This helps add to the instant demand upon release to get your hands on one before they sell out and also grants exclusivity to your purchase. Our products have been resold at much higher costs after sell out on platforms such as Grailed, Bump, Depop, Poshmark, and Ebay. We aim to to have at least one drop a month varying from 2-4 apparel items as well as a few accessories.
Upon the release of Drop 005, we officially began our pledge to donate 5% of ALL profit to Youth Entrepreneurship & Supporting Foundations. That includes everything from apparel sales, to marketing deals & partnerships, to activations and everything in between. Too often young entrepreneurs have great ideas that could make significant improvements to our community, however, due to their age and obtaining the funds or coaching to do so, it is often nearly impossible to start. People constantly say that experience is the best teacher, but at the same time are not providing enough outlets for our younger dreamers to gain this real-life experience. Our goal is to change that. I hope these donations will allow entrepreneurs to finally get their ideas off the ground, experience the ups and downs that come with the lifestyle, and open up the door for young minds to make an impact on the world. I also aspire to believe that if we are able to do this at such a young age in our company, that these donations could pave the way, as companies like The Positive Vibe Movement did to me, for business of all sizes to start giving back to the community and foundations of their choice.
In the future, the possibilities are endless for Simply Thriving. As we continue to grow our community the short term goal is to perfect our craft, quality, packaging, etc getting sold in a few high end streetwear stores as well as continuing to add on influencers and supporters to the Thriving Family. We are in the works of a few partnerships with some big name DJs in an effort to bring our EDM community some merch options from us, as well as their favorite artists, within the festival shops. Moving forward, where Internet rent is cheap, I would eventually like to open up our own storefront with a true Simply Thriving experience with more of an exclusive lounge vibe in big cities. From there, the goal is to explore other ventures within the brand all tying back to one common goal. To allow the outgoing dreamers to express themselves through fashion with all the latest trends, while at the same time creating an exclusive community devoted to giving back & applying a Thriving mindset in everything we do.
Where can we learn more?
CODE FOR READERS: CAPITALIST15 for 15% Off store wide.
Email: [email protected]
Looking for: We are always looking for new Influencers and/or Brands to collab with. Please email me at [email protected]