In our competitive cities, you need to be bold to set yourself apart.
We found six of the boldest men in Canada to hear a little more insight into their lives, jobs, and competitive edge.
This week, we turn our attention to Tomas Romita, Founder of Toronto’s MADE Clothing Co. The Toronto native is a Queen’s School of Business graduate who left a safe corporate environment almost three years ago to start his own company.
MADE is now one of Canada’s fastest-growing fashion startups.
Tell us what you do in less than 140 characters. Go.
I am the founding member of the MADE Clothing Co. team. We are a custom men’s brand based in Toronto, making custom suits, sport coats and all kinds of menswear. Everything is Canadian-made with Italian fabrics.
What is the one most significant milestone that helped you end up where you are today?
Quitting my job in a safe corporate company was a big thing; it was the first step. I remember vividly, it was January 2011, and I woke up in the middle of the night and just did the math and decided that the path I was on was not the one that I wanted. The milestone was when I realized that I had to stop talking about it and start doing it. So, I started putting a plan in place and quit that job in May.
Graffigna celebrates men who live boldly. What does living boldly mean to you?
I think living boldly is just going after what you want without much self-concern. It means having the courage to do just what you want to do and not just talk about it.
The way society is and the way we’re educated in schools doesn’t necessarily encourage people to be bold and adventurous. I think living boldly means living in congruence with what you’re capable of. Often, it’s a matter of doing it or not.
Drinking red wine says a lot about a person. What does it say about you?
In terms of experience, it’s definitely a classier, more upscale drink. As you start to mature in lifestyle, you discover a whole culture around wine. It’s just more mature, and if you’re someone who likes to know a lot about things – as I do – then it makes a good option because there’s a level of mastery to wine that people kind of get addicted to.
Who would you most like to share a glass of Graffigna with?
Probably Richard Branson; I have this incredible respect for him and all he has done. The guy makes people happy. This means his clients and customers – the people who use his services – but also his staff and the teams he’s been successful in building. You can’t get that far without being an incredible people person – he has forged a trail for people like myself to do what he’s done. I would love to share a whole bottle of Graffigna with him.
What’s the biggest challenge you’ve had to overcome in your career and how did you manage to do so?
Especially now that I’m in year four of this journey, I think that the biggest challenge is levelling up. It’s not so much related to specific challenges but what you have to change on the inside for yourself. Building a business isn’t the same as growing a business, or building people. The biggest challenge for me – which I definitely enjoy more and more – is levelling up in terms of my personal performance, or how I interact with others and manage myself.
The fashion industry is always evolving. How do you set yourself apart from your peers in this space?
Our high-level mandate is to really change the way men shop and dress. You may think that’s about the garments themselves, but there’s got to be an intermediary.
With respect to clothing, what we focus on is unlocking the experience for the person. That’s how we differentiate ourselves; you come in here and there’s not a lot of racks and fabric, there are ideas – and scotch. We’re always helping people feel like they’re building a look as opposed to just an item. In a sense, we’re trying to be the sommeliers of suits. I think that’s how we differentiate ourselves.
What drives you on a daily basis?
I am going to go back to the concept of levelling up. At first, you’re just trying to get your foot in the door and stay there. That takes a little bit of effort just to be there. But at a certain point – when you start to mature – I think it’s about what you do with it. That’s where I feel we are now. It’s like, ‘what can we flex with this new opportunity?’, and that’s what drives me every day – just making things better. Before, the question was, ‘how can we make it?’
Who’s someone you look up to, someone who’s living the kind of life you aspire to lead?
A lot of my clients, actually. They’re people who go after what they want, but they also enjoy the finer things in life. They have great relationships with their staff, great relationships with their partners, great relationships with their kids, and balance everything in stride.
What advice do you have for anyone else who’s trying to live their life as boldly as possible?
Start with ‘why?’ Why is your drive. Material things are fantastic and having material resources is great, but having all the resources in the world and not being happy – those are the people who don’t ask themselves why. You have to ask yourself that question and paint a picture for your life. Once you’ve identified that, that may be two per cent of the overall effort – the rest is making it happen. It is a weird sort of leverage that that 2 per cent has in making you want to do the other 98 per cent properly.
What’s next for you? Where do you see yourself a year from now, 5 years, 10 years?
A year from now, I imagine we will still be growing the team. I’d like to leave the expertise in the hands of other passionate people in this space who also want to share this vision. Five years from now, I expect more, similar locations. I see us scaling that up and trying to emulate what we’ve achieved here in other cities. In 10 years, I think there are a lot of opportunities with technology, and any successful business in the last 20 years or so has integrated technology at some point.