For this “Secrets of the Biz” article we sat down with Shane Foran, CEO & Designer for Vitaly. Within the first few years, Vitaly’s offering expanded to include a full range of stainless steel accessories, clothing and watches.
Today, their product is sold by hundreds of retailers globally, and proudly worn by musicians, artists and athletes all over the world.
Tell us about Vitaly
Vitaly is a Toronto-based lifestyle brand designing high-grade contemporary accessories and clothing with minimal forms and a defiant attitude.
What’s your secret to attracting new customers to purchase your product?
I don’t think there’s one encompassing secret, but I can tell you that over the years we’ve learned to design for ourselves while treating our fans the same as our friends. We make products we genuinely believe in – pieces we’ll wear everyday. We also believe in selling high-grade products for a fair price because no one wants to rip off their friends and our friends allow us to keep this dream alive.
It takes an army to build a something? What are the different roles behind keeping Vitaly running?
If you asked me 2 years ago, I’d have told you it takes 3 guys wearing about 25 hats each and living off of coffee and excitement. Today, the Vitaly team is over 40 strong and growing. We have marketing, sales, retail, production, creative, finance and distribution departments to name some.
Are you hiring for anything?
We’re virtually always hiring! For the time being, I believe we’re looking for our first Public Relations Manager and likely a Director of Retail. Get in touch
Why is it important for you to have a Toronto flagship/headquarters aka the Vitaly Compound?
Having retail stores in key locations around the world is important to Vitaly because while we believe in the power of online, we also believe our fans should have the opportunity to experience our entire brand the way we see it. We also want our fans to have the opportunity to physically feel and connect with our products. The Vitaly Compound, however, is so much more than that to us… The Vitaly Compound is not only a store but also serves as our headquarters, a place to party, a place to share our lifestyle, and a place to create new relationships. It is our statement to the world that we’re not ready to slow down anytime soon.
How do you deal with people trying to knock-off your products?
Unfortunately there’s not a lot you can do outside of doing your best to stay one step ahead. When someone is knocking you off, it only means they’re playing catch-up – our goal is to be chased, not to chase… And if we’re being chased, that just means we’re doing something right.
I remember when Jason and I first started Vitaly he asked me what we’d do if we ever got to a point where brands were knocking us off… Today we’ve been knocked off more times than I can count. Thinking back to that conversation, I recall saying… “dude, if we’re getting knocked off, it just means we’re killing it”. We’re damn happy with where we are today – thank-you to all our fans for your continued support.
What are some new categories you’ve rolled out that we should come check out?
2017 has been a very big year for us. On the back of the success of our basics program (blank t-shirts and sweaters), we’ve decided to try our hands at the rest of an outfit. We’ve released denim, jackets and a full headwear program over the last few months. We’re also about to roll out a full made-in-Canada premium jewelry line.
How do you deal with the restraints of manufacturing overseas and would you ever consider producing your products locally in Canada?
While we plan to roll out a made-in-Canada premium jewelry line this year, we are happy with our partners overseas and the new partners we’re about to start working with. While there are MAJOR challenges and while the constant overseas flights can be exhausting, we’ve been fortunate enough to find factories we trust and can communicate confidently with. That said, manufacturing is never without its challenges. I won’t bore you with the details, but this spring we faced a mistake by a new partner that was almost as bad as it gets. What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger though. We always look for the silver-lining and use our mistakes to improve for the future.
I heard Jason Readman your Partner in Vitaly use to fly helicopters, that true?
Fact. Jason Readman is kind of a super-human. Tell him he can’t do something then watch what happens… Mutant. Pretty sure he can jump 5 feet high from flat ground or something ridiculous to.
There has always been a “spark” when partners decide to move forward with an idea, how-what-where-when did this go down and why?
Ha! I’m not sure this is something I should be sharing for either of our sake, but what the hell… Jay and I actually agreed to start working together during a heavy discussion on the dance floor of main room Guv during an Above & Beyond set.
Craziest Partner story, GO!
I won’t say who it was, but one of us may or may not have fallen asleep in a freshly fertilized garden after partying all night in Las Vegas. They then proceeded to wake up and wander into a McDonalds to order breakfast, receiving more dirty looks than they could understand. When they got home, they realized they were literally covered in what looked and smelt like… You get the idea. I won’t say who though… Not a peep 😉
“If you build it, they will come” – How have you guys built a community around Vitaly?
Community is at the foundation of Vitaly. We’ve used social media, events / parties and an inclusive attitude to approach everything we do. We’ve also done our best to be socially responsible. This holiday we’ll be re-launching our Karma Campaign where we partner with artists and donate proceeds of our sales to charities of the artist’s choice. Beyond that, we have a HUGE announcement we’ll be making come this spring and I can tell you honestly, I’ve never been more proud of anything.
Tell us a secret. Don’t worry we won’t tell.
We may be rolling out a new incredible flagship in Montreal this November 😉