By GREGORY ZELLER //
Wall Street success seemed assured. But for Anthony Capellupo, the truth was out there.
Literally (the innovator “grew up on the water”), figuratively (“I was always trying to finish work early, so I could get home and go fishing or whatever”) and now commercially, as the young entrepreneur adds his own breath of fresh air, Out There Apparel, to the great outdoors.
“Established” in 2018 and officially incorporated in April, the Oceanside-based fashion line speaks directly to sportsmen and women of Capellupo’s sundrenched ilk: anglers, beachgoers, runners and others enamored with physical activity in open spaces.
That was certainly the motivating factor when Capellupo envisioned an action-packed sportswear line with the heart of a hiker and the soul of a surfer: not just another hoodie or printed T, but a shared experience between customer and brand.
From a cubicle on Wall Street, the entrepreneur told Innovate LI, that sounded grand.
After landing a high school internship at Manhattan financial-planning firm Circle Advisers, Capellupo showed real interest in (and aptitude for) equity trading. But the better he got at stock-picking, portfolio-rating and other advisor/investor standards, the more he knew his best destiny was out of the office.
“I really began to question if a desk job was for me,” he said. “There was an emptiness inside me … I felt like I was cooped up in a cage, and I was questioning whether or not this was the road I wanted to go down.”
For Capellupo, all roads led to the beach. The insightful investment ace is still in there – he’s now pursuing an economics degree at Fairfield University, where he’s president of the Fairfield Investment Group, a student-run mutual fund staked by a $150,000 alumni investment – but his inner entrepreneur needed his moment in the sun.
With a $3,000 out-of-pocket investment (website creation, product design and some very early marketing), Capellupo was in business. Job No. 1 has been building a brand that more than just looks good – it has to speak to the outdoors crowd on an emotional level, according to the entrepreneur, who means that literally, also.
Included with each Out There purchase is a handwritten note from the founder himself, inviting customers to remain involved with the burgeoning brand and pointing them toward the company’s myriad social media channels.
“A big thing for me is bringing them along for the journey,” Capellupo noted. “I want people to feel a part of it and ultimately feel part of something bigger as the brand grows.
“It’s about sharing a lifestyle,” he added. “We’re so technology-driven in the world today, but if we can take a step back … we’re all really connected in some ways.
Capellupo’s undeniable inner investor, of course, hopes people will soon be connected by their love of Out There’s fab fashions. The line currently includes about 25 men’s and women’s products, each emblazoned with phrases and designs capturing the “#OutThere way of life,” according to the company.
Several products offer a “direct customizable aspect” allowing customers to add locations or coordinates of their favorite places to visit “out there,” and the line is slated to grow in the coming months with the introduction of several new products, including long-sleeve T’s and links-ready golf shirts.
Capellupo does most of the product designing himself – friends and family provide outstanding “market research,” he noted – with manufacturing by Bethpage-based apparel customizer LI PressWorks.
He also personally handles the order-fulfillment logistics, with special attention paid to packaging – another key opportunity for unique customer connections, according to the innovator, who eschews plastic wrappings for burlap sacks tied tight with twine.
“I wanted another way to distinguish my brand and products from the competitors, and to me, packaging was a great way to do it,” said Capellupo, who described the burlap as “nice, rough and rugged-looking.”
“It’s cool looking, but it’s also about the experience,” he added. “I just thought it was a good idea to build in a cool experience with the quality product.”
Barely half a year out of the gate, Out There is every bit a bootstrapper right now, with “all profits going right back into expanding the brand,” according to the founder. True to his natural instincts, Capellupo has considered outside investments and “a huge advertising campaign,” but senses more inherent value in a slow-and-steady route.
“It’s important to me to watch this thing grow organically,” he noted. “I understand it might be slower than if I sought an outside investment, but to me, organic growth is best, because it’s true.”
So Out There will continue campaigning via social media – its “youthful base” thrives on Instagram, Capellupo noted – and seeking the approval of micro influencers, those “friends of friends of friends” who can really give a product legs.
“But mainly, I’ve found that word of mouth is just as important as all that,” Capellupo said. “Nothing like a good one-to-one review from an outside source, or sitting down and talking to people – sharing my ideas with them, where we want to go, how we’re going to get there.
“This is just as important as sending a coupon or some new promotion,” he added. “If you can get people to really, truly believe in something, your long-term success might be better.”
Out There Apparel
What’s It? “Shared experience” fashion line for the outdoor crowd
Brought To You By: Don’t-box-me-in budding investment genius Anthony Capellupo
All in: About $3,000, self-invested, for early product design and business-formation expenses
Status: Connecting with customers one burlap sack at a time