I was born and raised in Kiev, Ukraine in 1986. The year I was born, Chernobyl Nuclear disaster occurred and I had obtained a deadly cough. The doctors had said that if we do not move far away to clean air, that I had a high chance of dying. My parents have always had the “American Dream” to move to the USA and start living in this land of opportunity with their 2 kids (My brother & I). After trying for a few years, my parents were able to move to the USA only if we gave up our home, car, and basically everything! Even their college education would not be credible here. They agreed and we moved to Fort Wayne, Indiana in 1991 with 4 suit cases, few hundred bucks, 2 kids (ages 5 & 14) and not being able to speak any english. But we were happy as can be, because we were finally at the land of opportunity!
My parents believed that if you work hard at something with motivation and goals, that you would eventually achieve it. They learned how to live very conservative with money, learned english, obtained jobs, and gained American citizenship. Below is the original article from the newspaper as well as a photo from the day.
When I was young, I spent a lot of time with my brother and his friends. I matured much younger and by the age 15 was ready to get a job. My first job was at a bowling ally. Then went on to install & sell car audio electronics until I was 18. I had a thing for cars and electronics. I never wanted to conform and always envisioned being different. My first car was a Mitsubishi Eclipse. I went to Anthis Career Center for Automotive last two years of high school for the first half of the day and gained a large amount of knowledge about cars. The 2nd year I learned autobody and ended up doing some work to my own car. I did the body work, interior fiberglass work, and painted my 1st car with candy paint. I ended up winning the Anthis Car Show we had at the end of the year.
One year I also won the Homestead Car Show – Best Custom Import.
I participated in some car shows and enjoyed the passion people shared for something. Later was featured in the News Sentinel Newspaper .
At the age of 18, I started working for Nissan/Infiniti. I loved cars and wanted to stay up on the latest in the automobile industry. Within a short time period I became the “guru” of the cars there. I learned every package, feature, and option that you can get on the cars! I don’t particularly enjoy the sales side of cars, so my office was moved to the Infiniti building and I did all the internet sales and managing. I Also was a customer relations manager that did all the new car deliveries and followed up with customers to make sure they were happy. It was fun for me to go over all the latest and greatest with people, and they always enjoyed it too. I loved technology so much, I got a job at Best Buy in home theater to sell and trained people all the latest products. I made an agreement to do that only on Sundays, because the dealers were closed that day in the state of Indiana.
After learning how to work on cars, my goal was to buy a car I really wanted. I had done some research and found that the American Infiniti G35 was the Japanese Skyline 350GT. The skyline was not available in the states at the time so I figured I would recreate it from the G35 with some major work. I put forth the time, effort, and money to do this myself! Below are the images of the one of a kind machine I crafted and still drive to this day.
It felt good to have something so different and even better to see all that hard work pay off after almost 4 years of time and money that had went into it.
From the age of 15 I have read business books and magazines to try and find my niche and passion. Now at 26, I have learned a lot and realize that it is very hard to not only find a passion but also how to create a business out of it and compete with millions of others. Many more failures before successes, but with dedication and the right tools, anyone can achieve their own level of success. I knew I wanted to be an entrepreneur! With the passion for technology, I wanted to apply my computer and photoshop skills into something. I started to do some freelance work for businesses designing business cards, brochures, etc. I then started to do a lot of night life activities and events. I have always told people, life is once, and you don’t want to grow old and regret not doing something. So I would work hard and play hard! I then became very interested in marketing and social media. I created a fairly large following and converted it into what I called the Party Rock Crew. My goal was to create a level of fun and energy that was safe and fun for everyone to be themselves and not worry about what others thought about them! Well it grew larger then I have ever anticipated. I did a lot of events with high energy music, glow sticks, etc. The concept was strictly for fun, no fights, no drugs, no “haters”, just safe fun! It worked very well, and the following on Facebook/Twitter had grown to almost 2000 people within a few months! Below is a few pictures of the good times.
That is when I gained my reputation for “Livin Loud”. I wore my personality on my sleeve. I put on heat pressed rhinestones from Hobby Lobby on my vests, shirts, ties and created this new party look that people seemed to enjoy. It was different and it created a unique look that no one had. All of this was very educational, but it wasn’t my future career pathway. I was later scouted to host a new reality TV show starting in Fort Wayne called Make My Date. I became one of the two hosts for the show. It was a reality dating show that aired on ABC every monday night right before Dances With The Stars. After a year of this show, the producer made another show called Dating Rehab. That show aired on FOX. Below are a few shots from both shows.
I enjoyed meeting all kinds of people. I learned something new everyday from other people. I wanted to help connect people and meet more new people. I decided to apply my marketing and social media skills to another test. I created the Fort Wayne Innovative Network Group. The idea behind this was a non-profit way to connect the community for all ages for free. The group was open to anyone and everyone and met once a month at different businesses throughout the city. The following on social media was about 1600 people and the meetings in person held between 70-200 people each month. Below is a picture of a few meets.
This was a great concept but it didn’t quit help pay the bills. At the age of 22 I went on to work for Mercedes Benz. I was the internet sales manager there and in the time I spent working there, I realized I really love quality products! I have always purchased the best of the best in anything from fashion to technology. The company also had excellent training and I learned a lot of stuff while I was there! I am also very intrigued by real estate. I told myself someday when I have capital, I will invest in real estate. I have read a few Trump books and find it fascinating. While working for Mercedes Benz, I started and finished schooling to obtain my real estate license (which I still hold today). I wanted to learn the ropes to the business and ended up selling a few homes while doing so.
One day my friends invited me to a small bar/restaurant in town & when I got out of work I went there. I had not yet mentioned that in all of those years, the one thing I loved most was fashion. I have had two closets full of clothing since I was a teenager. I would wear a suit, or at least dress pants, dress shirt, and tie to work everyday. I loved to dress up, but everyone there made me feel uncomfortable wearing a suit! I remember it then hitting me. I had found 2 flaws in the business world. The one is that the business world has become very casual. Casual Fridays is now casual everyday! Lets face it, being forced to wear plain suits everyday is not very fun nor is it comfortable! The other thing I noticed is that people love putting personality into what they wear. In the business world this is hard to do.
I started to do some research about the fashion industry. I found myself fascinated by it. I spent entire days on my computer doing homework and days flew by like it was just minutes. Then I realized that this may be my passion. I left the corporate world and was ready to learn and become an entrepreneur. I started a business plan and quickly realized that the fashion industry is extremely difficult with a very small success rate. This would not stop me. I looked into going to school for it but found that some of the education was worthless to me. Example would be a 16 week course to teach you how to free hand draw. Well I am very tech savvy and use photoshop. I have a tablet to free hand and there are many technics that I can do with my programs and tools. I decided to teach myself the industry. I hoped on amazon and purchased around 15 books about the fashion industry. I decided to test my creativity and start with a fashion show. The goal was to find 15 guy and 15 girl models and have them wear the latest fashion trends but I would add rhinestone art to the clothing to give it character. This was very time consuming, let me tell me. I ended up using thousands of stones and about 3 months of time. In June of 2010, I did my very first fashion show called the Livin’ Loud Fashion Show. This event was at a event facility in Fort Wayne, Indiana. People thought I was nuts to do an event like this in our city because it is unheard it. I loved the challenge, and with my social media and marketing skills, I figured it would all work out. The concept was to understand the ropes of a fashion show, as well as give it a “big city” feel. I created a media wall for pictures, had live DJs for the night, and at the end of the day, about 150 people attended!
After the event was over, I had experienced something I had never experienced before, haters. I only had a few, but there were a few people that said that I am not a true designer, that I am instantly gay for the reason I am doing fashion. I have never had anyone talk bad to or about me, so I didn’t know how to deal with it. I learned that when someone does something very different and diverse from the normal (fashion in midwest for example), that people would say things. I also learned that if the majority loved or enjoyed it, then I am doing something right. I have no problem taking constructive criticism from people but people that just make fun of things, do it for only a few reasons. They either don’t understand it, are envious that someone else is in the spot light and they are not, or just because it is “different”. When I learned how to block all that out, I felt so much more powerful and ready to do so much more! I honestly have 7-10 friends with excellent business ideas that are afraid to pursue them because of 2 reasons; one is they are afraid to fail, and the other is they are afraid of what people think. I am here to tell you that you will fail many times before you succeed and you should never listen to what people think because they do not know the business or industry as much as you do.
After the show being a success, I started to travel the country and do heavy research. I have established excellent credit since the age of 18 for the best cards and rates and had a small cash reserve to be able to travel conservatively. I went to Miami, Key West, Chicago, LA, and Vegas. I found that the biggest fashion convention in the USA is in Las Vegas 2 times a year. I spend a few months of the year out there because that is a more fashion forward market then the midwest.
Then a year later I have determined that I will design men’s clothing to start. I know the fits and understand the clothing much more since I am a guy. I decided that I will design clothing based on my personality. I love the latest and greatest with the highest quality available. Later my company motto was born, Where Business Meets Character. I then decided on EXOTIQ Apparel as the brand name. The definition of exotic is something of foreign origin or character, unique and strikingly interesting in appearance. I call it the double take. When you walk by something exotic you spend more time then normal glancing at it and find it interesting or fascinating. Then with this concept I decided to spell exotic with a “Q” instead of a “C” for the diversity aspect. I still enjoyed rhinestones & the concept of bringing them into fashion but the trick was to do it in a classy manner. I then decided to create something I have not yet experienced before. I created the concept of hand laid rhinestones in pattern sequence to silk ties that I made and call it the EXOTIQ Extreme collection. Everything in the extreme collection is crystallized & designed for special events, weddings, prom, activities, lounges, & nightclubs. If you want to wear something as vibrant as it gets, the extreme collection is for you.
I created another fashion show, the Fashion Show 2.0 in June 2011. I wanted to make the event more entertaining, longer, and bigger then the previous year. I scouted for other designers, and found a swim suit designer as well as students from Homestead High School to create a total of 3 fashion shows in one night. The event was a huge success! There was approximately 200 people that came to this one. I created ties, dress shirts, and dress pants all from scratch to showcase at this show. This time I had more credibility because it was my patterns with my designs and ideas. I had also partnered up with the CW Network for this event for some promotion and they also filmed the event.
After 2 years of doing research on google and youtube, as well as many books, I have become the jack-of-all-traits. I learned fashion design, web design, photoshop, marketing, social media, event planning, and muh more. As mentioned before, we all make mistakes, and I ended up deciding to change my brand label before I got to big and out there. I decided on “Anton Alexander” instead of Exotiq Apparel. I changed it because the label makes a huge impact on the brand. Most high end designers use names rather then just a name. Anton is my first name and Alexander is my middle name. I also noticed the word “exotic” has a bad connection with strip clubs and lingerie. Not quit the direction I want to go. So before I got to far, I changed it and decided to create another fashion show with all new design concepts with more detail and the new label to start branding it. Anton Alexander was born.
In fall of 2011 I was asked to do Midwest Fashion Week in Indianapolis, Indiana. As the only men’s wear designer, I figured it would be a great opportunity for me. I went to work and created 13 new outfits to showcase there.
As 2012 hit, I have set the relaunch of the new label at the The Fashion Show 3.0 in June 2012. I set off to create 15 brand new outfits with more details and creative design characteristics to wow the audience and see something new and unique. Once again I scouted for other designers and this time got 4 others to make 5 designers total. I also had an entertainment company do live performances before, during, and after the show. The tickets sold out and about 300 people came to this event. It was the best one yet.
After 3 years of hard work and dedication, I have gained a fairly large amount of media to cover everything I have done. In Feb 2012, when I was at Magic, the fashion convention, I was stopped by some people in the mall and they had taken pictures for a potential magazine. I later found that Vegas had a “trend of the month” competition in the famous Vegas Seven Magazine and I had won! I wore my dress shirt and dress pants and even got recognized there. I have had a great number or newspapers, magazines, blogs, and other forms of media support me and give me the drive to keep pushing. I believe it takes a lot of planning, persistance, patience, optimism, and so much more.
What drives me for this industry is that 70% of the apparel market is women’s clothing. As most notice, there is not a huge focus of details on menswear. Not until recent years, have the men had any selection of hair products, skin and beauty care, and of course fashion and fashion accessories. They always say you should wear your personality on your sleeve because people do judge you based on the way you look.
Men have started to dress with more character, or “swag”. They know that it never hurts to overdress, but starting to add bright colors into their collection, accessories, amongst other details, creating more personalized and unique looks. Anton Alexander is an entire new concept of a menswear clothing line designed for special occasions, events, black tie/red carpet, eveningwear/date, artist/music performer, celebrity/sports athletic, and club wear.
What you wear makes a huge impact on your attitude as well as what others think about you. That is why Anton Alexander designs make a loud statement and empower your attitude with confidence. Each item is crafted with impeccable attention to detail with a very vibrant yet classy twist, all for the purpose to make you feel very powerful and bold. With the use of Innovative tactics to bring the most modernized feel with unique fabric blends, notions, and trim in a way that has never been done before in menswear. Men’s fashion has not had innovation in many years and now men desire dressing to impress as well! This is a new era, and it is time for a shift in men’s fashion.
I also wanted to create a center for fashion in Fort Wayne. Our city isn’t most commonly known as a hot spot for fashion and trendsetting. I started FortWayneFashion.com. It is dedicated to bringing fashion into focus here in the city. Our goal is to reach outside of the city and connect with fashion designers, boutiques, fashion photographers, models, and organizations that promote fashion in and around the city. We would like to bring our communities together in supporting a vision of fashion appreciation while focusing on current trends, fashion shows, casting calls, and all the people involved in creating a presence of fashionably forward people in this region. Apparel should not only be functional, if should be fashionable. Just because we are located in the Midwest, doesn’t mean we need to be behind on fashion. You can also check out the fashion show specs from all the events (starting with the Fashion Show 3.0)
Moving on, I was asked to be in Midwest Fashion Week in Fall 2012 showcase again. Anton Alexander was showcased at the last day of Midwest Fashion Week, the grand finale.
I was contact by RAWartist.org as well at the same time period and became a RAWartist. This is a very neat community of talented up and coming people. I was honored to join and did a fashion show they put on during fall of 2012.
After the events, I was contacted to do a 2 page spread in a brand new Fashion magazine called Pattern , and labeled “Ft. Wayne’s Fashion King”
As time passes, the Anton Alexander concept is becoming a reality. I have finally perfected the shirt pattern, created many style concepts, started professional photography for product shots, updated website, and started purchased industrial sewing equipment. I decided to create the line in the USA for many reason. It started with a faster turn around time for finished products, then lead to higher quality construction, and finally it feels good to be able to bring some manufacturing jobs back to the USA. I put together a Kickstarter global pitch to help fund the first production run, and thanks to Sean Quillen, the videos for kickstarter are below.
Video on bringing manufacturing back to the States
Video of Anton Alexander time lapse + dubstep dance
Check back over time for more updates or follow the Blog for more!