By Lukas Eggen
Ely Times Staff Writer

Opening a new business can be a big risk. Opening an online clothing retailer can be even riskier with lots of competition. But for Ely natives Matthew Cummings, Nicolai Caviglia and Geno Pescio, who are celebrating the launch of their clothing line at 8 p.m. Oct. 11 at the Knitting Factory Concert House in Reno, taking risks is what helped inspire them to start their business in the first place. The co-owners of 33.Black Apparel said their line features clean, alternative styles for men and women including hats, winter clothing and, in the future, an active workout line, which will be available online at www.33blk.com. And while opening a new business is always a risk, for these three friends, taking risks helped inspire them.

Taking risks

Much like the passions that helped inspire their line, taking risks and pushing the limit is something Caviglia, Cummings and Pescio wanted to reflect in their brand and their business.

And while entering the clothing industry, where competition is great, may seem like a big step to take, living in Ely helped to spur the co-owners on to take a big step forward.

“I believe growing up in a rural area such as Ely did have an effect on us,” Caviglia said. “Being able to step up and take risks, knowing a whole town will hear of your success or failure, almost over night, is a difficult situation to cope with. That is something you don’t necessarily deal with in larger communities. It has definitely given me a thicker skin and the ability to go for it without sweating over the ‘what ifs’. You can’t date the prom queen if you never step up and ask her out.”

The trio’s passions and willingness to push limits also shows up in their line.

“It’s always difficult to bring something new to the table, especially in an industry that is filled with competition,” Caviglia said. “Our design style is clean and uncluttered, which stands out in today’s market. The three of us have varying interests, from racing to golf to fitness, all of which have influenced the line.”

Fashion was always something that drew them together. It was just a matter of time until the trio found the right project to get them off the ground.

“I’m pretty sure this was over a night of drinking,” Cummings said. “The inspiration was from a prior line Nicolai was involved with and our love for fashion. We talked about doing this together years ago and when the time was right, we did it.”

Once the decision was made to move forward, the road to starting up the business side of it was more difficult than expected as they looked for a place to locate their offices, designing their line and more.

“The experience has been truly mind opening,” Pescio said. “The little bumps in the road are tough, but it’s satisfying when we figure out a way to solve them and move forward as a better company.”

While starting a new business may have its share of difficulties, perhaps the most difficult aspect came in ensuring the co-owners’ friendship remained intact.

“The biggest challenge I feel is the three of us trying to maintain a friendship apart from the business because we are best friends and family,” Cummings said. “That’s tough to do, but we do it.”

The three friends then decided on a place that the company could call home.
“Of every city we’ve lived in, we all wanted to reside in Reno,” Cummings said.

“It has a small town Ely feel to it. We are comfortable there and have great support and a following there. Plus there are major companies in Reno that benefit us greatly as a company that most clothing companies don’t get. We have some tricks up our sleeves that will push us to the top.”

The Future

As Pescio, Cummings and Caviglia celebrate the launch of 33.Black Apparel’s line, the evening will feature performances by John Gray, Royal Bliss and more. And, during the month of October, Ely residents can enter the promotional code Ely33 to receive a 20 percent discount off online purchases.

“It’s important to us because that’s where all of our foundations are from,” Cummings said. “We all grew up in Ely and it has given us so much and has really shaped us into the people we are today. We have so much support from the community and this is a way to give back a little.”

But while they are celebrating their beginning, the trio is also looking ahead to the future, where they hope the company will earn a following in the U.S. and beyond.

“Our ultimate goal is to be a self-sustaining company so that w can make this our day job,” Cummings said. “We would love nothing more than to devote all our time to 33.Black. I’d say in five years we will be in stores all across the country and hopefully some other countries.”

But while they are aiming high, 33.Black Apparel’s success isn’t necessarily dependent on how many people it reaches. What matters is if the three friends remain close and keep having fun.

“Honestly, we want to build our brand and have fun doing so,” Caviglia said. “At the end of the day, if we influence one person, it is a success.”