David Reali is ready to go global.
But, as he points to where his clothing brand, Lyf Supply, has been — in 31 states and 12 countries, with his apparel landing as far away as Sweden — it’s apparent that he’s already there.
“To be able to have that kind of reach, you know, with my brand spread around the world, that speaks for something,” Reali said. “But I’m hoping to make it more of a global brand.”
Reali, the founder of Lyf Supply, has come a long way in his four years of business. When he started the brand in 2017, his focus was primarily on embroidered hats. He’d set up shop at his home in Troy, create and embroider his hats after work, seeing Lyf Supply as something of a side gig. But he soon learned from other business owner friends, as well as the pandemic, “you have to stop working in your business and start working on it.”
With his priorities elsewhere, he’s been able to boost his fashion portfolio, as he outsources a lot of that labor in order to sell hoodies, shirts and — his most popular item in recent months — beanies online.
“So I trusted the process of outsourcing so that I can focus more on the parts of my brain that I would say I’m gifted at,” Reali said. “That’s the marketing, storytelling and the actual creative part of Lyf Supply. It allows me to really just focus on this instead of having to work eight hours and then come home and think, ‘Am I too tired?’ No, I can just put everything on it.
It allows me to also learn structuring my day. And, in addition to building a brand, building a business that I hope can provide opportunities for other people.”
Lyf Supply’s offerings range from a string of Schenectady-inspired hats, bleached hoodies with the saying “Self Love” on the front to Reali’s bestselling emerald “Self Love” beanies and tote bags to match.
Already sold out in most sizes during the pandemic is a hoodie that reads, “If you’re reading this, you’re too close,” an ode to both the Drake album and pandemic. Reali makes a limited supply of each product so his customers feel they’re getting something entirely unique, and he has a group of customers on the company’s Instagram who he gives first dibs to. He calls them “Lyf Line.”
“Like a day before, I would launch things to them,” Reali said. “And usually, that would increase sales dramatically. And then by the time the public gets wind of new releases, things are often sold out, or filled out completely. That helped to heighten the demand for stuff. I want people to have access, but I also know how important it is, when there’s a high demand, to have things quite limited.”
In his first year, Reali estimated he sold about 1,000 hats. Since, he’s sold too many to estimate, with most items on his site sold out. And after leaving his job in 2018 to pursue Lyf Supply full time, Reali has learned that in order to propel himself forward, he also has to help out those in the community.
With a little more time on his hands than he has before, the creator has built up a team of people who supply him with the products he needs, and has pitched in to offer embroidery services to other companies. But he hopes to soon have enough hands on deck where he can keep his own personal focus on the creative side of things.
“My plan is to get away from doing the embroidery total,” Reali, who still does all his embroideries from his home in Troy, said. “And you know, obviously getting a space. The overall goal is to have my own production warehouse where we do everything from embroidery, sewing, printing, all of that stuff.”
Reali, who often visits Denmark to see his girlfriend, said that he finds a lot of inspiration in the way locals dress there.
“I like that minimal aesthetic. I was inspired by that,” Reali said. “I definitely want to make pieces that resemble this comfortable, minimal lifestyle. I was like ‘I like this, I want to apply it.’ And I want to be in all these other countries where this aesthetic is the norm.”
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