Q: In case you’re not familiar with our series, we always like to begin by having our “spotlight” share something about themselves. What’s a fun fact we should know about you?
A: I used to play guitar and sing in a band in Boston in the early 2000s and played a little around Orlando a few years back. You never heard of it… so I won’t mention it 😉
Q: I’ve known you for several years now, but have no idea if you’re a native Central Floridian, or like so many other residents, a transplant. Which is it?
A: I’m originally from south Fla, lived in Boston for a few years… then made my way to Orlando in 2006 and have been here since.
Q: Your newest venture, Cloak & Dapper, is one of the main reasons I wanted to feature you on our site. An online general store for gentlemen, from what I can initially tell it is a labor of love. How did the concept come about?
A: Well, I knew about a year ago that I wanted to created something orginal and with “taste…” And one day it just clicked… like a hindsight is 20/20 moment for me. I thought… if I were to go out and create a company what in the world would it be? And I thought to myself what am I even qualified to do… Based on the experience I had in my wheelhouse (retail, hospitality, finance and marketing) I realized it had to be a store – which was great news because that’s also what I WANTED to do. So I knew it would be a men’s store and that I wanted to offer a simplified shopping alternative for men… the type of place where the browsing was done for you already and a man could just show up and grab the items he wanted in that moment.. abnd not actually have to “shop” for them. Once this idea came about… I realized it was like a revitalizing of the ole one-stop-shop mentality…. Or GENERAL STORE. On top of all that I wanted to be as true to the conceptual elements as possible.. and carrying exclusively only MADE IN USA goods was the next no-brainer right step. Once this big idea was solidified.. then the true laboring of love took place. And still does. Everyday ☺
Q: One of the things I really like about this site, and the product, is everything is produced in the United States. Why did you feel that’s an important angle and service to provide customers?
A: It’s something that appeals to the modern red-blooded gentleman male… knowing that the item I’m wearing or purchasing was handcrafted by top artisans in their industry… right here in the USA… It’s a badge of honor in not only supporting manufacturing on our side of the pond.. but also knowing the quality of the product… it was made with care, in limited runs, it will be a unique item that not every other man will be wearing. You ever go out one night and run in to a few other guys wearing the same cologne or jeans or shirt or shoes as you? It happens a lot for men because there are less buying options for us. Men all go to/shop at the mall, the Gap or Jcrew, etc.. and even though they have great looks sometimes.. they’re mass-produced and its obvious from the look and feel of the pieces. Sure, eventually there will be more Cloak & Dapper customers and similar items will be worn out on the town… but I imagine when that happens it will be more of a mutual respect… or high five moment.. than an embarrassing one.
Q: I also really like that the primary focus of the brand is product knowledge and information. So what I mean by that is, the .com is actually a blog. Was that strategic?
A: Yes… and also.. I wanted to curate the look and feel of the brand as well as connect with our market as soon as possible… even before we had the store up and running. Strategic in that by the time we launched the e-commerse store (we launched March 1st) we’d hopefully already have a network of like-minded men who would naturally shop from us. Turned out to be a good idea… a good portion of site traffic is from our Tumblr.
Q: What’s the ultimate goal you hope to achieve with Cloak & Dapper?
A: To be a trusted resource for manly wares – clothes, grooming products and accessories (provisions). When men and women trust Cloak & Dapper to have the very best USA-made goods, as well as an established and respected authority on men’s style, gentlemanly acts and expert tips… then we are hitting our stride.
Q: Now, being a Central Florida resident, what’s your take on the Central Florida beauty and fashion community? Specifically for men.
A: You mean, how can C&D connect with 10s of 1,000s of men in Afliction and Ed Hardy tshirts? Well… there is a very strong subculture in central florida.. Winter Park and Orlando.. who have style and taste, and fit our aesthetic specifically even. Men and women who enjoy craft beer, handmade leather items, locally sourced dining, etc… There’s a culture here built in that is perfect for helping to build a solid customer base for C&D right here.
Q: I know you live in the Baldwin Park neighborhood. What’s one of your favorite things about it, along with raising a family there?
A: When my wife and I moved here… the clincher for us was that it was ideal for raising a family. And we were right. Playgrounds, parks, clean and safe sidewalks, grocery store within a 3 minute walk, etc… I look forward to when business picks up on the Main Street downtown Baldwin. I think us residents are ready to support good businesses here, if they’d only come in. We’d love for a breakfast diner to come in. It would make a killing.
Q: Do you primarily stay in-and-around your neighborhood, or do you tend to venture out to other parts of Central Florida?
A: We’re less mobile now with a 1 and a ½ year old in tow… but we’re frequently on Park ave in Winter Park… or here in Baldwin. We used to live in College Park and still love it over there.
Q: Central Florida—Orlando specifically—is seeing a huge boom in development (finally!). What’s one of the things about that that most excites you?
A: Guess I spoke too soon about Baldwin Park business.. ☺ I love seeing new home construction.. I love the new arena and the new performing arts center really encourages me. Orlando has the potential to be the next Atlanta.. and maybe in 5 to 10 years we can get there.
Q: What’s a hidden gem you know of in Central Florida, that you can share with our readers?
A: Wondermade Marshmellows! They’re out of Sanford… though it’s not a place you go to dine in. You can get their stuff at a few bakeries in town and online. Hopefully via Cloak & Dapper too soon. They have a Bourbon Marshmellow that’s amazing. Wondermade.. check them out. Also… “Hanson’s Shoe Repair” – if you know what this is, then you know. If you don’t… look ‘em up. That’s all I can say☺
Q: Have a favorite restaurant in the area? We’re always thinking about and looking for new places to eat.
A: We’re big fans of Cask & Larder… the whole vibe even is relative to my point about the cultural shift happening in town… it’s a very Cloak & Dapper-friendly restaurant and bar.
Q: What do you enjoy doing in your free time—if you have any—in Central Florida?
A: Don’t have much, so you’re right there… I could probably flip through rows and rows of vinyl at the local record stores… catch a food truck meet up, maybe a movie… a stroll downtown… Usually this will all involve a stroller and my beautiful bride on my arms… which makes it all so much better!
Q: Are there any “secret treasures” in the Central Florida area, people should know about?
A: Kind of what I’d recommend with the Hidden Gems… but as far as just places, not businesses… I highly recommend taking a long walk through the neighborhoods around Park Ave and Rollin College… you may find yourself lost and at the end of a pier that you’d never though existed in Orlando.
Q: And in closing, what is one piece of advice you’d like to leave with our readers?
A: Father’s Day and wedding season is right on our heels☺ check out Cloakanddapper.us for the perfect manly gifts! Shameless plug… but it doesn’t make it less true.
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