Business Monday: Entrepreneur uses Aspen, other locales as inspiration for apparel
John Annetti has turned his love for photography and passion for relaxation and the outdoors into a full-time job and business.
The globe-trotting Annetti, 30, is the founder and president of Johnny Vacay, a line of upper-end leisure apparel aimed at those who favor the outdoor life over the corporate grind.
Annetti uses his own photographs to design the “Always on Vacation” apparel of Johnny Vacay, and he has seen his company steadily grow through wholesale accounts with his sights trained on boosting online business.
“The ideal customer, I feel, there are two of them,” said Annetti, who enjoys winter and summer sports, from snowboarding to fly-fishing. “There’s one that appreciates what I do because they do it themselves. They’ve done epic road trips across the country to go skiing for the season, and they don’t want the typical 9-to-5 lifestyle.
“It’s also the complete opposite — the guy that is commuting to New York every day and has the corporate job and is on Instagram after work and saying, ‘Man, I wish I could do that.’ And that desire, he might never do it, but he can subscribe to the Johnny Vacay lifestyle and get a little taste.”
Annetti had toiled around odd jobs — including working at The Little Nell Hotel and Hyatt Residence Club Grand Aspen — but over the past year he’s gained footing in the wholesale market.
“This past year it’s been full-time,” he said. “The wholesale thing is great because I got a bunch of deposits from the orders and that would help me pay for everything. So I was never like, ‘I need 100 grand to make it happen.’ All of my wholesale accounts build my brand into its sustainability today.”
Annetti splits his time between Carbondale and Santa Monica, California, and draws his inspiration from mountains surrounding Aspen and other locales, as well as saltwater and island life.
He has a bachelors’s degree in photography from the New England Institute of Art, and draws some of the inspiration for his T-shirts and sweatshirts, which respectively retail at $44 and $78, from Aspen’s landscape and lifestyle.
His ski-themed apparel includes images of a skier zipping down Aspen Mountain under the gondola, titled “My Nine to Five,” or one another one called “My Business Partner,” with an image of a ski patrolman and dog in front of a ski patrol shack.
Annetti’s idea for the business surfaced when he made spring break-themed T-shirts for a trip he took to the Caribbean with some buddies in 2013. The shirts were a hit, he said, and the same year he moved to St. John in the Caribbean, where he crashed at a friend’s house and worked various jobs before taking on a job screen-printing T-shirts for a surf shop. Annetti soon began printing shirts with his photographs, and they were so popular he shot pictures on other islands and launched Johnny Vacay, whose apparel is now present in St. John; Malibu, California; Martha’s Vineyard, Cape Cod and Nantucket, Massachusetts. Avennetti said he has big visions for 2019.
“I definitely want to grow into more markets, with more wholesale accounts, and I would really like to see the online business grow,” he said, noting his goal is to produce 10,000 T-shirts and sweatshirts in the new year.
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