Epstein “graciously” accepts the challenge to start his own company

Kacey Hertan, Business Manager

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The detailed drawings, intricate jewelry and innovative pottery shown in Staples’ halls during annual art shows demonstrate the high school’s ample amount of artistic talent. But one student, Harry Epstein ’15, whose friend Nick Burchill ’15 described as a “model of excellence,” took his talent to the next level in Dec. 2013.
After, as Epstein described, ‘dabbling’ in fashion and art for years, Epstein was inspired to start his own clothing company, Gracious Manufacturing, also known as Gracious Mfg. The name stemmed from a conversation with friends where the word ‘gracious’ was used. Epstein, who had never heard ‘gracious’ used in context, was prompted to look up the definition.

“The word stuck with me, and I wanted to pair it with something that gave it a memorable sound. That thing was the word manufacturing, which abbreviated, is Mfg.,” Epstein said. Although Epstein doesn’t manufacture his products himself, the name lends itself to the catchy company slogan “manufacturing ideas.”
Currently, the only other official member of Gracious Mfg. is the creative director Aidan Kaye, an 18-year-old artist from New York City.

“Gracious is a really unique company with original ideas that has the potential to be very successful,” Kaye said.
Kaye, in Epstein’s words, “killed” his first design, the BLOOM summer design. Kaye will now be designing the majority of the products and crafting an image for Gracious Mfg. through photoshoots, ad design and social media campaigns. Kaye is confident that, through his involvement, he will be able to transform Gracious Mfg. into a trendsetting company.

Epstein says the hardest part of running the company has been getting the word out. He relies heavily on Instagram, @graciousmfg, for publicizing products.

“This form of advertisement is so natural because Instagram is so easily accessible,” Harley Kowalsky wrote in her article “Instagram’s Recent Takeover” which featured Gracious Mfg’s advertising through the app. Epstein also told Kowalsky that Instagram publicizes the company to people with whom he is not personally acquainted.

In addition to Instagram, Epstein uses his connections through friends at Staples to help with publicity. The recently launched program “Gracious College Agents” gives college students apparell for free to wear around campus. Henri Rizack ’14 is currently a Gracious College Agent at Tulane University.

Epstein has also gained recent exposure through Michael Keitt’s music video. The Norwalk rapper, who goes by the name Scottie French, wore Gracious Mfg.’s SYJ “Ganesha” t-shirt in his music video AiR.

“I planned [to give] Gracious Mfg. a little exposure [in my music video] since me and Harry work together on promoting our passions,” Keitt said.

Epstein is already planning and looking forward to the future of the company. His goal is to see his products in many stores. Thus far, Gracious Mfg. was in one store, Sneaker Rehab in Norwalk; however, it closed its physical location in May. Possible cut-and-sew products and a collaboration with Burchill’s Instagram Pureography are also in the future vision of Gracious Mfg.

“Gracious Mfg. is such a great company ran by the youth for the youth,” Keitt summarized.

 

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