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“A Big Breakthrough For Me Was When I Learned To Truly Log Off” With Leo Tropeano

Nowadays you can pretty much run a business on your smart phone, which is great in a lot of ways but often means you’re logged-in every waking moment. A big breakthrough for me was when I learned to truly log off — being able to fully detach makes...


Learn how to unwind. Nowadays you can pretty much run a business on your smart phone, which is great in a lot of ways but often means you’re logged-in every waking moment. A big breakthrough for me was when I learned to truly log off — being able to fully detach makes you way more productive (and saner) in the long run.


I had the pleasure of interviewing Leo Tropeano, Founder and CEO of Mugsy Jeans. Leo has spent years perfecting the perfect men’s denim. In 2015, Mugsy was born — offering the modern man a denim option that is as comfortable as sweatpants, without sacrificing style.

Thank you so much for joining us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?

I moved to NYC after graduating from college and immediately knew I had to upgrade my wardrobe, so I started the search for better jeans and was blown away that I couldn’t find anything that looked good AND was comfortable — all the slim fits made my crotch feel like it was in a chokehold.. The more I searched, the more hopeless I became so I set out to fix the problem myself.

I had no idea how complicated jeans are to make and how big the barriers of entry are in the denim industry. Fortunately, I’m extremely stubborn and I just kept meeting everyone I could in the fashion space, learning as much as possible about making clothes, and iterating my design until I perfected Mugsys. But really it all came down to meeting people that were willing to help me along this crazy journey that is Mugsy; we’d be nowhere if it weren’t for those mentors!

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started?

The most interesting thing I’ve found since starting Mugsy Jeans is that when you really put your mind to something, the universe seems to align to help you make it happen. Without naming names, there have been so many times where I’ve set out to connect with a certain entrepreneur or get Mugsy’s on a certain athlete, and next thing you know I meet someone who’s second cousin knows so and so and BAM, it happens.

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

I’ve always been dedicated to out-of-this-world customer service. So when I started Mugsy I put my personal cell phone on the website as a direct line to the founder. Next thing you know, my phone was ringing off the hook by calls from sales people, marketers and, frankly, lunatics haha. Only ~1% of people who called were real customers with legitimate questions, so I quickly learned that a solid FAQ page and dedicated email system goes a long way!

What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?

The most obvious difference is that no one else is making men’s jeans that are literally as comfortable as sweatpants. We try to bring that comfort to every level of the Mugsy experience though, from being super casual in our customer interactions to having fun packaging. One example, we did a promotion last year where we included a pack of Big League Chew with every order. It was a tiny, unexpected gesture but that little memento to a staple childhood candy of our customers’ went a long way.

Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in your industry to help them to thrive and not “burn out”?

Learn how to unwind. Nowadays you can pretty much run a business on your smart phone, which is great in a lot of ways but often means you’re logged-in every waking moment. A big breakthrough for me was when I learned to truly log off — being able to fully detach makes you way more productive (and saner) in the long run.

How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?

We launched the first annual Mugsy Casino Night earlier this year with all proceeds going to the local Boys & Girls Club. I’m also working on an exposition to help local youth align with a mentor, put their work out there and break into their creative industries. I’m really excited to grow both those initiatives.

Do you have a favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share a story of how that was relevant to you in your life?

“The only failures are the ones you don’t learn from.” Starting a company, you fail 100 times more than you succeed. I quickly realized that the entrepreneurs who thrive are the ones who handle failures the best. As tacky as that quote is, it’s a good reminder that failures are all part of the game, you just gotta keep moving and improving!

Do you see any fascinating developments emerging over the the next few years in the fashion industry that you are excited about? Can you tell us about that?

I really like the move towards experiential shopping. When you walk into the Mugsy shop here in Chicago, you almost can’t even tell it’s a store: there’s a dart board, leather couches, video poker game, record player, stocked bar…and only a few pairs of jeans on display. It gives customers a cool and unique experience beyond just buying stuff, and I’m most excited to see where it goes in the next few years.

Every industry constantly evolves and seeks improvement. How do you think the fashion industry can improve itself? Can you give an example?

The biggest room for improvement in fashion is catering to different body types. Until recently most clothes were designed for a one-type-fits-all approach, but obviously the population isn’t built that way. We’re making big steps in this direction, but I still think we have a long way to go.

You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

If I could start one movement, it would be “don’t be an asshole” haha. Seriously though, most of the issues going on in America and the world right now come down to one thing: people being cruel, unfair or inconsiderate to others. If everyone would remind themselves “Don’t be an asshole” throughout their day and acted accordingly, the world would be a pretty perfect place.

How can our readers follow you on social media?

Along the lines of what I said above — When I’m not Mugsy’ing, I’m intentionally detached from my phone so my personal social media is pretty non-existent. Instead follow @mugsyjeans on Instagram to see more of what I’m up to on the daily.

This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for joining us!

Originally published at medium.com

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