By Christopher Roberson
In the fall of 2013, 10 years after graduating from Villanova University, Lynnfield resident Casey Paton reached out to his former fraternity brother Mark Lisavich with a business proposal.
Paton said he and his family had just moved to Lynnfield from New York City, where he had a career in finance. Lisavich had been a software engineer at Raytheon.
“I think both of us were suffering from a bit of burnout and the desire to do something more creative, more entrepreneurial,” said Paton. “For me personally, I had my first son in New York City and really didn’t want to raise a family down there – I’m a New England guy through and through.”
Soon thereafter, Paton learned that Lisavich had left the world of technology and was studying fashion and design at Bay State College in Boston’s Back Bay.
“I basically said, ‘I have this idea for a music-inspired t-shirt line called Encore; what do you think?’ We got together for lunch, talked a bit about ideas and then things just moved forward from there,” said Paton.
Encore was launched in late 2014 with the catchphrase “Life is Short. Play it Loud.” After establishing an online store, www.encoreapparel.com, partnering with 25 boutiques nationwide and participating in 250 direct selling events, Paton and Lisavich opened their store at 303 Newbury St. in Boston on Sept. 9.
“The biggest obstacles were mainly financial and the fact that we were working with a very tight timeline,” said Paton. “It’s very expensive to be on Newbury Street, and we only had about three-and-a-half weeks to turn the retail space into an extension of the Encore brand.”
Paton and Lisavich also launched a kick-starter campaign to “build an initial community of supporters around the design vision for 303 Newbury.”
“Honestly, we didn’t really know what to expect by putting the campaign out to people, but ultimately we had 85 supporters back the vision, and we hit our full financial target,” said Paton.
He described how Encore is different from other apparel shops. “We’ve taken a passion for music and entrepreneurship and built a creative, unique and authentic lifestyle brand around it,” said Paton. “All our t-shirts come packed in custom record sleeves, which nobody else does; that provides our customers with a piece of artwork in addition to a cool shirt.”
Paton said he is pleased with Encore’s sales performance since its opening two weeks ago. “For a local brand that not many people know about, I feel like we are holding our own against the big multinational companies on Newbury Street,” he said. “We’ve already had several people come into the store and tell us that we stand out not only among retailers on Newbury Street, but among retailers all across the country. Maybe that stems from the fact that we built the entire Encore brand from scratch.”
In addition, Paton and Lisavich recently launched Project Encore: 50 Makes 1. For every 50 t-shirts sold, Encore will donate one guitar to a high school music department or to a nonprofit organization.
Since its infancy, Encore has had partnerships with the Music Department at Charlestown High School, the Rock Off Main Street Program in Natick and Little Kids Rock in New Jersey.