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Wednesday, April 24, 2024
The independent student publication of The University at Buffalo, since 1950

Dazzling Buffalo one clothing design at a time

Three short months; that's how long it took for Dazzle Me Formal (Dazzle or DMF) to turn from a high school senior project into a successful independent clothing company.

Three years ago, Sean Heidinger, a junior business administration major, spent the last few months of his high school career brainstorming ideas for his senior project.

"I interviewed independent businesses in Buffalo to investigate all the facets involved in running a successful business venture," Heidinger said.

Heidinger researched businesses like Sweet n' Dirty, Urban, Stache Clothing and other independent clothing stores in the Elmwood area. After becoming familiar with the independent clothing business, Heidinger enlisted the help of his friend Brett Mikoll, a junior studio art major, to embark on a business venture of his own.

With Mikoll as the designer and Heidinger as CEO, their business venture, Dazzle Me Formal, was born.

The company recently took on a new member Glenn Au, an online director for the company. Dazzle's promotional plan relies on community support, as their designs are only available for purchase on their Web site or at their event parties, which they promote via Facebook and MySpace.

"By limiting the method of distribution, we are able to raise demand and exclusivity of the designs and products," Heidinger said.

For an early promotion in 2007, Dazzle enlisted the help of the Buffalo-based band Cute Is What We Aim For. The company's debut collection party was held at one of the band's concerts in downtown Buffalo. At the sold-out show, concertgoers purchased the first line of Dazzle gear, which featured several T-shirts, a dress for women and a unisex blanket.

"Dazzle is the perfect blend of fashion and entertainment," said Stephen Pieroni, a junior business administration major who helps with promotional aspects of Dazzle.

Several years and many new designs later, Heidinger works as a tour manager for Cute Is What We Aim For while maintaining his role as the CEO of Dazzle. The band continues to work with Dazzle, collaborating on design projects and selling merchandise at their concerts.

The band's lead vocalist Shaant Hacikyan described Dazzle as a "social company".

"Consumers can not only be in touch with the product, but in touch with the people who provide it, as well," Hacikyan said.

After a few months of successful parties and merchandise sales, Dazzle decided to contact New Era Caps in hopes of expanding their business to headwear. Their partnership with New Era led to the creation of a new line of fitted caps, many of which portray the image of a Buffalo to show regional pride.

Recently, Independent Health of Buffalo contacted Heidinger about climbing on board their Fitness For Kids Challenge initiative by creating a design to promote the plan.

Dazzle designed a New Era fitted cap sporting a slogan the company created, "Stay Fit and Stay Fresh," in efforts to reflect an urban flavor and get inner-city Buffalo kids interested in staying in shape.

"These caps are a tribute to the city that has continually showed [us] love and support," Heidinger said. "We were happy to give back to the community and help educate children about the necessity of healthy eating habits."

Billboards with Dazzle's slogan for this initiative can be spotted in several places in Buffalo, including one on the corner of Amherst Street and Elmwood Avenue.

Heidinger attributes much of the success of Dazzle to the support of his family, a large network of friends and the support of local Buffalo businesses, which he described as unreal.

"I think it's important to be a positive role model for younger kids as well as [my] peers," Heidinger said. "If I can inspire someone to take initiative, work hard in school, and hone in on their creative talent, I have truly succeeded."



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