Nick and Vincent Sannuti each attended colleges with different goals in mind – neither of which was business.
Nick took off for St. Joseph’s University as a food and marketing major while Vincent went to Temple to pursue legal studies. What neither of them knew at the time was that their shared interest in capturing the spirit of Philadelphia would bring about their biggest endeavor to date.
In 2010, the Sannuti brothers founded Aphillyated Apparel, a Philadelphia-inspired clothing brand.
The brand began when the brothers took on jobs in college marketing for different companies using social media.
One project they took on was building a page for the Chuck Norris Facts about eight years ago. It became one of the top 10 most viewed pages on Facebook. Their success with the Chuck Norris Facts Facebook page led other companies to advertise on the page, in hopes of being noticed.
“We got good at it quick,” Nick Sannuti said. “There was no competition at the time and people started offering us money to market for them.”
This success led the brothers to the conclusion that they could start their own brand and use social media as a tool.
“[We thought] we’re killing it with social media, let’s just do our own thing,” Vincent Sannuti said.
In 2009, the No. 1 licensed T-shirt retailer for the Chuck Norris brand reached out to the Sannuti brothers to advertise on their page, which led to a marketing collaboration with CrazyDog T-shirts.com out of Rochester, New York.
This collaboration experience gave the brothers the motivation to produce and market their own product.
“We said, ‘Hey, if we’re able to do this for not just the Chuck Norris brand but for the Rochester, N.Y. T-shirts, we can do that for Philadelphia and do it ourselves,” Nick Sannuti said.
Fed up with the unoriginal Philadelphia-inspired T-shirts they saw all over the city, the Sannuti brothers decided to take matters into their own hands. The brothers created various designs for apparel displaying Philadelphia pride in eye-catching ways.
Nick Sannuti said he believes their integrity and passion for creating a quality and marketable product is what separates them from other brands. The brothers wanted to create apparel that would last all year, as opposed to the Philadelphia sports apparel that is more popular during a sports season.
“We have timeless designs, lasting designs,” Nick Sannuti said.
In 2011, Aphillyated Apparel began to get noticed by various celebrities from Philadelphia, which substantially increased citywide awareness of the brand.
Vincent Sannuti’s Entertainment Law professor from Temple represented Philadelphia Phillie Jimmy Rollins at the time, which led to a merchandising relationship between the player and Aphillyated.
Also around this time rapper Meek Mill garnered world-wide exposure for the brand when he wore an Aphillyated T-shirt during one of his music videos.
“It helped put our brand on the map,” Nick Sanutti said. “It’s nice to say that we’ve shipped to over 60 different countries.”
The brand has co-signed with various celebrities like the Philadelphia Eagles, the Phillies, the Sixers and the Flyers, as well as the band Boyz II Men.
One of their most popular designs features the “LOVE” logo of LOVE Park fame made up of the names of the various neighborhoods that make up Philadelphia. Another popular design that gain significant attention is simply the words “Cheesesteaks & Hoagies & Soft Pretzels & Wooder Ice,” four foods considered specialties of Philadelphia.
After starting out with only 200 T-shirts and one table of inventory, the company now has three storage rooms filled with their apparel and sells “tens of thousands” of those “Wooder Ice” T-shirts a year.
“We want to make T-shirts where people walk up to you and say, ‘Where did you get that? I love it, I want to buy that shirt,’” Nick Sannuti said.
Both brothers credit the influence and advertising partnerships of Slam Magazine and Tony Luke’s management team with their recent success.
“It’s about making those connections early and figuring out where you want your brand to be and how you’re gonna get it there,” Nick Sannuti said.
In order to take their brand and business to the next level the Sannuti brothers decided to open up a full service creative agency called The Blake Anthony Group, which has become the parent company of Aphillyated. The nature of this agency includes graphic design work, web development and social media marketing.
The Sannuti brothers said they are happy with where their brand has gone and plan to continue to grow and expand Aphillyated one Philly-inspired design at a time.
“You do have to be a little crazy to start a clothing business when you have all those other opportunities, but this has turned out to be a great decisions for us,” Nick Sanutti said. “Sometimes you have to take a risk.”
Caitlin O’Connell can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org