The Story of Fashion Guru Giovanni Centurione, Owner of Trend Up, Buffalo, NY
Born in Buffalo, moved to NYC at age 17 to start a new life. At age 24 fell into the New York Fashion scene when landing a job working as a personal assistant to designer and store owner, Apollo Braun. Working in his boutique shop on Orchard St in the LES was my first real retail job. As this was mainly a day job, I also needed a night job. That landed me a nightclub promoter since I knew models (working with a designer). That allowed me to put on mini fashion shows at nightclubs for local designers such as the China Club, Status Quo and more. This later grew into more than just fashion and later being able to put on shows for inspiring hip hop, R&B, live bands at local venues such as the Ha Comedy Club basement (before the comedy acts would begin) In November of 2009, I came to Buffalo for what I thought was going to be a 1 month vacation, turned out to be a move instead after getting several job offers and a chance to start a weekly showcase here for local artists called Buffalo's Best Talent.
The shows were fun to put on but deep down I always enjoyed fashion and dreamed of owning my own retail store where I can carry everything I liked. And once in Buffalo, I knew that this is where it needed to be. I always had a love for my hometown which is why my day job was working for the local tourism industry. It was fun until a few years after requesting more hours (this was part time only) and all I ended up with was more work duties, projects, less hours, no raise, and expected to complete them all under unreasonable deadlines, and was even told I would never move up in the company, so I asked myself "why am I still working here?". I stuck it out saved every pay check, even found items at home to sell on eBay for extra money. I didn't even want to stay in Buffalo anymore, I would set up job interviews back in NYC, take the overnight mega bus there, do the interview and take the overnight bus back, in time to go back to work so my boss wouldn't know. But, every job I wanted I didn't get, and the ones that wanted to hire me, I wasn't really feeling it. So, I just kept saving until having a conversation with a few friends of mine who own their own retail stores. They told me to save up a few grand, start looking for what you want to carry and just do it. If you keep thinking it, dreaming it, and see the shop in your mind, you have to open your own store.
It was the end of 2015, when I finally started looking into how to start my own business, picked the name Trend Up because it was 'trendy' and just the concept for what I wanted to carry, and in case I was a unisex store it would be suitable. When the Market Arcade in downtown Buffalo was changing owners and the new owners announced all these great plans that included retail, I wanted in. Especially, since they had 1 small space available and I already had friends who owned shops in there. I inquired, the price was reasonable, I had to get the rest of my paperwork in order to show that I was a legit business. Once I signed the lease, I had to find inventory. Yes, it was scary, I originally wanted Trend Up to be store for men and women, but when shopping for inventory, I found it harder to shop for ladies apparel, especially to blend in with the styles I kept finding for men. So, I changed plans and became a men's store, with apparel that can be unisex.
My day job found out about my store opening through Buffalo Rising since I used to write for them and still keep in contact with them. That is when I sent my resignation letter. It was very scary to leave a paying job and jumping into your own business, that is what kept me from doing this years earlier. But, it was the fact I was unhappy working for a company that didn't want me to move up the ladder and I wasn't able to be myself. When the new store was coming along, paint going on the walls, inventory coming in, that's when that fear switched over to excitement. I was posting previews of what was to come on social media and was already making sales, it was finally reality that this was my calling all along.
The store opened on March 1, 2016 inside the Market Arcade. I already knew, just opening the shop wasn't the end, I had to get my business out there. That meant taking part in any fashion show possible, vending at all the events and passing out a lot of business cards. I would even have coupons printed and drop them off all over town, on the trains, even pass them out to people on the street. After two years, I felt it was time to move out of the Arcade and into a storefront with more foot traffic and space to hold events in. When I posted on Facebook asking if anyone know of any retail spaces, I got a call from Siobhan Taylor, who owned MS Eye Candy Boutique on W. Utica near Elmwood Ave. She told me how she was kind of looking for a new space too and didn't mind sharing a space. I right away said 'yes'. It was the perfect idea, she sells cool apparel for the ladies that would be a good blend with my men's wear and it would save us the cost on rent as that is the toughest part for retailers.
Siobhan and I right away both started looking around, while she would drive around town, I was looking online. We both wanted to be on Allen Street, but nothing was available at the time. Then one day out of pure luck a spot had just opened up. It was so quick even the landlord didn't get the key from the previous tenant yet, but we needed to see this space asap. Once we were able too to check it out and make sure it was in our price range, we just had to get it!
I opened my first location on 85 Allen St. back in May 1, 2018 and that was the best decision. I was able to be seen 24 hours, set our own hours (longer and open on Sunday's during the warmer months) and hold events where my old space was too small. I was able to hold art openings, open mic, book signings and more. I was sharing space with another business owner who I got along with and our ideas feed off each other is what makes this work. We made sure the store looks like one big shop while still keeping our brands know.
My new location is located at 95 Allen Street and I am still living the dream - Giovanni Centurione
"Giovanni...Sir, You are Remarkable and Thank You for sharing your story!!! #Live2Inspire -M 💋”
95 Allen Street
Buffalo, NY 14202