David Reali is a 34-year-old, Schenectady born creator who now lives and loves Troy, NY. He is the creator of LYF SUPPLY and UPLYFTED, clothing brand and his passion project.
LYF SUPPLY is a brand that has evolved from a hat and embroidery brand to a lifestyle choice, representing Reali’s guiding principle: garments that reinforce the idea of self love.
David Reali of LYF SUPPLY shares his experiences as an entrepreneur. Reflecting on working from home, and the impact of COVID-19 on work and his vision for a makers Troy Night IN.
Tell us more about LYF SUPPLY
Even if the items themselves don’t refer exactly to self love, hopefully those who are familiar with my story know that this brand operates and lives on the confidence I have in myself and my ideas and my passion for creating opportunity and expressing yourself via art in some form.
I recently began a brand extension called UPLFYTED, thrifted items, upcycled into 1-of-1 pieces. They include LYF SUPPLY signature embroidery in addition to some really cool transformations. I also provide embroidery for many of the local businesses in Troy that sell their own DOPE A** MERCH. So check them out (Superior Merchandise, Little Pecks, Joan Kelsey Silver Lining, YESFOLK TONICS, POOR DEVIL PEPPER CO., etc).
I am also currently working on music. I won’t go too in depth on that yet, but I will have some really great tunes lined up for everyone’s enjoyment.
What does your workplace look like, and is it working for you?
I currently work in my home in a very, very small room. I have two machines now. For my larger orders, I take my equipment to Electric City Barn in Schenectady. It has a lot of room and I get to socialize with other creatives and the staff there. That’s what I miss when I’m working from home constantly. Working from my home gets to be a bit stressful because my workspace only has room for one embroidery machine. I plan to invest in a commercial embroidery machine that will require a lot more space than I have.
Electric City Barn has a space for screen printing and I am currently learning that skill. Long story short, my space is working but I really need to be in a bigger space that accommodates everything. I am blessed though because I could still be working in an office, which I dread. So shout out to the universe for putting me in position.
How are you coping with the reality of the pandemic?
Reality hasn’t set in yet. The lack of socializing has made it very difficult to focus on work and creativity. It reminds me of being a kid again though. I was the only boy in my family and also the youngest. A lot of my time was spent creating stuff and ideas, typically with my wrestling toys, etc.
Back in the 90s, the best part about things not being as advanced as they are now was our need to create our reality within our limited amount of space. And we had time available due to curfews, bedtime, etc. So in a way, I’ve been going back into my mind finding that kid that would re-enact the battle of Fort Wagner from the movie “Glory” in his living room. Or plan out an entire Pay-Per-View wrestling event with all of my wrestling toys. That always gave me something to look forward to when I got home from school. I would be in school thinking about my makeshift wrestling event literally all day (lol).
With these circumstances, I try to allow myself to be that kid again, but with access to the internet, an embroidery machine and a sense of self awareness that may not have existed then. Also, lots of Facetiming with Fam and my girlfriend!!
Have you started adapting and/or innovating your business model to operate under these conditions? Please explain.
That is still something I am working on. Luckily my operation has been via my online store so sales haven’t been really interrupted. But I am aware that after all of this madness is over that LIFE will be different so LYF must become an evolved version of itself.
I have proposed the idea of TROY NIGHT IN which is a take on Troy Night Out but in this instance, creating a one stop shop for people to have access to every creative person, small business, etc. in the form of a live feed which gives a direct to consumer, pop up-like event using social media. The plan is to do pop-ups once a month, independent and collaboratively, and free from any groups or affiliations that we would have to get permission to do so but the Coronavirus happened.
Having a place online where people can get direct contact and access to the creator and their services and goods would be very convenient and user friendly for the consumer and help continue to build the creative economy here in Troy despite the circumstances. I am open to suggestions as to how to make that work effectively.
How have you seen the local creative community band together to support one another during this time? Do you feel like there are additional resources/tools/strategies that you need to succeed under this circumstance?
Honestly, it is amazing at how fast everyone came together to support one another during this time. It has been great seeing people and other businesses really show support for one another by posting each others stuff. I hope that all of this love and generosity continues when this is all over because this showed us how resilient we can be and also how much we actually do love and need each other. As far as support, I have seen a lot of different business grant opportunities by way of Facebook and other mediums.
Understanding your consumer is always important. A lot of my customers may have lost their jobs or have their income cut, so I have created discounts on products and reduced the cost of embroidery services for regular clients because I know it’s hard and I rely on them for my well being. I also had to take some time and rid myself of shame of selling items despite the fact that we are in quite difficult times. I’ve still gotta make a living and while doing so, I help when and where I can.
We are only week two into this and I haven’t suffered enough yet to offer anything outside of what I have already done pre-Coronavirus, but I would say to reach out to others, get help when needed. Allow yourself to evolve, even if it means letting go of something/someone/somewhere to make room for what you need.
Are you thinking about ways that you’ll change the way you do business in the future?
Absolutely. With all of this social distancing, it makes me really miss the ability to be around people. I get inspired by people randomly. Whether it’s a beautiful face, or song by a local artist I accidentally stumbled into while getting a drink or my current friends, I miss being inspired by people so I want to use that inspiration and include people in the communication aspect of LYF SUPPLY. I want to tell the story better and more clearly, from a multi perspective instead of just my own because as I said, I am inspired by people and LOVE.
Do you see any long term changes to the way people work coming out of this situation?
HELL YEAH! Honestly, that’s all I have been thinking of. Especially the workers who are deemed ”essential.” I really hope they are getting paid what they are worth now and moving forward. Hopefully during this period, people can find a passion or something that they can freelance at and create opportunity for themselves.
2020 has been dookie so far but I do hope that people who have the spirit for entrepreneurship take a chance. No, take several chances, to see the world from a different perspective and become something more than what they may have settled for.
Sitting in an office for eight hours a day for five days a week is becoming obsolete. This time is proof of that, because if it weren’t the case then work that needed to be done in an office setting would be on complete pause right now. Work is not on pause because it doesn’t have to be. For those with office jobs who are working from home, take time to reflect and think about who you are and what you want for yourself. There is so much opportunity available but there is so much more opportunity that has yet to be created and discovered. Now’s the time to explore.
Can you share a final note of positivity with our readers?
Bet on yourself. Invest in yourself. Love yourself. Hold yourself and others around you accountable. Always be curious. Go after more than what is just available to you because there is a great chance that there is always more than what others are offering. No one is going to do it for you so you have to do it.
For those who are transitioning from a job to their own thing, the hours you’re putting into what you’re working to get away from should eventually cease and not exceed the hours you put into what you’re working towards. ESPECIALLY IF YOU LOVE IT!!