Learn the Science and Art of being a Modern Man with Antonio Centeno
To say that Antonio Centeno wears many hats is a bit of an understatement. After all, the Wausau, Wisconsin-based style expert is also an accomplished video marketer, email list builder, copywriter, online sales specialist, and business systems creator, and even served in the United States Marine Corps! For sheer depth and scope, Antonio is a pretty tough act to follow.
That said, it is as the founder and head honcho of Real Men Real Style that Antonio has really made his mark in the online world. Fueled by an unbridled passion for luxury goods and jewelry, Antonio started up Real Men Real Style on the heels of his own wildly successful site, ATailoredSuit.com, with the goal of enhancing the scalability of his business endeavors, and addressing questions that future clients may have about men’s style and fashion. The result is one of the most comprehensive and well-organized online libraries for men’s fashion.
More than just a collection of style tips and fashion trends, Real Men Real Style serves as a hub for authoritative content that provides a solid foundation for fashion and professional dressing in the modern age and well into the future. Having come into its own as a safe haven for learning the foundations of style at their own pace, Real Men Real Style is slowly but surely gaining a loyal following of readers who previously knew nothing about fashion or didn’t care enough about it to ask.
Toady, with both A Tailored Suit and Real Men Real Style doing extremely well, Antonio is on the forefront of the expansion of the concept of custom high end menswear.
Share with us how this ‘Men Style Con’ come about. And how many years have you been doing this conference?
About Menstylecon…it came about because Aaron Marino and me started…its funny a lot of people think of us as competitors. But we’ve become good friends, we started having weekly meetings, we started calling each other…it turned into a regular weekly meeting. We were like: “You know, there should be something that we have where we get together”.
We ended being at Vidcon at together. We both agreed that we were gonna meet up there, first time we met in person. We just had a great time hanging out together at Vidcon. So we threw kind of an impromptu little get together there at Vidcon and it turned there were a lot of guys in Southern Cal. We had Barron Cuadro from Effortless Gent and Andy Snavely over at Primer Magazine…quite a few guys were able to just show up. From that, we invited our audiences and we had another 50 to 60 people show up.
We were amazed how many people came at the last minute. But what really blew us away was how many people flew in from outside California. We had people fly in from Miami, from Canada, from Tennessee, and we were just like: “Wow, this is like a 2-hour event, just at a bar!”and we had guys fly in for this, because they really wanted to meet us. So we thought, “What if we actually had–instead of a 2-hour event–a 3-day conference?” and that’s where it came about, and so we moved with it.
The first year, were pretty excited, it’s gonna be on May 1st, 2nd, and 3rd. It’s gonna be a success I already know, because we have a great group of guys. My goal is just to meet and get to know people. It’s gonna be small, intimate, fun, and I’m looking forward to it.
First we probably need to say thank you for serving our country. We read that you were a Officer of Marines before starting your business. How did your experience with the Marines carry over to what your doing now?
Thank you for recognizing the military guys. You know, I was an officer in the Marines.
“How did my experience with the Marines carry over into what I’m doing now?”
I think the Marine Corp taught me a lot about how a uniform should fit, and how clothing should fit, and what it means to, in a sense, be able to send a message with image. Marines do it all the time with their uniforms, with the various ranks that are on those uniforms. Many civilians, those outside the military, they don’t understand the rank system. Within the military, there is a wide range of ranks, and tabs, and badges, and medals, and what all that stuff stands for…small changes in color and positioning make a big difference.
What’s interesting is that we wear hats–we called them ‘covers’ in the Marine Corporation–we have all these histories and traditions, and various uniforms for various dress codes basically, and people get out and somehow this becomes ‘unmanly’ in the civilian world. In the worst case, they even say it doesn’t really exist–there is not a need for it.
That’s where I’m having fun in the style world. I think a lot of guys get out and they look at the fashion industry and they’re confused by it–catwalks don’t make sense to them. But what does make sense is the military, and the systems, and the way its set up, and the ranking section, and the way people communicate. That’s what I’d like to be able to help men understand: why clothing matters. And then dive into the science too.
Did you have any true entrepreneurial background?
No I didn’t. I started from scratch, and I found my way…websites like Mixergy.com have really helped me along the path. It’s been something that I’ve constantly been learning. I think I’d have to say that I would not be a good employee. That’s probably part of why I became an entrepreneur–no one would hire me!
You seem to have an instant connection with people, just from watching your videos. How have you been able to connect with your audience on such a personal level?
I think part of it is being open and being vulnerable…realizing that everyone I’m speaking with is a fellow human being. I have an ego, I definitely think highly of myself, but I try to lose that when I get in front of the camera. I try to lose that when I’m on the phone with someone…it doesn’t matter if I’m talking to the CEO of a huge, multimillion dollar company, or I’m talking to someone who’s just starting off on their journey. I really try to just be another fellow human being and reach people that way, because when it comes down to it, we all come into this world naked, kicking, and screaming, and I know that were all going to, at some point, leave this world. I really feel that I’m gonna be measured by what I leave behind: my reputation, what type of man I am to my wife and to my kids, and that’s what I try to live up to.
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We all have people who have helped us a great deal along the way. Is there that special mentor or that one person who has turned things around for you?
I can’t say that there’s been one person…it’s been a series of people again and again who have gone out of their way for me. One person who just came to mind right now is Major Lee. He was my Executive Officer when I was in Third Battalion First Marines. I was kind of at a down point in my military career when I went to the infantry. I had just blown my sinuses, was kicked out of the flight program for a medical problem. Basically, I felt my body failed me. I also have to say I really wasn’t enthused to become a pilot. On one hand, I was relieved that I wasn’t gonna have this 8-year commitment after getting my wings. On the other hand, I was kind frustrated that my body let me down and I’m not as good as I thought I was. Major Lee at that point did a good job over two years building up my confidence, helping me see what I was capable of doing. He definitely held my feet to the fire, because he needed to get things done. But he worked on my development as a young officer and he was definitely someone I respect and who helped take me to the next level.
Life events also determine who we become. What was that one moment you decided to go all in and create this men’s wear style business?
I wouldn’t say it was one moment. Whenever I lost my job–I was the CFO for a manufacturing plant–I would say definitely at that point I realized it’s gonna be now or never. I was just moving my family over from Ukraine…I had a 3-year-old son, my wife was just immigrating over. It was one of those things I was definitely very worried about, because I had a family I had to support. But I also realized it’s not like my family was gonna get any younger or any smaller. If I wanted to make a go, I might as well. In the worst case, ill just go live with my mom (laughs). My wife, she’s a pretty good sport with that, so she agreed and we started the company.
What takes up most your time these days?
Well, work still takes up a good amount. I try to limit it to about 40 to 50 hours a week. Still trying to get it down…I am managing my team quite a bit. I try to set–Bret over at the Art of Manliness has talked about this–have bookends. I try to get up and exercise and spend time with my kids in the morning, have a nice breakfast. In the evenings, I’m trying to…its Friday night, it’s late, but I’d say this week is bit unique because my daughter is ice skating every night preparing for a concert, so my wife and kids are out in (xxx), which is the town next to us.
I would say that I try to spend a lot of time with my kids. I’ve got four of them and spending time with them is a fleeting moment. My kids are gonna be grown up and out of the house, and they won’t want to spend as much time with me here soon, so I want to try to spend time with them while I can.
What deadly sins when it comes to men’s fashion are guys still making in 2015?
The number one is fit. They need to focus on the fit. Men need to know the name of the tailor and get every bit of clothing adjusted.
Anything else you would like to share with us?
I think it’s always just a good thing to be connecting with people in the industry. I think people should reach out and attend more conferences…go out and meet people and help each other. I see some people in the industry, they’re not…they look at each other as competitors. They don’t realize that…what is it that movie ‘Braveheart’? They’d just won that first battle, and everyone’s arguing and fighting, and they’re trying to anoint whose gonna be the next King or whatever. William Wallace’s buddy puts the axe down, and he says, “Hey what are you guys doing? You’re fighting over scraps when the real meal is on top of the table!”
I look at what we’re doing as building the next GQ, we’re building the next Esquire. I get really excited to see us building these next Brooks Brothers companies. I really would like to see people in the industry reach out to each other and better connect and better help each other. That’s it!