MAHOPAC, N.Y. - Mahopac resident Mike Bucci has found a way to start a small business, raise a little community pride and give his daughters a work ethic lesson all at the same time.
Earlier this year, Bucci, a financial planner by day and former CEO of the Greater Mahopac/Carmel Chamber of Commerce, along with his two girls, launched Mahopac Apparel, an online casual clothing and gift website that hawks products featuring Mahopac-related graphics. The site sells not just t-shirts and sweatshirts, but coffee mugs, watches, beach towels, flip-flops, beanie hats and phone covers as well. Many of the items feature Mahopac-themed slogans, such as “Mahopac Life,” “Mahopac Kid,” “Lake is Good,” “Fulmar Mom,” “Austin Mom,” and “Look Mom, I made Mahopac News!”
Bucci said he was inspired by an ad on Facebook.
“I saw an ad that said you could start your own business online,” he said. “They provided the process to get it going.”
After speaking with his daughters, Olivia, 9, and Maddy, 7, he knew what their new website should sell.
“My kids and I joked about shirts, about unicorns and monkeys and all kinds of fun stuff,” he said. But he decided to sell Lake Mahopac lifestyle apparel—"what it is like to live here.”
Once he settled on a product concept, Bucci thought it would be a good idea to get his children involved. Not only could they help, but it would also become a teachable moment. In fact, Olivia (aka Liv) and Maddy have not only embraced the idea but they’ve also started their own line of apparel. It will be featured on the website, which they are calling L&M Designs.
“That was the real idea,” he said. “I said if they could sell one shirt and make five or 10 bucks, then how much could they save and how much gum could they buy? It’s a way to teach kids how to run a business and see what they can get their heads around.”
Bucci said the girls have really fallen in love with the business.
“Now, they want to have their own business, which is so cool,” he said. “This is better than a lemonade stand.”
Bucci said that after signing up with the website company (powered by Shopify), he discovered how robust the technology was.
“I thought, wow, this could really be a business,” he said. “Anyone with their own cellphone could start their own business if they concentrated and focused.”
But using Spotify took several weeks to get the customers their orders because it used a drop-shipping method. And while that meant the Buccis didn’t have to maintain a large inventory of product in their basement, Bucci decided to add another facet. He employed the services of Tim Conlin of TC Graphics to make some of the apparel locally. Delivery times on those order will be shorter that way. But for now, he’s keeping the two delivery options open.
“Instead of drop-shipping, we can get it to you in 72 hours when we use Tim,” he said.
Bucci said it was his wife, Laurie, who came up with the idea to include school-related themes on the mugs and shirts that the website sells.
“My wife said we should come up with hats and shirts for the moms for all the schools—an Austin Mom mug, Best Fulmar Teacher mug and so on,” he said.
Mahopac Apparel can also take on customized orders as well, in case someone wants their own slogan or phrase on the item. He will also be working with local business to design custom shirts that will be sold at their stores.
“The feedback has been great,” Bucci said. “We expect it to really take off in the summer when the ‘lake life’ brand really takes off. A lot of the stuff you can wear at the beach or the pool.”
Bucci said local charities can also use his business to sell things like t-shirts to promote their events.
“Let’s say a team for Relay for Life wants to sell shirts but doesn’t want to be stuck with a lot of extra ones [that don’t sell],” he said. “Well, they can sell them through us. That way, you only sell as many as are ordered and I don’t mind giving the profit away.”
Bucci said that he is optimistic that the merchandise will find an audience and Mahopac Apparel will be a hit, especially now that his daughters are on board.
“My wife and kids are the ones really excited about it,” he said. “It’s a little family business that we started together.”
Maddy told Mahopac News she’s excited about working with her dad and sister on the new business.
“I am really excited because I get to make new designs,” she said. “I really like clothes and fashion.”
Liv said likes the fact that Mahopac Apparel not only sells Mahopac-themed items, but can produce customized shirts as well.
“I made a shirt for my friend that had a red panda on it because she loves pandas,” she said. “It’s one of a kind. We designed it on the computer together. Mahopac Apparel can do that... make one-of-a-kind designs.”
Liv said she’s not sure what she wants to do when she grows up, but might like to pursue a career as a singer.
“But I see no reason why I can’t work on Mahopac Apparel at the same time,” she said.
You can find Mahopac Apparel at https://mahopacapparel.com.