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1701 Bespoke

719 Griswold St
Suite 820-104
Detroit, MI 48226

Max Schmidt, fashionably changing careers

Max Schmidt never thought of becoming a tailor until his best friend got married.

Schmidt, 27, and Tom Daguanno had been friends since grade school, and Schmidt was set to be the best man at Daguanno's wedding. The friends wanted custom-tailored suits and decided to make their own when they couldn’t find an option they liked. Not long after that they opened 1701 Bespoke.

But how does someone make the jump from white-collar work to custom tailor? 1701 Bespoke makes custom suits, coats, and other fine clothes for business executives, attorneys, doctors and athletes in downtown Detroit. Before that, Schmidt worked as marketing director for ProOnGo in Chicago, helping build the small business to its eventual acquisition last year.

"I did everything but write code," Schmidt says. "I did the Office Space thing where I was the people person who spoke to the engineers. I did some product design."

He knew that becoming a custom tailor wasn't so much about being a tailor as it was about creating a great product. That means answering some tough questions.

"How do you create a product?" Schmidt says. "How do you bring it to customers? How do you please your customers? How do you improve yourself?"

Those questions don't phase Schmidt after helping build a company through to acquisition.

"I was emboldened," Schmidt says. "I was ready to do my own thing."

It also helped that 1701 Bespoke was met with a huge demand right off the bat. It opened as a pop-up store in the First National Building in downtown Detroit late last year, and Schmidt and Daguanno lined up several weeks worth of work within a day or two. They knew they had a winner on their hands and were ready to make the leap to new careers.

"It was the potential that was there," Schmidt says. "We had a great product. We didn't know what was going to happen in the future but it seemed like a great opportunity."

- Written by Jon Zemke

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