He’s been called “an influencer,” and has made it onto prestigious “most powerful men under 40” lists. And for good reason.
In the nearly two decades since Marc Ecko (born Marc Milecofsky) began airbrushing attention-grabbing custom designs onto T-shirts in his parent’s New Jersey garage as a teen, the 38-year-old has grown his fledgling clothing business (which started out with just six shirts) into a multi-billion dollar fashion and media empire.
Today, Marc Ecko Enterprises not only includes Marc’s original Ecko Unltd street fashion — most widely recognized for its rhinoceros logo — but other clothing and accessories lines, a media division that puts out Complex, and an entertainment division that develops video games.
If that weren’t enough, the married father of three, who’s title is chief creative officer at his company, is now venturing into the world of fragrance with the recent launch of his first men’s fragrance, Ecko by Marc Ecko. To promote it, the affable dynamo stopped by Toronto recently and sat down to chat about the secrets to his success.
What was the inspiration for this fragrance?
I had a very certain notion of what I wanted, the lightness of it. I wanted something that wasn’t heavy, was clean and bright with those grapefruit, citrus notes. As for the bottle, I got inspired by a glass prism that I saw in the Natural History Museum in New York. I was geeking out on how things reflected and its optical nature and how I could recreate that.
You’ve moved from fashion into publishing, gaming, fragrance — what keeps you going?
What keeps me going is me. I know that sounds corny, but you have to be driven from a place that is very kind of intrinsic. It’s certainly not money. It’s not peer validation. There’s some nagging thing that keeps me driven that comes from a place of maybe wanting to discover something.
What do you love most about your job?
I think ideation. Ideating something and kind of the never-ending plethora of Christmas gifts that come with every Fed-Ex box when you open up the prototype. That thing you conceived of or that the group thought of. That feedback loop is addictive. I totally get such a high from that.
Who first inspired you as a teenager to start making T-shirts?
I give a lot of credit to my grandmother. She made such a big fuss about my art as a kid. I was always drawing and artistic. And, my mother, to her credit, held on to all that. And my dad did a great job of giving the family a great self-image. It created a great sense of our ability to rely on each other and I really attribute that kind of structure to my success more than anything.