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Meet Greg Sato of Finery in Arts District

Today we’d like to introduce you to Greg Sato.

Thanks for sharing your story with us Greg. So, let’s start at the beginning and we can move on from there.
Finery started while I was still at Levi’s back in 2013. In one week, four LA-based chefs asked if I could help them style the staff at their restaurants. This is what led to the realization that the uniform industry hasn’t evolved much over the last 70 years. My business partner Min and I created Finery as a response to the industry’s appetite to infuse style AND personality into uniforms.

We recently celebrated Finery by collaborating with Roy Choi, Susan Feniger, Ludo Lefebvre, and David Myers, the four chefs that sparked our company 7 years ago, with a philanthropic apron project. We designed custom aprons for each of them with all net proceeds going to a charity of their choice. They are all incredibly supportive friends and collaborators and their work continues to inspire us every day.

We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
What’s the Teddy Roosevelt quote about nothing worth doing is easy? We have the same challenges of any start up and small business and basically had to teach ourselves as we went along. I came from apparel with a background in marketing and branding. Min, who attended Parsons and had her own lines and store in Nolita, and knows the retail industry well. So we had a lot of fashion knowledge between the two of us, but even with that, we essentially are learning all facets of running a business in the uniform industry through trial and error.

We are also fortunate to have an extremely talented and helpful group of friends and mentors who pitched in along the way. Creating and fostering an environment that doesn’t stifle failure, but instead embraces it as a necessary learning opportunity, definitely helps us stumble instead of fall. As a specific example, durability was a big part of our design education. As much as our uniforms are style-led, we had to learn to balance that with our client’s need for functionality – stronger fabrications, sewing techniques, and different hardware choices help us create garments that hold up to the demands of people who wear them. Industrial strength washing machines and daily wear are much different usage patterns than what typical clothes go through every day.

So let’s switch gears a bit and go into the Finery story. Tell us more about the business.
Finery was born from the need to create a uniform that didn’t look or feel like a uniform, yet still performed like one. Ultimately our goal is to widen the definition and perception of what a uniform can be by creating a garment that is not only beautiful, but helps our clients tell their stories while being highly functional through the quality and design.

Functional clothing isn’t something that’s new – athletic wear brands like Nike and Adidas drive entire categories of fashion. But there is nothing like that in the uniform industry and we hope Finery will continue to vanguard this category of performance-based fashion for the men and women who put on a uniform and go to work every day to keep this world running.

Has luck played a meaningful role in your life and business?
I’ve always thought that the Roman philosopher Seneca expressed this concept best when he said, “…luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity.” Like everything else, it’s a balance.

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Image Credit:
Audrey Ma

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