RSC Industry Intelligence: Kyle Rheiner of BreakawayINK Apparel

The apparel industry is one of many moving parts. For every high-profile designer there are thousands of photographers, marketing professionals and independent designers who quietly do their part to keep our community vibrant and relevant.  These individuals deserve their recognition. In an effort to ensure that, RSC’s Industry Intelligence makes sure you hear from these unsung heroes who keep it real each and every day.

Name, rank and why we should care?
My name is Kyle Rheiner and I founded BreakawayINK Apparel in early 2010. I dropped my first line in April 2010 and have been shipping tees all over the world since. I’m the owner, designer, head of marketing/PR/shirt-folding, shirt-bagging, shipping, sales, schmoozing, record keeping… the list goes on. BreakawayINK went from one design being printed on 400 shirts to a widely recognized, Philadelphia-based independent clothing line that is currently sold sold in three stores.

You should care because things are moving quickly for the ‘INK’ – the company has been featured in music videos on YouTube and MTV. We sponsor four up-and-coming emcees across the country and have been featured in approximately 30 articles in the past year. I’ve also been hosting networking events to help young professionals find jobs in this dismal market and donating to the SPCA and charities dedicated to supporting sustainable businesses.

What are you working on right now?
We recently dropped our 2011 winter line: zip-up hoodies for men and women, a fitted hat, two women’s V-necks and three men’s screen-printed tees (all are a cotton/polyblend, including hoodies).

On New Year’s Day we launched “16 Bar Sunday” – a 48-episode hip hop YouTube Channel. BreakawayINK Apparel outifts four talented emcees from Philly to Chicago and this gives us the opportunity to showcase their talent as well as promote our brand and love for hip hop. Each emcee will shoot 12 videos throughout the year and one will air each Sunday evening.

In addition to these projects, we’ve started a street team titled the “INK Army.” It’s a collection of talented minds across the nation helping promote BreakawayINK via social media, word of mouth and through photography/videography. They earn points for the work they perform which can be redeemed for free clothing. (Email to learn more.)

What future plans are in the works? Plug your shit!
We recently completed our media kit which should open up numerous doors for us across the country. Our goal is to continue expanding and reach the eyes of New York City, Boston, Chicago, San Diego and anywhere in between that wants to be a part of the BreakawayINK movement. I want to continue expanding the line and work with more musicians/emcees. We’re actually going to be hosting a few hip hop shows in the Philly area during 2012. We also have some new exciting products in the pipeline.

Who or what has been the biggest influence on your work?
Music. The realness of Philadelphia, New York City and Chicago. Hip Hop. The struggle. Friends. The people around me.

What is the hardest lesson you have ever had to learn?
The hardest lesson I’ve learned would be that just because you put your brand’s name on a shirt, doesn’t mean somebody’s going to want to buy it. I’ve learned to utilize my friends as an honest, trustworthy focus group. A book called the “The Art of the Start” says that if you wouldn’t sell your product to your parents, you shouldn’t try to sell it to the public. Therefore my line is “quality first” – then design.

Last book read, movie watched, record listened to?
Book: I’m currently reading “The Heroin Diaries – A Year in the Life of a Shattered Rock Star” by Nikki Sixx from Motley Crue. It’s wild to say the least.

Movie: “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation. “You serious Clark?”
Record: “The Love Potion Collection Vol. 5” by the Mac Lethal. I’m also really digging “El Camino” by The Black Keys, “UNDUN” by The Roots and “The Dreamer, The Believer” by Common.

Fill in the blank: “I wouldn’t be where I am today without _____”
A true belief in God, the strength and work ethic of my mother, the laughter provided by my friends and family, the push from my wife Megan and my right-brained mentality.

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