Antonio Carusone has been a Graphic Designer for these past 15 years, in his hometown of New York City. His online shop Vetted, is exactly what you would expect to see from someone in the design industry– a clean layout with simple, quality products designed with purpose. I've been a fan of his product mix since his shop opened five months ago. We spent some time together recently, discussing online business, media and our mutual appreciation of well-made paper products.
"I've always been inspired by the products designed by Dieter Rams for Braun back in the 60s. His approach to design is exactly like mine, so it was an easy decision."
Interview by Darian Hocking
For anyone unfamiliar with Vetted, tell us a bit about your shop. When did you decide to open online?
Vetted is a lifestyle shop that offers a curated collections of goods. We look for well-designed and functional products that compliment a modern lifestyle. The collection includes magazines, stationery, clothing and accessories.
About a year ago I had the idea to open up the shop. It took me six months to form the company, find the suppliers and launch the site, which went live in March of 2011. I honestly never expected it to take that much time, but there was a lot that I had to learn. It was a great experience.
You're a graphic designer by trade and I guess in a way, you're curating your own gallery of objects for sale. What spawned the direction or brand focus for Vetted?
I've always been obsessed with great design. I look for it in everything that surrounds me, from the computer I work on, to the salt and pepper shakers on my dinner table. It can get pretty crazy, ask my wife.
This is the basic motivation behind Vetted. It started off as something that I wanted to see, and then I figured why not just do it myself.
Who would you say is your primary customer at Vetted, men, women or a mix?
Definitely a mix of both, which is exactly what we want. Some of our items skew to a specific group, like the ties for men, but we plan to add more items specifically for the ladies. We see ourselves as a lifestyle shop, so it only makes sense to cater to all groups.
You have quite the selection of quality publications and stationary. What appeals to you the most when looking for the next new piece?
We look for products that are unique and hard to find. Other than good design and function, this is the main driver for a new product. For example, a lot of the stationery that we carry is from Japan, they seem to really have that stuff down. It's not your typical stationery. It's all really well-designed and unique. Great materials, simple design and almost impossible to find in the U.S.
We also try to find products that are local or made by small companies or individuals. We find that those products are better designed and better quality.
Do you have a favorite stationary brand that you use exclusively?
It's hard to pick just one, but there are certain pieces from each line that I really love. Like the pens and pencils from Craft Design Technology and the notebooks from Düller and MUCU. They all have unique characteristics, but they're all extremely well-designed. Let's not forget the Midori Envelopes. They're so damn nice.
You have a few options available from Braun, my favorite are the Black and White Analog Watches. What made you decide to carry those particular pieces from such an iconic brand?
I've always been inspired by the products designed by Dieter Rams for Braun back in the 60s. His approach to design is exactly like mine, so it was an easy decision. When I first found out that the watches and clocks were being reissued, I immediately tracked down the supplier to placed an order. The Braun watches are a perfect example of the type of goods we want to offer. They're beautiful and very well made.
Since you carry mostly publications and stationary, you're not on a typical seasonal buying calendar. What's next for Vetted?
The goal for us is to offer a complete collection that compliments a certain lifestyle. We don't want to become a clothing shop, there are many out there that already do it well like Need Supply, but we do want to expand our offering in that area. We've been looking into a company that makes some nice selvedge jeans, an Italian sunglass line, as well as some great unqiue sneakers from France. Little by little we'r going to grow this part of the collection.
We're also going to add some grooming products, specifically for men. We're looking into a few lines right now and hopefully we can introduce something soon.
We are about to add some great bags from Head Porter and Unit Portables. Stay tuned for that!
Any plans to bring Vetted into physical form?
That has always been our ultimate goal. It's easier and requires less capital to start an online shop, so that seemed like the logical first step. But the concept of the store was to always be something that customers can experience first hand. A lot of the products that we carry are made of great materials, so to be able to feel that with your hands, and experience the product before you purchase, is something special. Hopefully, one day we can get there.