Antonio Centeno is a mens style expert and founder of Real Men, Real Style – a website dedicated to teaching the average man about style. It provides men with the tools to educate themselves and build the wardrobe that best complements their individual style.
Real Men, Real Style is now one of the most popular mens style websites, attracting a loyal following by becoming the go-to destination for men who are looking for practical advice on how to improve their style. The website includes a range of how-to videos, advice articles, infographics and podcasts. In addition, Antonio’s Real Men, Real Style YouTube channel is hugely popular with over 220,000 subscribers and over 14 millions video views – which help drive a large number of visitors to his website.
Easyspace was delighted to arrange an audio interview with Antonio – listen to the interview by clicking play below, or read the audio transcript below, into which we have added a select number of videos from Antonio’s YouTube channel:
Hey, it’s Antonio here. Let me go ahead, quickly try to answer these questions, give you an audio interview.
Q1. Antonio, tell us a little bit about your background and what led you to starting Real Men Real Style.
Real Men Real Style started because it was kind of an offshoot of A Tailored Suit and my writing with The Art of Manliness. So a few things:
One, I owned a custom clothier, and I realised people were calling me quite a bit. They had questions they wanted answers, and so Real Men Real Style was me going into more detail than I could at my clothier website, A Tailored Suit.
Also, I saw the power of information at The Art of Manliness. I was doing guest posting there probably about twice a month, and I just realized—I looked at the numbers—and I saw how much traffic Brett was getting. And I realized that traffic, getting that audience was important, and I wanted to grow my custom clothier.
That was really… Real Men Real Style was kind of only my own little marketing arm at A Tailored Suit.
Q2. What does Real Men Real Style offer, and how is it different from other men’s fashion-advice websites?
I don’t look at it as a fashion-advice website. That’s probably one of the first things. I’m a business guy who happens to understand men’s style and clothing. I want to make it relevant to the regular guy.
Most of the other websites out there that talk about fashion and style or men’s clothing, they’re written by enthusiasts, and I know a lot of these guys personally (good people!). However, I come from a background with a Business Degree from the University of Texas, having owned multiple companies that, for me, clothing is a vehicle to… It’s not the end. To me, the endpoint is actually being able to use clothing as a tool to get what you want. That’s probably the big thing that separates me from the pack.
In addition, I use military history and science to really prove my point. I was in the Marine Corps for five years as an Officer or Marines. I also have a Degree in Evolutionary Biology. And so, with that, I kind of use those as an angle. I’m pretty good at reading scientific papers.
I try to bring…It’s like – don’t dress this way just because. I try to actually give you a little bit of reasoning, a little bit of science behind the why you should actually do something.
Q3. As a former Marine Officer, you have quite an unusual background for a person running a fashion or style-advice website. How much training or experience did you have in fashion retail before starting Real Men Real Style?
Actually, I have no (I would say) formal education in this. I didn’t go to school for this. However, I’m a big believer in books. I own over 100 books on the subject. I have travelled to London, to Milan, to Bangkok, to Hong Kong, and I have met with some of the best tailors in the world.
I look at education as something that… It’s something I did learn on the job, but that was… I think it’s actually the best way to learn because I was able to learn what I needed to know. I didn’t learn much theory.
I delve into the ends, and I still…I mean eight years, seven years in, I am still learning every single day. I put in the time. I put in the hours. I put in the effort, and what that does is it gives me a very deep understanding, and I’m a big believer…I’m always focused on educating myself, learning more, reaching out to people.
I never act like I know everything, and with that, having that information, I think, really helps me set myself apart because I’m always trying to learn, and I’m always a student.
Q4. How did you market your business when you first started, and how do you promote it now?
I started working with other people that already had an audience, and I didn’t really know if I knew I was doing this. But I reached out to… Actually, I had people like Brett McKay of The Art of Manliness reach out to me. I did some paid placement as well. I just bought some banners.
But I really believe (and I read a book a number of years ago called The Search) and I believe that Google was… their mission is to index the world’s information or at least that’s what it was. And so I like to believe that if I put out the best information in the world, people would find it.
Q5. How does your website make money?
We make money in a wide variety of ways.
I used to sell clothing. I really don’t sell much physical product anymore, but I would say most of the money is made through our own products, through affiliate sales. We do paid sponsorships, and (let me think) yeah, those (I’d say) are the big ones.
I also do some consulting. We have other money that comes in. We still have some paid products, such as clothing, that we still sell, but most of it is what I just mentioned.
Q6. You include on your website YouTube videos. Why did you do this, and how did you create them?
The YouTube… Going down the path of YouTube, I think we started that in about… maybe… in earnest, probably in 2011—so about three years ago. It was simply I wanted to stand out, and I felt that going with video when there wasn’t a whole lot of people on video, we were going to be able to standout.
Basically, we just got started with it. My first videos were not that great. I just got a simple camera and started recording. I did focus in though—and I would recommend that anyone that decides to put out video—really focus in on sound.
And sound… I mean we’re going to be putting out a podcast here soon, but to me, sound in a video is very important. Actually, I think more important than the actual video.
The video can have a little… It can be off a bit. It can be a little bit bouncy. It can be even a bit scratchy or dark. But if your sound is off, people are going to stop watching. It is so important, so I would say focus in on sound.
Q7. How has your YouTube channel benefitted your website regarding traffic and generating sales?
Traffic… It really, I think from an SEO perspective, it really helped. The traffic that comes in is very high-quality and (I would say) is very, is much more likely… Measurably, I would say probably three times more likely to turn into a buying customer. They really come in. It’s not as much traffic as some of our infographics, but it’s quality traffic, and that’s what I really like about YouTube.
Q8. Apart from YouTube, how else do you attract customers to your website, and what do you do regarding email subscribers?
I mentioned infographics. We’ve really, in the last years, spent a lot of money and time creating infographics, and this has brought us a lot of traffic as well.
I look at, in my niche, where are people… where is their need, where are things missing, and that’s where I go in and try to create something.
And, yes, we’re always trying to get people on our email list. To me, your money is in your email list.
Q9. What mistakes have you made in your business, and what would you have done differently?
I can’t say I would have done anything differently. I think mistakes are just part of the learning process, and I make mistakes every single day. This year alone, I’m looking at… I’ve got probably 10 big mistakes or things I wish I wouldn’t have had to run my business through, but that’s the only way you’ll learn because, for every mistake, we get a better batting average.
The way I look at it (I kind of compare it with a baseball) – you’re going to strike out seven out of 10 times, but that’s fine because even if you were to have that type of a batting average, you’re still possibly… If you keep hitting and going for it, you’re going to have your home runs, you’re going to have your triples, you’re going to have your doubles, and no one seems to remember all the mistakes I keep making.
Q10. What’s it like managing Real Men Real Style? Describe your typical day.
I don’t really have a typical day. I would say that I try to keep it compartmentalized. I got four kids and a beautiful wife. I got things outside of business that I try to do, so I learned a number of years back – I’ve got to set barriers on my business.
One of the things I would say that I have, I have a private office now, and I love it because, when I come here, I work. One thing – when I head home, I have no computer at home. So I can’t access… Yes, I’ve got a smart phone, but it’s not connected to my work email. I figure that if something really bad happens, I’m going to get a phone call.
Other than that, I should be able to take two days off, three days off. My goal is to be able to take about four-day weekends normally and to be able to keep my business within three days.
The problem is I keep starting other businesses.
Q11. Where does that drive to be your own boss come from? Why did you decide the life of a 9:00-to-5:00 employee was not for you?
I think it was during the 2007 recession. I just lost my job. [I’d] been fired actually, and I realised that I really wasn’t meant to work for other people. So, it’s really, “Hey, I’ve got to bring money in, and no one’s going to pay me, and I don’t want to work for anybody else.”
Q12. Which entrepreneur or person has inspired you the most and why?
I’d say I’m continuously being inspired.
One example, even though he’s on the other side of the country… (Who is it?) Andrew Warner over at Mixergy – not that he has so much inspired me, but him bringing him and introducing me to all of these people who, little bit by little bit, something in their story blows me away.
I was at VidCon out in California, and I ran into Gideon Shalwick. Gideon didn’t know me from anybody actually, but I had been inspired by Gideon years before, and I was able to make a great connection and to stay in touch with him. That’s because Gideon, he really did inspire me.
And so little things like that. I would have to say it’s those little inspirations which really have helped me overcome everything that I’ve been able to.
Q13. What advice would you give somebody thinking of starting their own business?
Get started today and start making mistakes today.
Q14. What are your future plans?
What are my future plans? I’ve already got 2015 pretty much laid out. I’m trying to work less, to make more. I’ve got a big conference starting up in Atlanta called Style Con, and that’s going to be May 1st through 3rd, and I’m running that with a business partner named Aaron Marino over at IAMAlphaM Image Consulting, and I’ve got about 20 of my good friends coming out to be speakers at this first inaugural conference.
We’re going to get about 500 people out there. We’ve already sold about 15% of the tickets five months out, and so I’m pretty excited. We’re going to fill this place up, and we’re just going to start doing a few more live events.
Alright! That’s it. Take care. Hopefully that’s helpful. Take care. Bye-bye.