T-shirt vendors take aim at full line

Posted Feb. 04, 2010, at 9:41 p.m.

Going to New York City to start a clothing line almost ranks as a cliche — like moving to Hollywood to be an actress or Nashville to be a musician — but that’s exactly what a Skowhegan-area native has done.

A year and a half after launching a company called Elykssor Clothing, 2003 Skowhegan High School graduate Kyle Poissonnier and his two business partners are on the verge of jumping from making designer T-shirts to a full clothing line.

“I think we’re almost at the point where we’re going to start turning a profit,” said Poissonnier. “We’ve been able to use every dime that we’ve made to good value.”

Poissonnier conceived the Elykssor line as a senior at Husson University in Bangor. Today, the 24-year-old is the brand’s founder and creative director with his sights set on landing a major retail distributor. He met one of his business partners, Steven Stern, in one of the most unlikely places for a fashion line upstart: a football field. Poissonnier, a wide receiver at Husson, met Stern, also a football player, during a one-year stint at the University of Albany in New York.

“[Creating Elykssor] was kind of a joke at first,” said Poissonnier. “Then we decided to take it to the next level.” Stern is now the fledgling company’s chief financial officer and his brother Matthew Stern is its president.

“It really took shape after we all got together,” said Poissonnier. “Together we are a little bit stronger than any of us is on our own.”

Matthew Stern says Elykssor has met its business goals so far despite the fact its “storefront” has been a Web site. He attributes the positive response to the branding of the clothing line, a key element that he says is missing in a lot of fashion start-ups.

“We wanted to do something that really meant something as opposed to designing a shirt and just throwing it out there,” said Stern. “Anybody who has the technical know-how can do that. How to really have people follow you comes from the base of what the brand represents.”

Elykssor is a play on the mythical “elixir of life,” which according to legend contains a recipe for the renewal of youth. Many of the company’s designs, which have been sketched by artists from across the country, include the catch phrase “Prolong Life.” The idea is to promote a healthful lifestyle.

So far, Elykssor Clothing exists in the homes of its three employees, but they hope that changes soon. A new Web site was launched in December — www.elykssor.com — featuring a line of limited-edition designer T-shirts.

However cliche it seems, Elykssor just might be the next big thing in fashion, Poissonnier said.

“We’re not intimidated,” said Poissonnier. “New York City is a very big place, but we’ve definitely met it head on.”

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