Credit: Jason Jaskot

Fitness is important to us, both in and out of Manhattan, especially during the summertime when we are heading to the beach and want to look good in our bathing suits.  For fitness trainer, model and men’s physique competitor Evan Levy, it is more than just looking good… its a lifestyle for him that he is now turning into a full fledged business with his new line of apparel that he has recently developed with the name Driven Lifestyle Company.

Evan’s story is one that is awe-inspiring to say the least, as there were many factors that got him where he is today.  The New Jersey native started out (like many of us do) scrawny and not in the best shape, and has done a complete 180 to where he is winning and placing high in many male physique competitions across the country.  Not to mention that he is a pretty great guy with a sweet disposition to him as well.

With his apparel company in full swing, he is now ready to enter the entrepreneur role of his life in hopes that it will bring him to a higher echelon in the retail world.  Evan recently sat down with me to discuss the inspiration for this and so much more.

Credit: Evan Levy

What inspired you to get into the retail business and start your own line of T-shirts?

I have been in the fitness world for nearly a decade. I run my own personal training and online coaching business, which are both services that I provide. The workout apparel field is booming right now, so the idea was to expand my business to offer a product in addition to a service. Having a physical, tangible product such as a T-shirt is an effective way to build visibility and brand awareness, not only to sell the apparel but to cross-promote for my training.

Not to get too depressing, but the driving force that really inspired me the past year to get the ball rolling is my brother. He was diagnosed with Stage 3 Lymphoma almost exactly one year ago. You almost expect your 86-year-old grandfather to pass away from cancer, but you definitely don’t see it coming for your 27-year-old younger brother. Of course, this adversity took a huge physical, mental, and emotional toll on him and our family. Fortunately, after going through six months of chemotherapy and three weeks of radiation, he is basically back to normal health now. This experience certainly puts things into perspective, making you realize how short life truly is, and how valuable our time is. It motivated me to turn a negative situation into a positive outcome and launch this business. In honor of my brother, I am donating a percentage of all my proceeds to the Cancer Research Institute to help those going through a similar situation.

Tell me about how you conceived the design for this. What went into it?

The design was quite a lengthy process. First of all, I had to choose a name, which was a mental block for me. I needed something catchy, succinct, and that wasn’t already taken! The name was actually the hardest part – once that was set, everything else fell into place. I decided on Driven Lifestyle Company because of a few reasons: 1) Driven sums up my life philosophy in one word – to always strive to get better in every aspect of life; 2) It starts with health and fitness, but ends up encompassing your entire lifestyle; and 3) Company sounds more classic and traditional.

Once the name was firmed up, I went through the website 99 Designs to create a logo. Basically you, the business owner, give a briefing of what you’re looking for. Then it opens up a contest to artists and designers around the world to compete in making you the best logo. After hundreds of submissions, I narrowed it down to this one, the best in my opinion. The phoenix is deeply symbolic and represents rising up from hardship. The shield represents strength. And of course, the metallic silver is gym-related.

Then, I applied for and received my LLC in the state of New Jersey; trademarked both the name and logo; opened up a business bank account; and lastly ordered my initial batch of shirts. I used a local screen-printing shop and took a lot of time to choose the right brand and fabric of shirt. They did a great job conveying the original logo onto the shirts, capturing most of the detail and even using metallic ink for the silver. I have men’s and women’s sizes S – XL. My website is currently under construction, so right now I am selling directly to people I know, or through my social media presence on Facebook and Instagram.

Credit: Evan Levy

Are you sticking with shirts or do you plan on expanding to other apparel?

I am definitely planning to expand to other articles of clothing. I decided to start with T-shirts because it is the most commonly worn article of clothing, in and out of the gym. Next I will branch out to tank tops and stringers, which are even more gym-friendly. Eventually I would like to have shorts, pants, and even hats. Customer demand and suggestions will also dictate what else I can get into – who knows where the brand will take me down the line. Many exciting things to look forward to!

You have a huge fitness background, are these shirts designed for the fitness friendly folks only?

The apparel is designed with fitness people in mind, but of course anyone can wear it and represent the brand and the message. As I mentioned, the purpose of the brand is to take the lessons learned in the gym and expand it to all the other aspects of life. In other words – consistency, dedication, discipline, positivity, focus, drive, ambition, etc. – these are all honed with workouts and diet and can be applied to one’s job, career, relationships, and travel. So really, anyone who has that driven mindset to want more out of life, they can relate to this philosophy. With that said, the shirts are Next Level brand, which is a super-soft and comfortable polyester/cotton blend with an athletic fit. So it is definitely more suitable for fit healthy bodies.

What are your ultimate goals for this?

My ultimate goal for this brand is to be a one-stop shop for all things fitness. I already have the in-person training and online coaching, which of course I want to keep expanding into a worldwide system. Now I have the apparel brand, which will become more diverse over time. I would like to eventually expand into other segments of the market, such as supplements and a meal prep service. The great thing about social media is establishing an international presence and connecting with people who you would never meet otherwise. My brand and social media accounts will continue to blossom hand in hand.

Regarding my personal fitness-related goals: besides being a professional trainer, I am also a Fitness Model and Men’s Physique competitor. I just did a show two weeks ago and placed 3rd in my division, and I have another show this upcoming weekend, hoping to perform even better. Then I’m traveling for two weeks to LA, Chicago, and Miami for four fitness photoshoots with very well-known photographers, which I am extremely excited about. My plan is to continue to compete and get my pro card in my federation, and keep moving up the ranks. As for the modeling, between previous shoots I’ve done and all the great content I’ll have from the upcoming ones, I would like to put together a portfolio to bring to various modeling agencies and hopefully ultimately land some gigs. Maybe you guys will be at the grocery store and see me on a magazine cover someday!

For more information on Evan and Driven Lifestyle Company, check out his official Instagram and Facebook page.