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Start Your Business Success Stories

Celebrity Designer Knows His Limitations … And Deals With Them

Celebrity Designer Knows His Limitations … And Deals With Them

Marco Morante, better known to those familiar with his collection of over-the-top celebrity costumes as MarcoMarco, is a man who knows what he likes. And what he doesn't.

Designing sometimes outrageous, glamorous or over-the-top costumes for celebrities like Katy Perry, Brittney Spears and Fergie? That, he likes. Paperwork and bookkeeping? No so much.

That's where the 33-year-old Morante has an edge over many young entrepreneurs: He knows his limitations and has a solution for dealing with them. For Morante, that solution is his business partner of 13 years, Christopher Psaila.

"He's the one that keeps it legit," said Morante, whose celebrity costumes run the gamut from Katy Perry's infamous cupcake bra to concert, music video and commercial costumes for other celebs including Iggy Azela, Jennifer Lopez, Selena Gomez, Cher and Ke$ha. He's also the man responsible for creating all of the costume designs for Britney Spears' "Piece of Me" Las Vegas residency.

Despite his designer-to-the-stars status, Morante knows that without Psaila, turning his talent and passion into a viable business would be out of the question. He's the needle to his thread, so to speak.

"He's totally my opposite," Morante told me. "He's very organized and paperwork oriented. He's good at all that stuff ."

And that's a good thing, because this entrepreneur isn't cut from an accounting and organization kind of cloth.

"I only function creatively," said Morante, who said he once tried to open a retail store, but quickly realized that his unwillingness to stop designing long enough to talk to customers was going to pose a major customer service challenge.

Instead, Morante's greatest skill is talking to celebrities and helping them work out exactly what it is they want him to design for them. But it's not as easy as it sounds. Getting celebrities to tell you what they don't like about their bodies or where their insecurities lie requires an almost therapist-like approach.

"There are a lot of things people won't say," Morante said. "They won't say it because they believe that if they say it, they are letting you in on a morsel of their insecurity."

His clients aren't the only ones whose opinions he needs to take into consideration, either.  There are also managers, publicists, agents, creative directors and sponsors to please.

"They are all going to have opinions," Morante said. "I have to mediate between all of these visual concepts."

And, of course, Morante wants to squeeze a little bit of his own design ideas into his work, too. Otherwise, what would be the point?

"One of those personalities is me," he said. "The part of me that makes it to the final round is varying, but it's the part I like best."

MarcoMarco has found a new way to express his desired aesthetic. This time, his celebrity looks are going undercover — or at least under pants. Morante's new collection of men's underwear and leggings represents a totally new way of doing business for him.

"I wanted to take all my craziness and put in a form I could sell to everyone," he said.

Selling to a mass consumer audience is an approach this design entrepreneur has tried to avoid in the past because it was too much pressure for him. His problem, he says, is that he's always trying to please everyone.

"When I was young, I would get caught up in this thought about the girl who couldn't wear that skirt," said Morante.

This time, though, he decided to just take the leap. He doesn't know where the people who buy his brightly-colored, graphic-heavy leggings will wear them. And he's not terribly worried about it. Instead, he's just focused on letting this new business venture run its course — and hoping Psaila will help keep it all working smoothly.

"“He has been the main cog in this venture," Morante said. "He's able to take all these orders and figure out what to do with them."

Morante, for his part, will keep up the creative part of the bargain.

"It's just an easier place for me to live," he said.

Originally published on Business News Daily.

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Jeanette Mulvey
Jeanette Mulvey

Jeanette has been writing about business for more than 20 years. She has written about every kind of entrepreneur from hardware store owners to fashion designers. Previously she was a manager of internal communications for Home Depot. Her journalism career began in local newspapers. She has a degree in American Studies from Rutgers University. Follow her on Twitter @jeanettebnd.