Mazdack Rassi On What Makes MILK Studios

On Tuesday, May 31st, 2016, Fashion Is Your Business gathered at Ben and Jack’s Steakhouse to interview Mazdack Rassi of Milk Studios for its 100th episode. Read the highlights from the interview!

MILK – A Community

Milk is a group of 10 companies in NY and LA. Essentially, it’s a strong community of creatives, where talents do not only create and produce, but engage and share their world views. But in order to sustain your community, you need to feed, support, grow and nurture it. A community follows you through thick and thin, it is your ecosystem. Not customers, but the community really matters.

Where MILK is Heading

The vision is the same. We were just a bunch of hungry kids that wanted to change everything we touched. The difference now is that we’re not kids anymore. What we do every three to five years or so is we take Milk and we give it to the next generation. We look at them and go, ‘here’s Milk it’s your now. Do better with it than you go it and then they pass it to the next.’

“Why Are There Seasons?”

The fashion industry is going through a major transition, we’re still figuring out digital and community building, seasons to sell the clothes in and trying to figure out the manufacturing. It’s surprising to Rassi still how antiquated and slow moving it is. Speaking about large retailers and conglomerates. he says the will to change is missing – maybe even say that they’ve been wrong.

Emerging case studies are important – there are more and more successful forward-looking brands, they set examples of how to innovate in fashion business.

Influencers should not be a go to market plan for brands, it should be a combination of great content, engagement, customer service which is social in its nature. Not only quality photography, but also videos are very important– Rassi believes video will be an integral part of any brand’s content.

Fashion shows are becoming consumer-faced, even open to consumers to attend. Before the industry’s fashion shows hosted only buyers and press. Today buyers make their selections primary in a private, showroom appointment setting. Editors and writers do not have such a strong voice they had before. No one promotes designers more effectively than influencers, celebrities – more than magazines and platforms. There has to be commerce when there’s such a strong marketing program as fashion shows. So why is it currently closed to consumers? Public School’s fashion show hosted by Milk was on the street, open to hundreds of viewers, Kanye West showed in Madison Square Garden and sold tickets to the show to the public, same happening in LA – Hood By Year started selling tickets to consumers.

Rassi asks: “Why are there seasons? You don’t need to wait for six months to buy the clothes”

The power has shifted from the buyers and editors to consumers, so why don’t give them an opportunity to view the collections and place orders directly from the brands?

Say Yes

Milk is culture of saying “yes.” They utilize the community to execute ideas, deliver amazing experiences. Rassi’s approach to the most challenging projects is “we are going to do it, no matter what.”

A “Yes” mentality for brands drives innovation and success. If brands want to do well in this day and age, they have to be democratic. Give your customers a voice and serve them what they want. The review button should be one inch from the buy button. Many large brands are afraid to give their customers chance to review the product, but they are going to do it, no matter whether the review is offline or on brand’s site. Say “Yes to listening and trusting your customers’ opinions.

Milk Makeup

For 20 years Milk has been a b2b company, a service provider. They worked with brands, created content, built advertising, nurtured communities. Rassi and his team realized that Milk needs to be a consumer-faced brand to spread the Milk name across the country. Makeup was the answer – it’s accessible for anyone – guys, girls, trans. Milk doesn’t look at make up as cosmetics, but as an accessory. Zanna Rassi, Rassi’s wife is a co-founder of the Milk Makeup. The line is sold in Sephora and Urban Outfitters stores around the country, in addition, samples are distributed through Birchbox.

Industry City: Camp David

Along with Milk’s Erez Shternlicht, Rassi is developing a project called Camp David – opening in Fall 2016, a 300,000 square feet space for creators in Brooklyn’s Sunset Park recently renovated complex Industry City. It is essentially a co-working space, where creators will be provided tools to enable them to create without limits. The goal is to create a movement, not just a community. Why in Sunset Park? Because Rassi believes it is the next Williamsburg and Bushwick. Like the Meatpacking District used to be in the 90’s, when MILK opened. Rassi is also working on the Mana art space project in Jersey City.

Rassi’s Personality and What You Can Learn From Him

  • Values creation of relevancy and projects which challenge the status quo. Always leads with creativity, no matter what risks are present.
  • Values family and self time: “When you’re entrepreneur there’s no off button. You need to learn how to make time for your family, put your feet in the sand and read a book.” This is a true luxury for Rassi.
  • Believes in the concept of community and how technology is a tool to harness a community.
  • Sees our society as a work in progress, always advocating for progression
  • Education for Rassi is about how to get as much as you can, as soon as possible and then get out and “make shit.” Rassi: “Life is not about the diploma. The greatest project in my life is me.”
  • Making decisions is important. Realising that you’re on the crossroad and making that decision, whether it is right or wrong

Final Thought

If you want to connect with Rassi, you need to get involved. Come up with ideas and projects and prove how they will to change things around you.


Article Photography Credit: Charles Beckwith for Open Source Fashion.


Nataliya Makulova