AGE: 26. LIVES IN: The Loop. CLAIM TO FAME: CEO and founder of Portefini (Portefini.com), a local menswear startup. BACKSTORY: Born and raised in Lebanon, Assaf studied mechanical engineering at the American University of Beirut before moving here to pursue an MBA at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business. But he also has a creative side, and has been wearing blazers of his own design for four years. “I had always liked fashion and was kind of a personal stylist and shopper to my friends,” he says. THINK TANK: When he moved to Chicago, his classmates took notice of his blazers. “They really liked the idea of one jacket that fits all occasions and outfits,” he says. “Casual jackets and sweaters were too casual, while traditional blazers were too formal. [I thought,] ‘Can I build something that is both?’” BUILDING A BRAND: Assaf and three other students teamed up with the Polsky Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation to start Portefini; they tried six iterations before coming up with the finished first product, The Everyday Blazer ($199, pictured on Assaf). GETTING THE WORD OUT: In November, they started a Kickstarter campaign with a goal of $15,000. In less than two months, the crowdfunding campaign closed with more than $68,000 pledged and nearly 300 backers. THE BLAZER: Made from a stretchy cotton-spandex, it comes in four colors, is wrinkle-resistant and features roll-up sleeves and slanted hand pockets. WHAT’S NEXT: Assaf expects the pre-ordered jackets to ship this summer, but until then, customers can order the blazer through Indiegogo.com.
Photos by Ramzi Dreessen
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