Building a national clothing brand from scratch takes a certain amount of moxie. Then again, so does playing professional baseball.
Ray “Digmi” Navarrete, now in his eighth season playing for the Long Island Ducks, has accomplished the dream of playing professional baseball. So, it stands to reason, this Port Washington resident has a shot at making it in the major leagues when it comes to going national with his clothing brand, too.
Now, Navarrete is one step closer to achieving his retail dreams, with his shop Digmi (pronounced “Dig Me”), on Main Street, right next door to Clearview Cinemas. Harkening the layout and feel of an urban loft, the store features casual streetwear – T-shirts, sweatshirts and hats – sporting custom-design Digmi graphics. The shop opened just in time for the December holiday shopping season.
As Navarrete put it, it’s a long way from making “one T-shirt in a little apartment in Brooklyn.”
The shop provides “a great opportunity to work and design clothes and for new fans to come in and see it,” Navarrete said.
Ultimately, Navarrete, who up until recently ran his online retail site from a Melville office, has big dreams. He hopes the shop can also become a specialty boutique sneaker store, carrying limited editions from the likes of Nike, New Balance and Vans, which would draw consumers from across the region. But before that can happen, there is are approval procedures, a process Navarrete says he and his partners are giving their all.
Building a business means other challenges, including converting what was once a long time furrier shop into what’s now Digmi.
“The space had to be rebuilt,” he said. Without elaborating any hard numbers, he added that he and his partners put in a “substantial financial investment” to install hardwood floors, and even custom graffiti artwork in creating the shop’s aesthetics.
In addition, now that he has a retail shop, he has additional expenses, including his lease and payroll, he said.
The name “Digmi” stems from Navarrete’s days playing with a farm club of the Pittsburgh Pirates. Because he wore such colorful hats and sneakers, teammates dubbed him “Dig Me,” and the name stuck, Navarrete said.
As a brand, the name is all about “individualism – being you, living your dreams.” And the logo, a man tipping his hat, evokes a time “when you saw a pretty girl, or did something well.”
Now, Navarrete aims to build a following at the grassroots level, connecting with local sports teams and PTA and HSAs, holding fundraisers and special sales.
It fits with his mission of transitioning from ball player to what he hopes will be his role as a major player in the world of retail.
Says Navarrete: “This is exactly what I want to do when my [baseball] career ends in a couple of years.”