Interview by Anton Miguel D. De Vera, Austria
Images & Video by @leggou_vision / Cozy Threads Vienna Partner
COZY THREAD, an uprising business in Vienna popularly known among the youth for its ‘cozy’ loungewear clothing and premium garments is co-founded by 2nd Gen EU-FIL Diego Tarallo and Canadian-Serbian Filip Momcilovic in 2019.
Rawmags writer Anton Miguel D. De Vera, reaches out to Diego Tarallo, one of Cozy Threads founders, to share the story of their business and his experience growing up with the EU-FIL community in Vienna, Austria.
Could you briefly introduce yourself to our readers? How is it being an entrepreneur at a young age and considering your migration background?
My name is Diego Agostino Uyaan Tarallo, 18, born in Vienna, Austria. I am a multi-citizen - my mother Lilian Tarallo is Filipino while my father is American-Italian Michael Anthony Tarallo. I started the company Cozy Threads with a good friend of mine and former high school classmate, Filip Momcilovic.
Being a young entrepreneur, it was difficult and stressful at first - trying to figure everything out. There were a lot of expectations coming from your parents, family, and friends. Especially among Filipinos, they want you to follow a certain direction which is common to the Filipino stereotype. My mother wanted me to become a doctor or a nurse for instance. She wanted the best for me by having a good-income occupation to provide for my family but personally, I wanted to do something different. My passion for music and sports has always been there and most especially, Cozy Threads was the first thing on my agenda that I wanted to fulfill.
How did you embark on this journey of entrepreneurship with Cozy Threads?
The way Cozy Threads started, it was a school project in the International Baccalaureate Program (IB) in my high school at the International Christian School of Vienna (ICSV). We had to complete certain hours for creative, active, and serviceable work. Filip and I wanted to fulfill it by doing something different, something the school has never seen, so we decided to create a clothing brand. The project idea was to have it established by October 2019 and provide clothing that would support the Breast Cancer Awareness movement during that month. Due to the unexpected pandemic, we couldn’t get physical stands to set up all our clothes, but then, we were able to share our profit from our initial drops to the Breast Cancer Awareness movement. After the project was done, Filip and I decided to continue our passion from creating clothes, being creative, making designs, and providing them for people.
What are some of your inspirations to the designs of your products, mainly clothing?
We originally wanted to make something “premium” or lounge wear that would make our customers say “Oh, this feels nice” in terms of quality and how it suits them. We built it around the word “Cozy” as our former classmates suggested in reaction to a warm hoodie or a crewneck sweater. We also wanted our garments to stand out which means we need to make sure they're quality-checked before selling and that it is something we take pride in. We thought about the threads and we wanted to make sure the threading is prestigious and perfect at least to our knowledge the way we want it.
In your experience, were there any specific Filipino-Austrian communities which helped develop Cozy Threads?
During the summers of my 11th and final year in high school (2019-20 & 2020-21), I did an internship at OVRDS (Overdose), another Filipino company based in Vienna that also produces garments and they’ve been in the game since 2013.
A lot of their garments have elements of Filipino designs, a lot of Filipino pride mixed in. So I knew I had to get on board because they had a lot to teach and I relate to them culturally, and so I wanted to learn from them through an internship.
They taught me how to speak and cater to certain manufacturers, where to get ideas from, how to get certain details in finalising products. Eventually, I even worked with them and helped them with some designs. They treated me as an equal and this is the kind of setting that Filip and I have been incorporating to Cozy Threads.
Co-founders of Cozy Threads Vienna: (L-R) Diego Tarallo (18) and Filip Momcilovic (18)
How has it been growing up as a 2nd Generation EU-FIL in Vienna, Austria?
Growing up in Austria, for the first solid 15 years, I wasn’t actively engaged with the Filipino community at all. However, I and my younger siblings Megan and Luigi, spent a lot of time with our mother who she taught us a bit about her culture, being Ilocano and Filipino. So we weren’t necessarily distant from our Filipino culture. I grew up with that kind of family and came to love Filipino food, culture, customs and traditions.
When I was 15, I started to encounter and engage with Filipinos around my age. I met a couple of Filipinos in ICSV and we became good friends right off the bat. One of them soon invited me to go to their church at the Vienna Christian Centre (VCC)---a born-again Christian Community with the majority of its members being Filipino.
At the end of the day, this was a part of my culture and so I wanted to acknowledge it. To my delight, I enjoyed it a lot. I met a lot of good friends, and it quickly became a familiar place to me.
What kind of message would you give to young aspiring entrepreneurs like yourself?
Go and pursue your passion. Obviously it's going to be difficult in the beginning given that there will be expectations from other people, judgement and doubts. Instead of focusing on those kinds of people, focus on those that are there to help you, who encourage you to do your best. There will always be people who will question your decisions and it will not necessarily be out of backlash but merely out of interest. Take those remarks as if they are interested rather than something that affects you negatively. Just remind yourself that this is something you want to do, just like how I aspired to create Cozy Threads in Vienna.
You also have to enjoy what you are doing. The moment it feels like it's actual work, you are going to lose the passion you had. If you want to be an entrepreneur, you need to love what you do and work for it, especially in the beginning. Think about it as a marathon and not a sprint. You should always find yourself reaching another goal to keep that passion and work into it. R&W
Anton Miguel D. De Vera and the Roots & Wings Team are especially excited for Cozy Thread Vienna’s upcoming Fall/Winter 2021 collection. We wish Diego and Filip all the best in the entrepreneurial world!
Visit their Instagram Account @cozythreadsvienna and their website www.cozythreads.at to see more of their products and clothing brand!