Wear in the World: Kyte&Key Blends Fashion & Phone Chargers
We all know what it’s like to be without a charger when you need it most. When it happened to Antonio Bertone, he decided to create a business around it that provides a stylish solution to a universal problem.
“The iPhone 5 came out and I was in New York,” Kyte&Key founder and CEO Antonio Bertone remembers. “Mine was dying and no one had the new cable yet. I had a bunch of leather bracelets on and I thought, ‘why can’t that be my charging cable? Then I would never forget my charger.’ A light bulb went off. I wondered, could I create a brand that mixes men’s accessories with consumer electronics? You basically combine the two into an item you already have and normally use, but give it a secondary or tertiary function.”
Named as a tribute to Ben Franklin’s famous experiment and Bertone’s hometown of Franklin, Massachusetts, Kyte&Key merges fashionable men’s leather goods with increasingly essential technological accessories. Bertone’s bracelets, wallets and braided cords combine timeless style and elegance with a futuristic functionality.
“It’s that James Bond functionality,” says Bertone, who spent two decades as Global Chief Marketing Officer at Puma. “I like product; that’s what I do. Basically, I came up with the brand and I used Ben Franklin as my inspiration. I thought that was a great icon to build and riff off of.”
Bertone moved quickly from inspiration to execution. “I learned how to make Apple-certified products and did the entrepreneur thing,” he says. “I spent a lot of time in China building prototypes and samples, teaching consumer electronic factories how to work with leather. It’s still an ongoing evolutionary process, but it’s really fun.”
Available online and in independent fashion boutiques like Fred Segal. Kyte&Key continues to expand its horizons. “Sure, Apple is going after the jewelry channel now, but we were there first,” says Bertone. “We’re a great price point for people. Nobody’s really making a product like ours and it’s a great channel for us to keep growing. The vision of the company is to basically grow as an accessories brand. I think there’s a need out there for young professionals, where travel and connectivity are part of their everyday lives. Why not bring a brand that can kind of create a more premium experience for one’s connected self? We spend a lot of time on our devices and our devices have become vital to how we function as society, but they still look pretty janky. Why not bring a bit more class, design, taste and luxury to that space?”
After spending much of his youth in Kenmore Square as a punk rock kid at the Rat’s hardcore matinees, Bertone has returned to The Fenway to set up Kyte&Key’s official headquarters and take part in the area’s urban renaissance.
“The Fenway has been a part of my life since I was 14 years old,” says Bertone. “The neighborhood has always called to me. I’ve lived and worked all over Boston and there are certain neighborhoods you just want to go and where you want to stay. The Fenway is that way for me. It has changed so much. I still giggle when I look at the Rat and what’s there now. I love that the Eastern Standard’s liquor license is the Rat’s liquor license. That little bit of magic and behind-the-scenes knowledge always keeps me going. It’s amazing to me how much it has changed and evolved. I love it.”
Stay tuned for news about Kyte&Key’s potential pop-up shop this winter.