Sitting Down with the Sitting Club
by Peter Heuer
Successfully creating a brand is anything but easy. It takes countless hours, steadfast dedication, creativity, and hard work. Luckily for Niagara Falls, we have someone who is not only trying to create a brand for himself, but is also working to rebrand the City of Niagara Falls. Through collaborative projects with other local artists and businesses, Matt is one of many people working to cultivate a culture of creativity in Niagara Falls. Recently, I had the pleasure of talking with Matt Catanese about his experiences growing up in Niagara Falls, starting his own clothing-line, and about the future of our City.
Growing up in Niagara Falls
Matt grew up on 32nd and Cleveland, attended St. Joseph's Elementary School on Pine Ave, and is a graduate of Niagara Catholic High School. He was also once a championship third baseman for the Hyde Park Little League Phillies. Currently, Matt works as a graphic designer, owns his own clothing line, and plays bass in the Niagara Falls based band SWAYS.
"Two of my uncles have been playing bass in bands in Niagara Falls for 40 plus years. Not to mention, another older cousin who I wanted to be just like was doing the same thing, same instrument, playing in bands. I was hooked. I wound up taking lessons on guitar from the local guitar god - Jamie Holka. I asked him one day if it was cool if I grabbed a bass and tried it in one of my lessons. I hit the first note and never went back to guitar really. I was set on following the family footsteps, almost like it was divine intervention."
Matt spent several years as the bassist for the band Host Echo and had the opportunity to join them on an East Coast tour. After his tenure with Host Echo, Matt took a short hiatus from music to pursue his graphic design degree. "I’m back in it and I couldn’t be happier to be part of that local culture again."
The Sitting Club
Conceptually, The Sitting Club has existed since 2015 though the official launch of the brand and the online store came at the end of January 2016. However, the story behind the brand goes a bit deeper.
"The Sitting Club started out as a crew name for me and some friends. We were always together playing music, having bonfires, parties, story-telling. It was all about having like minded people in your corner, family - the club, so to speak. One day we were all together, literally all sitting, and one of us coined the term. There is still a little debate as to who really came up with the name and who said it first. Either way, TSC has been part of my life since I was a teenager. Now, I get to structure it into something I can have for the rest of my life and pass the idea on."
The Sitting Club has since grown as a brand and now includes a full line of custom apparel including hoodies, snapbacks, T-Shirts, and many other options to choose from. His "Niagara Falls" t-shirt is also available at Power City Eatery.
On the Future of the Falls
Matt firmly believes that the key to success for Niagara will be increased collaboration between artists, local businesses, and community organizations and is actively working to bridge these connections. Over the last few years, he collaborated with local tattoo artist Chris Lickers on t-shirt designs for The Sitting Club and has plans for future projects with Chris and other artists. He has worked with community organizations and musicians designing logos and creating brands. Most recently, he has reached out to local business to explore opportunities to strengthen the creative community.
"Positivity is bubbling steadily here. We just need to work together to get it there." The future for Niagara Falls looks bright, we just need to be open to new ideas, support one another and keep our local economy and small businesses alive."
Like many, Matt is optimistic about the future and sees Niagara Falls becoming more than just the waterfall in our backyard. He envisions the City moving beyond the realm of souvenir shops and is taking notice of the progress that has already been made.
"People are starting to take this city seriously again as a destination that can be popular not just for the tourists, but for our home-grown people too. The food industry here is really starting to catch some fire, night life is starting to revitalize, I see development in music and culture almost daily. With the renaissance happening in Buffalo, it's only a matter of time until the fire spreads North."
His experiences growing up in Niagara Falls, as a touring musician, and now as a small business owner has ultimately shaped his outlook for the future of Niagara Falls. For Matt, there has been one common denominator has tied these seemingly disparate experiences together: the people.
"If I can say anything about what that experience showed me about home, it’s that the people are your home. Cherish your time with your loved ones, wether it’s one person or ten, show them respect and show up when you can. The smallest gestures make some of the largest impacts, in turn it effects your community, it spreads. Positivity is contagious; ideas are contagious. All you have to do is start somewhere. Niagara Falls, let’s start here."