Social media superstar/domestic goddess/super model Chrissy Teigen recently launched her Cravings by Chrissy Teigen website with help from two College of Charleston alums. Nicholas DeNitto ’05 and Matthew Bowers ’10 assisted Teigen to develop her new project with the rest of their team at creative agency Manufactur. Based in Los Angeles, California, and Durham, North Carolina, Manufactur works with clients like Cha Cha Matcha, Healthade Kombucha, and Skrillex (yes, that Skrillex) to develop branding, websites, strategy and more.
From starting their own company to hanging out with celebrities, DeNitto’s and Bowers’ post-graduation path has been one happy, unexpected turn after another. Manufactur started as a temporary side project in Charleston while the duo took a break from their production/DJ experiment Electric Friends.
“The agency became a more permanent gig,” says DeNitto, “but I’m not even joking when I say it wouldn’t have existed if it wasn’t for DJing. Our first client after we made the move to LA was Chris Leacock (AKA Jillionaire of Major Lazer), because we had booked him for a party at The Standard. That site led to a job for Skrillex as his in-house design team.”
That’s sort of how the duo connected with Teigen as well. Cody Mackenzie was the first illustrator hired by Manufactur, and he happens to have a twin sister who manages the celebrity. While Mackenzie has since moved on from the company, he introduced the team to Teigen when he heard she was looking for a creative agency. The Hollywood influencer had tried to work with larger firms, but after having her second child, Miles, she wanted a team that could meet at her home.
“Guess who was totally down for house calls and 11 a.m. white wine meetings where John Legend and the kids and even Chrissy’s mom might show up?” says DeNitto, who majored in biology at the College. “You’re damn right. Sometimes it pays to be small and flexible, so that turned out to be a good decision!”
Bowers, who double majored in French and studio art, even made an appearance on Teigen’s Instagram feed when the site launched. The site went down briefly due to a rush of traffic, and Slate published an article titled, “Why Is Chrissy Teigen’s New Website So Bad?” The celebrity decided to record Bowers’ mock shocked expression for the world to see while she giggled. She wrote, “Wanted to make a special post for my incredible website team at @manufacturco. These people have been working tirelessly and I cannot express my gratitude to @matthewbowers, @vataslocasforever and @_yauna enough!! You guys are so much fun to work with and I couldn’t imagine a better team. Love you guys!!”
Bowers says, “Definitely not a situation any developer would imagine ever finding themselves in, but thankfully the server was fine and the comments were amazing! It’s definitely a great representation of the nature of the project and how fun it was to work closely with Chrissy on bringing this super unique brand of hers to life online.”
When looking at the work they’ve done so far, from DJing to designing, DeNitto says, “We certainly realize we’ve been very lucky. I mean, we started our agency at the height of the recession with no dollars and a lot of learning on the fly (shout-out to CofC and those liberal arts educations), but I think it’s true that you make your own luck to a degree.”
Feature photo, from left to right, Matthew Bowers, Chrissy Teigen (photo by David Shankbone) and Nick DeNitto