Franklin native creates clothing line to promote pride, revitalization in poorest N.H. city 

  • Bill Yacopucci speaks about his new clothing line “Franklin Gear” in front of his display at Franklin Studio on Central Street in Franklin. LEAH WILLINGHAM photos / Monitor staff

  • Mugs and water bottles display the logo for Franklin Gear, a line of clothing and accessories aiming to promote pride in the city.

  • Bill Yacopucci reads from his plaque describing the mission of his Franklin Gear clothing line at Franklin Studio earlier this month.  LEAH WILLINGHAM/ Monitor staff

  • Hats displaying the Franklin Gear logo are displayed at Franklin Studio.  LEAH WILLINGHAM/ Monitor staff

  • Bill Yacopucci finishes setting up his display of Franklin Gear apparel at Franklin Studio earlier this month.  LEAH WILLINGHAM/ Monitor staff

Monitor staff
Published: 9/23/2018 9:26:26 PM

What can a pile of hats, T-shirts and mugs do to revitalize a city?

More than you might think, says Franklin native Bill Yacopucci.

Yacopucci founded his own clothing line, “Franklin Gear,” this September to help end the stigma associated with state’s smallest and poorest city. Franklin Gear has two sub-lines, “Franklin Girl” and “Franklin Guy” that he hopes will instill pride in the city’s residents.

“The idea is to show the young kids in Franklin that it is possible to grow up in Franklin and become whatever you want,” he said, using a portable steamer to steam clothes at Franklin Studio before hanging them up on a rack.

Yacopucci, an independent security consultant, will be selling his apparel online and at the Franklin Studio, a nonprofit coffee shop in Franklin’s downtown that promotes New Hampshire-made products. He said he also plans to start a blog – “Bill Y the Franklin Guy” – where he will interview men and women who have made an impact on the city’s community.

Ten percent of all proceeds from Franklin Gear will go to STEM programs for young people in the city, Yacopucci said.

“We will no longer accept being the punching bag for other communities to feel better about themselves,” he said.

Ending the stigma

Yacopucci said there’s been a stigma associated with Franklin for as long as he can remember.

“Kids from nearby towns would make fun of us from being from here,” he said.

After graduating Franklin High School, Yacopucci eventually moved away. But after working for 20 years in Concord and Manchester, Yacopucci moved back to his home city.

He said he fell in love with the outdoor landscape of Franklin, and the athletic possibilities of it – from mountain biking to kayaking on the Winnipesaukee River.

“That’s when I realized how great of a place this is,” he said. “They always say you don’t really recognize how good a place is until you leave – and that was certainly true for me.”

Yacopucci has spent the last couple of years getting involved in local organizations: He was on the board of the opera house; he worked with the nonprofit PermaCityLife, which is working to revitalize the downtown through new business and affordable housing; and he volunteered for Mill City Park, the city’s whitewater park nonprofit.

He said he’s been inspired by the people in the community who are working to change Franklin’s reputation.

“A lot of people, the only way they feel good about themselves is to tear other people down, so I think Franklin just be came a convenient whipping boy,” he said. “But we’re a lot stronger than people think. The No. 1 thing that I thought of when I began this project was the relentless nature of the people. They get knocked down, but they get back up and keep going. They just never give up.”

Yacopucci’s goal is to be able to rent a maker space somewhere in the downtown area with tools like 3D printers to inspire young people in the city to move into STEM fields.

He said many people whose families relied on work in Franklin’s many mills for generations have struggled finding new lines of work.

“I have a lot of different ideas I’m playing with for the future,” he said. “This is just a preview of what is to come.”

More information about Franklin Gear can be found here:

(Leah Willingham can be reached at 369-3322, or on Twitter @LeahMWillingham.)

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