Thank you so much for doing this with us! What is your “backstory”?
I grew up in a small town in New Hampshire called Fitzwilliam and had always played sports which helped with my educational path. Without sports, I would not have extended my education or be the person I am today.
After graduating high school, I went to the prestigious prep school Bridgton Academy for a year to get my grades up and receive a sports scholarship. After I graduated from there, I went to Norwich University for a year and later transferred out to American International College to get my bachelor and master’s degrees. Then, I joined the family business, Surell Accessories.
Can you share the funniest or most interesting story that happened to you since you started your company?
There are always funny and interesting things going on at Surell. One of the funniest things that had happened was to my dad. He had to go on a sales meeting with a box sample products he put together. When he arrived and sat in at the waiting room, he had bent over to pick up the box of samples and split his pants right down the middle. But he made it through.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story?
First, I would say my family has always supported me. But there are two people I would have to say that helped me become successful. One is my father who is the majority owner of Surell Accessories. So every day he is showing me how he has made Surell successful as he says “Fitzwilliam to Fifth Ave”. Every day with him makes me a better owner as I see how to run a profitable business from the ground up.
The second person is my uncle-in-law, Aaron. He is the owner of Fall River Pawn Brokers and has his own real estate business. He is much like my father in that did not go to college and just used hard work to get to the top. I worked for him for a little while as an HR manager and assistant. It was an exciting and fun company to work for. But he taught there is always a better deal than what you are being presented.
Being a pawnbroker, you need to know how to negotiate. He taught me all of those skills. He also had me in a button down and tie every day, so this helped me step my dress game up because I was a little lackluster.
These are my two role models. I just hope that I will be as successful as them one day.
What do you have in the pipeline for 2019?
We are expanding into real estate for more diversity. Additionally, our 40th anniversary is this year so hopefully, during New York Fashion Week, we will have an event to celebrate this incredible milestone.
What are your “things I wish someone told me before I started my company” and why?
How important internet sales would be. Seeing how most of our sales are brick-and-mortar stores and the times are starting to change with more online sales. So, we have now revamped our website to increase our sales.
How important it is to have suppliers all over the world. With the tariffs now with China which is one of our major suppliers, this has been a big hurdle to overcome.
How great Amazon would be. We just started getting more serious on Amazon and have seen incredible growth.
Some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why?
Yes, but it would be three: Robert Kraft, Bill Belichick, and Tom Brady. These three are so successful. I would just like to talk about how they achieved their success. I am also a huge Patriots fan and so is my dad, so I would like to bring him along.