$10,000 Innovation Award
The idea to launch TucciPolo arose in New Haven Connecticut when I was in my MBA graduate program in International Business at Ernest C. Trefz school of business, University of Bridgeport. The name originated from my name has an Italian origin associated with uniqueness, strong and beautiful.
I never had the intention of launching a footwear brand after graduation. Prior to enrolling into my graduate program, I had a background in Architecture and was at the time the Founder and CEO of Zenith-Mart Inc. a consumer electronics company based in Brooklyn New York. Thought I will apply all my knowledge after school into Zenith-Mart Inc., but then the Idea to launch [TucciPolo](https://tuccipolo.com/for-men)came up. I love shoes growing up and when I couldn't afford a $1200 Italian leather shoe, I thought to myself why don't I launch my own shoe line and sell half the price of other luxury shoe brands and thats how TucciPolo was born.
I launched in 2015 immediately after my graduation in May. The whole of 2015, I had zero sales. I began to doubt if this is really going to work but I had to summon the courage, self taught myself digital marketing and started optimizing my website, publishing contents and become more active on Linkedin and social media where I got my first sales in 2016 through referral and a client bought a Stingray fish leather shoe for $1250. I was like now this is good. I made the first shoe, shipped it to the customer who loved it and with lots of contents I was putting out online thats how I keep getting customers after another.
Through repeated customers and their testimonials and also lots of customers buying some 8 pairs of shoes, some 16 pairs of shoes and lots of orders coming, I was rest assured and confident that customers love my products and its acceptable. I get lots of calls from customers who are thankful about their order and my making high quality handmade luxury shoes at such a low price compared to other Italian luxury brands out there.
My relationship with my artisans was such a random experience, I was searching for cobblers with extensive knowledge of shoemaking because for one thing, I want to offer a product centered on exclusivity, uniqueness, quality and top craftsmanship and that's how I came in contact with my artisans. They are very skilled in shoemaking and doesn't cut corners
Growing up as a teenager while in high school, I actually did a part time apprentice shadowing a shoemaker by name Adidas shoemaker in my town called Okigwe as at 1996, then later during my undergraduate University years between 2001 to 2005, I was helping my uncle who owns a Unisex fashion Boutique called Shakers International in the city called Port Harcourt to manage his store whenever I was on school break. He deals on lots of men and womens apparel, shoes and accessories and actually he inspired me to own a shoe line one day.
TucciPolo is 100% owned and self funded from little savings I had right after my MBA graduation in 2015 before I won the Innovation for Entrepreneurship I4E Comcast Business Award for $10,000.
My Target market are fashion conscious affluent men and women between the ages of 30 to 65 earning a disposal income of at least $65,000 and above per year.
A customer request I had was to make a handmade wedding shoe for him within 7 days compared to the usual 21 days it takes to handcraft a pair to ship to the customer. Most brands even take longer time between 4-6 weeks but at TucciPolo I do my best to get my customers shoes ready between 14 days to 21 days. For this particular customer's shoes for his wedding, I couldn't reject it so I took it because since its for his wedding, I will be putting a smile on his face and make his wedding a great experience allowing him to style one of the best handcrafted shoes in the market. I had to get his shoes ready within 6 days, the next day was Saturday the wedding day and because there wasn't any delivery services that could get his shoes to New Jersey for him because he is flying in from Texas, I personally took the risk and drove up to his hotel in Newark New Jersey and hand delivered his shoes by myself. He was the happiest customer I ever had as I exceeded his expectations.
I funded my idea from little savings I had as a student until before I won the $10,000 award from Comcast Business Innovation for entrepreneurship award.
TucciPolo is 100% self owned. I single handedly launched the company and running it ever since the past 4 years and half. So far I have outsourced people working for me overseas until am able to hire an inhouse team very soon.
My shoes and matching belts are the best sellers so far, but I will be expanding the line very soon to add other product categories like sneakers, leather jackets, boots, hats and sunglasses.
Prior to TucciPolo, I owned a consumer electronics company known as Zenith-Mart Inc.
I was motivated to start my own business because it runs in my blood, I came from a bloodline of entrepreneurs, my mom, dad, siblings all owns their businesses. I love the freedom of being independent, to create jobs and make a meaningful impact in the society. I believe I have a lot to offer than just settling for a 9-5 job. I want to be a role model, I don't want to be that man who lived and died one day without anything to be remembered for. I want to build and leave a legacy behind.
Family and friends were discouraging pressuring me to quit and get a job in nursing which is more rampant among immigrants in the United States and the fact that my brand is in the luxury market, they feared no one can afford to buy shoes worth over $500 from me being an immigrant and minority but none of that mattered to me because the market is determined by the quality of products you have and how well you treat your customers that keeps them coming and referring more business back to you
Starting my business, I have learned to be patient, resilient, staying focused and when things go wrong, I remind myself of the positive impact I want to create in the world and in the lives of many considering a lot of people who are looking up to me and want to learn from me. This has kept me strong from not giving up.
The end goal is to be successful and for my brand to become a household name positively impacting people's lives.
For someone starting out, my advice is to be patient, stay focused, believe in yourself, always be inspired to achieve your goals and dreams.
When it comes to marketing and generating sales, organic search traffic, email, Pinterest, Facebook, Instagram and Linkedin have brought the most sales.
What is stopping me from growing 3times the size I am today is lack of media publicity, awareness and recognition for my brand. I have built a great company with a good track record and made quality product that is loved and worn by lots of affluent influential men all around the world but am not getting the media attention or publicity I deserve and that hurts considering the sacrifice, pains, sleepless nights, and everything it cost to single handedly build such an amazing brand and lastly haven't gotten any good investment opportunity.
I'm working on launching a line of luxury sneakers for men and Women, handmade leather bags, Fedora hats, More of womens shoes including high heels and leather jackets.
New releases for these mentioned product lines will be coming out first quarter of next year 2020.
In 5 years from now, I see TucciPolo becoming a successful Multi Million dollar company with its manufacturing based here in the United States to help create more jobs here.
I haven't decided yet if to keep the company as privately owned, go public or to sell it off in the future. The future will tell.