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Francesco Ruggerino | New York | Never Give Up!!

My journey as an entrepreneur started with a small store in Bondi Sydney when I was 19 years old about 25 years ago. I had just finished a business degree and thought instead of going to work for a corporate company, I picked digital phones as a space that I felt had a lot of growth at the time. I had saved money over the years because is used to work every weekend and every school holiday growing up and with $20k to my name I started. I got all the stock on consignment and asked for my suppliers to fund my equipment. They must have believed in me because they agreed to it and so we started. My point of difference was my honest sales approach. I would often help customers compare competitive offers and I would send them to others stores to buy if I felt they could get a better deal there based on their needs. Funnily enough the next day these clients who were so appreciative and quite taken with my honesty then bought their mum, brothers, sisters and friends to buy from us. The store exploded and soon became the busiest independent phone store in the Country.

Having then got to know many people in the local area I was approached to fund the purchase of another business. It was a hair salon with 3 staff. Long story but 80 staff later my salons in Sydney, over the years became some of the busiest in the country where I would work on reception and the salon floor and service the clients and be a go between them and their stylists. We opened in Chatswood, then Bondi and then Surry Hills. We then opened in New York City’s Lower East Side where i have been for the last 4 years. I’m now onto my biggest project ever and where I know I will achieve my finest work, something that finally I can scale and at a stage of my career where it’s my priority to do profound things for our community and for my own personal growth and development. The only way I can stay in business now is to be able to use all my skills and experience to give back to people and be an even more conscious entrepreneur than I have ever been before.

I’m moving from services to product. I’m just about to launch a global hair care company with a difference. We launch in Australia in April 2018. Based out of New York City, it is ANTI.

What ignited the spark in you to start a new business venture or to make significant changes in an existing business? How did the idea for your business come about?

I was sick and tired of the corporates in our industry (Beauty) taking advantage of the consumer, of the hairdresser and of the salons (like me). False product claims, telling us we need to look a certain way and generally creating business limitations for all of the individuals and smaller players in our industry whilst taking the lions share of the profits and doing very little good for anyone in our industry. ANTI is a movement of people within collective consciousness speaking out against the old ways and limitations in our industry and in the world. We are a brand about empowerment, we are an honest brand and we are a brand that brings people together to speak out and change what they are ANTI.

What were the biggest initial hurdles to building your business and how did you overcome them?

Finding the right people to do this with, people who have the same mindset, who are highly skilled, passionate, are honest, have vision and actively/truly want to make a difference. I have very limited skills but one thing I can do is build a team and identify what I’m not good at get the right people for the job. How I overcame this was by putting it out there in the universe that I needed the right people to do this with. I said that if this idea is right and true then the right people would present and they have. As we grow, building a team will be an ongoing challenge but one I’m excited about.

Did you ever deal with contention from your family and friends concerning your entrepreneurial pursuits?

How did you handle it? What would you do differently in hindsight?

I have dealt with contention all my career and know that I probably always will. Whilst people can be highly intelligent and successful not many have vision and very few take any risk. No one ever believed in me until I actually did it. How could a 19 year old create a successful business. How could a non-hairdresser create excellence in hairdressing. How could a small businessman take on the global heavyweights. Whilst my family and friends love me they haven’t believed in me for much of my career. This has actually been a blessing and has driven me harder to succeed. I handled the doubt by continuing to push myself and challenging my personal and professional growth. Case in point by moving to NYC and completely taking myself out of my comfort zone and succeeded in establishing myself in arguably the toughest city in the world. Since then things are a little different now. My family and friends are now instead not thinking “will it work” but “how big can it actually be” What would I have done differently. Nothing. If anything there were some times in my youth where I let my ego get the better of me. I have quickly remedied that however and channel this in more powerful ways.

What would you say was the single most influential factor in your business success?

People are the best part of life and the most valuable thing on this planet. Unfortunately sometimes they are also the worst. Often we are fundamentally flawed but if we evolve in awareness, love and higher consciousness (not to mention for each of us to take responsibility for our own issues) then we can come together with people in honesty and in collaboration. This is when the magic happens and this make all the difference not just to success in business but to success in the world. I have tried to do this all my career and its been a profound thing for me personally and professionally.

What do you know today that you wish you would have known when you first got started as an entrepreneur?

Be Patient! I still struggle with this even now and need to continue to remind myself. I have spent much of my life thinking about the past and much of it about the future. When I sit in the present moment this is when and only when the magic happens.

What advice would you give to an upcoming young and old entrepreneur locally and internationally?

Be Honest, Be Kind, Be Responsible, Do things for the right reasons and never give up.

Be Honest!!!

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