“When I arrived in New York City, my very first job was in an accounting office. I was twenty-one years old and desperate to make money to pay my rent. The job was miserable, and finally one day after being bored to death, I left on my lunch break and never came back. I ended up strolling through Bergdorf Goodman, they told me I had great skin, and I started working there on the spot,” reveals David Pirrotta—this week’s newest Urban Beardsman.
Not everyone has the guts to up-and-leave their current job after realizing they made a wrong turn, but after Pirrotta’s epiphany to follow his instincts, he stumbled into a world (literally) that propelled him into self-made expert in the fashion/beauty/grooming industry. Pirrotta has developed some of the most successful (high-end luxury brands) in the industry, but remains extremely humble. Speaking with him is like speaking to an old friend. You can sense the enthusiasm and energy for what he does (even over the phone) at perfect pitch. He begins to explain how he worked his way up the ladder, starting as a top salesman on several retail floors; establishing many partnerships with multiple brand reps he interacted with along the way. “I never thought I’d end up in this business, but from my beginning; working the cosmetic floors at Bergdorf’s (and later Barney’s), I learned in detail how to sell and build long-lasting relationships both on and off the sales floor. From there, opportunities for other positions continued to grow in the business,” he shares.
In a continual pursuit to learn more about the retail/beauty industry, his hidden passions continued to surface—evolving into a variety of sales-marketing and business development positions in the industry, and says, “I was always picking up extra consulting projects on the side with brands I met where I’d consult them on packaging, distribution and brand strategy. These experiences gave me the passion, drive, and love for what I do today,”
Pirrotta fine-tuned his craft and partnered with many brands to help them ‘win’ such as The Art of Shaving, and later became the Vice President of Sales for Sharps Barber Shop. “I also really enjoyed growing small brands, and later helped develop a few lines that were struggling to evolve as well,” states Pirrotta.
After eleven years in NYC, Pirrotta’s boyfriend received a television production offer in Los Angeles that couldn’t be refused—resulting in a move to California for the duo of eight years. Little did he know the move to make his boyfriends dreams come true would also supersede his own, revealing, ”I had a couple options with different companies to work for, but after arriving in LA, I realized I had a new approach and drive I could contribute to the west coast.” Pirrotta pushed forward, and applied everything he learned through his fifteen years of eating and sleeping fashion, beauty and design experience—taking the leap to begin his very own David Pirrotta Brand Management business.
Since building his own brand development firm. Pirrotta’s goal to be a brand’s “one-stop-shop” has exceeded expectations. As a result, his firm is not only one of the most highly sought after for brand development, but is also a top channel for distribution, revealing, “my mantra for the company is ‘great people, behind great brands’. Brands have to be triple threats! Without a great face/story behind the brand, and integrity within the formulations and packaging—they cannot succeed.”
Although having a successful self-made business is a huge achievement, Pirrotta describes the most rewarding part of what he does as being able to support others reach their goals. “Helping people’s dreams come to life, that is an indescribable feeling,” he admits.
Allocating time to develop brand strategies takes up most of Pirrotta’s time, however when he does allow himself to take a break, he shares, “I spend a lot of time with my boyfriend Jacob, my son Austin, and—my dogs. Recently I’ve been able to find a little time for traveling, such as Palm Springs or Yosemite. On my time off I really just like to go back to the basics and enjoy some down-time. Everyone keeps asking when I’m going to launch my own line, and I’m sure within the next few years I’ll work on that, but I currently have plenty on my plate keeping me (very) busy.”
With an extensive experience in the beauty/grooming industry, it should be no surprise that Pirrotta has a solid personal regimen and pays attention to his bearded details.” Through the course of meeting and working with some of the top niche brands in the industry, I was taught by the best on how to take care of your skin, how to deal with ingrown hairs, and what oils work great for my skin—I don’t like to have too much maintenance. I get up, workout in the morning, shower, wash my face / shampoo condition, followed by face oil, and eye oil. On my beard I use a separate oil—currently I’m really enjoying Beardbrand’s Four Vices Oil.”
While Pirrotta has seen many sways and trends in the grooming industry over the years, he explains his thoughts on having his own beard as a staple before it was a supposed ‘trend’. “I ironically stopped shaving after working for The Art of Shaving. I’m also Cuban and Sicilian, so it’s almost inevitable to keep a bearded face. I’ve had it for the last eight years, but it depends on the month and the week how long I let I grow.”
Having a beard for Pirrotta also represents his own personal growth and independence, admitting, “Being that I’m going to be thirty-eight this year, my beard also means I’ve gotten to a point in my life where I love not only what I do, but I’m HAPPY with what I do. Plus, the way corporate America is now, it’s so much more acceptable. My beard symbolizes confidence, and I’m truly happy with where I’m at in my life.”
Taking the initiative to shift gears early on in his career, Pirrotta’s has proven that following your gut instinct can really be the key to happiness. For those that might be in a similar spot, follow Pirrotta’s advice, “It’s ok to be a little naïve and trust people—that will always translate into great learning experiences and ideas. My success happened by accident—but the best things in life tend to happen that way. Ultimately, you just have to love what you do everyday. I’m the happiest person on the planet because I love what I do.” As humble as Pirrotta is, he left out one key ingredient in which he’s shown indirectly—courage.