WiH GLOBAL #StrongerTogether - Member Profiles
Position: Founder and Principal
Firm: Alternate Resources
City, Country: Hartsdale, New York, USA
City of Birth: New York, USA
Years Working Professionally: 40
Years Working in Hospitality: 30
1. Where did you grow up?
I was born in Brooklyn, NY and lived for six years close to both sets of my immigrant grandparents on a small “block” where we knew everyone in connected homes, stoops and porches. In first grade, my family moved to Oceanside, Long Island, NY to a new community of homes that all looked exactly the same, and the entire town was inhabited by young families moving out of New York City. To this day, all these families are considered my extended family.
2. Describe your current role and responsibilities?
Founder and Principal of a Boutique FF&E Purchasing Firm which is fully women owned and operated. Personally, I am responsible for growing our client and project portfolio and engaging on every project to assure we deliver best in class quality, service and excellence. We manage the seamless integration of thoughtful design with strategic sourcing and purchasing, along with cost saving initiatives.
3. How did you get into hospitality?
After working in Corporate America overseeing hundreds of branch location design and FF&E procurement and travelling nonstop, I was looking for a life change. With determination, commitment, knowledge and desire I founded Alternate Resources in 1991 to offer design services to different sectors. A mentor of mine hired me to renovate two flagged hotels, in an industry that looked very different back then. Hotels were mostly family owned and operated, and the interior design and procurement was often done by a family member. Brands didn’t have rigid specifications, and there was flexibility to create a unique look and feel. I spent a lot understand price points, manufacturing for the contract market, domestic versus global production and long-term durability/maintenance. The more I learned, the more I realized that design was only a part of the FF&E process and it was critical to understand how to execute a well thought out design with the right product at the right price. My experience in Corporate America truly came in handy because many of my clients became developers, REITS and financial investors who truly care about bottom line profitability and budget versus actual expenses.
4. What do you enjoy the most about being in hospitality?
Every space has a unique story, and the goal of the design team is to make the experiences unique, authentic and memorable. We help bring the design to life through innovative solutions, industry knowledge and networks of experts from manufacturers, suppliers and artists. Each project is different and allows for creative thinking and problem solving, inspired by the challenges to find the optimal solutions for successful outcomes.
5. What is the biggest challenge you overcame in your career?
Being a woman and starting your own business in your twenties while building a reputation and client base without outside funding nor debt was a huge challenge. Becoming a knowledgeable and effective client resource, learning how to market your company and land new work, all while becoming a parent and growing my family was scary. Failure was never an option but pushing myself towards onward and upward growth was critical and thirty years later I am really proud of what I built.
6. Who have been the strongest influences in your life?
I have to start with my maternal grandmother who long before her time owned and managed a used wholesale tire business. Before it was fashionable to be concerned with sustainability and corporate responsibility, she created markets and sales to reuse scrap rubber and tires and better the environment. Secondly, I grew up in a family of strong women and men who taught me self-confidence and the true belief that I could do anything I wanted to in life and there were no limits and no ceilings. Today I am influenced by creative design, innovative solutions and strategic thinking by many of the hospitality leaders and entrepreneurs like Ian Shrager, Mary Beth Cutshall, Gilda Perez-Alvarado – to name a few!
7. What advice would you give your younger self starting out in the industry?
Surround yourself with people who motivate you to do better without negativity and drama! Take risks! Never judge yourself by comparing to others! Shoot higher!
8. How do you motivate yourself or stay motivated?
I often give myself a pep talk and remind myself that positive energy and thoughts are what should remain at the forefront of my mind. I stay motivated by exercising each morning, eating well and staying organized and focused on deliverables for each day.
9. If your life were a book, what is the title of the chapter you’re in now?
Onward and Upward! Ambition, Commitment, Dedication and Passion started my career and propel me forward, but there are always new goals and new challenges to tackle. I am so passionate about hospitality because it is truly an entire industry focused on experiences and authentic spaces and adventures, whether that be in a hotel or farm to table restaurant or amenity spaces that attract new clients. Every new project is a new experience, and no two things are exactly the same!
10. What impact do you wish to have in the industry?
I greatly enjoy mentoring the younger generation and helping each individual to reach their greatest potential. I don’t believe that new college graduates have any idea what career paths and opportunities are out there. I have 40 years of experience in projects, solutions, diversity, tolerance and successful outcomes. I have a passion for strategic sourcing, especially domestically, and supporting diverse suppliers. I cherish the hospitality industry and the kindness and care prioritized for the guest experience. I hope to keep working on projects that are different and unique and helping others to know that there is a way to accomplish anything!