Recently, we caught up with entrepreneur Aristotle Loumis. He spoke candidly about his journey, what’s next, and Marcus Lemonis. Check this out! [Q&A]
Catching up with Aristotle Loumis
Many exciting developments have occurred since we met up with Aristotle Loumis in 2016. Late last month, we caught up with the founder of Ellison Eyewear, who is now also president of the Marcus Lemonis Eyewear Group. We talked about his journey, and what’s next.
Maria A. Karamitsos: When did you start Ellison?
Aristotle Loumis: The seeds of the idea were planted in 2011, though we officially launched in 2014.
MAK: You’re proud of your Greek heritage. Everything you do relates to your culture and giving back to Greece. Why was it so important to create a company that could celebrate that?
AL: I grew up in Greek household, one of 8 kids raised by a single mother. I always had a sense of it, though I believe we Greek-Americans have a filtered image of what Greece and Greek culture are like.
When I was 18 I went to Greece for the first time, where I also met my father for the very first time. It was also the first time I dipped my toes in the sea and was introduced to the rich history. The experience had a huge impact on me. I found my culture, and in turn, found myself. All those missing pieces I had growing up fell into place; everything made sense. As an American, while everyone saw chaos and crisis in Greece, I saw opportunity. That’s the way we are bred here in U.S. I’d fallen in love with everything in Greece. At the time, I was studying dentistry. My father is an entrepreneur, and for the first time, I saw there was something else besides medicine, law, and engineering, that could be a meaningful career. I saw there was an opportunity to take something that was impactful and influential to me and do my part to cultivate and honor that –and do it in a way that has mass appeal. Ellison was inspired by Greece and the Greek lifestyle. We’re the first sunglasses manufacturer in Greece.
MAK: How did you meet Marcus Lemonis?
AL: In 2017, I got product into one of the Marcus Lemonis stores. We sold out in the first week! They ordered more, and I negotiated for a second store. Both stores sold out. We were then able to solidify a exclusive partnership and roll out to all 23 stores. With the Ellison brand seeing early success, The Lemonis Team took an interest in the actual business, and we began to explore what a long-term relationship with Marcus could look like. The loved my very authentic, raw, story. They asked, “What are you doing with the company?” I was candid, I explained to challenges that faced us, the competitive landscape, and that we would ultimately need a strategic investment to catapult it. After building a trusted relationship, the executive team said they were interested – but I had to apply to be on the show and share my story. I’m not afraid to tell it so I went for it, and I got in.
MAK: When did you go on ‘The Profit’?
AL: We started filming in November 2017 – for 8 months. It was one of the longest stretches on the show, because they wanted to challenge me and see how things would evolve. Only then could I meet Marcus to begin negotiations. I put my heart and my story out there.
MAK: The result?
AL: I ended up securing one of the larger deals with Marcus. Since then, I’ve become president of Marcus Lemonis Eyewear Group and a partner in the ML Fashion Group. I oversee my portfolio, including Ellison Eyewear. It’s a total of 18 companies, but my major focus is growing my own portfolio.
MAK: What’s Marcus Lemonis like?
AL: He’s the opposite of what you think. He, along with the rest of the executive team, have really taken me under his wing – like a big brother. He’s genuine, sincere about helping people and small businesses. He’s invested heavily on the financial return, but it goes deeper than that. We both connected on Greek fundamentals our pathos, (passion), filotimo (philanthropy) — which was something that initially appealed to me about having him as a partner. Sure, he’s tough, but if you do right by him and give your best effort, he will take care of you.
MAK: What’s next?
AL: We launched June 26, 2018 and sold out in two days. Our Fall/Winter collection will be out next week. It’s the first with the new group – and all made in Greece. Next up are some new categories of eyewear, made for specific groups, and opening up Ellison branded flagship stores — we have 3 flagships stores currently in the pipeline.
I’m learning a lot from Marcus, and the ML Fashion Group. I greatly admire how he supports women and minorities in business and helps entrepreneurs. I want to carry that torch and foster the growth of the next generation of entrepreneurs.
Connect with Marcus Lemonis Eyewear Group: Instagram
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