As part of my series about “companies and organizations making an important social impact, I had the pleasure of interviewing Joseph Scaretta. Joseph is an entrepreneur, C-level executive, innovator, brand builder and experiential retail strategist. His deep roots in experiential retail date back to his days at Sports Authority. Through creative niche services, Scaretta has become highly successful at growing brands from the ground up, starting with the first company he co-founded — Empire Facilities. As co-CEO and founder of CS Hudson, Scaretta drives and delivers the company’s strategic vision by developing cutting edge services and producing innovative programs that remain competitive and at the forefront of retail. As a strong proponent of corporate social responsibility (CSR), he envisioned and created Pop-Ups for Good — a CSR program driven by CS Hudson that creates immersive in-store experiences to bring to the limelight local nonprofit groups. As an expert in the industry, Scaretta has appeared on various media news outlets throughout the years and has contributed his expert insight to outlets including CNBC “Your Business”, Bloomberg and Fast Company. In addition to his ambitious career endeavors and genuine interest in giving back to his communities, Scaretta is a proud member of the International Council of Shopping Centers (ICSC) planning committee, the Retail Design Institute, ConnexFM and RFMA.
Thank you so much for doing this with us Joseph! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?
My early career path began with me working in retail chains, like Old Navy and Sports Authority. During that time, I found myself being most interested in learning about retail brands, products, and most importantly, customer experience — as this was an element that I was most passionate about.
After launching my first “from the ground up” retail activation — prior to what we now know as “experiential” campaigns — I was able to envision an infinite amount of opportunities I could explore within retail and outside of retail. Following the event, I made it a goal of mine to grow within Sports Authority as the youngest manager in the chain. However, after being told by my district manager that I was too young to move up, I knew I had to continue setting my goals elsewhere. Hearing that forced me out of my comfort zone and enabled me to pursue bigger and better things, never settling for a “no.”
For a short while, I moved on to work at a sports academy, one that I had partnered with during my experiential event, as head of public relations and marketing as they had the backing of a past pro and were looking for expansion. However, shortly after my arrival I realized the position turned out to be something it wasn’t. The job entailed working at the front desk and booking lessons, and I was hungry for so much more! I moved on quickly to join a small retail construction firm, where I met my eventual partner — Moses. We worked together for a short time over a few months, running projects, booking out service calls, racing to the office in the morning and being the last ones to leave at night.
Together, we saw a great opportunity in each other. With his background in restaurant and retail, in addition to being a master craftsman, along with my retail, customer centric and innovative , we knew there was so much we could accomplish. Moses and I have made great partners — always aligned on delivering legendary service, searching for innovative ways to reduce costs, expedite projects and deliver a high-quality product.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began leading your company?
Thankfully, my previous experiences in the retail industry have allowed me to bring great opportunities to the table for CS Hudson. One of the most interesting stories I can think of is how a dream came to be a reality.
Through established partnerships, I was able to leverage local ties to cultivate a dream of helping the community, bringing a retail pop-up model to life for a good cause. After assembling a great team of partners, I was able to bring a vision into fruition by orchestrating a whimsical toy shop experience for homeless children — an experience that had a Willy Wonka, golden ticket flare to it. It was certainly a special day for these vulnerable children.
This Pop-Ups for Good program,which CS Hudson launched in 2018, was an immersive retail experience for Long Island children in need during the holiday season. It was dubbed Live. Love. Laugh. this past December at Tanger Outlets Riverhead.
With multiple local “Pop-Ups for Good” scheduled in the coming months, CS Hudson tapped a growing national trend that shows that modern consumers are looking for experiences and customization of products to meet their in-store expectations. In fact, in 2016 pop-ups were already being valued at $50 billion in the USA.
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
We took over a site for a renovation in North Dakota, the first one in my career. The local general contractor picked up the keys at closing time, when the manager had already left and gone home. The general contractor then went home as well. This meant demolition never started as it was supposed to, and it pushed my project back almost two full days. I felt like I had failed so early in my career. That is when I started looking up to my project manager, who I was working for at the time, as a mentor. Through my mentor and my personal experience, I learned three key lessons:
- Don’t put off to tomorrow what you can do today
- Show others compassion and use each opportunity as a learning experience
- Keep a clear head and focus on the resolution. Isolate the issue and determine the resolution as best as you can. Doesn’t matter how you got there, it only matters how you resolve it.
Can you describe how you or your organization is making a significant social impact?
We developed an innovative program — Pop-Ups for Good — to provide a unique platform to leverage the company’s retail expertise, strategic partnerships and national reach to help support socially-charged initiatives in the communities we serve. Pop-Ups for Good marries the firm’s expertise in retail with the power of social good — allowing us to use today’s most current retail technology and practices to drive customer experience and awareness for each nonprofit.
Can you tell me a story about a particular individual who was impacted by your cause?
We were able to impact four groups of children — totaling more than 80 children — ranging from ages two-and-a-half years to eight years old. The children — who were from HELP Suffolk, a homeless housing facility — had a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to grab their favorite toys and enjoy a variety of interactive activities as a part of our experiential activation Live.Love.Laugh.
Are there three things the community/society/politicians can do help you address the root of the problem you are trying to solve?
Community — Foster awareness and action. Communities can help! Get to know the troubles of your neighbors and care through actions. All it takes is a small contribution by many to offer tremendous impact.
Society — Businesses have to look at the communities where they produce commerce, realize they have a duty to th communities they serve to give back. Realize the business is just as dependent on the community it serves for survival.
We have to not only take, but learn to give back.
How do you define “Leadership”? Can you explain what you mean or give an example?
To me, leadership means setting the standard, stepping in when your team needs you, and most importantly, helping your team rise. Provide your team opportunities for growth — both personally and professionally — and give them something to be passionate for.
What are your “5 things I wish someone told me when I first started” and why. Please share a story or example for each.
- Invest in management training. When I started, I had a very stringent mentality. I focused more on the process and less the outcome. Learning to manage different individuals is a very valuable skillset to have.
- Align yourself with a group of experienced mentors. We didn’t have really have any business mentors to help with setting up our business. I had this one mentor along the way that gave Moses and I an opportunity when we started our company. He believed in us because of our willingness to not accept the status quo and outwork anyone to deliver a quality product.
- Have a partner that is great and that brings different skillsets to the equation. Moses, my partner and co-founder in my current and past company, and I are similar in some areas and polar opposites in others. It allows each of us to offer a skillset we excel in, providing a balance in the work we create and produce.
- Drive a culture of being the best, not at the expense of breaking people down, but instead building them up. This helps to build the bedrock of a culture that will continue and support sustainable growth.
- Always find a way to give back no matter how much. Build an environment for your company to foster the ideals of giving back to your community. People respect and value an organization that cares.
You are a person of enormous influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
Every business should find a way through an in-kind partnership to support the communities it serves. We publicize the work we do as a way for other businesses to see the innovate ways we find to help those around us. Our work is not only to do good in our community, but to inspire good within our community.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
“Two roads diverged in a yellow wood
And sorry I could not travel both…
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.”
- Robert Frost
Everyone grows up having many different visions of their future from childhood straight through to adult life. I had many different visions of what my future looked like, from being a professional NHL player to the CEO of Sports Authority. Your life is a road map of decisions and experiences, use each to the best of your ability, learn from them and know some way you’ll get to where you are meant to be.
Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we tag them. 🙂
I would love to have a private breakfast/lunch with Mark Cuban for his ability to cut through a deal, maximize value and create strategic partnerships.
How can our readers follow you on social media?
This was very meaningful, thank you so much!