I Believe: Erin Reilly and Sterling Wilson

The who, what and wear of industry experts

Sterling Wilson

… I deliver my sunglasses at night. I once drove five hours through the night with a member of our sales team to deliver an order of sunglasses to the University of Connecticut at 6 a.m. on a Sunday. The sunglasses were for a student event that morning, and there were no carriers available to make such an early delivery. When we got to the school, the admissions officers were so happy. Of course, we just told them that we were couriers – they never knew we made the sunglasses for them. While it isn’t glamorous, I think this was one of my proudest moments because we delivered on time, went beyond “commercially reasonable” to satisfy our customer and the end-user had no idea!

… We must deliver unique value. Over the next five years, our industry will see increased competition from vertically integrated online distributors and overseas competitors. Companies selling commodity products will see their margins erode year by year and will be forced either to differentiate their offerings or cut costs in areas like customer service and product quality. We strive to deliver unique value by providing Pantone matching, full-color printing and retail packaging on every product in our line while delivering in less than 30 days.

… Being in business with a friend is about trust. Erin and I have known each other for most of our adult lives. We trust each other implicitly, and I am always sure she is acting in my best interest. Of course, stress at work can spill over into our personal lives. We’ve always found that taking time to just hang out and doing things unrelated to work is crucial for our friendship and working relationship.

… It’s important to celebrate every success. Just because a victory might be small, it doesn’t mean it isn’t important. We ring a bell and email the whole Pop! Promos team every time a sale is made. When we hit our sales goals for the month, we celebrate with an office party or happy hour. We might work hard, but we still enjoy every minute of it.

… Life is full of opportunities. “Say yes as often as possible” is the motto I live by. Every person you meet, idea you have and path you cross has the potential to change your life. Keeping an open mind helps you unlock more of that potential.

… Spearfishing is like snorkeling with a slingshot. I love to go spearfishing. When you’re underwater, it’s quiet, nature is all around you, and you feel weightless. It also teaches you discipline (I can hold my breath for five minutes) and is a fun way to keep fit.

Erin Reilly

… We are committed to exceptional service. Every time we make a decision as a business, we take a step back and say, “Will this be a positive change for our clients?” As such, we have invested heavily in building systems and hiring awesome team members who work every day to improve our client experience.

… Technology-related products are trending. Our custom Pantone-matched sunglasses have far and away been our most-popular product, as they are our flagship; however, it looks like our Pantone-matched touch-screen gloves are about to give the sunglasses a run for their money. We just launched our touch-screen gloves in August, and we have seen outrageous sales on the product.

… Building relationships takes time, but it pays off. Two years ago, we worked with a distributor who had a demanding client that needed 2,500 sunglasses in a pinch. The domestic guys couldn’t meet the design requirements, and all of the other overseas guys told her three months. We came through and delivered 2,500 pairs of polarized sunglasses and custom pouches in two weeks. A year later, she came back to us with a 150,000-piece order. We hit it out of the ballpark and are regularly receiving repeat orders. Moments like this remind us that doing well by your clients on every single order will serve you well in the end.

… A not-so-little birdie told me. The last book I read for pleasure was The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt. Loved the first 600 pages… the last 250 were a bit taxing.