As the first son to join a successful family business, one might think Sebastian Garcia has had an easy ride. One would be wrong.
The son of Sartori Amici founder Charlie Garcia, Sebastian joined his father’s retail business as a teenager, but soon found that his father’s work ethic and own backstory (more on that later) made him tougher on his son than anyone else. “I was the son who had to work harder than everyone, stay longer and get there earlier,” says Sebastian. “He wanted me to learn the value of a dollar and I, as his son, wanted to make him proud.”
Thankfully, Sebastian inherited his father’s entrepreneurial spirit, eventually expanding the high-end men’s store into the bridal-party-focused My Groom’s Room and landing a coveted spot on Shark Tank with his innovative The Lapel Project, which turns any suit into a tuxedo via customized attachable lapels. But it wasn’t always in the cards. After graduating from The University of Florida, Sebastian turned his focus to service, joining the Peace Corps and committing to 27 months away from his close-knit family. When a medical emergency sidelined him just before his journey he rejoined Sartori Amici and the rest has been… well, history.
“I started working with my father and in doing that I became successful, I grew the business,” he says. “I saw two really bad options for grooms—buying an expensive tuxedo or renting one that was ill fitting. That led to My Groom’s Room.” The idea for The Lapel Project came soon after. “Working with my father every day and getting to understand the industry helped me follow through. You have to work hard to make it happen but sometimes you have to have faith and just go for it.”
Born in Cuba and brought to Miami as a child via Operation Pedro Pan, Charlie eventually took a job in sales before opening his own store with his brother on the Gables’ Miracle Mile. They opened Sartori Amici at International Mall more than 30 years ago, expanding to a second location at The Falls in 2015. “Different generations see different ways to grow,” says Sebastian. “Now with social media and other platforms, I am able to grow our business in new ways. My father gave me the tools, but now I am able to utilize platforms that he didn’t have in his day. We’re working in the same store and toward the same goals, but we bring different perspectives.” Sebastian also credits his father with giving him some of his greatest lessons in life—and business—including the value of his word. “When I tell clients I will come through, I need to come through for them,” he says. “That’s one thing he taught me that I cherish and understand as I get older.”
Today, Sebastian’s works alongside not only his father but his brother as well. “My brother, Charlie, has also been crucial in our expansion, it’s truly a trifecta of effort,” says Sebastian, who also has two sisters and one brother not in the family business. He says working alongside family, though rewarding, can be challenging. “When you get an argument with an employee you can move on and brush it off,” he says. “With family you take it home with you because it’s a lot more emotional.” But even so, he says, it’s important to remember why the opportunity is there in the first place. “Respect and patience are key,” says Sebastian of navigating a family business. “Respect for what they’ve done before you. They took the initial risk and leap of faith to give you the platform to create what you’re creating. You also need patience see things through [the older generations’] lens. Your vision adapts to understand their perspective. Don’t let anyone limit your vision, but always remember, and have patience, that your time will come.”
Sartori Amici is located in The Falls Mall at 8888 SW 136th St, Miami, Miami, FL 33176. Visit sartoriamici.com or call (305) 964-5073, for more information.
Photography by: thepicturecottage.com