This month’s Family Matters focuses on a talented family that features both distributors and vendors. The Zezzos, led by American’s VP of Vendor Relations, Marketing & Events, Dana Zezzo, includes S&S Activewear National Account Rep, Megan Zezzo Taylor, American intern, Mollia Zezzo, and Marketing Manager for BamBams, Maria Zezzo. Read on to learn how they navigate their work and home relationships.
How long have you been in your current role?
Megan: 5 years!
Dana: 4 years!
Maria: With BamBams as a Marketing Manager for a few months, but I interned with American in the past.
Mollia: 4 years interning with American, 1 year with Public Relations and 3 with Vendor Relations and the warehouse.
Do you work on many projects together?
Megan: Dana and I worked at Jetline for 4 years together. He was my direct report, so we worked on lots of things together.
Maria: We always worked on things together for friends and family and things in the community. They always came to our family for promotional things and that’s what we were known as.
Mollia: Dad was known as the “promo guy” so people came to us for promo items. I also own a Christian apparel company and his role in that is finding the resources we need, while Megan points me to the product. Maria helps me design and I run it. It’s a really a team effort.
Mollia, where did the idea for your company, Follow the Sun, come to be?
Mollia: I had the idea 3 years ago and I wanted to bring all the family in. I thought, I could use dad’s network and Megan’s company for the products; pulling in everyone’s talents is how we got it started. Having the promo industry right at your fingertips, it’s hard not to jump in it as well.
Maria: It’s just second nature. We can think about what is going to come up and then think of how it can be used for her company or how she can grow and improve.
Megan: It’s more fun for us than anything to help her brainstorm. I can see what works and what doesn’t in the industry.
Dana: I would say, in passing, when she has an idea, we all start brainstorming. It doesn’t take presidents necessarily, but it comes in these nuggets that we can then find a way to connect everyone over a meal or even a trip.
What’s the hardest part about working with your parent/sibling?
Megan: We work together indirectly honestly because Dad is Maria and I’s client. He can be a bit more transparent than normal like requesting something or telling us how he feels about a product.
Dana: I don’t think there’s anything negative. I meet so many people who are not in tune with what their kids do for a living or what they’re working on. To me, it’s so fun to have that commonality with the family and have that thing to always talk about. I love sharing what I’ve learned and passing down the knowledge. I’ve worked really hard through my career and to know that I didn’t just do that for nothing is nice.
Maria: It’s just 24/7 and we never shut it off. It’s always on our mind. Every time we’re together, somehow, it comes up. “How did this order turn out?” and that turns in to a 10 minute or 2-hour conversation.
Mollia: Because it’s something that interweaves all of us together. Knowing the same people and going to the same events, it’s easy to forget to talk about something other than the promotional world.
What’s the easiest part about working with your sibling/parent?
Megan: We can be honest and open about how things are going and we’re pretty vocal about our likes and dislikes.
Mollia: We always know when we talk about situations, we can trust each other to keep it in the family.
Maria: This is a shocker to the world, but the three of us girls are a bit more introverted than our dad. Having Dad where he is in his career, we have people in the industry know who we are from the moment we were born. The conversations flow naturally, and we can lean on people we barely know because they’ve seen us on social media since we were in diapers!
Why do you recommend working with family?
Maria: There’s no competition and an unspoken truth that no matter what side of the industry you land on, supplier or distributor, there’s no bad blood and no hidden agendas. We just care about each other’s well-being.
Dana: Because it’s family! If Mollia had started her company a few years ago and didn’t have this family, she might have been negatively influenced by others and wouldn’t have made decisions in her best interest. But we’ve always had that trust factor that hasn’t been jaded by an agenda.
Megan: It keeps us very close and it keeps us communicating every single day.
Mollia: It’s so crazy when we tell other people, “I’m going to a conference, but my entire family is going to be there”. We don’t go on big vacations every year, but we go to all the work events together instead.
Megan: Maria and I have an advantage because Dad has been in the industry for so long and we were able to go to him before we interviewed. He really helped prep us for the role and asked us the right questions to get us started in the industry.
To learn more about American Solutions for Business, visit http://www.americanbus.com.
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