Fairfield Now - Summer 2009
Class of '07 profile
Johnny Vaccaro: Molto Bene!
By Carolyn Arnold
A passion for good food and the desire to become a successful entrepreneur has led Johnny Vaccaro '07 to create not one but two businesses since graduating from Fairfield. The tremendous dedication required to launch these endeavors doesn't bother him at all. "Your business is like your baby. It's not like you're working, it's like you're growing something that is a part of you," he said.
A marketing major with a minor in communication, Vaccaro hit the ground running with a full-time job at Time Inc. in Stamford, Conn. Then, in January 2008, he launched Urth Organics, which provides certified organic almonds, cashews, and walnuts to 'mom and pop' grocery stores in Rhode Island, New Hampshire, New York, and Pennsylvania.
Vaccaro's enthusiasm for healthy foods is part of the reason he offered Urth as an option in the market. The specialty almonds, which he imports from Sicily, are full of antioxidants and offer a healthier nut to consumers, he said.
On the sweeter side of Vaccaro's business pursuits is Dolci Di Casa, where made-to-order classic Italian desserts are delivered right to the customer's door. Dolci, launched in February 2009, distributes to the Westchester, N.Y. and Fairfield, Conn. areas. The idea for this endeavor came about almost on a whim. Vaccaro suggested to his mother - a woman known for her cooking and baking skills - that they sell her specialties. "Pretty much anything my mom does in the kitchen is amazing," Vaccaro said. In a very short amount of time a website was created, and just an hour later, they had their first order.
Vaccaro always wanted to go into business for himself. "It's exciting to try new things, and little ideas can turn into big ideas," Vaccaro said, "When I saw others developing their own businesses, I thought, 'this could be me.'" Many members of Vaccaro's family, including his brother and father, have started their own companies, and Vaccaro is happily continuing the tradition.
The benefits of managing your own business are great, Vaccaro admits, but he also recognizes the need to be disciplined. "A typical day for me includes going to my full-time job and working on different aspects of my companies before and after work." He spends his vacations and weekends growing the businesses by visiting food shows and building his networks.
Vaccaro recently spoke to students in Dr. Catherine Giapponi's business management class at Fairfield on the challenges and benefits of entrepreneurship. "In strategy classes we like to study small businesses and how they grow," Dr. Giapponi, professor of management, said. "It's great to have someone, particularly an alumnus, talk to students about starting a business. Johnny is a great young man and has a great leadership quality in him."
Vaccaro said that the rewards of running your own business outweigh the challenges, and the challenges only make him work harder. "I've always been interested in strategy and been a natural go-getter," he explained. "Owning a business is not for everyone, of course, but the skills you learn can benefit you with anything you pursue in the future. The day that you get your first order is a dream come true ... and repeat customers are the best!"