Hometown entrepreneurs build phone repair empire
By Kyle Barnett - Nov 01, 2012
After recently opening the ninth retail location for their cell phone repair and accessory store iSupply, Luling-raised brothers Brandon and Mark Guillory are coming back home.
The brothers, as well as their business partner Charles Alley, are all Hahnville High School graduates, but only a few weeks ago they opened their first St. Charles Parish location in Boutte.
The Guillorys were both enrolled at the University of New Orleans, but dropped out once the business began to take off.
The first iSupply location began as a kiosk in the Lakeview Mall in Metairie that Mark started in 2009.
"It was just one little cart in the mall," Mark said. "I actually took my student loans from UNO to start my business and it just took off like a snowball effect and before I knew it we had six by Christmas time."
Since the core of their business focuses on repair and accessories sales for iPhone and Apple products, Mark said he tried to capture the sleek presentation of an Apple Store.
"I built all of my own displays and I kind of changed the way these little cases are sold. I’d always seen them in the mall in little racks, but I decided to do carts that looked and represented Apple a little bit better," Mark said. "You could see all the cases on black velvet under plexiglass, but you couldn’t touch any of them. You’d go ‘man I want that one’ and we’d go underneath and get the little bag out. It just looked way sleeker and cleaner. I didn’t like the way they were being sold before flea market style."
Coincidentally it was the flea market-type environment Mark was distancing himself from though he and Brandon got their start in sales by working in their mother’s stall at the French Market in New Orleans as kids in the early 90s.
They attribute their success today to those early years.
The two said they began their career in sales at a young age due to the divorce of their parents Pete and Emma Guillory.
"We’ve been working at flea markets since we were six or seven years old," Brandon said. "Our parents split up. She didn’t have anywhere to work, so she sold."
Mark said that his early years selling at the French Market were very formative.
"She used to have us on the weekend at the flea market," he said. "The flea market is a good place to learn."
Brandon said he really got into the process of salesmanship during those early years.
"I was there. I was really into the whole selling thing. I was hustling," Brandon said. "I remember Mom would just leave me there. I was 8 to 10 years old and I got good at it."
Brandon said unbeknownst to him, until recently, his mother’s early years at the French Market were difficult.
"I found a book of what she made," Brandon said. "That’s how I found out. We didn’t think of it at the time, but she was making like $20 a day average. This is like 1990-91."
Brandon said while he began his career in sales working for his mother she now manages two businesses that he owns outside of iSupply.
"Now she works for me," Brandon said. "I own a hair business and a jewelry business and she’s like my manager. It’s something I do on the side."
Although they are getting ready to celebrate the opening of their Boutte store, the brothers already have another store going up on the West Bank near the mall in Gretna. In addition, their younger sister has opened an iSupply location in Atlanta.
For the immediate future though the two are looking forward to holding the ‘grand opening’ for the Boutte store on Nov. 10.
"We’re going to have free food, music and then deals all day long," Brandon said.
The St. Charles Parish iSupply is located at 13174 Hwy. 90 in Boutte.
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