“Getting its start in the historic South End of Boston, SAULT New England was founded by Philip Saul in 2011 with the goal of celebrating the diverse and ever-evolving history of men’s fashion in New England. Starting from the belief that every man should feel comfortable with who they are, in what they wear, and never take themselves too seriously, SAULT New England provides traditional staples for every man’s wardrobe by mixing current trends and classic style. With curation of timeless apparel, necessary accessories, a gentlemen’s apothecary, and a collection of vintage goods, SAULT New England embodies that iconic feel of New England. So whether you’re located in the heart of New England or New England is just in your heart, take a look around and let us know what you think.”
Last month I had the pleasure of speaking with Philip Saul and learning a little about his business, SAULT New England. Portsmouth Atlantic Insurance has the privilege of writing the commercial policies for Philip’s New Hampshire business. As a small family owned and operated business, we thought it would be interesting for you to profile another family owned and operated business that is right in our backyard.
Opening your own business from scratch can be an intimidating process, but for those of you out there thinking about starting a business, we hope Philips business model will inspire you to “go for it”!
PAI: Walk me through the process that you went through when you decided to start your own business. What made you want to do this?
Philip: Before I opened SAULT, I had over 20 years in the retail business. I worked in the different levels of business operations for several different big box retail companies. I had always liked men’s fashion and after seeing the ‘behind the scenes’ work and the process of running a success retail store, I had an epiphany that I had what it took to do this on my own.
It was not an overnight realization though. I was nervous and afraid to go out on my own. I would be taking a big risk. I can remember talking to my dad, whose opinion I respect greatly, about my dream to go out on my own. He said to me that you don’t want to wake up years from now and say, “I should have done that.” “No regrets”, he told me- “Go for it!”
So, I came up with a business model/plan and I cashed out stock options that I had with previous employers and decided to invest in myself.
PAI: How were those initial few months /years when your business was first launched?
Philip: It actually wasn’t that bad. We opened our Boston location in September of 2011 at 577 Tremont Street. The first few months I reinvested any money we made back into the business. As the owner, I knew this is what I needed to do to make this a success. Within 4 to 5 months I was able to start paying myself. By 2015 we were able to open our second location in Portsmouth, NH, at 10 Market Square.
PAI: What, in your opinion, separates you from other businesses in your industry? What are your strengths? Where do you see SAULT 5 years from now?
Philip: When it comes to SAULT, I do everything- I mean, I am part of every aspect of the business CEO, Creative, Billing. I am very ‘hands-on’ about the process. I also have two managers that I trust and work very closely with.
I think the two key factors that contribute to our success are the store layout and the merchandise. I tell a story with the merchandise and the layout, every season it changes. For example, during the summertime it was a nautical theme and in the winter it was a cozy cabin type of feel. It fits where our stores are located. We are New England. Men’s fashion is a slower paced market than women’s fashion. It doesn’t turn over as quickly and demands quality staple items that will stand the test of time. SAULT offers quality staple wardrobe pieces that you will be able to wear for years to come. We stay on top of the changes in fabric trends, but hold true the classic items like jeans and button down shirts.
5 years from now I would love to see our DOT COM and digital market expand, while keeping our store locations small and personal. I enjoy connecting with the community that we are located in. I think that’s part of our strength as a business. Knowing your community, the other local businesses, working with them to increase the foot traffic in the area, being able to offer things that no one else has- these are all big parts of SAULT and what I hope to continue to do in the future while expanding. I’d also love to see a Portland, ME location and a 2nd Boston location!
PAI: Does your business give back to the community? In what ways are you able to?
Philip: We are still growing and hope to do more, but right now we donate to local baseball leagues by sponsoring teams. We also donated auction items from the store to Strawberry Banks, in Portsmouth, to help raise money for their preservation causes.
As I mentioned, we also love supporting the other local businesses in the neighborhoods where our stores are. We partner together in an effort to make our stores a destination, an attraction- a reason for people to come for the day. We want our customers to come, park their cars, walk around and stay for lunch. By supporting each other, we only make our businesses stronger.
PAI: Thank you so much for taking the time to answer these questions, we know how busy your day can be and we appreciate it!
Philip: Thank you! And ‘thank you to Jessica!’ As a business owner, I knew I needed specific insurance and Jessica took all the guess work out of it. She knows what she’s doing and does it very well!
For more information on Philip Saul and SAULT New England, check out their website: https://saultne.com/
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