Brett Conti left his unfulfilling finance job and started a skateboard empire

Edna B. Shearer

When Brett Conti started his internship at a finance firm, he knew almost immediately that this was not the career path he wanted. 

“I didn’t just want to be a robot,” Conti told In The Know. “I wanted to do something much bigger.”

A big part of his life up to that point had been skateboarding, but he did it for fun and had no intention of turning that hobby into a full-time job.

But when he was injured and had to take a break for six months, he turned to another creative passion of his: Clothing. Bored and feeling stuck in his college dorm, he started making pocket t-shirts and hats with his grandmother’s sewing machine.

Conti’s grandfather owned a textile company and Conti grew up learning about different fabrics and the fundamentals of creating clothes. Again, this was another interest of his that he never planned on turning into something more significant — until one night, when he was looking at the homeless people hiding from the cold on subway platforms, he realized how he could mesh his talents with his desire to help others.

“I started a fundraiser where every beanie bought for $20, 100 percent of that money would go to helping the homeless,” Conti said. “We literally raised about $2,000 in five days, and we went to downtown Manhattan and were putting homeless people in hostels and homeless shelters. To start off the company like that really motivated me to keep that going with giving back to the less fortunate.”

That’s where Conti came up with his brand name, Fortune. Now the brand is featured in more than 150 stores in eight different countries. According to Conti, a dollar from every purchase goes towards the less fortunate. 

“Having that really motivates me. [It] gets me out of the bed in the morning to grow this thing even bigger.”

Conti eventually added skateboards into Fortune’s wheelhouse and started a YouTube channel so fans could follow his journey — both as a skateboarder and a business founder. 

He’s come a long way from interning at a company he hated.

“That’s what keeps me motivated is knowing that I’m giving value to people or the inspiration for them to believe in themselves,” Conti said. “And that’s something that I wish I had when I was going forward because I never knew if I was going to turn this into a successful career.”

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