“The ability to bring to life someone’s vision, to make a concept a reality, that is what is most fulfilling. That’s why I do what I do”
– Ismail Guessous
It’s apparent when someone has a true passion for something. When they talk about it, you can hear it in their voice, see their face light up, their gestures are more animated, and you can’t help but be drawn towards their energy. This is exactly how I felt when I spoke to our agent Ismail Guessous about his recent projects with Concepts, an international footwear, street and skate culture retailer returning to its Boston roots.
Concepts is more of an art gallery than a regular store, showcasing limited-edition sneakers and clothing and exclusive collaborations with some of the biggest brands in streetwear. The entire idea behind the business is heavily influenced by the museum/gallery model, from brand-specific stores (such as Adidas x Concepts on Newbury Street) to the pieces chosen to go to retail. Stores are curated based on current collaborations, new releases, and anything Concepts feels fits its clientele. Not many retailers have this level of selection control, and it is partly what gives Concepts their edge and what makes them so highly respected among both the high street and high fashion crowd. It’s a genius business model, and welcomed proof that “fast-fashion” has not completely taken over.
Stemming from a long-term relationship between Ismail and Concepts’ CEO, the transition to business relationship was a seamless one, built on a mutual appreciation for the artistic process. The same care that defines Concepts’ business model is of the utmost importance to Ismail when it comes to finding the right space for a business client.
“Understanding the business [you are representing] is very important. Location is fundamental to a business’s success, so knowing the city and areas where the business will thrive is critical.”
It’s not just the location that is a key factor in a successful commercial real estate deal. As Ismail explains, “both the landlord and business have their own wants, needs, and expectations. It is the agent’s job to marry these differing perspectives and produce an efficacious relationship.”
The third fundamental piece of a fortuitous commercial real estate deal? The space itself. While location determines whether people walk through the front door, space determines whether or not they will stay. For Ismail, this is where the creative part of his job comes into play. He feels the greatest fulfillment when he is able to find a space that matches the vision of the client, when he plays a part in bringing an idea to life. “I did my research, visited other stores, learned the business, talked to the employees. Eventually I felt like I was part of their team because I had become so involved.”
So what advice does Ismail have for newer agents looking to expand their knowledge of real estate and explore the commercial side of the business?
“Jump in with both feet. Enjoy the challenges. The best way to learn is to be involved and have the experiences. Spend time shadowing someone who has done commercial real estate. Pay attention to the whole process, specifically the negotiations.”
Concepts is located at 73 Newbury Street and 350 Boylston Street (temporary location; flagship will be located on Newbury St), with stores in New York and Dubai, and is headquartered in Boston