While Town Courier readers are familiar with many of the family-owned businesses nearby, most probably are missing out on one hiding right under their noses. Cuff-Daddy, a novelty cufflink company, has operated out of the home of its owners and creators, Mike and Jill Cayelli, since September 2003. From a traditional black onyx style to more individualized career motifs or iconic superhero symbols, Cuff-Daddy’s variety makes shopping for this accessory entertaining.
The Cayellis run their business solely from their Owens Glen Way home with the help of three employees who come in daily. However, Cuff-Daddy is not exactly a cottage industry: The company has over 20 manufacturers in the United States and all over the world.
Things can get kind of crazy around the holidays, when a full one-third of the company’s sales occur, Jill said. Since they work from home, the increased workload is a challenge for the family because, “It never really goes away.”
However, Jill said she and Mike are good at making themselves stop working at the end of the day. “Even [now] at the craziest time of year, we try to stop at 8 p.m.,” she said.
Cuff-Daddy came from humble beginnings. Mike Cayelli was an executive at Home Depot, but he “was an entrepreneur at heart,” Jill said. “[He] didn’t like the world of Corporate America.”
The couple said they were inspired to take the leap to start their own company after a cousin of Mike’s had done so and had found success in the venture. So, why cufflinks?
“We knew we wanted something small, easy to ship, and that wouldn’t take up [too much] space in inventory,” said Jill. “[Mike] literally had a lightbulb moment [and thought]: cufflinks!”
With that idea, along with just $500 and five styles for sale, Cuff-Daddy was born.
Cuff-Daddy now offers 2,000 styles, which vary in popularity from year to year. While the bull and bear styles are “always a hit,” Jill said, “this year [the most popular design] would have to be the fishing reels.”
One of the biggest challenges the Cayellis face is balancing their business with family time, which involves raising their two sons, ages 10 and 12. Jill said the boys even help out sometimes, especially at this time of year. Fortunately, for 10 months out of the year, the Cayellis only have to work during the day while their sons are at school. The business has also afforded them enough flexibility to do some family traveling, as well as to live in San Diego, Calif., during the summer.
During November and December, though, said Jill, “It’s tough not to be there [with the boys] … even though we are physically there.”
While Cuff-Daddy does not have a storefront (and has no plans to open one in the future), the Cayellis sell their products on their www.cuff-daddy.com website, as well as on Amazon in the United States, United Kingdom, Germany and France. Additionally, Cuff-Daddy cufflinks are sold on overstock.com, and the company has additional dedicated websites in Canada and the United Kingdom.
So out of all the cufflinks they sell, which ones are Mike Cayelli’s favorites?
“The most ironic thing of all is that since Mike works from home, he just wears jeans, and so he really has no need to wear cufflinks!” Jill said. “But should he ever need some, he can [just] run downstairs and pick some out.”