The newest DLE member, Mike Dell’Aquila, is a gifted storyteller. Armed with bachelors’ and masters’ degrees in English from Penn State University and Brooklyn College respectively, he built a stellar career as a copywriter, developing a brand voice for retail giants Macy’s and Brooks Brothers.
Without moving from his Brooklyn homebase, he stepped up to a senior position as creative director at Recyclebank, where he developed a sparkling, innovative campaign to reward clients for reducing waste and advocating sustainability through recycling and curbside organics collection. “Everyone can make significant contributions if we all stop and think about the materials we use every day and their inception,” he reflects.
Today, he’s wearing two career caps–but from a new geography. COVID sparked a re-evaluation of his New York City address and personal values. Mike and his wife Sarah decided to make a major life change. “We can live without going out all the time, and that helped us start thinking about what else could be true right now if we started thinking about changing our lifestyles,” he admits.
They relocated to the Berkshires and took on dual careers. By day, Mike is a product manager for Recycle Track Systems. During the evening, he and Sarah are launching their first business–a craft brewery in downtown Pittsfield, MA.
Mike says a common thread in his professional journey has been placing himself in situations of immense pressure and challenge to give his best output. “In some ways I feel like I am at my best when I have resource, time and energy constraints. I tend to seek out discomfort to find success. This has inspired me in my entrepreneurial trajectory,” he admits.
Brewing has been an engrained practice in Mike’s life for more than seven years. It was time to serve up on that passion. The couple developed a business plan, with Mike taking on the product manager role and Sarah the operations end. Mike readily admits that Sarah is the better brewer.
As he dons the new title of entrepreneur, Mike shares that “the scary part is obviously that you’re on the hook for going out and making your own money and you’re on the hook for running your own business. But to me, the exciting part is that my wife and I get to make the final call.”
The couple’s dream is that the brewery can be a physical experience and community-first endeavor. He strongly believes that the Berkshires is a perfect home. “This is a community that cares and supports businesses. There’s a support network that I haven’t found anywhere else.”
Mike’s business–Hot Plate Brewing Company–is six months away from a formal opening in the storefront that he’s secured in Pittsfield (MA)’s downtown business district. In the meantime, he’s excited to join the DLE community to gain new local connections. He’s also inspired to share his knowledge of brewing and help others.
“We were fortunate enough to learn about the art and science of brewing from John LaPolla, co-owner of the award-winning homebrew shop Bitter & Esters in Brooklyn,” he explains. “And we are passionate about imparting that same knowledge to our future customers and all community members to help them gain more knowledge of and appreciation for the tradition and craft of brewing beer. We want to do this both in our everyday interactions and, more importantly, by organizing special events focused around education, networking and strengthening our connection to the community here in the Berkshires.”
Mike’s journey and development through the difficult pandemic times are motivating and encouraging. He is a model of the wonderful things that can happen when someone pushes themselves out of their comfort zone and constantly chases that gut-feeling.
DLE welcomes Mike and wishes him the best with his new business–which, in small-world fashion, is located a block away from the DLE office!