Bernadette Castro, the CEO of Castro Convertibles — as in sofas, not cars — has been at the center of her family’s furniture company since she was four years old and starred in the brand’s television commercials. The commercials, which ran over 40,000 times and earned the young Bernadette a slot on the Johnny Carson show, catapulted her father’s innovative convertible couch to national fame by illustrating how they were “So easy to open, even a child can do it!”
While Castro sold the furniture division of the company in 1993, she remained active in the family’s commercial real estate business with properties along the East Coast and in politics. (She ran for the U.S. Senate for New York in 1994 against four-term Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan.) In 2010 she and her family bought back Castro Convertibles and relaunched the brand with the introduction of the Castro Convertible Ottoman, which folds out into a single bed. She has four children, eight grandchildren and lives in Lloyd Harbor, NY.
ARCHETYPEME: What’s your leadership style?
BERNADETTE CASTRO: I always like to use a team analogy. Sometimes I really do feel like a coach trying to bring out the best in all of the players. I like to think of myself as “detail-oriented” rather than micro-managing, but sometimes it’s hard to tell the difference. I work hard and really expect the team to do so as well, and I’m convinced that my sense of humor, and the ability to laugh out loud about myself, helps all of us through tense moments.
Whom do you read for inspiration?
My father, Bernard Castro, known lovingly now as G1 — generation one of our family business — was a disciple of Dr. Norman Vincent Peale, the author of The Power of Positive Thinking and lots of other books. I read and reread a lot Dr. Peale’s work. Power of the Plus Factor is a family favorite as my dad’s story is included. My daughter, Terri Keogh, the eldest of G3 — that’s right, generation three — sends me great stuff from Seth Godin’s blog almost daily.
What inspires you in the office?
Nothing is more inspirational than when ideas are working and your products are selling. Our product could be a vacant piece of real estate waiting for the right tenant, or it could be hundreds of Castro Convertible ottomans getting scooped up on HSN.
What’s the best thing about your job?
I work in a family business. It’s not about me and it’s not even only about my four children, G3, but I have twelve G4s! My parents started with nothing and handed over an outstanding consumer brand, Castro Convertibles, as well as some great real estate assets. My goal is to help grow both.
If you could do anything else, what would it be?
I’d love to have a syndicated radio show, which would lead to writing that book I want to write, which would probably lead to speeches… each of which would have a little inspiration hidden within.