By Bmorenews Staff
(BALTIMORE – August 4, 2016) – If you looked up the word entrepreneur in the dictionary, you would see a picture of Curlee Smittie, Jr. He is the best example of an entrepreneurial spirit. Curlee Smittie, Jr. is a man who has taken life by the horns and rode to success. He has started several businesses, including a fashion line and a restaurant. With a brilliant knack to finding underserved areas, Smittie has opened many doors for those in his community; brought culture to Baltimore, and now wants to use his immense knowledge to help other businesses maximize their potential.
Smittie started as an auto body mechanic. He then began to custom build cars and sold them via Ebay. Smittie’s love of cars led him to start Smittie Auto Brokers in 1998. This company would be the flagship of an empire he would later build. Based in Baltimore, Smittie Auto Brokers specialized in exotic cars. If you were looking for a Lamborghini or a Ferrari, Smittie Auto Brokers would help you achieve your dream vehicle. The firm catered to those in the upper echelons of society, whether they were CEOs or high-powered lawyers.
As his new business grew, Smittie began to expand. He opened branches of Smittie Auto Brokers in Miami, Los Angeles, and Houston. He did not stop there. As he successfully helped customers obtain their fondest desires, he too Smittie Auto Brokers into a new direction.
Smittie expanded by shipping cars to Nigeria, Russia and Dubai. Some areas did not have dealerships to purchase their Ferraris or their countries’ regulations added too much red tape, so Smittie saw an unfulfilled niche and began an import/export service. Smittie Auto Brokers became the auto concierge for customers who lived outside of the United States that wanted a certain vehicle but could not obtain it.
Smittie also opened Carz Unlimited with a partner in 2002. He and his partner had achieved success separately. In fact, his partner convinced him to begin Smittie Auto Brokers. Together they joined forces, and their achievements were now unlimited. Carz Unlimited was his gateway into automotive retail. With the new business, Smittie now had access to a car lot, and he could house vehicles and sell them like any other car dealership.
Smittie’s success in with Smittie Auto Brokers gave him the impetus to find other areas to excel. Learning of a dearth of construction sites that needed post-cleanup, he saw his next opportunity. He opened Contemporary Commercial Cleaning & Contracting in 2003. His new company’s specialty was in post-construction cleanup and commercial cleaning. Smittie made a name for himself with his blossoming empire. Contemporary Commercial Cleaning & Contracting went from a local business to nationwide. This success was noticed by a major cleaning company, who purchased it in 2007.
Rothchilds was a well-known and respected clothier. Its exquisite taste in clothing made it the best place to purchase fine clothing. Smittie was one of the store’s patrons. The clothes helped him to establish himself as a socialite. And being a connoisseur of the finer things, he wanted a way to give back through fashion. In 2006, the store was up for sale, and Smittie purchased it. The name was changed to Sculptures. Now with an opening in fashion, Smittie showed off his flair for designer clothes by selling high-end men’s apparel and accessories from such popular designers such as Hugo Boss, Gucci, Versace and Louis Vuitton. But this was just to get started. He later began selling his own line of men’s clothing and accessories for those who had exquisite tastes in style. At the height of Smittie’s success with Sculptures, the store was bringing in over $1,000,000 annually in sales.
Traveling the world led to Smittie experiencing new culture trends and cuisines. He wanted to create an atmosphere of style and sophistication. He opened Milan Restaurant & Lounge in 2009 so those in Baltimore could taste the best in Italian-Mediterranean cuisine without leaving their beloved city. The restaurant’s tag line was “Where Food Meets Fashion.” With the décor that was described as contemporary and eclectic, and the food, especially its Milan-inspired cocktails, made Milan Restaurant & Lounge a top destination for Baltimore’s trendiest crowd. The restaurant even won several awards. It was voted “Best Scene” by Baltimore Magazine. Milan Restaurant & Lounge was voted one of the “Top 25 Baltimore Restaurants by “Diners Choice”. And the restaurant won the Award for Best Late Night” award by Open Table.
With recommendations to try the dirty martini or the veggie meatball appetizers, not only was Milan Restaurant & Lounge a popular hotspot of the denizens of Baltimore, but several celebrities have sampled its fare. Star actors Vivica A. Fox and Kevin Hart; basketball legends Julius Erving, Michael Jordan and Lebron James; and supreme jazz songstress Sade visited the charming establishment. Gold medal-winning Olympian Michael Phelps so thoroughly enjoyed the cuisine and atmosphere of Milan Restaurant & Lounge, he became a frequent customer. All good things come to an end, however, and Milan closed its doors in 2012 after three years.
Smittie, through hard work and determination, acquired his Series 7 license in investing. The Series 7, also known as the general securities representative license, is a six-hour test that has been described as grueling. But if you want to sell stocks, bonds or any type of individual security, you must have this license. And to get it, you must pass the exam. After acquiring his license, Smittie grew his empire to include venture capital and consulting. He opened Blueprint Capital in 2012.
Smittie combined his vast knowledge of being an entrepreneur with his new Series 7 license to create financial blueprints for business owners to map out their goals. With its headquarters based in Pikesville, Maryland, he hoped to help new entrepreneurs with their companies by partnering them with banks and investors to achieve the type of financing to help their new businesses thrive. With headquarters based in Pikesville, Blueprint Capital also developed into other locations, including Miami, Baltimore, Houston, Los Angeles, Atlanta, New York and Las Vegas.
Continuing the trend of opening doors to businesses financially, Smittie’s Blueprint Capital has helped him partner with Gene Dru, an exceptional leader in the mortgage business, and Alex Guzman, a mortgage powerhouse, to create Cirqa Financial Group in 2014. Cirqa specializes in all types of financing, including real estate investments and commercial mortgages. Smittie’s latest venture helps individuals finance their businesses with unsecured business loans to help them meet their needs and obtain their goals.
Smittie has begun a new era in finance. But he has not abandoned his roots. When time allows, he will return to the automotive industry with new and innovative ideas that will help cement him as a major player.
The eldest of three, born to a single mom, Curlee Smittie, Jr. has worked tirelessly to build his empire from the ground up. Not only has he helped bring prestige to Baltimore and its surrounding areas, his community has benefitted from his work ethic. He helped raise his little brother and supported his sister through college. A beloved family man, Curlee Smittie, Jr. is also an active member of New Psalmist Baptist Church and a member of Pikesville Chamber of Commerce.
For more information or to contact Blueprint Capital, you can stop by 1829 Reisterstown Road, Suite 350, Pikesville, Maryland, 21208 or visit http://www.blueprintcapital.org/.
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