Mary Ellen Putignano

New York, New York, US

President, Surface, LLC
Mary Ellen's Skills
Business Development
Product Management

Startup Experience

Founded 2+ startups

About Mary Ellen

Multitalented designer and strategist specialized in overall vision, creation, design and development of innovative, content-driven retail lifestyle brand concepts - from initial concept and strategic positioning to brand identity, product design, development, packaging, marketing, merchandising and display. Intuitive with deep multidisciplinary retail design expertise, a diverse breadth of knowledge, and extensive resources and connections. Passionate, proficient at identifying and bridging together cultural influences to innovate and create new experiences/paradigms that are culturally relevant and seamless.


To create beautifully designed, well-made, mindful products, and experiences that inspire. - Mary Ellen Putignano

Work Experience

Founder / Principle

Surface LLC

January 2005 - January 2017

Multidisciplinary product & brand development collaborative specializing in retail home and lifestyle brand creation, revitalization and brand experience. Established Design Collaborative. A curated network of design talent assisting some of the top home brands, high profile architects and interior designers including Crate&Barrel, CB2, West Elm, Conrans, Habitat, Knoll, Waterworks and C. Wonder. Currently designing product collection for a major New York City art museum design store. Oversee business operations, bids, presentations, project/client management. Conceive new brand concepts. Initiate, design, develop and launch extensive body of proprietary IP work containing innovative multi-channel marketing strategies and positioning for new retail brand concepts including - one of which I launched in 2012 called Affina.

Founder / Principle


January 2012 - Today

Eco-friendly, retail lifestyle brand based on philosophy for living in closer affinity with nature. Conceived and launched new retail paradigm for LOHAS consumer and home, hospitality, spa markets. Established, implement brand positioning, business plan, marketing strategy/ iniatives and strategic alliances. Target prospective investors. Oversee all visual consumer touch-points including: branding, promotion, product design, development, merchandising, packaging, ecommerce, digital media. Design, develop, curate content and marketing-driven product stories - over 500 skus across multiple product categories. Ethically source manufacturers, certified eco-friendly materials, and new techniques. Manage operations, retail/wholesale sales, order fulfillment, procurement, importing, vendor relations/ compliance, product testing/certification, legal/IP, state/federal regulations, outside sales reps, contracted services and warehouse. Establish pricing, set margins for multi-sales channels.

Design Manager


January 1991 - December 2004

Home Furnishings Retailer. Private subsidiary of Otto (Gmbh & Co KG), a $16b company and 2nd online retailer after Amazon. Established design department along with VP Creative Director, Alessandro Franchini. Instrumental in building highly successful Crate&Barrel, CB2 graphic brands.


Syracuse Univerity


1980 - 1982