One of the great things about working with local businesses is getting the opportunity to learn about the interesting stories of their origin. In the case of the American Small Business, a vital institution that is cherished by so many, it isn’t uncommon for such a story to be every bit as much of a personal tale of the Founder, how he or she arrived here, and even what they had to go through in order to win! Irene Vaksberg first became aware of her natural talent for hairdressing at the young age of 16, and at the age of just 18 she moved to Los Angeles to pursue her dream of owning a salon. Now, 36-years later, Irene is still doing what she loves, where clients are still receiving her personal touch. Sounds like your standard, celebrated “started hot, and never looked back” type of business success story, right? Well, it’s much more compelling than that.
There were early challenges, such as raising a daughter as a single mother while starting her business. There were twists and turns - and even collisions - such as the automobile accident that left her in chronic pain, with sympathetic nerve damage, anxiety and depression. And there was triumph over adversity, because just like so many great success stories, it is in the face of such a serious challenge that a person like Irene chooses not buckle...and this resolve ends-up separating her from her competition. “Hair has always been my passion, and I love what I do. Hair is who we are, and how we feel about ourselves,” says Irene. “But when I found myself in pain, and doubt, and with the need of rebuilding my business after the accident, I wasn’t sure I would be able to do it.”
It was at this point that a friend of hers introduced her to wearable neuro-technology (affiliate link) and products engineered to create homeostasis in the brain, which not only relieved her pain and empowered her to rebuild her business, but it gave her the idea to make this transformative technology a part of her business. That’s correct, you can Vaksberg Salon to demo the products for yourself. “So now, I have two passions,” Irene continues. “Beauty, and Neurotechnology!”
So you see, she’s not just accomplished, warm, genuine, and hands-on with her Clients. Irene Vaksberg is also quite funny. However, a closer look inside her little quip above reveals the most interesting part of the Vaksberg Salon Story, her story, and, yes, this story: The challenges inherent to being a young, single mother building a business for yourself and your child (“and grandchildren,” she made certain to add) are one thing. But the trial brought into one’s life by a serious, nearly catastrophic accident, combined with the tribulations of an elongated recovery (before she found the neuro-technology products, she trembled, visibly), are another altogether.
Such experiences have ever-been touted as the fertile soil that grows tremendous character, and tremendous gratitude.
Sharing time with Irene Vaksberg is an exercise in seeing - with crystal clarity - just exactly how grateful she is; to still be here; to have a healthy body and business; for the friends and family who were there when she needed them; for her business partners; for her faith, which was tested by this life; and most of all, for her Customers and Clients. One is left believing that the reason the people keep coming back to Vaksberg Salon in Mid-City, is because they leave with a sense of Gratitude within themselves. We certainly did.
By Patrick Pitre
One of the great things about working with local businesses in Greater Los Angeles, is having the opportunity to learn about the compelling stories of their origin. In the case of the American Small Business, a vital institution that is cherished by so many, it isn’t uncommon for such a story to be every bit as much of a personal tale of the founder, how he or she arrived here, and even what they had to go through in order to become the success they are today. For Jeff Haas, Founder & President of Haas Entertainment, the story is about passion; one that began with a love for hi-fidelity audio as a teenager: Jeff set-up shop in his mother’s garage in Ladera Heights, California, installing high-end car stereo systems. The year was 1978, and years of success would follow. Yet even the multiplying business activities and responsibilities associated with the growth of an already thriving company, were no distraction from the changes Jeff was observing in the global electronics marketplace. Like the wise entrepreneurs of his time, and before, Jeff looked at his core competencies as a company, and identified keen alignments with a Home Theater marketplace poised for booming growth.
“I started-out because of my love of cars and audio,” he says with a nostalgic warmth. “Over the years, expanding into new areas of business has been a simple matter of staying connected and educated on industry trends,” he continues. “So, Car Stereos grew into Audio/Visual Systems for friends that owned restaurants, and then to integrated, high-end Theater Systems to upscale homes.” Indeed, Haas Entertainment counts among their loyal customers an elite, Hollywood clientele, The types of folks who require signed non-disclosure agreements prior to an installation. “With such an audience, you can imagine how we responsively expanded into Light & Shading Technologies, and even Automation within the Smart Home space,” Mr. Haas continues. “Heck, Automation is becoming even bigger than Home Theater these days,” he concludes.
Sales Executive Chris Quilisch-Rock provides additional insight into how Haas Entertainment’s close relationships with their clientele lead to the addition of new technology-offerings: “Some of my favorite clients are the celebrities,” he states. “I mean, we go into their homes, and they’ll have an armed security force and what have-you, and we’ll set-up surveillance cameras that tie-into Artificial Intelligence to provide data analytics, and even facial recognition software of who visits.” That isn’t to say that Jeff, Chris and the team ever lose sight of the original passion, that put them on the map: Audio. Chris continues: “We have a hip-hop artist client who’s extremely successful and popular. We’re doing his home audio system, and he loves what we’re doing, and how the system performs, and the way it sounds…and this is a guy whose business is professional entertainment!”
Garnering rave reviews and attaining the highest levels of trust from customers who might spend, say $100,000 on a Home Theater System isn’t easy, however. So how do they do it?
The answer to that question, is possibly the most compelling and impressive thing about Haas Entertainment: Through a genuinely progressive company culture that promotes high levels of collaboration, transparency, and visibility among all members of the team; so that all are intimately familiar with customer and project requirements. “Every talented person here needs to be able to understand what everyone else is doing, and why, at the very least,” Mr. Quilisch-Rock says, in closing. “That’s why you don’t see a formal title on my business card. None of us really have them, because we all have to be able to guarantee the highest levels of service and responsiveness to our clients, at all times. And we do this through a shared passion for expertise, and a shared commitment to our culture.”
Expertise. Collaboration. Commitment. Passion. Refreshing business values in our day and age. With any luck, it will one-day this writer who’s inviting them to my home. No NDA will be necessary, Jeff & Chris!
By Patrick Pitre
Swift Chip: Optimizing Managed IT Services, Cybersecurity, Technology & Computers to help Los Angeles Companies Grow Their Profits
“Anyone talking to Business Owners these days knows how prevalent Data Security is in the discussions they’re having.” Michael Paul, Chief Operations Officer of Swift Chip wastes no time in getting started. “‘How do I protect my Data - and our Client Data - in today’s environment?’ is the question they’re asking us,” Mr. Paul continues. “Our team has the answers.”
Cyber Security is just one emerging business area for this Culver City-based Technology Consulting & Services company...but it’s the newest, and it has already become critical to their clients. “One of my partners is a ‘Certified Ethical Hacker’ who brings great expertise in assessing vulnerabilities within the customer technology ecosphere...which is something we already manage for over 400 companies in Los Angeles and Ventura counties right now,” Mr. Paul adds. “We see nothing but more continued, steady growth of client needs in this area over the next 5-10 years, and we are proud to be in a position to be responsive to that call. “Cyber-Security is a natural and powerful extension of the core technology deliverables Swift Chip has developed and deployed for over 10-years now.”
Those core deliverables have been: Managed IT Services, Voice-Over-Internet-Protocol (VOIP) Services, Telecom Services, Computer Services and Cloud Services. “Our tagline - ‘We take the SH out of IT’ - is still supremely relevant,” Mr. Paul says with a chuckle. Swift Chip’s clientele includes Law Firms, Wealth Management Firms, Entertainment Companies, and even Technology Companies (many of whom outsource all of their daily and weekly IT requirements) to Mr. Paul and his Team. “We’ve got over 50-years of combined experience consulting and advising on all of our customers technology needs; from Customer Record Management (CRM) Software Selection & Implementation, to Website Design and Search Engine Optimization (SEO); from Cloud Based Data Storage & Management Solutions; to Computers, Servers and Hardware...and more,” he continues. “Take for example, the case of local companies who tell us that their aging technology infrastructure is a reliability-concern, or that they’re planning to move to a new office location in the near future. Some of them may want to take this opportunity to start-over from scratch.”
And when your Managed IT Services & Technology Consulting company has successfully provided service and solutions to more than 1,000 companies in Los Angeles and Ventura counties over the last decade, you’ve got the knowledge-base and proficiencies to commence high, mid-level and even lower level technology consulting engagements to solve almost every imaginable tech problem.
Closing this discussion with the same authority and pace with which it began...may not have been Michael Paul’s intent at the onset of this interview...but it’s exactly what happened in the company of this writer when he delivered the gist of Swift Chip’s value to the LA technology marketplace. “We approach our clients focused on one central mission: To help them leverage their existing technology investments, while adding new technologies where necessary, so that their optimized environment will be a multiplier of the things they’re doing well today. The things that are challenges or vulnerabilities reveal themselves through our engagement.
And if we are allowed to help , they’ll grow their business...and their profits.”
Visit Swiftchip online:
One of the great things about working with local businesses is getting the opportunity to learn about the interesting stories of their origin. In the case of the American Small Business, a vital institution that is cherished by so many, it isn’t uncommon for such a story to be every bit as much of a profile of the owner and/or founder who is making their-own way to be the most competitive in the marketplace. In the case of this profile, Malene Blaedel’s expertise in the Marketing specialty of Content Strategy & Copywriting is paralleled only by her passion for people, and for genuinely connecting with them.
“What we do at Blaedel Studios, is help Brands tell their story and deliver their message; to the right people, at the right time. We utilize Marketing strategies to connect the dots between what you want to say and what your audience wants to hear.” A younger company, Blaedel Studios is already in high demand, and they have plans to be growing in staff in order to keep up with the needs of her growing clientele. Possibly the most compelling and impressive thing to note here, is Malene’s assertion that her European heritage (she’s Scandanavian) is one of the primary contributing factors. “In Scandinavia, there’s a very strong sense of order, and people stay in their roles,” Malene explains. “They’ll wait for the light to turn green, even if there’s nobody around! I think there’s an honest, diligent professionalism that I bring to Los Angeles - and the Marketing/Advertising world - which is a byproduct of my upbringing.”
As very few of us (who would read a piece like this) are rookies in the Advertising Agency or Digital Marketing space, we know that the only way Brand Owners and Managers are going to engage, consult and collaborate with on such a high level is if they believe-in the relationship they are creating. Sustained relationships are the key to Malene’s business strategy. Los Angeles is a city teeming with activity in this space, and this writer has heard claims of market-saturation more than once (which makes Blaedel Studios early-yet-sustained success on behalf of their Clients and their Brands, truly amazing), so there’s a barrier-to-entry to be dealt-with here. Smart business people understand that gaining traction from zero in highly collaborative relationships with their clients... is much less than optimal for business. ”I like to get to know my clients, and learn what they’re all about,” she states. “And I have also found that it’s a special bonus for me to work for people that I like!”
But building and retaining lasting clients takes more than even Malene’s dedication to her engagements. It takes something special. So what’s her secret recipe for success?
“I’m all about personality,” Malene says, smiling. “I think that Brands need to be brave and show their personality, without being afraid of not pleasing everyone.” In today’s nearly hypersensitive culture, such an attitude of support and brand-validation...sounds like a tonic.
This writer and interviewer can see why, at Blaedel Studios, the recipe is the right one.
They say that no publicity is bad publicity and in today’s marketplace of businesses attempting to get attention by any means necessary, we are seeing more and more companies willing to cross the line between marketing and bad taste in order to get a rise out of anyone who bears witness to their tactics. The most recent company to follow suit with this approach is apparently Twitter, raising concerns from both residents and city council members in Los Angeles and San Francisco alike in their recent move.
The Banksy style approach, used to spray paint their advertisements across various buildings, infrastructure and other such locations, have skirted the line from marketing into pure vandalism. With quotes taken from their platform, carefully re-created on public property and made to look as though they’ve been integrated in that location for a period of time, the idea itself needed to be called into question long before it was ever put into place. This not only sends an incorrect message when it comes to advertising but also as acceptable behavior for the billions of members who take part on their platform.
The biggest concern that this raises when looking at it from an outside perspective is the disparity in punishment that large-scale corporations such as Twitter face versus those of everyday citizens. Being slapped with a fine of a few thousand dollars can be detrimental to normal individuals who carry out the act of graffiti, yet when these approaches are carried out by large businesses, it’s barely beyond pocket change. This imbalance in approach makes it seem as though the only risk that these companies face is potential negative press, which is only served as a benefit over the last few years.
We are continually seeing companies of all types take bigger and larger risks in their advertising approaches, sometimes depending on a negative reaction in order to boost viewership and interaction between the companies and those who may not be engaged in their product. The level of punishment that companies face is relatively low, leading to a lack of true consequences for their actions. Ultimately, it’s an almost fruitless effort to even try and implement a deterrent in order to keep any type of fear in place when it comes to stepping over the boundaries of the legality in favor of visibility.
This not only affects individuals across the San Francisco and Los Angeles area when it comes to having their buildings defaced or having a criminal action carried out with no worry of consequence but also demonstrates a lack of care for our surroundings, by so brazenly defacing property for simple Internet points. We should make more of an effort to ensure that these guerrilla tactics are not only unsuccessful but also serve as a detriment to the companies who choose to bring this type of approach to their advertising, regardless of the impact it makes on individuals or the cities themselves.