From Bags to Broadway

Linda Hollander, who now describes herself a serial entrepreneur, was

an artsy kid. She even majored in art at the University of California,

Los Angeles. So how did she get from art to a business in bags – the

kind you see at the mall or a trade show, with a design or name on the


Before she got into the business, she actually collected shopping bags

with designs she liked. One day when her mother was coming to visit,

she cleaned up a bit in preparation, putting all the accumulated mess

in the closet. While her mother was there, she happened to open the

closet door, and the bags fell out on her head.

And so did the idea for her business.

The Bag Ladies was not Hollander’s first venture, and she has learned

a lot along the way about what it means to be a woman entrepreneur.

Her latest business, which she started in 1998 and runs concurrently

with the bag business, is a firm called Wealthy Bag Lady Consulting.

It works with women who want to start a business or take a business to

the next level. To support her business, she has written a book, "Bags

to Riches: 7 Success Secrets for Women in Business," which went to

number one on the Amazon entrepreneurship list.

Much of what Hollander shares with her consulting clients she has

learned through her own entrepreneurial and life experiences:

Formal business training is not required. As a child who loved to draw

and paint, Hollander was always told she should become a professional

artist, and she certainly had no interest in business. It was at her

first job, at an art gallery, that she realized she enjoyed the sales

aspect, particularly the relationships she formed with her clients.

"No matter how much the piece was," she recalls, "I would say

something like, `It’s only $25,000, but it will appreciate, and you

will have something beautiful hanging on your wall.’" Her boss praised

her skill with customers, and she felt very fulfilled, but she learned

on the fly.

Market to a niche. On the boardwalk, Hollander learned to quickly

ascertain who her target customer was – girlfriend, wife, or child.

When she saw someone who fit, she would wave the colorful item,

inviting the person over. Then she would explain the benefits – that

the pieces would make great gifts or would be just the thing to hang

over a baby’s crib.

"I realized the importance of niche-ing a product," she says,

"speaking just to that customer, and not targeting everybody."

The Bag Ladies has remained a small business because Hollander and her

partner "want to keep control over quality." They have a building with

a showroom, office space, and printing facilities on site, and all of

their employees are women.

In the end, business has become Hollander’s art: "I really love

business," she says. "It is everything that art was to me – both

stimulating and creative – and I believe that the more creative you

are in business, the more successful you become." – Michele


On Broadway

How do you fit all of "Fiddler on the Roof" onto the back page of the

New York Times? How do you distill the star power of Bernadette Peters

to catch the eye and lure the heart of the New York pedestrian in a

half-second glimpse? These are the questions Gail Anderson and her

crew at SpotCo answer every day – often five at a time.

As creative director for theatrical advertising agency SpotCo

(, Anderson designs those artistic, eye-grabbing

full-page ads, billboards, and posters that advertise Broadway’s top


In romantic lore Broadway show art springs from inspiration scribbled

on a cocktail napkin, which dramatically transforms itself into a

poster. Anderson quickly adds that there is a lot more perspiration

and politicking behind the process.

She begins a project by attending a play reading, and meeting the

actors, director, and producers. If it’s a remake or has established

name stars involved, she checks past publicity. Then the labor begins

in earnest.

Countless drawings are made, adjusted, or scrapped. Contractual

factors, such as giving stars top billing, are all worked in. Usually,

within a couple of weeks, Anderson and one or two other designers have

bundled together one major with half a dozen other possibles, and are

ready for the presentation.

The prime art is placed on the easel and everyone involved comes in to

inspect and criticize. Producers, the director, writers, costume

designers, even actors and their publicists, have their say. "You’ve

got to have a pretty resilient ego to do this kind of work," Anderson


Anderson enjoys the heady interaction with Broadway’s best. And,

though her consumer is still her public, she has creative minds to

give her feedback on her work right away. "When a show’s a hit, you

actually feel like you were part of something big. We’re always

rooting for our shows. It’s very genuine." – Bart Jackson

Top Of PageThe Play’s the Thing, for Educating Lawyers

What started out as a second career in law allowed Anna Marie Thatcher

to return to her true love of the arts. She and her husband, Graham

Thatcher, have formed a partnership to write, produce, direct, and

perform full-length plays based on famous lawyers and

precedent-setting cases. These plays are used as teaching tools by

legal groups throughout the country (U.S. 1, August 29, 2007).

Periaktos Productions was formed in 1994 with a mission of helping

lawyers to become better lawyers by providing unique and innovative

CLE and public education programs about ethics, professionalism, and

social justice, and using professional theater productions as a

teaching tool.

The company’s name is derived from "periaktoid" – a three-sided scenic

unit used in the ancient Greek theater – to suggest its three primary

goals: Entertaining, educating, and enlightening. Each play at is

followed with handouts the production company provides, which contain

questions related to the play to get people talking. For example, at

NJ ICLE, Thatcher says, "materials cite some of the rules of

professional conduct that might be in question."

The production company now has a repertoire of five plays. In addition

to Clarence Darrow, the Thatchers have co-written "Maxims, Monarchy,

and Sir Thomas More," "Impeach Justice Douglas!" "Thurgood Marshall’s

Coming!" and "The Women Lawyers Club." Thatcher says of the two-hour

plays, which derive inspiration from numerous sources, including

speeches, commentary, and the courthouse. "They are written as

scripts, not monologues, so they flow. They stand alone as theater

pieces," she says.

In a press release Thatcher writes, "Clarence Darrow: Crimes, Causes

and the Courtroom" is a spellbinding and realistic character portrait

of Darrow and his deeply held beliefs and hard fought courtroom

battles. This solo performance engages the audience in four of the

great defense lawyer’s most famous cases between 1910 and 1928: Loeb

and Leopold, Henry Sweet, the McNamara Brothers bombing of the L.A.

Times Building, and the Scopes `Monkey Trial.’ Using Darrow’s own

thoughts and courtroom summations, the show explores timeless social,

legal, and ethical issues and provides a fresh and provocative tool to

facilitate audience discussion."

As for the connection between acting and law, Thatcher says, "a trial

lawyer is not a performer necessarily, but has to be a good

storyteller to engage a jury, and has to do it with a sense of ease."

Thatcher stresses that all of this points to the communication factor,

which is common to her plays and follow-up discussions.

Branding: Breaking Through the Static

Ed Delia of the Whitehouse-based marketing firm Delia Associates

understands that the average consumer of home or business goods

experiences at least 2,500 marketing messages daily. Because the human

brain can’t process that many messages, he says, "we have to train

ourselves and create systems to dismiss most of the communications

that come to us." (U.S. 1, May 16, 2007.)

To break into a consumer’s consciousness, then, any communication must

be simple and focused. This is as true for deodorant soap as it is for

Mediterranean cruises. It is also true for people, and especially for

management consultants, whose services are not always as easily

understood as those associated with, say, carpenters or chiropractors.

Delia says "their persona is their brand." So the trick is to develop

that brand and then market it successfully to potential clients. Among

his strategies:

Develop a message and a look. After a consultant has been successful

in meeting a particular set of needs, says Delia, the next step is "to

build the language and the identity that represent the unique

advantage he offers." The consultant must decide: What is my core

message or promise? What is the "look" with which I am going to

position myself?

"We’re still very much a visual culture," says Delia, "and we make

judgments and determinations based on appearance." Look encompasses

apparel, corporate literature, the feel of stationery, the design of a

business card, and Internet communications. "All of this should be

coordinated – one brand, one message," he says. "Every communication

is a chance to deliver brand." – Michele Alperin

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