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
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
(www.spotnyc.com), 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
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
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
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
"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