Happy New Year! It’s 2012.
This year, I’m presenting an interview series with People of Style in Alameda. Did you know Alameda was such a cool community? I’ve suspected, but didn’t realize the extent of it until my friend Heidi and I founded an Alameda based Business Group we call the Lucky Ladies. Filled with an array of creative businesses from Sewing Teacher to Yoga Instructor, nutritional counselor to lighting designer, clothing designers to hand felted home goods – you name it! Each woman in my group and their extended networks represent the best of our little town.
Here is my first interview of 2012 Heidi Bennett, interviewed in October 2011. Also known as Ruby “Baby” Bennett to those in the music world, Heidi is embarking on a new path….Read on!
JS- Hi Heidi
HB- Hi Jennifer
JS- So, Heidi, what do you do?
HB – right now, I am working, concentrating on being a PR & Sales Rep. I say marketing, but to me, marketing and pr are the same thing and I just put them both together. So Pr and Sales rep for By Nieves, which is an Oakland based, hand made, all natural body care company. Woman Run. I’m working with her and in 2012 I’ll be expanding my marketing, PR and sales rep business so that I can assist other local small business people who might need help getting product into stores or figuring out some new marketing techniques or just (helping) somebody who might need some office support or someone to bounce ideas off of in that area.
JS - How long have you been doing this?
HB - Pretty much my whole life. I mean, I’ve worked for small businesses right from the first place I ever worked, which was an authentic NY bagel shop, owned by a man in Sacramento. I started there when I was 17 and had a Mohawk. But I was really great for the business. I have a big smile and great customer service skills. So, I found that over the years, whether I’m managing the coffee house, or singing in a band or working as an office assistant, that I naturally also become the PR marketing person. Locally and most recently that was apparent working at Julie’s Coffee and Tea Garden in Alameda, where I was the first person that she hired. She hired me for my management experience but because it was a brand new business, I just naturally started talking up the joint, going online, posting everywhere I could about it and joining local groups while suggesting that we meet at Julie’s. Anything to just get the word out. I think my natural tendency is to find something I love and just spread the word.
JS – Excellent! Who is your dream customer or client?
HB – Somebody who is doing what they love but might be a little bit mired in the details. Which I think is pretty much anybody. I always think of when you maybe watch the Oprah Winfrey show, when she’s picked a favorite thing, and it’s somebody that’s started small and they got discovered and then sold a zillion trillion pies or handbags or something; That there’s this disconnect that happens between Oprah saying to everybody “Just believe in yourself and you can do whatever you want to do” and then being discovered and making a zillion million dollars and in between there, there’s all the hard work and just saying “it takes a lot of hard work and dedication” – that’s true, but what is all that stuff? Every day people running small businesses are making all these decisions and I think it’s, you know, whether how to price something or what their logo is supposed to be or who they are marketing to. I mean there are all these decisions like how to balance their day. I feel like those are the people I want to reach out to and say “Let me help guide you through some of these or at least give you some other options that you can do.”
JS – So, now on to some more fun questions. What possession do you cherish the most?
HB – I peeked at your questions and have a really hard time with that one. Even though I have a lot of possessions I don’t think of anything as something I cherish.
JS – Something you can’t live without? Or something you use everyday?
HB – No, I mean, I use my iphone everyday, but I don’t cherish it. You know I think it’s a great tool. I mean, really, I would think more of my friend who passed away a few years ago. She and I made a lot of art together. Either she and I were collaborating on art or she and I were making art together at the same time in her studio. Anything that I made when I was with her or in collaboration with her, are my most cherished things, because they are connected to this memory, of not just who she was as a friend, but how she always inspired me to be creative and completely myself; because I am an editor of myself and that’s not the best way to be creative. I think, you know, you write something and think – that’s not good enough and then scribble it out right away and so I’ve been that way with my art or that I’m pretty symmetrical with things. So she’s one of those people who’s art was so free, so unedited, that I would just be inspired by THAT; and be able to see what she could do with out any judgement from the outside world or from herself, so I guess that’s it.
JS – What is your favorite style secret? Or trick?
HB - I’m known for my lip liner, so I guess it would be that. I swear that practically every hint or tip that I hear or read about is not to use lip liner or if you do use it then you fill in your full lip with it, then this that and the other thing. The reality for me is that I have very small lips so I feel I need a little lip enhancement.
JS – You have Great Lips!
HB– Thank you. They are all an illusion. It’s a combination of a lip liner by Gabriel Color, so it’s a natural brand. You can find it at some Whole Foods or natural co-op places but for some reason, the specific color that I use, which is Berry, they never have. I don’t know why. I really like that I found this lip liner online at white rabbit It’s an online store that sells only makeup that is never used on animals (cruelty free). It’s someone who lives in half moon bay. A percentage of her sales go to animal related charity. I’ve made the decision that even if I find that lip liner somewhere else in the world, that I’ll always buy it from her. So yeah, that’s my secret.
I always exfoliate my lips, every day. I don’t wear my glasses or contacts so I can see better close up, and then I spend two thirds of my makeup time just getting my lip liner on. I do my lip liner first, fill in my lips with it, then put on my lipstick. Then look again in the mirror before I’ve started my car, to make sure it’s even, because in the house, sometimes the lighting is just not great.
JS – That is a committed Experience!
JS - We just finished with Heidi’s style secret. What I want to know next is what do you like best about Alameda?
HB – I like it simply because it feels intimate. It feels friendly and it reminds me in some ways of Mid Town Sacramento, which is where I lived for 20 years and why I felt like if I was going to move to the Bay Area, that it felt like a friendly transition. But I really feel like just the way it’s laid out it’s easy to walk around and get around and bicycle around. You can just get on your bike and just head all over town, which is similar to Mid Town Sacramento. Also, It’s just a hop, skip, and a jump away from San Francisco, which I really like getting on the Ferry to go over to. Or obviously, (near to) Oakland and other places in the Bay Area. It’s just intimate and friendly and fairly calm and nice.
JS- What is your favorite place in Alameda?
HB- Well, probably Julie’s Coffee and Tea Garden which I managed for four years. The first four years of it’s existence. But not just because I worked there, but because, no matter where I live, I always gravitate toward the place that feels like community. When I worked there, that was one of the things I always said needs to be part of what we are bringing to alameda. You can go anywhere and get a cup of coffee and pretty much anywhere you can get a cup of tea but if you know already that we are serving really carefully made, lovingly made, quality, organic coffee and tea, etc., then is it somewhere you are going to want to hang out? Julie had a great vision for how it was going to be as far as the stuffed vintage couches….
JS – The aesthetic?
HB – Yes, the aesthetic and I just felt that I wanted to make it feel like home. And I know that it feels like home because I just go back there all the time. If I’m spending too many hours a day by myself, then that’s where I head.
JS – And that’s where I met you!
HB – And that’s where I met Jennifer! Yeah!
If interested in PR or Marketing for your small business, you can contact Heidi at firstname.lastname@example.org