Look Mom, I Have A Real Website!

After lots of maniacal laughter, too many cups of coffee, and a couple (ok….several…) empty bottles of bourbon, I am thrilled that my new website is up and runnin!

Peep the loveliness here.

It’s quite exciting to see my writing samples gathered together in one package out there on the interwebs. It’s been a fun little journey and I definitely learned a few excellent lessons, like:

1) Don’t get frugal when it comes to photography.

When I decided to use that particular web layout, it was apparent that I needed high quality imagery. I had a couple of mild panic attacks when I envisioned a pixelated homepage slider with pictures that made me look 20 pounds chubbier. Thankfully I utilized the incredibly talented Chris Panagakis, and I couldn’t be happier with the results. Chris is creative, hilarious, professional, and absolutely mind-blowingly talented. Plus, he has two adorable cats, a beautiful doggy, and doesn’t judge if you need a lil certain something to help you act natural in front of the camera.

2) Don’t get frugal when it comes to web design and development.

Unless you’re confident that you can design, build, and launch your website without messing it up, hire a pro. And not like your cousin’s roommate’s best friend who says he’s a pro, but doesn’t realize that Flash is a no-no. Hire a real design and/ or dev person. I was lucky to work with Typografx and I’m so grateful for the experience! Tony is incredibly efficient, brilliant and truly knows everything about design and dev. He even talked me out of having flying toasters on my homepage. Just kidding. Seriously though, Tony is  totes the bomb diggity.

3) Be organized.

The more organized you are, the more organized your website is. Make a nice clean site map. Double check it. Gather all of the text and images you want. Put them in folders and subfolders. Label everything clearly. If you want changes made to your website before it goes live, submit the changes to your developer in a consolidated list (not 19 separate emails). If you do send 19 separate emails, apologize for being a jerk. (Like my email titled “Did you know that Tronic means ‘annoying b****’ in Russian?”)

4) Think of your website as an investment, not an expense.

Hey, you gotta spend money to make money right? And part of that is making investments in yourself. And once you see the true value in doing that, you just want to hug teddy bears all day.

Something Old, Something New, Something Borrowed, And Something…Purple

I’ll admit it – I’m a lucky girl. When I decided to take a risk and embark on a totally new career path back in September, there were a couple of weeks where I looked in the mirror and said, “Crap, WTF did I just do?!?” But I’ve been very fortunate and I’m incredibly grateful. I currently do some freelance writing in the wedding/ event planning industry, and it’s FUN! Even though I’m not the most feminine individual (refer to “10 Reasons It Rules To Be A Tomboy”), I enjoy doing research, getting lost in wedding blogs, and reading about people in their element of matrimonial glory.

Being submerged in Bride-a-Palooza has naturally caused me to ponder the whole tradition of marriage. I think it’s a wonderful thing, committing yourself to your spouse and declaring yourselves lifelong partners. But I’ve realized that I’ll NEVER be able to adhere to the more TRADITIONAL side of this tradition. For example:

1) There’s no way I can wear a white dress.

Let’s be honest. I’m pale. I’m practically translucent. If I wear white, it’ll be like I tossed on an invisibility cloak:

And even with a supremely dark tan, I’m still like:

Pale issues aside, I just don’t like the color white. I’m messy. I spill stuff. I trip on everything (refer to “Kimmy The Klutz”) and I drop glassware like it’s no one’s business. GUARANTEED my white dress would be covered in wine, grease, whiskey, Sharpie, mud, and someone else’s lipstick before I even make it to the altar.

I’ve always thought purple is sexy. And it hides stains. Sorry Dad, but you’re totes walking me down the aisle in something like this. Just accept it. I’m gonna be a Pretty Purple Princess.

2) There’s no way I’m going to wear heels.

Yeah. When I wear heels, it usually ends like this:

Does this boot make my foot look fat?

I’ve been a Chuck Taylor loyalist for as long as I can remember. The way I see it, I probably shouldn’t forgo comfort and style just to risk breaking an ankle. If I end up in the hospital on my wedding day, I want it to be because I ate too much cake, not because I need my foot x-rayed.

3) There’s no way I’m changing my name.

If Tronic was your last name, would you change it?

‘Nuff said.

4) Diamonds are not my best friend.

What? You call this gaudy?

Glittery, expensive Tiffany rings are gorgeous to look at…but they’re not me. A radiant, flawless, 5-carat, $100,000 sparkler would get lost. It would get stolen. I’d probably destroy it in the garbage disposal. Or just forget that I took it off when I was taking whiskey shots, until I woke up the next day, hungover and panicked.

Now, a kick-ass affordable black ring…now we’re talking. Only $1500 to buy your way into my heart.

Black is the new…black.

5) Flowers: faux is my favorite way to go.

Nothing is better than the fresh scent of a new bouquet of flowers. But their life span is short. Too short. You can enjoy a lovely vase of roses at the wedding…but it makes me sad to think that the flowers die 2 days later.

Will my husband’s love for me wilt away just as easily?

Flowers made from felt, however..those will last foreverrr. I can have a rad keepsake from the big day. And they’re colorful, loud, and funky…just like me.

6) I want to rock my face off.

DJs need not apply. Yes, I love dancing to great tunes…but I want those tunes to be blasted from a live guitar, bass, drums, and a slightly intoxicated  singer. There’s just something electric about the energy of a live band playing songs that you love. I want to jump around. I want to sweat. I want to scream out song lyrics as I hand the band shots of whiskey.

Silver Needle and  Ex-Gentlemen, I hope you are available sometime in 2018! Can I start making song requests even though I’m not engaged yet? Also, if you guys could please start looking for powder blue or plum colored tuxedos, and cut off the sleeves, I would greatly appreciate it.

Don’t let their name fool you. These dapper, handsome gentlemen are guaranteed to make sweet love to your ears.

Yummy eye candy and will completely induce aural orgasms.

So if all of my matrimonial demands are met, I’ll consider getting married. Otherwise my future will look scarily like this:

Tronicle Spotlight: A Q&A With Vanity Girl

(photo credit: susanledgerwood.com)

She likes glamour. She’s always surrounded by mirrors. She constantly has makeup and hair accessories nearby. But don’t let that fool you. She’s a fiercely dedicated and successful entrepreneur.

Meet Maxine Tatlonghari, the mastermind behind Vanity Girl. The Hollywood-based brand produces gorgeous Broadway-esque vanity makeup desks and tabletop mirrors. The vanities have been featured in countless publications, blogs and TV spots and are used by the likes of the Kardashian clan, Mariah Carey, and Jennifer Love Hewitt.

I had the fortunate experience of hearing her guest lecture last year at my UCLA Extension Social Media class. I remember thinking that her story was inspirational, motivational, but most of all – relatable. Like all of my dreams could be within reach and I too could conquer the world if I worked at it.

What I admired most about Maxine was how she built the company from the ground up, boot-strapper-style, and surrounded herself with great people. She took a risk and brought her idea to life. She leveraged the power of social media to her advantage and seized every opportunity that arose.

Maxine graciously took time out of her schedule to give us a peek inside her Vanity Girl world!

When did you start Vanity Girl?

February of 2009.

What inspired you to start Vanity Girl?

I was laid off from my fundraising job at American Cancer Society, and took myself to a “cheer up spa day” at Burke Williams on Sunset Blvd. As I sat in their vanity area getting ready, I loved the Hollywood luxury feeling of sitting down and brushing my hair out in beautiful lighting. I thought other women wanted to feel that way too – and voila! Literally a light bulb went off in my head and the idea for Vanity Girl was born.

White Starlet Vanity $299
(photo credit: Vanity Girl Hollywood)

Once you had the idea, how did you go about launching the company?  

I sketched it out on the back of a napkin and took it to someone I knew in manufacturing. He said, “I can make that, if you can market it.” I am a PR and development girl in my soul – so I knew I could do it. Especially if the idea was my baby, I knew I would work on it tirelessly and that it would be fun. I can’t lie though…I was really scared. There really wasn’t a market category for a vanity mirror of this size for the everyday girl…and we were in a recession. I definitely had naysayers! But I just knew in my heart that there were other girls out there like me who wanted to feel glamorous everyday, in that little moment before you face the world. I knew I had a community. I just had to find them and vice versa.

Every girl deserves a Backstage Moment.

Maxine with two of her favorite LA bloggers pals, Castle W of Stiletto City and Sharzad K of LuxLyfe at the Pinup Girl Clothing boutique grand opening.

Had you run your own business before?

I freelanced a couple of times in the PR world, but nothing like this.

How has social media helped Vanity Girl?

OMG. How hasn’t it? I really think as an online company, social media has been a CORNERSTONE of building the Vanity Girl brand. The Beauty Blogger and YouTube guru were AS important to us as traditional media. Kandee Johnson was the first blogger to put on us on the cult beauty map.

Creating my own content on Vanity Girl TV and on our blogs ensured our story could be told. But even more than that, I like to showcase our girls. The Vanity Girl community is such a blessing to me, and when I get the pictures on Instagram or a video on YouTube, it’s like Christmas for me. To be a part of their vanity rooms, and to be a part of what makes them feel special and glamorous is beyond amazing. I’ve also been lucky enough to work with quite a few celebrities, and the one who had the biggest impact for us is a total social media-lite herself – Kim Kardashian. So in short, social media has been super important to our brand.

(Click here to listen to Maxine being interviewed by Social Media thought leader, and my former UCLA instructor, Beverly Macy!)

Being an entrepreneur certainly comes with its fair share of challenges. What are some challenges that you’ve faced, and how do you overcome those?

Hmmm, in the early days, things like spending a lot of money on our first website that didn’t convert (OUCH!) to making sure the mirrors didn’t break in transit!    Those are business things.  And then there are LIFE things that happen.  In these past 5 years I went through the lay-off that prompted the birth of the company, to a devastating break up with someone that I loved very much, to the death of my father in 2012.  Lots of huge, huge life changes – like a lot of other women face.

I’d say I got through them with a lot of faith and the good fortune to have family and friends who really, really care.  Then there is just the inner-strength that has to shine through. I mean, you can be all depressed…or you can get on with it.  We are so lucky to be able to create possibility and opportunity for ourselves here in this country – especially here in Hollywood where people come to follow their dreams!

And, I listen to Tony Robbins when I need a real kick in my pants.

(photo credit: nancyvip.blogspot.com)

What’s the most fun/ fulfilling part of your job?  

Feeling like I get to make women and girls feel beautiful and special everyday. Creating something that has become a symbol of love that people gift each other. Today, a girl just reached out to me on Facebook because she is buying her sister a vanity for her birthday and when I jumped on Instagram, another girl was showing off the vanity room that her husband built for her. I LOVE THAT!

Vanity Girl products have been used by countless celebrities like Kim Kardashian, Mariah Carey, and Jennifer Love Hewitt. Have you ever had an “OMG” star-struck celebrity moment?  

YES, all of them! When I learned that the concert teams of Mariah Carey and the late Whitney Houston were using them on tour – I was totally awestruck. Jennifer Love Hewitt was so lovely (and yes, just that beautiful) when I met her at the Golden Globes Gifting Suite. Patti Stanger is gracious and generous, she lent me her vanity room and said amazing things about me on my audition tape when I was trying out for Shark Tank. And Kim Kardashian…OMG…Kim. I will always be so grateful for how generous she was in supporting Vanity Girl and inviting us to be a part of her pre-Kanye Beverly Hills home, DASH NYC and Kim and Kourtney take Miami.

(photo credit: kimkardashian.celebuzz.com)

What’s the most valuable lesson you’ve learned throughout your journey?  

Believe me, I’m still on my journey! I would say that yes, it gets really hard sometimes…but I have to believe that life doesn’t give you more than you can handle.

And fake lashes will always make you more glam in a minute!

If you could take a time machine to go back in time, is there anything you would change?  

Hmmm, I know it can sound cliche, but I would say no because lessons learned by getting your butt kicked are the ones that stick with you…FOREVER!

 What’s on the horizon for the future of Vanity Girl?  

I definitely love sharing and speaking about how I built my Vanity Girl brand using celebrity leverage, social media, PR and Online Fame. I have some other things in mind and I promise to keep you in the loop as they unfold. Let’s just say if this were my Linked In Profile…it would explain that I am open to Joint Ventures and new Business Deals.

Maxine with Real OC Housewife Alexis Bellino at The London, West Hollywood
(photo credit: amominredheels.com)

Any final parting words for our readers and any budding entrepreneurs?  

My mother Virginia would say, “Follow Your Heart.” My father, Maximo (yes, I’m a junior) would say, “Fight for what’s yours.” And my brother Craig, the CPA says, “Get everything in writing and know your numbers.”

And to you Kim, thank you for a really fun blog and a fresh new voice.  Keep up the good work!

To all your readers – I say … Follow Your Dreams!

Keep in touch with Maxine and follow the ventures of Vanity Girl!