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Linda Villano – Owner of SerendipiTea

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As we turned the corner of Northern Blvd and Plandome Road in Manhasset, New York the church on the corner was a familiar site. I had not been here in many years but immediately recognized the store front we needed. Along with my daughter, we came to see my friend Linda Villano who has created the best specialty tea company on the planet. Yes the planet. I say that because I am an avid tea drinker my entire life and tried many specialty teas which kind of makes me an expert. As we entered the smell of store was radiating fresh mouthwatering tea from all over the world. On display were some of the basic necessities for brewing fresh tea. Tea pots, cups, sample packs of tea and tea cloths.

There is a wall filled from floor to ceiling with every tea and tea blend that Linda created. Customers can come in and sample the tea or mix and match for an interesting creation. I have mixed and matched myself. I blend Eve’s Temptation with Berry Blueberry for a caffeine free fruity lift. My other favorite is Congo Bongo that has coconut and chocolate and black tea for when I need a boost.

Nearly 20 years ago Linda and her husband Tomoslov started with their love of tea and an opportunity. Their team work gave birth to SerendipiTea. The company imports tea from all over the world including countries previously unknown for their tea gardens. Linda works her magic buy creating unique tea blends and has a thriving wholesale and retail enterprise. To her many credits SerendipiTea’s website was nominated for “Best Tea Retail website” by the World Tea Awards (2014) and the proud winner of two American Tea Championship awards (2013)

After heartfelt greetings and the usual formalities, we sat down to talk about teas. Her huge oak desk has her computer, lots of paper and is stained with many previous steaming cups of tea. Linda stepped out of the office to fill two infuser tea pots. As a master tea server she came back with well worn tea cups and tea pots. Each clear glass pot looked as if it had seen many brews steeped in them.

Linda told us she is serving 2 blends: One is a Faux Coca which is a caffeine free based blend of Rooibos, Chocolate & Spice, the other one is called Buccaneer which is a south Indian black tea base blended with Rooibos chocolate and vanilla and coconut for my daughter.

Get ready for an education and welcome Linda Villano of SerendipiTea.

Purely Simple Words (PSW): Here we are in SerendipiTea’s home base with the beautiful and talented Linda Villano. What got you started in the tea business?

Linda Villano (LV): Oh boy that’s a long story but I will shorten it. SerendipiTea was started in 1995 that is close to 20 years ago. Which is shocking to me. My former partner and husband was from Australia, he was of Slavic background so drinking tea is an everyday occurrence. So we had tea in the house all the time. My husband thought it was an abomination to have tea in bags. So we used loose tea. I didn’t know anything but tea bags. I am from an Italian background we drank coffee and tea was for when you were sick, and I didn’t know anything but tea bags. So it was an education for me in the beginning just in our home.

My husband was working for a Japanese department store called Felissimo. On the top floor of the store there was an art gallery and tea room. He managed the art gallery. The tea room was a traditional Japanese tea room but not just Japanese teas were sold, there were teas in general. So he would go to the tea room, talk about tea, chime in when there were tea programs…eventually he became known as the Tea Guy.

He met a woman who had a bath and beauty line who asked my husband to develop a line of tea and candle products. He came from a retail background and I came from a restaurant background (my family had restaurants). So we started to experiment with different varieties of tea. The woman was not committed to the line and we already had the foundation so we created our own company. It started in our fifth floor walk-up on the upper west side of Manhattan. Before we knew it we had a business. We started in the food service area and specialty kitchens. Eventually we opened a retail line.

It all happened by an incredible accident. It wasn’t anything we planned. It was serendipity.

PSW: How many different types of tea blends do you have?

LV: In tea there are 5 main categories of tea: black, white, green, oolong and pu-erh. Tisanes are Herbals, florals, botanicals, etc. Everything that is not tea. Some tea is re-packed the way they are received. Others are used in blends. The blends represent about 30 percent of what we offer, blends can be both tisane and tea.

PSW: How do you name your tea blends?

LV: Darjeeling for example, is a growing region, Ceylon tea is from Sri Lanka is a growing country. Names of certain teas are what they are. The blends, the ones we make here are named by how they feel, taste, smell, but it should make some sense for example Fiji is a lush green tea with pineapple and papaya…tastes & smells like what I imagine Fiji to be!

Once Upon A Tea was our first chocolate blend. I created this caffeine-free blend for my friend’s daughter who was under two years old. She liked to sip tea from her mother’s cup, her mom was concerned about caffeine. This has a little chocolate in it, good for kids.

PSW: All of your products are organic and there are no machine used for weighing, measuring and packing is hand done plus your packaging is bio degradable. Everything is hand made , home made and fresh made and that is a very unique thing. Most shoppers go to the grocery store and buy boxed teas. However loose and fresh tea is very different and your product is the real thing. How did you learn so much about tea?

LV: When we started there was no tea education. No formal tea class. Everyone in the industry at the time learned from each other. We are known as the specialty tea industry. In the specialty tea industry now there are a lot of tea training options. And through the Tea Association of the USA there are intense certificate programs. It takes years get to the level of a certified tea specialist. The tea world is different now. Which is a good thing because as tea became more popular here in the US the consumer became more educated about tea so education had to keep up. The same thing happened in the wine industry. There are tea geeks that are passionate about tea, there are meet-ups, tea swaps, tea programs, tea groups, tea books, there’s a whole world of just tea drinkers, sharing information, and knowledge. There are some tea courses that are not very reputable. Check them all out before you enroll.

PSW: What countries do you travel to, to pick up your teas?

LV: I actually just got back in May from Guatemala. This is a surprising place to import tea from but we have been importing tea from Guatemala for four years now. They are also suppliers for cardamom. Usually it’s the big five India, China, Taiwan, Ceylon and Japan that’s where most of our teas come from. But we also carry tea from Kenya and Tanzania. I have not been to the African countries yet. But the others I have visited. I visited the Azores Islands 3 years ago which is part of Portugal and in the middle of the Atlantic ocean, half way between here (USA) and the Portuguese coast line. These are a series of islands that are absolutely beautiful. I was on the big island of Sao Miguel where there are two remaining tea gardens. The tea is great and different because of where it is grown and the salty sea air. I like finding teas from grown from unusual origins.

PSW: Do these companies come to you or do you find them?

LV: Both. The Guatemala garden reached out to us. Other companies have as well. The gardens in the Azores I had known about from a good friend of mine, Pearl Dexter the founder/past owner of TEA Magazine. She introduced me to them.

PSW: How do you think you have grown by having your own business?

LV: It’s a lot of responsibility. Shortly after we first started we moved from NYC to Connecticut because we needed space. I am familiar with Connecticut because I went to school there. We knew we could get more if we went to Connecticut as opposed to staying in NYC. Because it was just me and my husband we could take risks and we could wing it. When we started to take on employees it really changed the dynamics, I realized I was not just responsible for my business and making sure it is reputable. But I was taking on someone else’s livelihood. And I had a responsibility to them as well. What I do now, Tomoslov is no longer with us, is for everybody’s sake. I make calculated decisions and I weight everything very heavily. If I invest in something or make certain purchases, I am conservative by nature but when it comes to the business I am more so to keep the business solvent. My mantra is not to rule the world but to put out a good product and make sure everyone is happy. Then we can all do nicely.

PSW: What is the best part you like about the tea business?

LV: I love to travel. I love experiencing different cultures. Just the relationships we have with the growers in other countries is really enriching, it’s really important in order to maintain a sound existence you must be able to see things through other peoples eyes and experiencing life through other people perspective helps in so many decisions making situations. Just in the office here we have folks from Latin America, India, Tibet, Columbia, USA we have a really nice mix of people. We are an international microcosm as it is. We are different origins under one roof. In an ideal world this is how we should be. I enjoy interacting with other cultures because it takes me out of myself.

But I also love working with the tea, the blending process. This part is really, really fun so is the writing. And social media, like FB. Even though sometimes it drives me crazy. And once in a while we do shows where we get to interact with customers. Since we are wholesalers primarily we really don’t interact with customers so when we get the chance to do the shows and it’s really fun.

PSW: Is there anything that drives you nuts about running this business?

LV: there is plenty that drives me nuts. Doing payroll, taxes, the nitty gritty number crunching. What is moving and what is not. It is all a necessary part of what you have to do when you have a business you have to see every aspect of the business and it gives me a snap shot of what is going on. It is not my favorite thing. I am not a numbers person. To me that part is effort.

PSW: What are your business plans for the future?

LV: One of the things we did about 4 years ago was add a line of tea bags. It was necessary because many of our customers are cafe customers and tea house customers that have fast service like , morning rushes and they kept asking for tea bags and unfortunately we lost a few customers because they went with companies that had tea bags. A number of years ago a certain tea bag became available. (Linda shows us a triangle shaped tea bag). I know there are many types of tea bags available out there some are nylon, some are paper with staples but one became available that is made out of plant based material and over time it is bio-degradable. That was my biggest concern.

All of our packaging is post-consumer recycled content and biodegradable, we are considered artisan and boutique because we do things by hand. When you are so close to a product you see if something is not right or is inconsistent. No machinery is used and no energy is being wasted. So when the soilon tea bags became available I thought “someone is sending me a message” and we have to do it. We introduced a line of tea-bags in bulk for food service a few years ago and it’s only increased our sales in this sector. We just finished the Fancy Food Show which is a big trade show at the Javits Center in NYC for Gourmet Food. There we introduced a retail line of the tea-bags.

PSW: Which teas to do put in the tea bags?

LV: We have twelve kinds: everything is organic, Breakfast Tea, Darjeeling single estate, Earl Grey, Black and Blue which is a black tea with blueberries, Marsala Chai, China Green, Jasmine Yin Hao, which is a green tea with jasmine, Passion and Envy, which is passion fruit with straight green tea. Strictly Strawberry which is a caffeine free strawberry fruit blend, Peppermint, Chamomile, Coco Loco Nut which is a rooibos, chocolate & coconut blend.

PSW: Is the majority of your business in wholesale, trade shows or retail?

L. LV: The majority of our business is in bulk wholesale I would say that 75% of our business is food service. Selling to restaurants, cafes, tea houses, any one who uses our tea to serve customers. This is how we started. I feel comfortable in that business I grew up in that business. I am comfortable in and out of restaurant kitchens, that was natural. It was easier to grow the business in the food service area. We have a website and I probably don’t pay enough attention to making it more successful but it does OK , I know it could do much better. And that is retail based for the end consumer. We do have a retail line that we wholesale to places like Dean and DeLuca and Zabars and other specialty food stores. That’s the segment I am really trying to focus on with places like Fresh Direct, they carry our line. But that is the segment I am trying to figure out to expand because we are New York based and we are recognized in the NYC five boroughs, lower Westchester, and Connecticut. We have good representation on the West Coast and have a broker who has been working with us since 1997 who is great.

In the middle of the country people tend to carry us places. So if someone has worked in a restaurant here and moved out West they tend to take us with them I think if we do more exposure in retail shows people will know about it and ask for us and hopefully will increase sales overall. So that is where my focus has been these days.

PSW: Are most of your sales in the US?

LV: Yes the majority. We also have representation in Japan called SerendipiTea Japan. Also a sister company SerendipiTea Australia which is my late/former husband’s brother. He started this company 7-8 years ago, I buy the tea for them because they are basically not tea people, they understand marketing and placement and great sales. We have a long time customer in Seoul South Korea, she a former Julliard student who drank our tea here in NY and opened a tea house in Korea when she returned. We have a customer in Denmark of all places. They just find us in the oddest ways. There’s one here and there.

PSW: Would you like to add advice to anyone who wants to be in this business and what have you learned about being in business?

LV: The tea business is booming. It is a wide open area and if you truly love tea and would like to get into the business. There’s lots of opportunity, you can go to Linked-in where there are tea enthusiastic, FB, meet-ups and you can reach out to your local tea purveyor. You can contact them and see if they need help in any capacity.

Once you are in remember business is business is business, so we are not hanging around talking about tea all day. We are in a business. I love the enthusiasm of tea but if all you want to do is sit around and talk about tea it is not productive the business needs to run and to be successful and to operate it has to run like a well-oiled machine.

I am pretty strict about when we do have tastings. It is usually in the mornings. I will call and invite staff to taste and explain why and what I am doing. I have a library in the hallway with tons of information, books videos, for staff to borrow and increase their tea knowledge. We have periodicals also from time to time we will do crash talks about tea specifically. Enthusiasm about the product is wonderful and necessary, but most of the time it is a business.

Consider I did it at a time when I did not have any major responsibility so I could take risks and I knew I could shift gears and find a job if it didn’t work. Be cautious, plan, have more than one contingency plan. Just in case things don’t work out. Be positive. And hope for it to work out and do your darnedest to make it. There are so many resources available, take advantage of them! And where there is a will there is a way I firmly believe that and I am stubborn as they come. If I am told No it won’t work out I say Yeah you want to try me. You will figure it out, where there is a will there is a way. My other mantra is “Know your limitations”. That is for me to know when to ask for help. You can’t do everything, you can’t know everything. For example, I rely heavily on my accountant to answer questions. I am not an accountant I was never trained in business I come from an art background. So a lot of this is learning as you go along. Sonam (my assistant) is amazing with computers technology and software systems. She is fantastic and I rely on her heavily for a lot of those things. And other things like customer relations. It’s important to know where you need to be bolstered. And look for that in different people especially those who want to go along for the ride.

PSW: So there is no way I want this interview to end. But is there anything you want to add?

LV: I am so glad to see you and happy you are following your dreams of interviewing. It is your turn now. I am thrilled and honored to be one of your interviewees. Thanks and so nice to see you and your daughter.

PSW: Thank you so much for your time and I love you because you have been so nice to us. We will certainly remain in touch.

Absorbing the atmosphere and finishing our tea I sense an intimate family feel, everyone is happy and Linda is generous with her time and knowledge. She is personable and that is one of her greatest qualities besides her knowledge of the tea world. On the SerendipiTea website the knowledge continues. The Shop tab will bring you an extensive array of teas and blends. Click on Tea World and find: Tea Culture, Tea Recipes, Tea and Health, Universi-Tea, Tea Tips and Articles by SerendipiTea.

For more information and happy tea drinking go to: http://www.serendipitea.com
http://www.facebook.com/SerendipiTea
Twitter @SerendipiTeaUSA

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Tiffini Minatel-Schreiber of Tiff’s LIC(k) Dogwalking and Playgroups, LLC

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When you own a dog you are bound to meet other dog owners and dog admirers. On my many excursions to the dog park here in Long Island City, New York I met Tiffini Minatel- Schrieber when my dog was a pup. That was more than six years ago. I have had the honor and pleasure of her caring for my dog and helpful, timely tips for dealing with behavior issues in my dog. Tiffini is gracious, patient, caring, informative and a professional. It shows in her successful dog walking business. More and more residential property owners are becoming dog friendly as a way of attracting stable tenants and as a result dog walking is becoming a booming business.

Tiffini got in on the ground floor when she started and she will tell us all about it. Let’s welcome Tiffini Minatel-Schreiber of Tiff’s LIC(k) Dogwalking and Playgroups, LLC.

Purely Simple Words (PSW): Welcome Tiffini tell us: how did you get started in the dog walking business?

Tiffini Minatel-Schreiber (TMS): It was favor to my friends. My friend and old boss, Jimmy, just moved into a new building here in LIC and he and his wife just had a baby. At that time he had to go and tend to his restaurants in St. Martin. So that left his wife Jodi home alone with the baby and two dogs. She needed help with walks in the late evening when she was putting the baby down to bed but there were no walkers who worked late in the evening. She couldn’t leave the baby, obviously, so I would drive over from Astoria, where I live, and walked the dogs for her. She eventually found neighbors in the building who helped her out.

Back when I started here in Long Island City there were only two buildings, the Citylights and the Avalon, which is now the Avalon South because there is now an Avalon North. And they just finished building a third one. There are now more than ten newly constructed building and more on the way. This area is booming.

PSW: What year was that?

TMS: That was May 2007. The first dogs I started walking were Puli’s. They are the dogs with dreadlocks but the owner kept them trimmed. They looked like Poodles and they were show stoppers. People would stop me to ask what kind of dogs they were. As we talked about the dogs, they would ask me to walk their dogs. After talking to Jodi, she suggested that walking dogs would be a great job for me. And she is right.

So a business was born. I did have help from another friend, Nicole Billiot. We started taking business classes through SBA and SCORE, planning to eventually open a Doggie Daycare in the area. At that time there were none. Nicole and I started walking dogs and built a client base. She ended up getting a promotion at her “Real” job and decided to stay there. And I decided to keep on walking. She is in Miami now thinking about opening a doggie business. Hopefully she will.

PSW: What do you like the best about your work?

TMS: I am my own boss. I really like that. It is on par with working with the dogs. I really like working with dogs too. You can have the worst day in the world, but the dogs wash it all away with their unconditional love. I focus on the dogs and the playgroups and that keeps me grounded.

PSW: What do you dislike about your work?

TMS: The occasional bad weather. This year it was the Polar Vortex! WOW! However, I think now that I have been through it, my workers agree with me, it is the torrential, sideways downpour with wind gusts up to 60 miles per hour. No raincoat is going to protect you – you will get wet down to your underwear. These are my least favorite days. This happens three or four times a year. The Polar Vortex is easier because at least you can layer up and put your ski clothes on.

PSW: What kind of interesting clients do you have?

TMS: All kinds. Families, newlyweds and such that have a dog or two. One is a VP of Bravo network, I have another client who used to be head of security for the Yankees and now has his own security company and a gentleman who has his own construction company. I have quite a few lawyers and also business owners like myself who work from home. A very eclectic mix of people who all teach me something new when I meet them and their dogs.

PSW: Do you have a routine with the dogs?

TMS: Yes we have a set schedule. We start at noon. I don’t do morning walks. I used to be in the restaurant and bar business so I am used to later in the day hours and I have never been a morning person. From noon to 1:30 is reserved for individual walks. We give individual walks to older clients, those with special needs or those who are undergoing stress or don’t play well with others. Whenever we get a puppy they are walked in the first slot until they are old enough for the playgroups.

Playgroups are Monday through Friday, although I have been getting Saturday and Sunday bookings so I have started an early afternoon group on these days too. Our second group starts at 2:45 – 3:00 pick up which runs Monday to Friday too.

PSW: How do you decide which dogs are compatible with each other in the groups?

TMS: Most of the time I know the dog from observing them in the dog run. However, at first I do an in home interview where I meet the owner and the dog to see the personality. I take them on a few walks before putting them in a group. We greet other dogs on the leash so I can see how the dog behaves. Most of the time I already know if the dog will play well in the group.

The first group is great for owners who have to be at work early, at 8-9 in the morning. The second group is great for owners that have to be at work at 10-11 in the morning and work late. Most of the dogs get along. I have some dogs that are good for either group. And it also depends on what the owner needs.

PSW: Tell me the most out of the ordinary event that happened when you were walking a dog?

TMS: Our neighborhood dog run property was sold so we had to move our playgroups to the Vernon Boulevard dog run. Before the Vernon Boulevard dog run was renovated it was just a small strip of land there with chicken wire fence with slats of wood along the back of it. Behind it was an empty lot full of weeds and garbage and downed trees. Well, someone managed to put a hole in the chicken wire fence and Sheba Enu Paolo and Beagle Daisy went through that little hole. As that happened, I saw it in slow motion. Daisy went in first, and by the time I ran over there, Paolo took off and he went after her and both were gone.

I was screaming NOOOOOOOO! So I went in after them and jumped over the fence. The weeds were in full growth and six feet tall, it was hard to get through them. I couldn’t see the dogs and they wouldn’t come when I called them, so I came back to the dog run and instructed my other dog walkers to take the other dogs home. I then ran down 48th Avenue following the fence. My first concern was if there was a breach somewhere else in the fence and they were going to get out. I got up to the end of the property where the dogs had run into and saw the end of some train tracks. I panicked and thought they were going to run onto the train tracks and head to Long Island! The property is a LIRR mechanic shop and luckily the area was fully enclosed and not open to the tracks. I look over from Jackson Avenue and there is Paolo looking through the fence down into the garden area of The Creek and Cave restaurant – a whole block away from Vernon Boulevard by the way – with a big smile on his face. I ran back to the fence hole opening and clawed my way through the weeds and over a tree that had fallen, down a big hill which I basically slid down trying to get back there. I got Paolo and he was just standing there, heavily panting because they were obviously running in the weeds and trees. It looked as if he was so proud of himself and tired. It took me another 10-15 minutes to find Daisy. I found her and we got out of there. It’s 40 minutes later and I am cut up from head to toe. These two dogs had the biggest smiles on their faces and they were panting and had weeds sticking out of their harnesses. They had the best time exploring, while I was panicking. That was a scary moment, funny moment and a moment of relief all wrapped up in one emotional release for me!

PSW: You are very successful here in Long Island City and you are one of the first dog walking companies and have lasted for many years. What do you think the secret to your success is?

TMS: I would say there are two secrets: one is I offer something other dog walking companies don’t – off leash time in the dog run. I don’t do pack walks. I offer playgroups in the dog run. I am from the country, in North Carolina. Growing up, my dogs were never on leash, they would run to the woods, run to the pond, go swimming come back and flop in the yard. They had freedom. I like offering that to my clients, at least an hour a day of freedom for their dogs. That’s the one big selling point of what I do.

The other is relationships. My client list is small compared to some of the other dog walking companies. And that is on purpose. I have really good close relationships with my client owners. They know me by name, I know them by name. I know a little about them, they know a little about me. Every year I throw a holiday party (Christmas). I buy them food and drinks and we hang out and talk about dogs all night!

PSW: Is there any negative thing that happened that you learned from and changed the way you operate for the better?

TMS: Oh yes, there are numerous things every day. I wouldn’t necessarily call them negative, I don’t like to use that word. They are just learning experiences. Every day is a different day. You have a different challenge. Whether it’s the weather or the dogs’ moods, new building restriction – every day you have to roll with the punches. There is always something new. There are always little tiny “failures”. Something happens every day that doesn’t work that teaches all of us we need to adjust this, we need to do that. I can tell you on a micro level, this has taught me and my walkers to be ready for anything. Every day we have to expect changes. We can’t be rigid. We can’t go to work thinking things are going to go a certain way because it never goes that way. We can plan, but we have to be fluid!

This is another thing I really appreciate about this job, it is ever changing. Even after seven years I am still learning.

On a macro level, the major HUGE learning experience I had in doing this business has been recent, with my old business name LIC Dogwalking. I filed DBA papers to do business as Long Island City Dogwalking, or LIC Dogwalking for short, in August of 2007. I never took it to the next level by turning it into an LLC. Because of that, another dog walking company opened in May 2013 called Long Island City Dog Walk. The names are very similar and there has been some confusion from the buildings and potential clients as well as the clients I already work with.

Had I turned my DBA into an LLC, I wouldn’t have this name problem. My husband always reminds me that he told me to do this and I said “Yeah, Yeah” and I just didn’t do it. Should’ve listened to him! Ha!

Unfortunately, this business name issue was happening at the same time that my father was ill and passed away. I did consult three different lawyers and got some good advice. However, I decided, since most of my clients said they know me by my personal name and refer me out to others using my name, to let the business name issue go, because it was not worth the tens of thousands of dollars of litigation it would cost, not to mention the grief. I have to still work with this person in the area and I can’t work in a place with negativity and I think litigation exists in negativity and I don’t like it. So I learned from that to let it go. Just let it go. I made this mistake, now do the right thing and move forward in a positive way. So I changed my business name to Tiff’s LIC(K) Dogwalking and Playgroups, LLC. Now my business name is protected and actually better, I think, and I am preparing an announcement and new marketing campaign for fall of 2014.

I haven’t done much marketing because, in the past, I got most of my business from referrals and I only gave out business cards when I was asked. I was booked most of the time, so I didn’t think I needed marketing. However, I now realize that it is important. There is a time when a company’s name needs to be out there, clear and doesn’t need to be confused with another company’s name.

PSW: Do you have employees?

TMS: I have independent contractors. There’s a tax difference. Right now I have three walkers plus myself. I have a fourth who helps me out part time with dog sitting when I need her.

PSW: What are your future plans for your company?

TMS: I will continue to do what I am doing. Around this time of year (summer) we have clients who move so we will be looking for new clients. I’ll be doing a marketing push through my existing clients because they refer me. I will also do some fliers and brochures to get my new name out there. I will be hiring new walkers over the summer because one of my walkers is going back to school full time in the fall and another is moving out of the state. It’s hard to grow too quick too fast because of the nature of the playgroups. We have to know which dogs get along with which dogs. I have a 5 dogs per handler limit so we have to grow slow and organically. I will be doing that over the next several years. By the time I am 50 years old, I hope to be in a substantial place, retire and pass the business onto an interested walker. Or sell. I don’t want to be walking dogs after 50 years old! I will move on to something different. I am trying to figure out how to combine dogs, wine and travel.

PSW: Is there anything else you would like to add? Is there a wisdom you learned owning your own business?

TMS: Everyone should own their own business at some point. When I worked for someone else I was making lots of money for them and sometimes didn’t feel I was being acknowledged or appreciated for all the work I was doing. In owning my own business, I can now acknowledge everyone who works for me, give them what I felt I needed. I show my walkers and clients my appreciation for their loyalty and their business. Having my own business has also allowed me to give back to others. Which I love doing. I love helping others and being of service to others, and what I love about this business and this area (LIC) is the community focus that my business has.

I don’t just walk dogs in the area, I support the community. I was involved in parts of the planning phase of the Vernon Boulevard dog run renovation. I am involved in the local community organization DOG LIC, on Facebook. I participate in the monthly clean-up of the Vernon Boulevard dog run organized by this group. My dog walkers and I pitch in to keep the dog runs clean daily because we use them and the community is nice enough to allow us to do that. So you will see us always walking around picking up poop that someone might have missed or garbage that has blown into the run. I like giving back and this business has allowed me to do that. This business has allowed me to give to others more than what I have been able to do before.

PSW: It is obvious that you care very much about your work and are a good business owner and know how to handle people. I hope you have continued success for as long as you want.

TMS: Thank you very much Georgia for your time, interest in me and your friendship over all these years. You are truly a good person.

Tiffini and her organization are outstanding in there motivation to give our pups the best care they can give. This came from her finding her special path in life. That’s the whole idea of finding your path. It is the one that makes you happy and has the impetus to move you out of your comfort zone to become a wider, smarter, broader, giving, lively and better person. Being on your unique path inspires and gives permission to others to do the same.

I hope you take inspiration from Tiffini and move in the direction of your individual style. She took the risk of trying something new. Tiffini tries something new every day, has become proficient at it and gained confidence in herself. So can you.

 

To contact Tiffini go to:

 

Tiff’s LIC(k) Dogwalking & Playgroups, LLC

Owner/Operator – Tiffini Minatel-Schreiber

347-228-4158

Like our page on Facebook to see photos of what we do!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

John P Pickett – Actor

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Welcome John P Pickett, actor and percussionist. Born in the northern bayous of Louisiana John is no stranger to the world of acting and music. In the music world he is known as Voodoo John and plays congas, bongos and timbales. I have watched his demo tapes and whether he is acting evil or comedic his transition is flawless. His acting experience began as a child doing plays for his family and classmates which naturally transitioned into adulthood. He played supporting roles in the movies: Tommy the Great, Gumbo Vision and The Promise. He was featured in Sin City 2, Machete, Man of the House, She Gets What She Wants, Serving Sara, Pendulum and Any Given Sunday.

His theater credits include: An Evening with Myrna, Vivat! Vivat! Regina!, Brigadoon. John has extensive training with the Lee Strasberg Theater and Film Institute , Actors Arena, Bright Lites Studio, Alex Newman Casting Director Workshop, Ryan Giorioso Workshop, Brent Caballero Workshop, Audition Techniques Workshop, Brook/Allen Casting Workshop, Shakespeare Workshop and the Institution Theater Improv Workshop.

PSW (purelysimplewords): Welcome to New York John and thank you for sharing your time and experience with us. What brought you here to New York?

JP (John P Pickett): I moved to New York September of last year (2013) with my friends, Myrna and her husband Daniel. We had a mass sell off of most of the items we didn’t think we would need, packed a U-Haul with the remaining items, loaded up the F-J with the pups and left Austin, Texas on Labor Day.

PSW: What was your reason for moving here?

JP: I had a full time job and was a part-time musician in Austin, Texas as are most of the people that live in Austin. I lived in Austin for nine (9) years and played in a couple of bands. The first band I played in was called “70 Through Selma”. It was a trio but definitely not a power trio. As the band slowly progressed playing mostly open mics Myrna Cabello came and auditioned as a singer. She was amazing and I later found out she is a working actress. After a couple of gigs and getting tired of open mics we decided to form our own band. We decided to make it a Latin-Blues band. Additional musicians, including Daniel, were gathered and Myrna and the Gris Gris Blues Band was born. (Sometimes bands should not be named after a long rehearsal and many drinks.)

We recorded a CD, Myrna Cabello/Letting Go. We were fortunate to have some notable musicians play on the CD such as Rock Roll Hall of Famer, Jerry Martini who was a co-founder of Sly and the Family Stone. When it came time for the inevitable CD release, Myrna wanted to do something different. So, Myrna developed a multimedia stage show around the songs on the CD. From the great response we got, Myrna suggested that I take a serious look at acting. Prior to that I did background work in movies and one independent film shot in Dallas, Texas where I lived prior to moving to Austin. So, I began taking acting classes in Austin and was cast in a couple of short/student films.

Myrna came to New York and had a very successful three (3) day acting intensive at the Actors Connection. From the intensive, she returned and said let’s move to New York. So in a Mickey Rooney/Judy Garland “Let’s put on a show” kind of way it was decided we would move to New york. After many starts and delays which included a burst appendix on my part, we made it to New York.

I guess you can say it was one giant leap of faith. Not moon landing leap but big nevertheless.

PSW: Do you like New York so far?

JP: I love New York. You know, I’ve never been to New York prior to moving here so my first time seeing New York outside of television or movies, was when we crossed the George Washington Bridge into New York.

PSW: I read your extensive and impressive resume, tell me about your role in “The Promise”.

JP: “The Promise” was an independent film I did for a friend when I lived in Dallas, Texas. My role was that of the main characters best friend. The story is based on the two (2) main characters promise from high school to get married if neither are married by a certain age and the situations involved when one is more committed to a promise than the other.

PSW: Was “The Promise” based on a book?

JP: No it was an original script.

PSW: What are the challenges to being an actor and musician?

JP:They are both hard and challenging industries. In both, the goal is to get booked. As a musician, do you play the style of music that suits the venue, can you bring in people and will you play for little or no pay. As an actor, how good of an actor are you, does your look fit the idea of the role and are you an established/bankable name.

PSW: Are there benefits to the type of work you do in acting and music? You must meet a lot of girls.

JP: (Laughing)

PSW: Girls like musicians.

JP: Girls may like musicians but very few middle-aged musicians. The benefits come as you get established. Here it is about getting started, seen and known. I just completed a movie on Staten Island with the working title of “Frankenstein vs. The Mummy”. I played an unsavory character of “Carter”. I believe the scheduled release date is toward the end of the year. Who knows? If the right people see the film it could be a spring board but you keep grinding it out.

PSW: What was your life like growing up in Louisiana?

JP: I had, what I consider, a normal childhood growing up in Shreveport, Louisiana. Shreveport is in north Louisiana close to the Texas/Arkansas border. At that time Louisiana was like two (2) different states with the line drawn through Alexandria, Louisiana. I have an older brother and sister which makes me the “baby” of the family. All in all, growing up in the 60’s and 70’s had to be the best time because of my family. Louisiana was and to some extent a conservative state and I can say I am not a conservative person.

PSW: You are not supposed to be conservative. You are an artist. When you are an artist you have license to do the weird wonderful things artists. do. You can be unusual. And that’s the way it’s supposed to be. If people don’t like it:tough on them. When you are young and you don’t know any better you want to fit in but who you are and what you are always comes out.

No matter what a person does, no matter how hard you try to fit in somewhere else it is not going to work. If you are not in a place you are supposed to be it will not work out. If you are meant to be in the theater that’s where you will be. I am a firm believer you must follow your dreams.

When was the first time you felt strongly about acting?

JP: I guess it was in first or second grade. My teacher was somewhat progressive for the time and developed a play around the song “Puff the Magic Dragon:. My role was that of “Little Jackie Paper” (who loved that rascal Puff). As I was growing up, going to the movies and watching television I thought I can do that. It can’t be that hard. Well, it is. I guess it was always in the back of my mind but at the time there was nothing to move it forward. So, instead, I started playing music, percussion, in junior high school and have continued playing in some form since then.

PSW: I know the name of your band was Myrna and the Gris Gris Blues Band and you played congas, bongos, timbales and assorted percussion instruments. What kind of music did your band play?

JP: Initially it started out as Latin Blues but morphed more into a more contemporary rock with a touch of Latin Blues. We played mostly original songs written by Myrna and Daniel with the occasional covers to fill out the set.

PSW: What is your favorite music?

JP: I like the blues, zydeco, which is a style of music from South Louisiana. I also followed bands from New Orleans such as the Neville Brother, The Radiators, The Subdudes, Funky Meters and Dr. John. I guess you can say I like jam bands such as The Grateful Dead and Little Feat.

PSW: What will you do to increase your skills and knowledge?

JP: I will continue taking classes here in New York because acting is an ongoing process. Myrna started me in acting classes when we were in Austin and continues to be my best coach. I took more classes in Austin with the last being the Actors Arena with Terry Kiser who is a very established actor best known as “Bernie” from “Weekend at Bernies”. Here, in New York, I’ve taken classes at the Actors Connection.

PSW: What insights have you learned that you would like to pass on to others who want to persue a career in acting?

JP: Study, observe, research. There are a lot of methods of acting and there is no right or wrong. I am inclined to lean toward the Strasberg method. But no matter the method/style, you have to bring yourself to whatever role you play and believe in the work you are doing.

PSW: Is your family supportive of your pursuit of acting?

JP: Yes, my family is very suppoetive. They don’t always understand what I am doing but they support me. In fact, my mother and father were my first audience. I would put on little plays, mostly around the holiday, with my brother and sister but my best performances when I was young was the acting I did to get out of chores and going to church. I had asthma as a child and learned early on how to use that to my advantage.

PSW: On a personal note, what makes you happy?

JP: Little things. Memories of the times shared with friends and family. The little things that made me laugh, watching an old television show or movie from the past that brings back happy times. A good song will also bring a smile to my face.

PSW: Do you think you run more on your gut feeling or facts?

JP: My gut. For each character, of course, you have to do your character development but once that is done it still comes back to a gut feeling for me.

PSW: If you could have any super power in the world what would it be?

JP: Growing up my superheroes were Batman, Superman, Spiderman but I think it would be great to be invisible. I could watch and observe what is going on. If I saw someone doing something stupid I could slap them in the head and say stop it.

PSW: Why do you have “Voodoo Man” as a reference to your name?

JP: As you know I am from Louisiana. Long ago my friends in Shreveport decided to go to the New Orleans Jazz Fest. On the first trip I went to Marie Laveau’s House of Voodoo and I bought a chicken foot necklace. Every time we would go I would add something like a gator foot, boars teeth and an iguana foot I got on a trip to Mexico. Over time a “Voodoo” necklace emerged and my name went from “Chickenbone” to now “Voodoo”. “Voodoo” John was also a character I developed further in the band along with other characters like “Voodoo” Claus for holiday shows and “ Voodoo” Libre for other shows in which I wore a Mexican Libre mask. I still have the necklace.

PSW: I saw the necklace in the photo section of your website. It’s a real Voodoo necklace as far as I am concerned. Tell me about your website.

JP: Myrna created and designed my website: johnpickettactor.com. My demo reel is based on movies I have done and class work that was taped. My goal is to have the demo reel contain only work I have done and delete the class scenes. I like the class scenes but they are soley a learning experience and not representative of film work.

PSW: How do you get into character?

JP: When I receive a script for an audition or role, I read through it first and learn the lines. After that I work on the character depending on the action in the script or a backstory I develope for the character.

PSW: Where do you see your career going in the future?

JP: My goal is to be a working actor. To continue learning the craft. I really don’t have a desire to be famous. I leave that for the current “reality stars” on the “unscripted/scripted” shows. I remember a time where there was more creativity in television. Now, you just point a camera and people act stupid.

PSW: What are you thankful for?

JP: I am thankful for everyone who has been in my life and helped me along the way. My family, Myrna and Daniel, Rachael, Stacey, Stephanie, Bernadette and Brandye from Dallas and all the drinking buddies from Ben’s Halfyard House. Pedro Martinez, Andrew Levy, Walt Collins and Mike Crossan who allowed me to continue working for the company from Austin here in New York. All my acting coaches and classmates over the years and being allowed to fail in order to achieve. And I can’t forget Ester and Jorge.

PSW: What is a typical acting day like?

JP: On a typical acting day I try to be the most prepared I can be. Have a good idea of the character, know the lines but be willing to change depending on direction. I also try to get to the set early. I have always done that even when playing music. For me, getting to a set or gig early helps me put the trip behind and relax and concentrate on the job at hand. When I was playing music I would get to a venue about two (2) hours early to make sure everything is set up correctly and make it easier on my bandmates.

PSW: Will you be doing music gigs in New York?

JP: I don’t know if I will continue playing music in New York at this time. Mainly because I sold all my equipment prior to moving. It takes time to re-aquire equipment that was obtained over the years. Maybe I will but on a smaller scale.

PSW: Thank you again John. And the best of luck in all your endevors. As a native New Yorker I feel it is my duty to take you on a little sight seeing.

At this point we loaded our selves in the car and started sightseeing. I took him on a mini tour of Long Island City and Astoria.

JP: I enjoyed the personal tour of Long Island City, Astoria Park, Roosevelt Island. It gave me a prospective of New York I may not have seen otherwise and a different view of Manhattan. Thank you very much.

After spending some time with John I realized he is a very laid back guy. It doesn’t seem too much bothers him. However, I am deeply impressed by his leaving all he knew with a leap of faith, courage and belief in his path and come to New York. Most people don’t have the burning desire to change their lives for the better like John has. He is a role model for anyone who wants to pursue their heart’s desire.

I hope John Pickett is an inspiration to all of of you. It is my sincerest hope that everyone takes the same leap of faith as John did and march forward toward the path of your dreams.

To contact John go to his website: johnpickettactor.com.

 

 

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John Scuderi – Graphic Artist

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Please welcome a fascinating man and his solo graphic business. John Scuderi is a talented graphic artist with uncanny business know-how. With his expertise in the arts and technology he understands and really listens to his clients needs. As a result the end product makes his clients look professional and up scale. Read on and let’s find out how John does his amazing work.

PSW (Purely Simple Words): Welcome John, your website syncromeshdesign.com is eye catching and full of information. I see that your work is geared towards arts, trades and technology. Can you tell me about the type of work you do?

JS (John Scuderi): I have always had a connection to both areas arts and technology I started out as a physics major. But changed to journalism major. I have a journalism degree. It was tough getting a job. One day I looked around the room and realized that there were art materials everywhere. I decided to go to night courses in illustration. Later, as many art students do, I switched teams from illustration to graphic design. I have had the pleasure working for the largest independent distributor of music CDs and I worked as a catalog artist there. I have done websites and CD packages for musicians, some of them top flight, but “under the radar” public-wise. I have worked for a couple of tech companies on Long Island, New York. They were surprised I could speak the language to a certain extent.

PSW: How long have you been doing this on your own?

JS: I started in 2000 on a freelance basis, and worked to learn the business on my own. I would usually have a full or part-time position to supplement the work.

PSW: I see you work very hard. What is this type of graphic design called. Because it is so specific. It is more like film.

JS: Ah, you’re referring the the slide shows on my site. There are so many different divisions in graphic design with separate mentalities. There are some who can spend all day working on logos —not my specialty. Or photos or typography. I am closer to that. There a people who can do informational design they can take a bunch of material, take directional and descriptive information, and make a beautiful, easy-to-understand, map out of it. There are those who work primarily with text, posters, cards, website, package design, and sometimes you can work across many areas and sometimes you can’t and you have to hire a specialist. I’ll tell a client that I will not be top flight in this area or that —that’s responsible. In many designs there is an observational hierarchy, there will be things you’ll notice in one, two, three order. That’s programatic, almost like film. In film you are showing these things in sequence; in graphics it’s all at once. It’s all sandwiched together. For example if you have a poster — let’s say it’s a circus poster — you have to cram a lot of information there. It escapes a lot of peoples attention but you are answering the basic questions of who, what, where, when and why. And much of graphic design is about making decisions. Like how can I bring the viewer in hold them and get them to read everything and get the full experience of this piece of communication.

PSW: Tell me more about the slide shows.

JS: It serves an internet purpose. In this case, by having these pictures in the same location, as a slide show, you are saving screen real estate. You can only assume the viewer will initially take in just so much of a view and, if you don’t grab them right there, you are going to lose them. There’s a lot of laziness among viewers so they are not going scroll through. They get a first impression and that’s your chance. The advertising line you mentioned is just an distillation of what I do. Together with a client, I strive for  the best that a client can look and it’s shaped to meet with what the customer expects. It’s no different from “putting your best foot forward.” That’s about it.

PSW: Do you specialize with just one group, such as musicians, or do you work with everyone.

JS: I work with everyone, as much as I can. There are disciplines that are beyond me, and I will let the person know right away or if its something like logos that I am not good at. I let them know that you  may not get the best logo in the world but you will get a good logo. It depends on the budget. If you want a professional logo from professionals, I think they’ll charge something like $1,000 and up.

PSW: So you look to satisfy what ever the client  needs and that is how you put something together.

JS: Yes I have yet to work with art directors of large companies, with people who actually know the art communication business. And there is a difficulty there to secure work from a professional; it’s more demanding and competitive. I am in the growing the stages and I work with people who don’t have a marketing manager don’t have an art director; they might be a small business, a one-person business, or they might be a slightly larger small business with 4-5 people employed and they don’t know how to navigate the job, so it becomes key to the assignment that you be a good communicator — unless you have some sort of charisma and bowl them over or you have a reputation, and instantly impress them that you must know what you are doing.

There are always questions, because people are bombarded with information about design impressions and hearsay. People don’t know the process because they are not design knowledgeable, and don’t process or catalog it. They don’t perceive the strategy, style or cultural elements the way a graphic designer would. I can give you an example. I was helping a proficient talented jazz guitarist who likes to do things himself and he needed help setting up technically a brochure. He also did a CD cover, and wanted to show off his work. He said “take a took at this CD cover I designed.” So I looked at it and it had this Gothic typeface similar to the New York Times masthead. Looks old and fancy almost in a religious way. And I was shocked because anyone who has been to a record store or observed the general use of that typeface knows that it’s used for heavy metal music, almost symbolically. They all use that kind of typeface because it has that Gothic/Fraktur look, serious look, and it’s become a tradition. Now here is a jazz guitarist who probably wanted nothing to do with rock and roll, and here he was offering up this. So there’s different considerations that have to be taken in graphic design that the average person really is not totally conscious of. Graphic designers are constantly concocting mixes physical, psychological and cultural and they are using the ingredients of shape, color and size and looking to get a desired reaction from a viewer.

To review those things: physical, it’s like in physics the effect of color light shapes size optics, and the psychological is how you are impressed by something even though it doesn’t make sense —how it effects the mind. For example, you can have an issue when adjusting type. You can have letters of the alphabet equally set, measured by the physical width of the letter, and it doesn’t work. Why doesn’t it work? Because the letters have different optics so you can have a V and A next to each other and they will look too far apart. There are typeset single words in which it looks as though they could be seen as several separate words. It’s because they didn’t do a good job on the typography, so that’s optics. There’s the psychological, black has a number of effects on us — yellow also. Then there is culture, as I just mentioned of in the case of Gothic type being used for heavy metal. If you don’t know the style and culture, then your message is going to be hidden, corrupted, or made ridiculous.

PSW: You are right I never noticed that.

JS: And sometimes we have to do research for the jobs. We don’t necessarily know the client’s world. Sometimes the job seems as simple as being a personal buyer or shopper. I will take this type from here and this picture from there put it all together. Sometimes its a journey of discovery; you don’t know what the end piece will be. You try different things. It’s a volatile changeable mix. You massage it together until it jells and all works together.

PSW: What part of your work do you enjoy the most?

JS: I like problem solving and creating something that starts as a Frankenstein, then takes a life of it’s own. You put type and colors and shape, and put it together. When they have a life of their own and are cooperating, that’s pretty exciting. I like the discovery thing again. To add to this, sometimes you research or begin meditating on a problem. Usually it’s a combination of all those things.

There’s something that is usually hidden or neglected and that’s judgment. People know the term graphic design and sometimes they oversimplify it down to fashion design or pressing buttons. It takes a lot of judgment sometimes; inspiration frequently. There is no clear formula.

There is is cloudy area for the designer as to what the public or audience understands in design. There are different audiences with different levels of savvy. Sometimes you are astonished. You’ve managed a deft sort of embedding of style and information in a piece and they get it! There’s the realization “they’re just as sharp as me.” And then there are times they don’t get it, and you are puzzled. And that leads you to think “I guess I am sort of special, I have this number of inclinations or attitudes.” A graphic designer is different from a non-designer; a designer is a student of visual effects.

PSW: Is there or have there been any other graphic artists that have inspired you or any other special influences that have inspired you in your work?

JS: There was a book that got me started. It was by a graphic design group in England called Hipgnosis. The 1970’s was one of the golden ages of album design. Their work was exciting and their designs had a lot of depth. They moved things ahead from a time when previously package designs for music was “let’s see how cheap we can get away with,”—”just add a touch of emotion to the album theme.” In the previous days, they almost always put a picture of the artist on the cover. If it was a popular artist, and there was a good budget for photography, it would mean styling the photograph and nothing more. It wasn’t thought out or intriguing. If you could the record buyer to recognize the artist, that was all you need do. The album cover just had to be different from previous albums of the same artist, that’s all. Hipgnosis was paramount in changing all that. I should stress, that Hipnosis was far from my only influence. For a designer, however, this was just a great book.

I’ve been thrilled by so many great designers. They come from all places and all walks of life.

PSW: Who did they do album covers for.

JS: Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin, 10CC, Wings, Peter Gabriel. With the advent of CDs, covers became a bit more difficult because you are going towards iconic — almost like a postage stamp. There is less space to deal with you so you can’t depend too much on detail or lots of elements. It’s a smaller field of view which alone suggests that there’s less to enjoy, less to savor. It changes things.

Now, even though unpackaged digital files are popular for distributing music —mp3s and the like— you still have to identify an album or song with a visual. Visuals still really help to make the idea of the music become more “sticky” — longer held in the person’s mind. Having a visual helps people “place” the music. Most music buyers are not musicians or musicologists. They are a little bit unsure what this music is about it, and it’s really rewarding to them to have a kinship and better connection with the musician. Visual interpretations do that job and more. It’s important. There are thousands of pieces of music a person might buy; a visual helps them form a better bond with a song and pushes the artist’s selection to the top of the priority for buying.

PSW: Do you have any direction of where you are taking your business or is it where you want it?

JS: I want to move towards more conceptual, artistic work for customers than at present. I have customers that have relatively modest budgets. They also have moderate understanding of graphics and do not want to go too far afield from what they understand. So my work is not as artistic or gorgeous as I’d like. But there is plenty that can be done at any budget level. And I do find that clients grow from small jobs to larger, more developed ones.

PSW: If you had a client that had a enormous budget what would you do.

JS: It depends.  There’s a good amount of discipline within the largest flights of fantasy of serving the client, and serving the client’s client. It’s is my job to connect those two people; it is not my job to show off, but to do the best I can within the framework and budget. For a large budget, the level of detail is greater, the level of stylization is greater, the level of strategy is greater. For modest clients, they want style and functionality that works; you are not overdoing it. In many cases, independent of budget, over-fancy, over-design, is a dead end because you want people to retain the information on the website, not be overwhelmed.

I would like to get into the art direction area when doing CD packages and music graphics. The tendency is for artists to take care of their business and not think ahead and think about what the audience needs so they will call you at the last minute and you are not going to work through too many concepts or looks and not take the time to take a photograph. They don’t want the expense of that. That’s fine. I would hope in the future for more collaborative work, not “I have these materials and throw anything there and that’s sort of good enough.”

My job is to have people come to me and have comfort with me. I hope that, little by little, I do better work and they are intrigued to allow more time, intensity, and interest in communication with their audience or fans. I am happy to say I have a few clients in industrial / craftsman area. I have one that sells refrigeration parts and one client who does upholstery for cars. On the surface, they are not glamorous. But the customer I have for upholstery is marketing savvy. I’ve used more types of media with this customer than with any other and he’s total pleasure to work with. When first going in with a client, you don’t know what the range is for the client, and I am very open to having clients dip the toe. I do understand that it’s very scary when they hear graphic design. They see huge figures popping in their head as well as difficult decisions on style. They are a little anxious to start out with. I will take them and try to win their confidence slowly and then have them slowly understand what is going on and what I am really doing. I and happy to do an interview like this because it helps me to dispel the illusions of graphic design.

PSW: You explain it well and do nice work I can see that from your website I think you have not left any stone unturned. You are open to talking to people and working with a client and making them happy. I can tell from the way you speak and the way you explain things so nicely and neatly on your website. I have a question. What is a video Flash?

JS: There’s a multimedia program called Flash, and it’s been around for more than a decade. It has been used for animation and video and it can be programmed. It is still at the top for games. It’s almost UNused on mobile players. It’s processor intensive, using a lot of your computer’s ability. So, it’s slowly falling out of favor on the web. Sometimes you have to tell people the reason you are not seeing this on your smart phone is because it’s in Flash. Apple has refused to accept it. I have some older work in Flash, and it’s fine for desktop computers.

PSW:: I saw it somewhere on your website but I did not know what it was.

JS: What’s popular now is HTML 5 animations, though they don’t have has much facility or ability as flash. That said the audience is largely growing. So we need to consider that audience.

PSW: Is there anything else you would like to add.

JS: It’s been a pleasure being invited to discuss exactly what a web designer does, and the designer’s approach, and I hope other people become more attuned to it. It is really becoming a necessary language for people to learn because there is so much visual selling. We don’t go to the general store and ask for recommendations as much. We are bombarded with information in a visual way, and people getting to learn more of the techniques, and to be more critical and appreciative of what is going on, is good for them, even if they are not selling anything. Again you are doing a service. Whenever you are communicating, visually or verbally, you are doing a service for the audience, viewer, end user; you are making their life easier, empowering them with information, probably entertaining, and hopefully you are delighting them. So I think its a wonderful thing when you combine these items. And graphic design extends from the very basic to things that approach fine art, and should be enjoyed as such. And that’s all I can think of.

PSW: You taught me a lot because I know nothing about graphic design. I can see how you are going to do really well because you know what you are talking about.

JS: People know inherently a lot about graphic design, though they might not be in the habit of verbalizing it. It’s not different from the way we can all enjoy a movie, but we really can’t discuss the acting the way an actor would. That’s not the point of it. The point of it is to enjoy and receive some information from the work. Thank you very much.

PSW: You are welcome. It is my pleasure to share your story with my audience and the rest of the world wide web. Good Luck.

John Scuderi is very approachable and eager to answer any questions you might have about his work. You can contact him via his website synchromeshdesign.com or call by phone: 516-359-5716.

New York City Weather

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Here in New York City we haven’t had much of a winter. Not that I am complaining because we have had our share of bad winters. I’m sure we will have more normal winters but this year the jet steam has favored us. I noticed that the little green buds are already out on the bushes, crocus are already blooming and the trees are shedding winter and the wind is blowing the old winter air away. The weekend we turn the clocks forward.

Spring is here again. Time for new beginnings and happy endings. It’s time to start something new. To begin anew one must start small. Really small and build upon that. Like walking a little extra to move those tired bones. Swing those arms to get the blood flowing. Don’t worry about looking foolish, in fact, others will follow your lead.

Have you ever noticed, as soon as the weather gets nice, tons of people are out. Walking, running, biking, dog walking, shopping, chatting, gardening, car washing, deeply breathing in and out.

So get outside and do outside stuff. Before it rains.

Happy Spring.