Finding the Career of My Dreams
Every morning, I wake up happy because I love what I do as owner of Luludi Living Art, a small business dedicated to designing and installing plantscapes and landscapes in New York City. My team and I started creating moss wall gardens for indoor spaces years ago, and Neiman Marcus just picked up our line. On my company’s website; luludicorp.net, we sell a modern collection of beautiful terrariums and teach Individual and corporate terrarium-making classes. I love talking about the benefits of having plants in your space and how happy people feel when they see them.
I have entrepreneurial blood in my veins. Since age eight, when I designed a beautiful soda-pop shoppe on paper for my mother, right down to the pink-striped uniforms, I have always wanted to launch my own business. My journey took me through 28 successful years in media in New York and in Paris, where I lived for almost 15 years, working with CNN.
A few years later, I was tapped to relaunch the Paris office for CNBC, managing 15 European countries with a small staff. The first two years, I was on a plane every week trying to introduce the unknown brand to clients. Without any money for marketing, my team and I would dream up ways to stand out: sending red envelopes with clever wishes for Chinese New Year instead of holiday cards, taking groups of people out for picnics instead of expensive lunches, creating a Bingo game with photos of CNBC presenters, and decorating a conference room with fake gems and swaths of rich fabrics and soft candles to pitch one of CNBC’s luxury programs for sponsorships.
I eventually moved back to New York to get married, and I decided it was time to trade in my Jimmy Choos for Converse and launch my own thing. Looking around, I realized that New Yorkers spent way too much time indoors under fluorescent lighting—and that was unnatural.
I decided to frame plants—I created colorful boxes with LED lights that hung on the walls. I had no market, so that turned into a costly, miserable failure. When I decided to create sleek modern terrariums, things began to move. Renting a cart at a major mall in Long Island was exhausting, and four months later, Hurricane Sandy slammed into New York; besides shutting the mall down for a few days, the damage to Long Islanders was devastating. But I would not give up.
I rented, renovated, and moved into a studio in my apartment building; three months later, I was informed by the management office that someone had complained that I was running a business in a residential building, which was illegal. After crying for an hour, I told myself, “I am going to find a space that is cheaper in rent and that will provide me with a studio, a store, a work space, and storage.” That went up on my vision board, and three months later, I signed a lease for my company’s current location in Astoria.
As ideas or efforts failed or did not take off, I revised my business plan and tried a different direction. I went through some tough times, but I simply refused to give up. I always believed that there was a place for Luludi (“flower” in Greek) in the world. I just needed to find out where that was.
I have so much gratitude for all of the people who encouraged me, and even the ones who tried to get me to give it up and go back to corporate. It taught me two lessons: the value of true friendships—and that when everything seems dark and terrifying, I have the internal strength to get up off the floor and put one foot in front of the other and keep going.