Vicky Mariano - Spiritual Haze – www.SpiritualHaze.com
It’s a combination of having way too much energy, way too many thoughts, and a lot of passion to make people happy.Â All of my energy and ideas needed to be focused somewhere… otherwise I just wind up irritating people, or putting my momentum and mind into things that don’t produce anything worthwhile. It’s amazing to be able to start something good as result of all of my ideas and passions.
2. What is your definition of success and has your company achieved it?
My definition of success for Spiritual Haze is to become the first really powerful community venue of its type.Â This means that it builds community wealth, happiness, and togetherness through entertainment, creativity, and true expression of individualism and partnership. I’ve seen very clear signs of being able to achieve this, and now that I’m out of school and really putting 99% into my business, I’m hoping to see some real growth and heightened community involvement.
3. How important have good employees and team members been to your success?
Since before I’d even opened, I wouldn’t make any decisions without involving my team.Â I intended Spiritual Haze to be a community venue, meaning it is run by everyone who is passionate about being involved.Â Therefore I don’t consider business success solely my own, rather the success of everyone who has put anything into it. My team, my loyal customers, anyone with positive spirits who comes into Spiritual Haze is extremely important because they ARE Spiritual Haze.Â I am just setting up the stage.
1. Make sure to do plenty of pre-planning, and get a lot of advice to make sure your venture has a good chance of success. A college program like the Innovation and Entrepreneurship program at Clark University in Worcester, MA, which I participated in, can be a great source of information and support for entrepreneurs that are just starting out. As part of the program I had several mentors and was able to use their knowledge to help shape my ideas into concrete plans.
2. Once you know you have a good chance of success, start it before someone else does, and DONT GIVE UP!Â The failures and tough parts are what allow your venture to be the best it can.Â Without any failures you’re actually really missing out on the better things.
3. Start a social enterprise rather than a purely profit driven venture.Â It’s better for everyone; you are helping them and they will surely help you in return.
Two people…Â One is my father because he is always so positive about everything and has so much faith in me.Â Also because he has had very creative and positive ideas that he stuck by through the toughest challenges and never give up hope of success. I learned from him to be very strong and positive even if things don’t work out as expected.Â Another is George Gendron, the Founder and Director of the Innovation and Entrepreneurship program at Clark. Honestly, without his inspiration and direct support I would have never attempted to open Spiritual Haze in Worcester, MA — which is probably one of the toughest places to open a business.
6. How do you go about marketing your business? What has been your most successful form of marketing?
I market my business through my website, spiritualhaze.com, a group page on Facebook, the events feature on SocialWeb, and sometimes by handing out flyers around the city and to nearby colleges.Â My most successful and widely-used form of marketing is free"it’s called Word of Mouth.Â We make it work because we care about people who come in, and in return they show they care about us by telling all their friends to come there.
7.Â How do you achieve balance in your life? Or do you?
It’s a very typical saying but its true: I work really hard and I play really hard.Â Without being very social and doing a lot of fun and relaxing activities I would never have the motivation to work as hard as I do.
In 5 years I see Spiritual Haze expanded 4,000 extra sq ft, doing very well economically and socially, and running virtually by itself. I also hope to be seeing enough success to be able to open additional locations"my eye is set on California.
In 10 years I hope to see the positive influence of Spiritual Haze everywhere in Worcester, and three other locations around the country getting to that same point. If the Spiritual Haze sites are doing well, then I can focus on getting involved personally in communities and helping other social ventures grow.
I think every business owner should have at least a few exit strategies. The one I hope to put into action is to hire a manager I can trust to run everything, so I can keep the business open but pursue other interests. If that avenue is not possible, then I would consider selling the business, or at the very least sell our assets.
10. If we could introduce you to anyone, who would it be and why?
I have to say Bill Gates"because with his money and all my ideas for social enterprises we could make this country a much happier place.