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Interview: Consuelo Vanderbilt Costin

From Railroads to Tech

The Vanderbilt family is one with a rich history of American entrepreneurship, Consuelo Vanderbilt Costin is adding to that rich legacy with her new members-only website SohoMuse.

If you live in the United States, it is hard to do anything without seeing something tied to the legacy of the Vanderbilt family. Railroads, fashion, and even journalism are all part of this families rich American history. Now, one of the younger generations of the family is adding her own imprint on what has been one of the oldest business families in the United States.

We got to speak with entrepreneur, jewelry designer, and pop singer Consuelo Vanderbilt Costin, and talk to her about her newest venture SohoMuse. Consuelo, who has designed her own jewelry line with HSN, has her own record label, and a rich history in philanthropy for ovarian cancer research, spoke with us about the importance of technology that supports creatives and how her new website Soho Muse fills the gap in luxury networking.

Salute: You have had an exciting career in jewelry design and as a musician what prompted you to enter the world of technology?

CVC: It was completely out of necessity. I would come home from the studio at night, and I would have this vision of a world where and actor, a writer, a dancer or musician could all connect and collaborate through one space. Then trying to navigate through there and I thought what exactly does this look like?

I was on Germany on tour last year, I lost a dancer, and because I was on this T.V. show, there it was very constricted. I needed everyone to be ready at 9 am the following day. My, choreographer was in LA, my manager does not speak German so going through 15 to 20 different dancing agencies, and getting him up to speed was very challenging.

Having my manager going through all of their portfolios and having them sent over to my choreographer, it was insane. I wanted to figure out a way to create a something where you could go in, look for a dancer, see who they have worked for, who they have been endorsed by, see their work, book them, and have my choreographer be able to send over the footage.  Then we had the birth of SohoMuse. It was just too much happening, and it needed to happen all in one place.

 

Salute: What do you feel was lacking overall? There are many different platforms for professional networking, what do you feel was really lacking in the industry?

CVC: That is a good point. There are many vertical social networks, whether that is medical, insurance, etc. However, there is not one place for creative working professionals in all 11 verticals. For example for a movie like “300”, there were more than 3k employees working on that film between the cinematographers, costume designers, and the makeup artists.

Also, creatives work in groups whether you are doing a music video or an independent feature and to be able to have a platform where everyone is connected. The reason we call it a trusted source is that it is all referral based, you need to know whom you are working with.

Creatives work within their own ecosystem, so you do that locally, and then you build that out globally. Therefore, I thought that was hugely important. You can come in and be able to say a director is looking for below the line talent and above the line talent. He needs a cinematographer, a second AD, specific camera equipment, so we become the one-stop-shop for all of that.

Salute: As a tech professional who has worked in music and fashion, how do you feel all of these fields can benefit from your platform? Can you elaborate?

CVC: Ease. What are you doing on fifteen to twenty other websites that each one has a specific component? Here at SohoMuse, you are doing all of that in one place. In addition, you can use it as your own personal website, but the other thing about creatives is that they do multiple different things.

Here you can categorize all of your portfolio galleries; you can be an actor, a musician, a writer, and a dancer, all of you in one place. You can showcase the best of your work, you can personalize your settings, and you can share it out to your social media.

From my side, it was about creating something and inspiring the creatives to work together.

We just live streamed Malan Breton’s NYFW show, and we also built out his e-commerce store and worked with another company called Tokenly. So Malan is the first designer to be creating on the site. Therefore, I say SohoMuse is on the cutting edge not only of technology but also in ease of use.

Salute: That is very interesting because there are many other sites such as Fashion GPS where you have a platform where distribute all of your photos and press releases but not on the in-depth level as what you have described here with things such as live streaming.

Since your website is still in beta form, what is some of the feedback you have been experiencing from the people who have been using it?

CVC: The greatest part is watching what people have been doing. We have digital customized business cards, so it is such an easy way to connect with people. If I am meeting with a music producer, I can send them all of my music information and then if I am meeting with a casting director for a movie, I can change that information out quickly and send him my movie work. Personalized and watching people use is very interesting.

The portfolio gallery and the way that people are being showcased that has been a great component. The visual richness of the site, that has been mentioned a lot as well. Also, we have a customized concierge, so it is a one on one experience. Therefore, that director who is looking for that cinematographer and that AB, we are able to make personalized introductions for you.

Those are the things that keep coming back to me in addition to ease of use both on desktop and on mobile. We both know how important that is.

Salute: Yes, that is extremely important. It sounds like you are creating more of a luxury experience in addition to something that is also convenient. It has a luxury feel to it.

CVC: Yes, it is exactly that.

Salute: It is almost like having a boutique appointment, not everyone gets to have that type of experience. It is something that you do not see every day within this platform. It sets your platform apart.

CVC: That is why we say this is for the creative working professionals because you are working with your peers. In the next stage of this, we are going towards a mentor type of program for those coming out of university who are looking for where to go. Part of that is providing industry related information as well, and that is part of working within all 11 verticals.

Salute: That is a good thing too, especially with people coming out of university. There are many different ways for newly graduated students to get into these fields but not all of them are legit, per say. This sounds like a great way for them to be mentored in a way they can find their niche.

In addition to your tech ventures, can you tell me about any organizations you can your company are working with for a good cause?

CVC: I have been active with the ovarian cancer coalition and the American Heart Association for many years. My mother passed away from ovarian cancer, and my father had a heart attack, so I am very conscious of that. As we keep expanding and giving back, we will definitely be looking to other organizations. It is not just about me, we will be looking to where creatives feel we can be of service and of help.

That goes into so many different things such as film funding, finding places where artists can have gallery space. There are so many ways we can not only give back but also keep supporting our members.

Salute: It is good to hear, even though you are doing so many different things you are still a philanthropist and still looking for ways to give back to your community. That is something we can all aspire to.

CVC: Thank you. The funny thing is, especially in New York, there are so many charities, they are all so brilliant picking and choosing, and being able to give back as much as you can is key. Not only as an individual but also as an organization.

Salute: Can you tell me a little about your collaboration with HSN with your jewelry line?

CVC: That was one of the greatest things that I have ever done. I loved it; I love HSN. I do not care how much TV. You have done, nothing can prepare you for that type of medium. Everything is live and moving so fast.

It was based on the five generations of the women in my family. So not only going through the incredible process of learning about the women of my family and what they liked, what their passions were, and pieces that I have myself. Then I got to make them affordable. Women who buy hundreds of thousands of dollars in jewelry are buying my pieces, and they look real. They can travel with them and not worry. It was absolutely such a gift to be able to do that.

Salute: It is amazing that you got to do that. Not many people get to go back and explore the history of the women of your family and the pieces that you do have from them. It is a journey.

CVC: Interestingly enough, most people when they look back and think about the Vanderbilt’s they obviously think about the railroads and Cornelius and Consuelo The Duchess of Marlboro. But my god, these other women were just extraordinary to be able to look back at their lives and show video footage, etc., was just wonderful.

Salute: When you look back at your life, what do you think will be your legacy?

CVC: I hope that I am always known for my heart, my love, my compassion for people, and that I was never afraid. Never afraid to take risks, always, and that I stopped at nothing to get it done.

 

Consuelo is dedicated to the creative process and the members of her website, we are sure that it will do well and ad another branch to the vast Vanderbilt family legacy.

To learn more about Consuelo and SohoMuse visit www.SohoMuse.com

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