Business Owner Profile: Fabiola Hesslein, CEO of Tryon Entertainment

Business Owner Profile: Fabiola Hesslein, CEO of Tryon Entertainment

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Fabiola Hesslein began her career as an entertainer, sharing the stage with artists like Michael Jackson, P!nk, and Usher. She’s appeared on stage at live events, in commercials, and on television programs like Saturday Night Live and The MTV Video Music Awards. These days, she works behind the scenes as president and CEO of Tryon Entertainment, a company she owns with her husband, Simon Hesslein. Tryon Entertainment is a full-service entertainment production company that provides high-end experiences for a wide range of corporate and private events.

Starting Out

Why did you start your company?

I come from a showbiz background. I’m a dancer, singer, actress, and a choreographer. I’ve done everything from dance backup for various artists to television. My husband is in the music industry. That’s how we met. I was recording music and he was a producer. We worked on productions and decided around 2008 when the recession started that we would take our talents to a more artistic and creative level in the event industry. While in show business, I led a parallel career in the event industry. I had lots of contacts and experience, so it was very easy for us to create a business tailored to the event industry.

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How did you finance your company at the start?

We used personal capital to start the business. We took what we had built over our careers and decided to invest in our business. Along the way, we haven’t had to take out any types of loans or lines of credit. We’ve been able to make it work with just our own capital and reinvesting the money we make back into the company.

What approach do you use to manage cash flow?

We do proper planning to manage cash flow. We planned the use of our capital before starting the company. We felt we were pretty prepared financially before we launched. We don’t require services from outside vendors. We can provide all of our production services in-house. We don’t have to outsource anything, so we don’t have to worry about paying vendors and suppliers.

Managing the Business

What’s the most challenging thing about running a business?

Wearing many hats has always been a challenge. My inner control freak has always gotten in the way! In starting the business, we just went out and took everything head-on. It was a challenge to realize that we maybe should have reached out for help. It’s hard to let go of some control and realize that you can’t do everything.

What’s the most rewarding thing about running a business?

It’s rewarding seeing your baby grow and seeing your ideas come into fruition. It’s great to see positive reactions and to get repeat business

Did you make any mistakes when you were starting the company?

I think marketing is really important. I think that if you don’t pay a lot of attention to that, it could negatively affect you. There are so many ways to market yourself these days. I think it’s important to take advantage of that as much as possible, since we’re in a social media age. That was something that we could have probably taken better advantage of in the beginning.

Another challenge is to not do everything yourself from the beginning. If you can find a way, whether it’s bartering or asking family, it’s important to find as many sources as you can for help when you’re starting your business. Getting burnt out is not a healthy thing for somebody starting a business. Since it’s such hard work, you really need to find the balance from the start. That was something we wish we could have managed a little better.

What’s the smartest thing you did when you were starting the company?

Right off the bat, we had a vision of offering what we do with a little extra something. We try to over-deliver. We try to be very attentive to our clients and our work, whether we add a little more to our productions or spend a little more time with a client. Everyone should try to add a little something to what they do. People love it and it’s what makes people come back.

What advice would you give to new entrepreneurs?

Know your vision and the big picture of where you’re going. Know where you want to be in five years instead of just winging it and going with the flow. Your vision might change once you’re in it, but if you have a vision to work towards, you really set yourself up for success.

The Future

What’s next for Tryon Entertainment?

We are coming close to 10 years in business. We are looking forward to expanding into other avenues with our company and expanding into different markets.

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About the Author — Ashley Sweren is a freelance marketing writer and editor. She owns her own small business, Firework Writing (http://www.fireworkwritingonline.com/), located in San Jose, California.

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