New York, NY Giving a true voice to everything that Laura Reddy, CEO and founder of NuZine, has been helping her clients achieve with their commercial interior building goals for over 15 years has not been an easy task. Reddy is truly a jack of all trades with knowledge of the industry that goes beyond her formal training (NCIDQ). She is definitely “out of the box.” From design, to project management, to NYC DOB letters of completion, Reddy has managed it all with energy, pragmatism and a truly proactive approach.
NuZine was born from clients needs to get their project built and the job done correctly. Anyone who has ever been involved in a commercial build out for tenant or capital improvement project in NYC understands the many layers, team members, agency approvals, budget and schedule challenges which are part of every project, no matter the size.
“Starting at the beginning is always best, however, many times we are called in to review a project that has been stalled and asked to find the problem and offer solutions. We are always on the side of the project for the best outcome, as well as for the timeliest and budget friendly options. Quite often, the solutions are simple in order to get the project back on track,” Reddy said.
A zest for life, humor and all around acuity are very visible when reading about Executive of the Month, Laura Reddy.
Q: Where did you grow up?
A: I grew up in Hicksville, Nassau County, Long Island.
Q: What did you want to be when you grew up?
A: All of my life I wanted to be a designer. My fall back plan was to be a Solid Gold dancer but the show was canceled before I could audition.
Q: What pointed you down this career path?
A: My Dad was an electrician and 2 of my brothers are carpenters. My oldest brother used to bring me on job sites when I was very young so the idea of design and construction must have connected while I was growing up.
Q: How did you get started in the business?
A: My first degree is in Fashion Design and during the marketing part of the program I realized how much I like to create and build environments. After college, I worked as a retail merchandiser and floral designer for a couple of years. Hoping for a new experience, I moved to Los Angeles and worked as a freelance artist for special events, film, television and theatre. It was such an incredible time in my life; I worked on so many amazing projects and learned so much. This chapter of my life was forced to an end due to the North Ridge earthquake. I returned to New York and went back to school to study Interior Design at New York Institute of Technology (NYIT) where I graduated with honors.
After graduating from NYIT, I worked for a small architectural firm, while freelancing on the side and looking for the next step. I entered into design competitions with two colleagues and found out they were in the same position. The three of us formed NY3 Design Group in 2002. I ended up securing the majority shares of the company, obtained WMBE certification, rebranded the firm, sold my shares in 2012 and started NuZine.
Q: What are the many roles you have worked in throughout your career?
A: As every business owner can attest, I have had to be everything from CEO, head designer, project manager, IT, accounts payable/receivable, marketing manager, and office cleaning service…
Q: How has that impacted the way you think about the company now?
A: There is very little I would change on what and how I’ve learned and how I gained the important tools over the years, which we now apply to every project. Being a business owner, I know firsthand the challenges my clients face every day and, knowing this, I provide real solutions for them.
Q: What about your daily work interests you?
A: Every project is different. There are always new challenges and we meet new people all the time. Never a boring day!
Q: Why this industry?
A: I chose this industry because of the enormous satisfaction I get seeing my creativity realized, and knowing what I have created will better someone’s business and environment.
Q: Of all the roles you’ve played, what’s been the most interactive?
A: I would have to say the role of project manager. While wearing this hat, I get to utilize all of my skills while working with all the team members from our clients to the subcontractors.
Q: What was your favorite project management job?
A: My favorite PM job was my first. We were finishing up and installing all the artwork we had created for the Billboard Awards after party when the owner of the studio became sick onsite. She handed me her radio, clipboard, and paintbrush and told me, “You’re going to have to finish this on your own. You can do it.” Very scary experience but very fun–and very successful!
Q: What are some of the most important lessons that you’ve learned from the people that came before you?
A: Own your mistakes. Don’t waste time playing the blame game. Find the problem, fix it, and forge ahead.
Q: Who are some of your role models?
A: The members of my family are my role models. I’m the youngest of six and I have the incredible benefit of learning and receiving all the support I need from my siblings and loving parents.
Q: What was the biggest challenge you faced working your way up?
A: One of my biggest challenges was learning how to communicate my skills, without pushing the hard sell. I hate the hard sell–it is such a turn off!
Q: What is your plan for the next year? Five years? Ten years?
A: We have been awarded a new project for a new franchise ready to launch this year. I am really excited to be part of this from the ground up and will be part of the growth of the project over the next few years. This will be a great experience that will allow us to share the benefits with our other clients. NuZine will be applying for our WBE certification and I plan on assisting clients that require WBE organizations.
Q: Anything specific you have set your sights on?
A: Yes, Hugh Jackman. Unfortunately he’s married…Just kidding, unless he gets divorced!
Q: What are the main industries you service?
A: NuZine specializes in the corporate, retail, and hospitality sectors.
Q: Who do you feel would benefit the most from your services?
A: Both business (end-users) and property owners.
Q: What does the future of our industry look like? Any predictions or insights?
A: NYC has such big projects finishing up and new ones just starting. All of those new empty spaces must get built out! It’s a great time to be working in NYC.
Q: Looking back on your tenure at NuZine how has the company changed since you started?
A: It has been an evolution, which allows me to offer my clients so much more than I did when I was solely a designer.
Q: How about the industry as a whole?
A: The industry has many more layers of regulations, which have changed the requirements of the process.
Q: Going forward, what do you think the most important thing is for NuZine to do in order to maintain its quality and reputation?
A: Continue to work with good, skilled people so our clients benefit from our great network.
Q: As the founder of NuZine, what makes you the most proud today, tomorrow and looking forward?
A: This is a very competitive industry and I am proud that we do not play games or politics. We do our job with integrity and create results which have established our relations with existing clients and our reputation with prospective ones.