In all the Profiles I have done this past year I have either featured my former models, other friends, business associates and new acquaintances all of whom have had fascinating stories to tell. Today I am featuring a wonderful success story of one of my former Columbia College Chicago students, Liz Klafeta. I was invited to attend an event at a new West Town apartment building that was a Networking reception and panel discussion about how to use technology to your advantage in advancing your career path, it was fascinating. Samantha Saifer Berngard, (last week’s Profile!) our hostess, pulled together a perfect mix of speakers and, in turn, has given me the opportunity to feature four of them, including herself in my Monday posts. I was thrilled to reconnect with Liz, I haven’t seen her since she graduated. She has an extraordinary story to share…..let’s see what she has been up to (it’s a lot!)
WHEN WAS YOUR FIRST IMPRESSION OF YOUR TALENT
Hmm….I definitely obsessed and spent a lot of time contemplating and thinking about things whenever I was or am designing a project. When other people see what I completed and their mouths would drop open, I thought I might be onto something. Continual praise from multiple people helped as well. That’s actually when I knew the other person was not just being nice and maybe I was doing something well because everyone just isn’t THAT nice!
WHEN DID YOU KNOW YOU HAD “MADE IT” EXPLAIN
“Made it” well that is a pretty secure statement and I don’t think anyone should ever get super secure! I still don’t think that I have “made it”, but I do know that I make spaces that people really enjoy staying in. The letters and notes from countless guests have reassured me of this and having my home featured on HGTV helped solidify this feeling.
We grew 100% the first year, 100% the next year, and now BANGTEL consists of 6 full-time employees and many independent contractors in each city of our locations. Last year, 3 people tried to buy into us. It was like an episode of Shark Tank. That’s also when I realized we had something special. BANGTEL is still 100% owned by myself, currently.
HOW DID YOUR ORIGINAL PASSION BRING YOU TO WHERE YOU ARE NOW
I love transforming things into something completely different. I was constantly remodeling my mom’s home when I was little to the point where it annoyed her. I got into Fashion Styling and Prop Styling was less to things to schlep around believe it or not. You could not bring 5 credenzas to set, but you could bring 5,000 turtlenecks to set. As I continued to do more Prop Styling, I was also simultaneously rehabbing my townhouse that I purchased when I was 23 years old. When this was completed and I had officially gotten burned out on the advertising world, I started hitting up landlords to see if I could rehab their homes on my dime. So silly, but that’s how bad I wanted to design. Let me pay for your rehab as a bargaining tactic for the landlord to let me Airbnb. I love designing and I love taking care of people so here I am, perfectly content!
WHAT WOULD HAVE BEEN YOUR ALTERNATE CHOICE AS A CAREER….WAS THERE ONE
Singer, but I can’t sing so that was never REALLY an option. This current career choice was a complete accident, but a happy one!
YOUR FAVORITE BOOK, MOVIE, THEATER
Favorite Book is probably “Many Minds, Many Masters” because it put my mind at ease early on about what is life all about and why are we here. I still buy copies and hand it out to my friends. I think every single one of my friends has gotten a copy from me.
Favorite dish is the greek salad with smoked salmon from 12 Chairs in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. I don’t eat or smoke crack, but I think there must be crack in it because it’s an addiction. Please, everyone, go there so it never ever goes out of business! It also doubles as my office when I am in New York working.
Laughing, dancing, coffee, catching up with friends and family, having amazing meals, dancing, reading interior magazines, designing, and, did I say dancing?
HOME….MODERN, TRADITIONAL, ANTIQUES (WHAT ERA) ECLECTIC
Well, people live in my real home full time, but it is pretty modern and eclectic. My future home when I am happy with where BANGTEL is, (not sure if that will happen because I honestly want to be everywhere and pretty much live in the spaces as I design them), will be a lot of glass, tile, and burnt charcoal wood. Cement integrated sinks and countertops, amazing art, and oddball sculptures that make people say, “What the hell?” That’s what I love to do. Inspire people to say, “what the hell?!”
WHO WOULD YOU HAVE AT YOUR FANTASY DINNER (LIVING OR DEAD) AND WHAT WOULD YOU SERVE
OMG, this is a fun one! David Bowie, Marilyn Monroe, John F Kennedy, Andy Warhol, Twiggy, Cher, Bob Marley, Dahli Lama, Anne Frank, Barbie, Mickey Mouse, Banksy, and Princess Diana. EEK. That’s 13 (Nena’s note I added Liz so it is 14…never mind!), but I think that is a great mix. Kind of sounds like a BANGTEL party where you could find the Dominatrix talking to the Trademark Lawyer about her favorite vacation spot. I, of course, would serve Champagne from the South of France and an unlimited Seafood Tower. Dessert would be truffles and my sister’s, Gina Klafeta, vegan ice cream sandwiches, called Nana Creme www.nanacreme.com go buy them!
FAVORITE VACATION SPOT VISITED AND/OR ON LIST
Capetown probably because I said I wanted to buy a place there in a year. I have not made it back yet because there are so many places I want to make it to at least once.
I am a sucker for amazing beach vacations, though, so Phuket, Thailand, or Maui have been my favorites.
ON this list this year is Iceland and New Zealand.
FAVORITE NEW CHICAGO RESTAURANT
Beatnix, which is owned by my favorite place to dance, Disco at Celeste. Get the Tomahawk Steak and the oysters.
FAVORITE CHICAGO STREET ART
What comes to mind right away is because when I am here I drive down Grand and Damen a lot. It is the teddy bear mural by JC Rivera www.jcrivera.com I always smile at Giant teddy bears on a random building. Cool. Haha.
Photos from Pinterest credit unknown.
HOW WOULD YOU LIKE TO BE REMEMBERED
Kind and fucking hilarious!
All photos of Liz and her BANGTEL properties are courtesy of Liz Klafeta.
LIZ’S FAVORITE RECIPE: THE BEST GUACAMOLE OF YOUR LIFE!
1/2 red onion
2 jalapeño peppers
The good tortilla chips from the Mexican Grocery Store!
LIZ’S FAVORITE LINKS
BANGTEL.com! Follow us on social and stay with us in Chicago, MIAMI, New York, Cabo, Michigan and soon to be Palm Springs.
My amazingly talented friends:
LIZ, A MILLION THANKS FOR JOINING ME ON MY NENASNOTES JOURNEY AND SHARING YOUR EXTRAORDINARY CAREER PATH…CAN’T WAIT TO DO A “STAYCATION” AT ONE OF YOUR PROPERTIES…I WOULD SAY NEXT STEPS A HGTV SHOW AND BOOK! I’LL LOOK FORWARD TO POSTING CHAPTER 2 ON MY BLOG!!!