Special Report: Women-Owned Businesses – Los Angeles Business Journal

Sandra Nasseri

Melrose Inc.
Los Angeles
Company: Technology Sales and Service
Year of foundation: 2003
Employees: 77
2021 turnover: $100 million
Ranking on the list: 17

Sandra Nasseri started her business the classic way: she saw a niche develop and filled it.
She is the CEO of Melrose Inc., which provides technology products and services to the entertainment industry. But founding his company was only one challenge among others. Most important today, she said, “has been learning to adapt to an ever-changing industry” which leads her and her team to regularly reshape their products and services to stay relevant.
Interestingly, she said one of her most rewarding moments came the day after her store was looted and burned during the 2020 summer unrest. That morning, customers and staff are shown to help her clean up so she can start over.
Nasseri answered Business Journal questions about starting and running a woman-owned business this way:

Question: What prompted you to start your own business and become an entrepreneur?
Answer: I started my business when Apple was starting to enter the publishing market in Hollywood. I was working for a small company that served post-production houses and media companies, and Apple’s new product, Final Cut Pro, was starting to take off. While reviewing the market and assessing the competition, I realized that there were very few companies serving this market. Also, my clients at the time, who were mostly Avid users, started asking me to design different solutions for them. I decided to contact Apple to become an authorized reseller, and it was quite a challenge to find the right people at Apple to do so. There were no Apple stores like there are today. Approved vendors were named “Apple Specialist” and primarily served Mac users in the printing, photography, and publishing industries. Few specialized in editorial workflow and building technology solutions for audio and video animation. The demand for this new market niche created opportunities and I decided to get started!

In your experience, has being a woman helped or hurt you more in starting or running your business?
I believe most businesses share the same challenges and practices whether you are a male or female operator. The day-to-day tasks of managing people, inventory, banking, rent, etc. are common to all. Entrepreneurs are a unique breed of people who make decisions based on logic and assess the market trend. Being a woman can mean we “think with our hearts” and not entirely with our minds, which has been true for me personally in some cases. Although I firmly believe that everything happens for a reason, there have been times when I felt that being a woman was a disadvantage and uncomfortable. I’ve met bankers who rejected our company because it “didn’t offer any value”. Suppliers refused to provide us with terms, I received different access to a licensed product, and I was often excluded from certain meetings at conferences. But eventually things turned around. The more my company was rejected, the harder I worked to find new creative solutions, new paths, new partnerships… And in doing so, I found that I was making better choices in the long run.

What has been the biggest challenge for you in your business? Conversely, what was the greatest reward?
The biggest challenge has been learning to adapt to an ever-changing industry. My team and I must reinvent and reshape our product and service offerings to remain relevant and attractive to our customers. I have learned that it is imperative to continue to invest in our people and in our customers. The most rewarding moment was the day after our store was looted and burned during the civil unrest in May 2020. Staff and customers showed up as early as 6am the next morning with bagels, coffee and brooms to help us clean our broken. store and head office. It proved to me that building trust in a trustless world will pay off. Leading with the core values ​​of care, honesty and love helped our company shine in the dark that day, and we will work to uphold those values ​​so that our light never goes out.

What is your assessment of the likelihood of a coming recession? What, if anything, are you doing to prepare for any downturn?
In my humble opinion, the recession is already here. The prices of most of our products are constantly rising and the shortage of chip manufacturing, as well as supply chain issues, are adding fuel to the fire. Unfortunately, the cost has passed on to the consumer and to our customers who pay for it with other unallocated budgets. Basically, this leads to a slowdown in purchases and future business expansions, including our ability to hire more people. Our team has partnered with many finance and leasing companies to offer affordable payment plans to help offset these costs for our clients. Most purchases are moved from capital expenditures to operating expenditures, which contributes to depreciation and taxes. Additionally, we have been very proactive in stocking items in advance and buying in bulk to provide competitive offers. Our engineers had to design new workflows with made-in-the-USA products that have faster turnaround times to meet deadlines.

What advice would you give to another woman who wants to start her own business?
The advice I would give to another woman who wants to start her own business would be the same advice I would give to my children. Work hard, believe in yourself and trust your instincts. Having a supportive environment and belonging to different councils and groups helps build a good network of people and mentors. I am blessed to have had many amazing men and women throughout my journey who have provided me with constructive criticism, loved and cared for me, and made sure that I stay on a positive track. Owning a business is a highly personalized adventure and meeting all kinds of people along the way enhances the experience even more.

If you could go back in time, what would you do differently with your business?
I would have loved to invest all of my startup investment in Bitcoin and Apple stocks! But seriously, I wouldn’t do anything different. The trip made me who I am today and I’m grateful for that.

–Charles Crumpley

About Glenda Wait

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