Updated: Feb 26
8 Blogs in and I thought It might be a good Idea to introduce myself and explain what this Live.Work.Play. Blog is about.
My name is Christine Vasiliades. Yes, it's Greek #opa
Exactly 3 1/2 years ago today I started my small business, Live.Work.Play., in central Pennsylvania. My blog is a place where food, travel, community, shopping and all things small business come together as an extension of our print and digital guide books and tell the story of our 150 small business partners.
Now, my story and how I accidentally started a business that I knew nothing about, at 53 years old.
Before moving forward, I need to go back to life before starting my business.
For the better part of 20 years I was a G.M. in the restaurant industry. I opened and ran restaurants for small business owners. The last restaurant I opened was a complex of two banquet rooms, two restaurants with two bars, a game room, eighty seat deck and comedy club. Several months into opening and working 80-100 hours a week, I knew it was time to find a new passion.
Don't get me wrong. I loved what I did and was good at it. It's very rewarding to wrap a dinner service for a few hundred hungry guests, knowing we did our best. Getting to know them by name and celebrate life's achievements with them. It is however, a very high level of stress and long hours. I put my notice in and had no idea what I would do next.
A whole year went by. I did a few odd jobs while I figured out what I would do with the second part of my life.
It was brought to my attention, that our local hotels did not have the hardcover guestbook that most major cities had in their rooms.
I immediately started doing due diligence. I went to hotels and presented them with the Idea of providing a guest book that included shopping, dining and things to do for their guests. The thought of marketing small business to visitors to the region was very appealing to me and after years in the restaurant industry, I wasn't exactly shy.
With no product, no media kit and a vision for giving small business a big voice, I filed for an LLC and Live.Work.Play. was born.
It wasn't easy, In fact, I went home and cried every night for the first six months. But every morning I dusted myself off, went out into the world and learned the lessons of being an owner/salesperson in the advertising industry.
6 Months later and more than a few gray hairs, I self published my first 94 page guestbook! Go me!!!
I started out with a few thousand hotel rooms and did all my own delivery, out of my 1996 Honda Accord. There is no better feeling then everyone being excited to open the cases and complimenting how beautiful it is.
Things were going well and distribution kept growing. People loved that it was hardcover and not disposable. The second year in business, I decided to venture into the Gettysburg and York region for a second guestbook. Live.Work.Play South central PA was self-published along with my second Live.Work.Play. Central PA.
Oh, did I mention I learned how to do a website, 8 social media accounts and decided to launch my business in Tampa Bay! ( I lived there for fifteen years )
My mission from the beginning has been to give small businesses a great big voice in a more focused, affordable way. I've met the most beautiful people along the way. I love learning their stories. Why they ventured into entrepreneurship and the passion they hold for what they do. Like the nurse turned restauranteur and police officer turned mead maker. You have to love that spirit right?!
There is nothing better than getting texts and tags of people I know and don't know that have found one of my books somewhere and thought enough of me to let me know!!
These people, they spark people! It's what I live for and why 3 1/2 years in, I'm still my only employee and deliver all my own books to hotels , coffee shops, professional offices and waiting rooms. The books have been so loved that I now have 13,000 hotel rooms and distribute to hundreds of locations and this year have started working with realtors, builders, property managers and HOA communities that gift Live,Work.Play books to new homeowners, new residents and whole communities. I'm proud to have 150 small business partners and offer them free advertising online.
In three and a half years I have visited 150 cities and 1635 places. I have stories to tell.
I don't know what's next. I do know that if you're passionate, honest and work with integrity, you're a winner every time. After all, I started a business in an industry I knew nothing about and with no product. If I can do it, you can too. I hope that you found value and maybe a little inspiration in my story.
** There's actually a story behind the story . The not so pretty part where I had a partner and let's just say things didn't work out. Not quite ready to share so perhaps another block down the road.
You can read all of my regional guidebooks digitally on my Live.Work.Play. website
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