We had the good fortune of connecting with Cory Martin and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Cory, how has your perspective on work-life balance evolved over time?
This is a very meaningful question for me because I never understood the importance of balance until recently. I started my first catering & events company in 2005 when I was 26 years old and I only focused on what I knew most at the time – work. I would sleep four, maybe five hours a night (if I was lucky), get up early and start my day all over again. One of the many great aspects that I love about being an entrepreneur & event producer is that every day is completely different from the next so I was always focusing on a new task or challenge. Eventually however, minutes, hours, days, weeks, and even years would melt together and disappear before I would notice. I was addicted to the adrenaline rush, the money, success, and the lifestyle so I was willing to push myself to the limit every day. Then in 2014, I thought everything was going as planned until one day it all came crashing down on me. Anything that could have gone wrong, went wrong. I quickly realized that I was on the brink of losing everything, including some of those people closest to me. I knew that I needed to make some major changes in my life. This was the moment my journey towards finding balance began. At first I was confused and didn’t know where to begin. I couldn’t decipher between right, wrong, up, down, east or west. Out of necessity, I turned my focus towards the immediate health of my loved ones while also trying to balance resuscitating my company. Once I removed the trivial chaos and turned my attention inward, I began to realize what was most important to me. I started to look at all of my life choices and sought to understand why I made those decisions. I began exploring not just the world around me but the universe inside me. This understanding allowed me to create new meaningful friendships, discover joy and happiness in activities outside of work, travel around the world and experience new cultures. I finally understood that this was the “balance” I was missing in my life. Once I began incorporating balance into my life, I was able to make better decisions, spend more time with the people I loved, creating even stronger bonds, and I was able to eliminate most of the stressors in my life by becoming mentally and physically healthier. I was working less but achieving more, both in my professional and personal life. I was able to focus more on the meaningful things in my life while also being present so I could appreciate the beautiful moments and relationships happening around me. Finding balance has not just given me hope for my future but also for humanities. Imagine a world where we could all find balance within ourselves and not have some driven by money, power, and ego. Now close your eyes and really imagine it.
Can you give our readers an introduction to your business? Maybe you can share a bit about what you do and what sets you apart from others?
Let me start by saying this – starting a new company will come with challenges that you never even knew existed. It will push you to your limit but in the end, you will learn a lot about yourself and the world around you. The secret is to constantly evolve so you’re ready to take on the next challenge. I moved to LA in 2005 with $722.68 in my pocket – anyone who lives here knows that won’t get you very far. If I wasn’t spending the night on a friend’s couch, I was sleeping in my car. Thankfully, after about a month, I was able to stay with a friend until I had enough money to find my own place. During this time I was working with numerous local catering companies throughout Los Angeles and noticed there was a completely untapped market – professional, male model staffing. Seeing an opportunity, I began asking co-workers for their headshots and hospitality resumes. Once I had everything I needed, I asked a friend to help me build a website and create a handout detailing our services. Then I headed to Rodeo Drive and walked into every store, introducing myself and my new company, Adonis – LA’s premiere male-model staffing company. Within a matter of weeks, we had events for Dolce & Gabbana, Valentino, Bally of Switzerland, Bang & Olufsen, Luxe Hotel, and Angeleno Magazine. Clearly I was doing something right but I still had no idea what was coming. For the following three years, I experienced the typical ups and downs that any new entrepreneur experiences; training new interns every three months to assist me with events since I could not afford to hire anyone on salary, working multiple jobs outside of Adonis, stacking boxes of event rentals in my 200sq ft apartment until I could not see out of my window, not being able to write myself a monthly paycheck, and as any entrepreneur will tell you, the list goes on and on. But all of these challenging moments were always outweighed by the incredible benefits. Everyday I was learning something new, meeting the world’s most influential and fascinating individuals, building relationships everywhere I was lucky enough to travel to, and most importantly, doing what I loved. In 2009, I expanded my company’s capabilities to include production and design, prompting me to rebrand as Cory Martin Events. Due to the network I had built through Adonis, we were fortunate to immediately begin producing events for some of the world’s most respected companies like Rolls Royce, Valentino, Bentley, Versace, Vanity Fair, Bugatti, and the White House. Suddenly I was experiencing an entirely new set of challenges that required my attention. As I mentioned above, everything was going as planned until 2014 when I nearly lost everything. Both my business and my personal life came crashing down on me in an instant. From personal health issues that kept me bedridden for months while trying to care for loved ones in the hospital, to multiple client bankruptcies and subsequent lawsuits, everything that could go wrong, did. As things continued to spiral, I was forced to go into survival mode. After a few years, I was finally able to take a breath and begin to focus on the future. This is when I met my future best friend and business partner, Kevin Vanegas. He had an extensive marketing background and knowledge in the beverage industry, and we saw our combined skill sets as the perfect unity to begin creating our dream experiential events and marketing agency. This is how Martin & Vanegas Agency was born. We rebranded Cory Martin Events and combined our portfolios, launching an experiential event agency that has afforded us the opportunity to work together on some of the most incredible projects of my life, including intimate high-end experiences for private clients, to large, multi-day productions such as the Herradura Master Class Experience in Tequila, Mexico, Red Bull’s interactive activation at the Waste Management Golf Open, Katy Perry’s brand launch at Coachella to Luxottica Days, a luxury buyers experience we executed around the country. All in all, I’ll say this, from launching Adonis in 2006, to figuring out how to pivot an experiential events company during today’s COVID crisis, I can confidently say there will always be challenges that need to be overcome. Each one makes you just a little stronger so you can face the next unknown obstacle and let’s be honest – it never gets boring. It’s these moments, learnings & triumphs that make life so exciting. I am honored to be working with some incredible people that I get to learn from every day and that truly inspire me. Every day I wake up happy and excited for whatever life brings my way because at the end of the day, I am living my dream with the people in my life that I love so much. Today I am honored to say that Kevin and I are working on a new project that we are both extremely excited about and will be launching very soon. Both in today’s world and pre-COVID, we know that our clients are looking for intimate moments designed for their home. As we’ve pivoted during the pandemic to meet our clients’ needs in a new way, we saw an opportunity to create a highly-curated, on-demand cocktail experience. While we can’t say more just yet, we look forward to introducing you to Zwissle in 2021.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
Even now during the pandemic, California has so many great places to visit. When my friends come into town next month, we will be traveling throughout the state, spending a few nights in each area. Day one will be a private gathering of a few local friends at my house, making dinner with all the fresh ingredients we just purchased from the Hollywood Farmers’ Market. The evening will be all about catching up and spending quality time together. Day two we are heading up to Yosemite to backpack for a few nights. There we will go on some incredible hikes in search of waterfalls and majestic views. After Yosemite, we’ll head to an Airbnb in Napa where we will visit some of my favorite wineries including Jarvis, Staggs Leap, and Charles Krug. For dinner, we’ll head to Press and La Taberna. After Napa, we’ll spend our last few days relaxing on the beach at an Airbnb in Malibu. After spending the day in the sun, we’ll head down to Venice for a little gift shopping, followed by dinner at my favorite pizza place, Gjelina Take Away.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
Many incredible people over my lifetime have inspired me, made me a better human being, and I could say, ignited my spirit. I have been fortunate to have two amazing & loving parents who still, to this day, inspire me, motivate me, make time for me, educate me, and ground me when I need it most. And as an added bonus, I definitely inherited my mom’s “designer genes.” Outside my immediate family, the individual who has had the biggest, and most positive influence in my life has been my business partner and best friend, Kevin Vanegas. I have never met someone so driven, passionate, talented, funny, caring, and loving. My journey towards enlightenment began with him and I am so grateful for his presence in my life. Not only do we take time off from work to travel together but we are also partners in Martin & Vanegas Agency, as well as our next endeavor, Zwissle, that we’ll be launching in 2021.