We had the good fortune of connecting with Kala Wahl and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Kala, can you walk us through the thought-process of starting your business?
Starting a business is something I’ve wanted to do for as long as I can remember, paired with my passion for fine arts and interior design. These two disciplines have been my drive from day one and my constant into and throughout adulthood. I am privileged to have had the opportunity to study art and interior design and learn the basic skills needed to land a job at a top architecture design firm. From there, architecture became a considerable influence on my professional career, along with interiors and the arts. As a professional designer, one thing became clear to me: I thrive working with people and knowing the “why” behind everything. So, my journey into starting my business has been a mix of practicing design and grasping the bigger picture of the industry; A zooming out to zoom in. For me, that meant using my skill set, knowledge, and experiences within design to establish myself within the industry in a different way. Ultimately, I discovered recruitment-for-design as an avenue to merge all my design experiences and “big-picture” goals into one. Before starting my own business, I had the pleasure of working with two respected recruitment-for-design companies. With a lot of focus and determination, I went from knowing little about recruitment to becoming an expert, which led me to establish my own company.
Looking back, it has been less of a thought process and more of a journey that I closely paid attention to. I allowed myself to listen and keep up the continuation of zooming out to zoom in. With this mindset, I continue to build my brand and establish myself in the design industry as a business owner doing something that I love. Every day I am building a community and connecting dots within design. I match the right people with the right people, and I get to have this birds-eye view of our industry – Quite exciting!
Alright, so for those in our community who might not be familiar with your business, can you tell us more?
Bureau is a talent acquisition studio for design as a discipline-based in LA. We practice recruitment within the landscape of interior design and architecture, primarily in Los Angeles, San Francisco, and New York City. Bureau’s foundation begins with design; We speak our client’s language and practice what they do. We are boutique and niche, which works well for discerning growth. We are thrilled about our partnerships and the design companies we’re collaborating with daily. The innovation and talent in our industry are motivating; many creative individuals are shaping the world we live in, and Bureau is grateful to be a part of it. I established Bureau as the culmination of my passion for design, big-picture thinking, and working with people. Bureau is an extension of myself; We aim to connect, listen, empower, take risks, collaborate, evolve, stay curious, enjoy some calm, and trust the process.
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.
When it comes to my personal time, I rarely use an itinerary. I’m more of a go-with-the-flow and live-in-the-moment type of friend. The exception is making a reservation/plan to dine at a restaurant of preference in LA. With that said, we would spend a day at a beach in Malibu to soak up some sun and tune into the sound of the ocean. We would cruise along The Sunset Strip and listen to some music. We would shop on Melrose and hang out in the Arts District. I would also introduce them to Mohawk General Store in Silver Lake. We would go on a hike in Griffith Park, play some tennis, and watch the sunset perched atop Mulholland Drive. I would take them to see the VDL House, the Eames House, and The Getty. We would do some wine tasting at Silver Lake Wine, eat some oysters and pimiento cheese at L&E Oyster Bar, have dinner at Son of a Gun, Pace, Cafe Stella, Night + Market Song, and order pizza from Cosa Buona and Triple Beam. We might even getaway to Palm Springs for a night or two.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
I want to shout out to all the women business owners, entrepreneurs, and colleagues who have become my mentors and friends, whether in the past or present. Simply seeing these women in important positions has allowed me to see myself there too.
I have to recognize my dad. He and I have always had an extra-special relationship where he is the go-to person I check in with. My dad has a ‘no-bullshit, honesty is key, and helping others is important’ mentality that he has drilled into my siblings and me from day one. When it comes to business conversations, there is no exception to that message, and it helps me clear my mind and move forward in the right direction. He is a no-excuses, look people in the eyes man, which has prepared me for all that life presents. My dad has helped me form my ethos.
My mom is my biggest cheerleader. Her strength and willingness to listen have been a powerful force in my journey. She deserves the world.
My husband, Sal, is my rock who gives me endless support and love every day. He creates this balance in my world that is transcending. Even on the busiest of days, I experience a sense of collectedness because of his presence.
Don Harrier was my boss early in my design career. He taught me about the meaning of advocacy and the importance of “It is not what happens to you, it is how you respond to it.” Don is now a Strategic Advisor and Leadership Coach at DesignIntelligence.
And finally, to all the incredibly talented interior designers, architects, and clients. These are the individuals and groups of people that contribute to my best work.
Some books that have transformed me are You are a Badass by Jen Sincero, What I Know For Sure by Oprah Winfrey, Live in the Light of Hope by Yoko Ono, 101 Things I Learned in Architecture School by Matthew Frederick, Play It As It Lays by Joan Didion, and Humans of New York and Humans by Brandon Stanton.
Portrait Image by Aldo Chacon @alchaconphotos