We had the good fortune of connecting with Michael Zaretsky and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Michael, we’d love to hear more about how you thought about starting your own business?
11 Ravens was born naturally out of a shared passion for sport and art between myself, Michael Zaretsky, and my co-Founder Bernard Semerdjian.
My background is in table tennis. I was a professional ping pong player in Belarus, and became a coach when I moved to the United States in 1989. In 2003, I opened the Gilbert Table Tennis center in Los Angeles and also founded the Sport And Art Educational Foundation, SAEF, shortly after. Through Gilbert and SAEF, I met Bernard, and we bonded over our appreciation for table tennis and our love for beautiful design. Bernard’s background is in Interactive Digital Interface Design, graphics, and 3D Imaging, which he integrates into our collections at 11 Ravens.
We started envisioning pieces that were timeless and modern, voluptuous and sensual, avant-garde and innovative. We wanted our designs to elicit a visceral emotional response. We envisioned exquisite craftsmanship and high-touch service, where customers could create the piece of their dreams limited only by their imagination. As the company started taking off, clients began inquiring about getting matching pool tables to complement their ping pong tables, so we expanded into billiards, then shuffleboards, poker, blackjack, air hockey, foosball and more. As we grow, we acknowledge the importance of the interior design trade to our business and continue to serve the interiors industry, as well as end users, sports players, hospitality clients, and more. We continue to expand our offerings as a lifestyle brand.
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?
11 Ravens is a multidisciplinary design studio with a dedicated local manufacturing team (in Los Angeles, California). Our talented roster of designers and craftspeople produce high-quality, precision made game tables, furniture, and more. We are driven by a passion for innovation and meticulous construction, valuing our clients’ needs and creativity by providing personalized design services. We continually work to achieve a positive impact on the sports played with our collections and the interiors in which they live.
Building our business was not easy, but finding the solutions to the challenges is a fulfilling part of the process. Our challenges have included all areas of business, one example is meeting production requirements as we grow and maintaining the high standard of quality we represent. In many situations, including production, it is the staff that we hire who champion the positive change and evolution of our brands and designs. People bring the positive change and solutions.
We want everyone to know about 11 Ravens, because we are innovators in the entertainment and design sectors. We love creating beautiful, functional, artful pieces that offer solutions for our clients, catering to every style and need with customization and personalized creative guidance.
11 Ravens has also partnered with athletes including Steven Gerrard and Wayne Gretzky, artists like Ed Massey and Robert Standish, corporations Rolls Royce, Hastens, Rolling Stone and more – as well as having made tables for Kanye West, Ellen Degeneres, Steve Harvey, Sean Combs, Lilly Singh, Kobe Bryant and more. Our tables can be found in interiors of high-end hotels such as MGM Mandalay Bay, Nobu, Caesars Palace, W Hotel Bellevue, Hilton Key Largo, and Marriott Anaheim, as well as public spaces like Neiman Marcus Hudson Yards, Museum of Ice Cream Miami, Austin City Limits Music Festival and more.
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.
There are many amazing places in Los Angeles, but my first pick is an adventure in West Hollywood, a neighborhood I spend much of my time. It is a creatively inspiring design mecca.
Before WEHO, my favorite is to begin the day with a hike in Runyon Canyon. View the city’s spectacular views, exercise, walk your dog, or meet up with a friend. It is a great park to enjoy the beautiful LA weather.
Make your way to West Hollywood for breakfast at Urth Caffe or Verve Coffee Roasters. Walk the Melrose shops and art galleries; there’s even more to explore down La Cienega or Robertson.
You won’t be able to miss the Pacific Design Center, a tricolor sculptural building in red, green, and blue. Designed by Cesar Pelli and Norma Merrick Sklarek for Gruen Associates in the 1970s and 80s. You will find the most incredible furnishings and home goods. Some days you may even run into me at 11 Ravens flagship showroom. Stop by and play some games with us.
Then end the day with drinks or a meal at Cecconis, Zinque, Catch, or Gracias Madre. That’s a full day on Melrose Avenue alone.
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 would like to dedicate my shoutout to 11 Ravens Co-Founder Bernard Semerdjian and our amazing team. Collaboration is an incredible gift to entrepreneurship. Working together is what makes us successful.
Other: Pinterest https://www.pinterest.com/elevenravens/
Ben Revzin Photography Fine Focus Photography Sara Ligorria Tramp Photography Julie Soefer Photography Anthony Barcelo Photography Fast Pix Photography Photo Courtesy of Lilly Singh