We had the good fortune of connecting with Muriel Bartol and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Muriel, what role has risk played in your life or career?
One of my favorite things to do is going to industrial auctions. There are few cheap and inconsequential rushes like standing in a warehouse full of cool machines and equipment i covet with competitors surrounding me, and signaling to the auctioneer I’m placing a bid. It is thrilling. But I also love having had a plan of what my maximum bid will be, strategizing my timing to minimize my price, and getting the best possible deal on whatever is on the block. This kind of risk is essential in business. You can’t start a business without calculated risk. It’s inherently a risky endeavor, but in order to succeed, you have to understand the amount of risk you are able to afford, and proceed from there. If you risk too much you can lose it all. On the other hand, if you don’t take enough of a risk, you will never grow.
Alright, so for those in our community who might not be familiar with your business, can you tell us more?
I was born with the curse of thinking I’m always right. Growing up with two older brothers who often dismissed me underscored that feeling because more often than not, my headstrong ideas bore out. And when they didn’t, there was always something interesting to learn and do better next time. Starting a business is a little like that; you have this vision and you have an a ton of ideas of how to make it a reality. You try this, you try that, solve a problem here, another there. You will make mistakes, but you learn from them. There are days when everything goes right. There are days when nothing goes right, but you get up and do it all over the next day with your eyes on that vision. What I have learned is that almost more than anything, staying focused on the larger vision, even as it evolves, is what allowed for whatever success I have. It’s easy to get mired in the quotidian muck, but what keeps me excited is the next challenge, the next step along the way, the next opportunity to see if my idea bears out.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
Los Angeles is such an amazing city. I was born in Mexico City and moved to California when I was 9. LA encompasses the energy and chaos of my native city, but with a uniquely LA attitude. I love that it’s so incredibly diverse with people and food from all over the world. I love that you can find pretty much anything you could think of here. A few months back I was looking for some very specific elastic and finally someone gave me a name and a number. A guy answered and gave me an address in South Central. I drove down there, and behind a nondescript door I find about 2 dozen ancient machines slowly weaving exactly what I was looking for. And the guy could not have been nicer. When friends come to visit, I always try to show them the gamut of what is on offer here. The high, the low, the in-between. The famous, the infamous, and the new secret spot that just popped up. Because LA is always changing, those go-to spots are always different. But there are a few iconic LA places to eat like shrimp tacos at Mariscos 4 Vientos in East LA, Golden Deli for Pho in San Gabriel Valley, Mien Noodles and Sichuan Impression for a taste of Chinese also in the SGV, and don’t forget Din Tai Fun’s dumplings (and everything else!). A summer evening outdoors enjoying food and libations at Momed or Salazar is essential. Pasta Sisters has the best pasta in LA, either at their original tiny storefront close to K-town or their huge dine-in spot in Culver City. There’s also more delicious burger spots, vegan spots, Thai, Korean, and more than seems possible. To burn it all a hike is necessary, and there are a lot of options. In the Angeles Nation Forest there are Brown Mountain Dam behind JPL, Switzer Falls further up the mountain, or around the Wilson Observatory at the very top. Or maybe venture Griffith Park, or to Malibu or Topanaga. For iconic architecture I would make sure to stop by at the Bradbury building in DTLA, and any (or all!) Frank Lloyd Wright buildings in the city. And there is so much good art to see. LACMA but also superb art galleries throughout the city. A visit to LA has to be tailored to your guest’s tastes, because there is just so much to eat, and drink, and see, and do. Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
The funny thing about life is that we are never successful if not for others. And sometimes it’s impossible to know who exactly along the way read something and then said something that piqued someone else’s interested and they became a fan, a customer, a mentor, or a life partner. We owe our success not only to the strong links to family and loved ones that invest heavily in our happiness and success, but to “weak” casual connections that carry us along the way with a kind word, good advice, a new perspective, or a purchase..
photos courtesy of Muriel Bartol or Josh Caffrey