We had the good fortune of connecting with Sarah Castro and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Sarah, why did you decide to pursue a creative path?
For me, artistry is handed down. My grandmother was the youngest of 8 from a desolate wheat farm in South Dakota. Her parents were poor and handmade much of what they needed, from clothing and ceramic pottery to barns to wagon wheels. She began creating when she was young, using pieces of charcoal from the fire to sketch on scraps of wood. She left at 18 to California, following her dream to become an artist, and she succeeded, landing a job at Milan Studios in San Francisco. I’ve literally seen pictures of her on top of a 10-foot ladder painting a 30 foot Billboard, in a pencil skirt and heels. This kind of inspiration was paramount in rooting my love and admiration in art. My youth was filled with art lessons, using a mishmash of mediums. I have old sketchbooks from when I was 3 years old, sketching still lifes with charcoal and using pastel to draw the color wheel in an attempt to understand color theory. I can still remember the earthy smell of ceramic clay and the sulfuric stench of hand-mixed glazes that filled my grandparents’ garage. My mother used to stock our closets to the brim with art supplies and let us draw on the walls in our bedroom and the soothing sound of my father’s 12 string acoustic guitar has always been a staple in our home. All of this to say that as far as I am concerned, artistry is broad and is more than a concept, application, or ability. It is passed from person to person, almost as if it was a valuable treasure or an heirloom, eliciting emotion and inspiration as it is shared. It doesn’t always have to be handed down from family, either. All artists have the potential to hand their passion to others, offering an outlet for self-expression to the next generation. Art breeds and blossoms and takes on different forms as it is passed and the fulfillment of being part of that creative lineage is why I chose to make art and creativity my full-time career.
Alright, so for those in our community who might not be familiar with your business, can you tell us more?
SBC Creative is a branding, graphic/publication design, digital media, art direction, marketing, and photography business. We are the potpourri of the creative design world, a one-stop-shop where you can brand your company, build your website, photograph your product and build your marketing materials all in one spot. Why did I build this all-inclusive creativity hub? Short story, I’m an artist from a long line of artists who loves to help others create. For the long story, read on. I majored in Journalism from Long Beach State. I’m from Northern California, the Silicon Valley, but after a life filled with art and theater, I went to college with the idea that I would be a journalist at a large magazine in a bustling metropolis. It was not long until I recognized that my ideas about my future didn’t align with what I truly enjoyed. I didn’t enjoy reporting and I wasn’t eloquent enough to be a hard-hitting journalist. I hated probing people for answers at their lowest moments to get the scoop. I didn’t have the stomach. I missed working with my hands, creating things. I pivoted. I began taking more graphic design and marketing classes. This was an important turning point because it gave me the tools that ended up being the foundation of my current company. Aside from digital design classes, I was also taking public relations and marketing classes and began to take these types of classes any time I had the opportunity. I had taken out loans for college and had to work part-time as a makeup artist at the MAC Cosmetics Pro Store at South Coast Plaza. I was meeting people there that I never had a chance to meet when I was in Northern California. I was working alongside and sharing tips with famous drag queens, reality tv personalities, social media stars and leaders of the cosmetics industry. Once out of school, I worked as a photographer and nightclub promoter at a gay bar. My sister and I began our own photography business and began shooting at every opportunity. We worked with some awesome people, artists and musicians, women and men from all over the US. My network became larger and larger and soon I was poached to do design, public relations and marketing at Chapman University, full time. It was not long until my work became noticed and I started doing side work for other universities in Southern California. My business blossomed from underneath me and eventually I was able to confidently end my position with Chapman and transition to working full-time growing my own business, SBC Creative. The relationships I made at my previous positions were the most valuable tool for the success of SBC Creative. As a digital design, branding and marketing company, our network is our lifeline. Through my network of friends and coworkers, my company has gotten contracts with counties like Santa Barbara, organizations like Long Beach Pride, colleges like Cal State Fullerton and Long Beach City, and then took off in the retail and beauty industry. My foundation of relationships ended up getting me contracts with companies like Yves St. Laurent Beauté, Giorgio Armani Beauty, Loréal Beauty at Sephora, and Deckers – Hoka One One. All of my success I owe to the people I have met along the way, fostering relationships and maintaining a rapport with the people that I work with. Each client I have, I make sure to go the extra mile and they return the favor by recommending me to others. I even built a testimonials section on our website to highlight our client’s glowing recommendations. None of this is to say that everything has been easy. Some clients are more challenging than others, which can be expected. The most important thing I have learned while building SBC Creative’s network is maintaining a positive rapport with clients by treating everyone with respect. Every email – choose your words wisely, every meeting – keep your composure, be patient, be kind, be assertive, but understanding. Be the person in the thread that people want to talk to. The worst things that I have seen in business have occurred when people treat others as if they are dispensable. In my experience, people that are disrespectful or dishonest in the workplace are people who are insecure themselves. Good business does not have to be cut-throat. That is an outdated work practice. We are all people. We all have a backstory. Even at my most frustrated, I remind myself of that. Remember that if you help your client through their issues gracefully, they will be more likely to trust you in the end. A happy client is key to success for any small business and the more challenging a project is, the more accomplished you and your team will feel when it has been successfully completed. All in all, fostering relationships has been vital for my success along the way. Respect breeds encouragement and maintains a healthy work environment, which is essential for innovation and creativity. People are key. Your network, your clients, and your team, if you focus on them, your business will have the foundation it needs to succeed. This has been my focus for SBC Creative since the beginning and it is what sets us apart and propels us forward, each and every day.
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.
This is tough. Having started living in LA in 2004, I have had many friends come for a week long + and we have done SO many fun things in the area. I’m kind of a fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants kinda gal (not much for an itinerary when I’m off the clock) but some of my favorite things I have done with visitors include the following: Gay Pride! Long Beach is my favorite, but LA is also a blast. If you can walk in the parade DO IT. I did it for 5 years and it was a BLAST. Universal Studios Halloween Horror Nights, we are BIG Halloween people and their production value is unmatched. DRAG SHOWS, anywhere is great… my favorite is Hamburger Mary’s in Long Beach and Rage and Mickeys in West Hollywood. Griffith Observatory, I don’t care how cliche it is, the view is beautiful and their planetarium shows are life-changing. There is also great hiking here. Take the Aqua Bus in Long Beach, it’s a cheap unique way to bar/restaurant hop. See the boat light-parade in the Naples channel in Long Beach during Christmas time. It’s festive and beautiful. Olvera street, there are a bunch of delicious Mexican restaurants and a wonderful scenic walk, filled with history. If your guest wants a workout – Long Beach: Groundwork Fitness, Yoga on the Bluff and Kayaking Naples Canal all offer awesome outdoor workouts. The Pirate Festival in Long Beach – this is one of the coolest festivals I have been to. It’s free and the amount of work these people put into it is epic. Museums: They are all great, my favorites are Museum of Latin American Art and The Getty Paradise Cove Beach Cafe – This is my favorite little spot in Malibu. You eat casual seafood with your feet in the sand. Catalina – It’s a quick trip to an island that you can literally do in a day. Fun. SHOP SMALL – There are small shops all over LA. Try areas that are less famous. I like 2nd Street in Long Beach, Silverlake (all over), Redondo, Torrance and Hermosa Beach. Favorite Bars/ Eateries: Long Beach – Tantalum (live music), Belmont Brewing Company (waterfront view), What’s Crackin’ (Best Brunch Food), Chucks (best diner), Roe (live music), RC Sandwiches (Best paninis), Bo-Beau (rooftop cocktails), I Love Sushi, Georges Greek Cafe, Captain Jacks (technically Seal Beach), Flux (technically Lakewood) San Pedro – Busy Bee, Sandwich Saloon, San Pedro Diner Hermosa – Brothers Burritos, Tower 12, Barnacles LA – Philippe The Original, The Abbey, Malibu Winery, Crossroads Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
In my life, I owe much of my creative spirit and drive to my family and friends – my parents, my partner and my insanely talented sister, shameless plug (teresacastro.com). Another strong inspiration comes from my fellow minorities. I’m in awe, daily, of the tenacity and endurance of these people. Their drive to succeed in the face of adversity is astounding. Women, the lgbtq community, people of color – the amount of fight they must possess in order to endure the prejudice of our society and accomplish their goals is both astonishing and motivating. The output of effort required for minorities to be appreciated or even recognized in their field is deeply inspiring and drives me to work harder, both professionally and personally.
Black and white images: Teresa Castro/Sarah Castro Moehair right hand image on computer: Keith Bryce