We had the good fortune of connecting with Virginia Hankins and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Virginia, what habits do you feel play an important role in your life?
Tenacity, resiliency, creativity, humanity, and courage. So many things are easier than starting a small business in the State of California! I think you have to be a bit crazy here, or just really love a big challenge! When hours are long and funds haven’t come in yet then tenacity is what you consume more than anything else. When markets change, pandemics hit, or the unexpected happens then your creativity in thinking of a way to survive and your ability to quickly change to be resilient will keep you in business. But neither of those things is really what makes your business work. At the end of the day, your humanity, the genuine care that you give to your clients and staff members, will be what keeps people coming back to you and your courage in doing what’s right, not necessarily what’s easy, will be what makes people respect you.
What should our readers know about your business?
www.SheroesEntertainment.com ; www.lamermaidschool.com ; www.MiloTheUnicorn.com Sheroes Entertainment is a Southern California event planning company that makes party guests the heroes and sheroes of their own lives. We’re famous for having the world’s most realistic swimming mermaid characters but what makes us special is really our devotion to inspiring people to live our their dreams in social settings. Want a unicorn to crash you company meeting? Dream of fighting a dragon? Wish you could be a mermaid for a day? We can make that happen. It’s like having your own fleet of fairy godmothers on call…. we can even bring a pumpkin coach to a ball! It all started back in 2012 when I was disillusioned by aspects of the performing arts. It seemed like the only way to get roles back then as a woman was related to who you knew or who you had slept with. I was talented in my skills but I decided that I wasn’t going to sleep my way to the top! I wanted to make a place where a person’s talent and character mattered instead. It’s always been a goal that my company would do its best to give our incredible staff members a fair and safe working place while connecting clients with these legendary modern role models. I’m the most proud of the opportunities that my company creates to be inclusive and diverse to all people with talent. Most mermaid entertainment companies, specifically, will only hire people who are financially privileged enough to own their own costuming, thus making an exclusionary culture that statistically excludes certain racial demographics. We shatter that industry norm by running open casting calls where we deliberately cast a wide net, provide all of the costumes and tools, and take the “pay to play” exclusionary culture out of the opportunity equation. When it comes to character work we are our industry’s absolute leaders with equal, transparent, wage structures on job categories and our deliberate deviation from established look-alikes to fully original characters. By developing original characters we can put talented people exactly where they belong based on skill rather than basing where they belong on what they look like. I think that’s super important…. a person with grit and talent deserves an equal chance regardless of what skin color they were born with. I think that the biggest lesson I’ve learned is that if you want to succeed in business you need to remember it’s not about you. You have to genuinely like delighting people, listening to their feedback, and helping them to have a better day. If you do that and lead with both your head and heart then you can survive anything.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
I would absolutely take them to the Magic Castle in Hollywood. I’m a HUGE magic nerd! As the premiere magic club in the world the Magic Castle features phenomenal magic acts in a lush, old world, environment. Due to its no tolerance rule on cell phone usage it also is a brilliant place to have real conversations with people you want to know and to simply be present. If the person was not in the film industry I’d also take them to Universal Studios. The stunt shows, stage tours, and meandering roads never fail to delight my out of town guests who look for a sneak peak at the Hollywood life.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
To the incredible current staff and beloved alumni of Sheroes Entertainment – thank you for all of your hard work, dedication, positivity, and the joy that each of you brings to the world.
Other: www.milotheunicorn.com ; www.lamermaidschool.com
Mermaid Wrangler Photography, Suzanne Gonzalez, Crystal Olguin, Brenda Stumpf