ELIZABETH MARTIN

Elizabeth Martin, a Brookstone graduate, moved from Atlanta, Georgia to Manhattan in the Summer of 2013 with the hopes of starting her own lighting line. New York proved to welcome new designers with open arms. She was continually encouraged to keep moving forward and today she is the proud owner of Sullivan + Phenix.  By Anna Logan. Photos by Nathan Leduc.

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Elizabeth Martin packed her bags and headed to New York City when she was 29. Interested in starting a new career and adventurous life in the city, Elizabeth went to work at a high-end home store in the heart of Soho. The Brookstone grad's position at Calypso St. Barth Home allowed her to explore her passion for interior design and work personally with top designers. During her time there, Elizabeth was able to work on multiple projects within New York City and out in the Hamptons. She fell in love with lighting and was determined to learn more about chandeliers. She made another career move, this time to an international lighting showroom in Upper Manhattan. She was able to work with world famous hotel chains like W Hotels and The Ritz-Carlton. Yet, she still was not satisfied. Admittedly stubborn, Elizabeth didn't like the idea of working for anyone else. So, she struck out on her own and started her line of handmade, high-end chandeliers, Sullivan + Phenix. Elizabeth spoke to SVM about creating her own line, her inspirations and even offers some tips on how to decorate your home.
 

Even though you offered interior design assistance to clients at a high-end home store in downtown New York City, you transitioned into designing chandeliers. Why did you focus on them over anything else? Moving to New York was a bold move for me. I was 29, and indecisive about what direction I wanted to go career wise. The most exciting part of it all for me was that the world was my oyster. In New York, everything is about who you know when it comes to getting a job. Somehow, with the help of some friends, I landed interviews with a few of the top companies in New York City. As much as I tried to get excited about a position in the ritzy Upper East Side of Manhattan, at the end of the day it wasn’t my passion. Still searching for the niche that fit me best, I decided to take a job in Soho at a fabulous high-end home store there.
I fell in love with all of the beautiful chandeliers that we had hanging in the store. I started to brainstorm and realized that handmade chandeliers were somewhat of an untapped market. I have always wanted to work for myself, so it was there that my idea was born and I became determined to make my dream a reality.

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How have you liked transitioning from working for other people in other jobs to creating your own line? Most everyone with a brain that is creative would tell you that we think and operate differently than most people. Truthfully, I can be a little stubborn and I have never really liked anyone to telling me what to do. Obviously this doesn’t work very well in the workplace; so being fortunate enough to work for myself was like a weight being lifted off of my shoulders.
I am constantly coming up with ideas and dreaming of new designs for my chandeliers. I definitely have found my passion, and I think a creative outlet in life is one of the best things you can have in my opinion.

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Sullivan + Phenix is such an interesting name, how did you come up with it? I really thought long and hard about what I wanted to name my company. I started making chandeliers in my Soho apartment in New York on Sullivan St, which is where the first part of the name comes from. Moving back home to Georgia after my time there was mostly to continue to pursue and grow my business. When I first moved back, I was making my chandeliers out of my apartment at the Eagle & Phenix Mills in Columbus. So the name is a combination of the start of my company in New York, and then the continuation of it when I moved.

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What style would you say your chandelier line represents? I would say the line represents a traditional style with a touch of glam. I definitely have a girly side, so I think the pieces are very feminine as well. I have always loved gold, and I think that aspect also adds elegance to spaces where the chandeliers are hung. I like the idea of a timeless look, where clients will always love their pieces and they won’t become a fad that eventually goes out of style.

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Who do you consider your greatest creative influences? I love designers who aren’t afraid to take risks. My favorite thing when I go into someone’s home are those “wow” pieces that almost make you gasp at how fabulous they are. This could be anything from a unique piece of art, to a pop of color in an unexpected place. I also love mixing different textures in a room. That said, I would have to say that Kelly Wearstler is definitely one of my greatest creative influences. Another would be my sister, Lulie Wallace! I cannot say enough about how much I admire her, and her work, and how far she has come in her career. She is definitely an inspiration to me, and I can only hope that one day I will flourish as much as she has over the years.

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What’s the most important piece of advice for someone buying a chandelier for the first time? Well there are the basics, which are measuring and making sure that the chandelier is the right height and size for the room. Most of the larger chandeliers hang over your dining room table, and the smaller ones can go in bedrooms, powder rooms, and foyers. To me, a chandelier is a piece that people overlook when decorating a room. Most of the focus goes to furniture, curtains, and paint colors. I try to make chandeliers that make a statement. It is
like a piece of jewelry that is hanging in your home.


Your travels have taken you all over the world. Do you recommend any one destination over the others as a great place to buy home goods? I think that choosing a place to travel is specific to what exactly you are looking for. If you are more into traditional pieces, the
flea market in Paris is a mecca of amazing antiques and all kinds of accessories for your home. This is on my bucket list for sure to spend as
much time as possible scouring the market for one of a kind treasures. Two of my most recent trips were beyond amazing. The first one being to Morocco. I can’t even put into words the sensory overload that you experience in this North African country. I was beyond excited
at the opportunity to get to explore everything that this place had to offer. The rugs there were unreal. I didn’t consider myself much of a rug person until I was able to flip through all of the handmade ones in the medina in Fez. Plus, the rugs are much less expensive than they are in the US. I have to admit, I smuggled 5 back home with me that were stuffed in a suitcase.


Last month, I traveled to Tulum, Mexico. This is an up and coming travel destination for young folks. Again, I was in awe at the market there, drooling mainly over the embroidered pillows, and the hand woven blankets. The next places on my list to travel would be India and Thailand.

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Finally, which Sullivan + Phenix chandelier do you consider a must buy? I am a little biased because I am the designer, and I want
my clients to love them all! The most popular pieces so far are the Laney, and the Riley chandeliers. Please stay tuned because there are
some new pieces I am designing at the moment and more fun colors and shapes to come! svm

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RED HAT'S JIM WHITEHURST

Columbus native and former Brookstone graduate, Jim Whitehurst, is the Chief Executive Officer
and President of Red Hat, Inc. the world’s first billion dollar open source software company.

By Roberto Caligaris

 Jim Whitehurst, the President and CEO of Red Hat has had an interesting career to date. He was a consultant for a number of years, joined Delta Air Lines right around September 11, 2001, and played a big role in securing the future of that company as its Chief Operating Officer, and now is the President and CEO of Red Hat (NYSE: RHT), the world’s first billion dollar open source company.     You graduated from Brookstone in 1985. When did you first think, “I want to be an entrepreneur? ”  I started playing with computers early on. I got my first one, a KayPro II, when I was a sophomore in high school. I thought I would go to college, get a degree in computer science, and then start a business. In the end, I took a more traditional career track working first for a management consulting company, and then a major airline. I joined Red Hat about eight years ago. It’s a bit eerie that back in high school I aspired to run a cool software company someday. And now, after being well laid in traditional businesses for almost 20 years, here I am.    You’re a practitioner of “Open Organization”, and you actually wrote a book about it. Why is this concept so important to you  ? I think I’m so passionate about this way of running a business because I’m truly a convert. Before I joined Red Hat, I had the opportunity to attend a prestigious business school, work at a top-tier consulting firm, and lead a large, well-know public company. I thought I knew how to lead and manage. Then I came to Red Hat and learned that there is a better way – at least if you want to have an engaged, inspired workforce capable of true innovation.

Jim Whitehurst, the President and CEO of Red Hat has had an interesting career to date. He was a consultant for a number of years, joined Delta Air Lines right around September 11, 2001, and played a big role in securing the future of that company as its Chief Operating
Officer, and now is the President and CEO of Red Hat (NYSE: RHT), the world’s first billion dollar open source company.


You graduated from Brookstone in 1985. When did you first think, “I want to be an entrepreneur? I started playing with computers early on. I got my first one, a KayPro II, when I was a sophomore in high school. I thought I would go to college, get a degree in computer science, and then start a business. In the end, I took a more traditional career track working
first for a management consulting company, and then a major airline. I joined Red Hat about eight years ago. It’s a bit eerie that back in high school I aspired to run a cool software company someday. And now, after being well laid in traditional businesses for almost 20 years, here I am.

You’re a practitioner of “Open Organization”, and you actually wrote a book about it. Why is this concept so important to you? I think I’m so passionate about this way of running a business because I’m truly a convert. Before I joined Red Hat, I had the opportunity to attend a prestigious business school, work at a top-tier consulting firm, and lead a large, well-know public company. I thought I knew how to lead and manage. Then I came to Red Hat and learned that there is a better way – at least if you want to have an engaged, inspired workforce capable of true innovation.

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You were one of the youngest COOs at Delta Air Lines, how was that experience for you? Looking back on it, I’m amazed they let me do it. I was 35 years old and the company was heading toward bankruptcy. However, working through that crisis has proven to be one of the most rewarding professional experiences I’ve ever had.
I had the opportunity to learn what it takes to be a leader, to really guide and influence a company in a difficult time. But more than that, to watch people ban together during such a trying time to save an important institution in the South, to be a part of that, was something I’ll never forget. We refused to let Delta fail on our watch. Even today, I’m so proud of how all of us handled that situation. It really showed me what’s possible when people rally behind a common purpose and goal.


You are currently the President and CEO of Red Hat, the world’s first billion-dollar open source company. How did you start up the company, and who are some of the companies who use your product? Bob Young and Marc Ewing originally founded Red Hat in 1993. When I
joined in 2008, annual revenue was around $400 million. And if all goes according to plan, we will surpass the two billion dollar mark next year. Not everyone has heard of Red Hat, but you’re most likely using our technology every day. Our products power airline systems, banking networks, and underlie the majority of stock market equity trades. We count more than 90 percent of the Fortune 500 as customers as well as influential organizations such as Dream-
Works, Sprint, and the New York Stock Exchange. We’re apart of the S&P 500, have close to 8,000 associates world, and were named one of the most innovative companies in the world by Forbes in 2015.

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You have given many talks, including a TED talk, about the tech future and economic side. How important is this issue for those working in building new technology or investing? It’s hard to predict exactly how technology will impact business and society. But those that figure it out have an opportunity to build extraordinary businesses. For me, I already lead an extraordinary business. I am interested in this issue because I think technology has the potential to make the world a much better place. But that requires that leaders in many areas like business, government, and academia to carefully consider its impacts and steward their own organizations appropriately.
My interest is more about making the world a better place for my kids and those who come after us. It’s a great privilege to be in a position to have at least a tiny bit of influence over that.

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Is America still the land of opportunity? Absolutely. I have an opportunity to travel around the world every year. And while many other countries are building their own economic structures that create opportunities, I still believe the combination of the best legal system in the world, the strongest capital markets, fantastic universities, and a culture that tolerates – and even celebrates – risk-taking still makes America the best place for anyone to get ahead. That said, I do worry that too much money in politics, a tax system full of loopholes, and poor performing CEOs getting paid millions makes many people think the system is “rigged.” In some ways it is. That’s a major issue we need to address.

What’s something you miss about the South the most? Since I live in North Carolina, I think I still live in the South! It’s a little different. The North Carolina BBQ can’t compare, and the accent is a little off. Seriously, I think I benefited greatly from growing up in a town the size of
Columbus. I think, or at least I hope, that I’m still a grounded person with strong values that I came from growing up in a community like Columbus. Durham, NC, where my family and I now live, is a bit bigger, but not much. And I am very happy to be able to raise my kids in a small city like that. svm

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