Never did she think that she would be hobnobbing with the stars when she was a corporate heavy at Morgan Stanley.
But her entrepreneurial skills, as well as her talent in graphic design, brought Valerie Guerrero to a new comfort zone and now she is as comfy chatting up actors as she was with the suits.
Valerie and The Artisan Group is a staple at GBK’s Luxury Gift Lounge, the brainchild of Gavin Keilly. Celebs are gifted with the crème de la crème designer brands, but it is the homemade gifts from The Artisan Group that catch their eyes. At a rooftop Golden Globe event at the L’Ermitage Hotel, we caught up with the designer.
“I got into the celebrity gifting business because I wanted a way to gift my products,” said Valerie. But she didn’t want to do it on her own. “So I started The Artisan Group where I could have many folks help me cut the cost of the event.”
The business soared quickly. “I took a step back so others could shine.” Valerie’s stationery business BeezKneez Designs is always included in the gift bags, and a favorite.
Right now, the Artisans are close to 800 strong. “There’s an application process. I look at photography, the quality of their products, and their websites. After all, these gifts are going to Hollywood royalty, who expect the best. Probably about 30% who apply are accepted into the fold.
“Spots usually sell out within a couple of hours.” She has also displayed at the Emmys, the Oscars, Sundance, Kids’ Choice Awards, and American Music Awards.
At the recent Golden Globe event, over 30 Artisan products were in each celebrity gift bag, valued at approximately $1,500. It was filled with hand-crafted jewelry, but there was also clothing accessories, spa and bath products, photography, and stationery represented.
Valerie and her husband, an aerospace engineer (with Tiruli, their Chihuahua who oversees the process), assemble all the products and ship them to Hollywood. “Fed Ex is my friend,” she jokes.
The graphic artist started sketching in high school and got into layout in her early twenties. She worked in the corporate world of Morgan Stanley for nine years, transferred to Cisco Systems, and the rest is history.
While we were chatting, The Office’s Kate Flannery stopped by. “Every girl who is a girly girl loves jewelry,” says Kate. “I remember opening up my mother’s top drawer to try on her jewelry. I am one of six girls, seven kids. All the girls appreciated great craftsmanship. Just the feeling of being feminine makes you feel pretty.”
She shows me a vintage ring that her boyfriend (an NBC photographer) of seven years gave to her. “When he gave it to me, he said, ‘It’s not what you think!’
“This ring means a lot to me. I have an affinity to the past. I love old movies. This ring has a Victorian vibe. It’s nice to see artists imbibe the past. I’ve always appreciated lovely things.”
Sue Facter owns a news agency that specializes in the lux-ury brand. Her work appears in USA Today, Los Angeles Times, Women’s Day Australia, as well as on broadcasts and the web.