Arena Place has undergone exciting new renovations and amenities lately, and so have our tenants there. One of the recent additions in houston office building, ShawDashian is a full-service Marketing and PR firm that specializes in mending broken wings, with an eclectic flair.
We caught up with Maria Southall-Shaw, General Manager, in their bold new office space, designed in daring red and black. A spacious view of the Houston office skyline is out the window at 7322 Southwest Freeway and abstract paintings energize the walls between window vignettes of adjacent offices. Maria loves the way that ShawDashian has more flexible options in their office space as a tenant with a property management company like Boxer. The company has been growing like a fish since they partnered with Shadow Creek Ranch to start the HOA Newsletter Magazine!
What is the hardest part about relocating?
SD: Although we are a new client to the Boxer property (3 months), we aren’t new to leased space. We have had three other office locations.
Relocating is always a nightmare, but the hardest things about relocating are the actual and intrinsic costs associated with a move – everything from changing letterhead, accounts and downtime, to reestablishing yourself within the community.
Amenities Of ShawDashian Office Space
What were the needs and amenities that you looked for when finding your office space?
SD: We are probably one of your most discriminating clients. We prefer our business in a high-rise office with a view, property security, a parking garage, janitorial, access to a major freeway, a cafeteria, and professional on-site management.
I came here because I loved your marketing first. I didn’t even know this building. I like the access here to the Galleria area and Sugar land. And then I have to tell you – PJ, he’s amazing. When I came into the space I was leery. When you’re considering moving, you’re on the fence. I hate moving, relocating is just wrong, and so is making a long-term commitment.
PJ educated me about the Arena Place building , showed me some floorplans, and I came in to see the space. I kept saying “I need about 7000 SF”. And I kept looking at it, and then I kept saying, well “How do I get a kitchen?” and “How do I get more windows?” So we just kept doing this back and forth, where I would shoot him an email and within minutes he would send me one back.
Then I said this one feels good. It feels good. Can I change it a little? He said as long as it’s within guidelines – don’t take down walls or anything.
I love Boxer and the its executive suites . I came in here with the intention to do one year, and I’m doing five. And now I’m talking to PJ about leasing another suite too across the floor on the other side of the elevators and continue my theme.
I enjoy having the energy of all of these other businesses in the same floor, too. Because when you walk in to work no matter how you feel – if business is down or business is up – you know that everyone in here is focused on doing the same thing: moving forward, growing and developing. So you draw off of their energy.
I am so upset that I didn’t find Boxer 5 years ago! I kept moving around every year because I just kept growing, like a fish.
What’s the story behind your business?
SD: ShawDashian Group is as unique as our name. Shaw (last name) D (the big D -my son Devin), ash (my daughter’s name is Ashley). I named my company after my children because as a parent, every day when I go to work and see their names I know that I’m doing it for them. That’s my motivation, my focus, maintains our integrity.
We are a full-service Marketing and PR firm that understands not only ROI, but our clients and needs. We partner with our clients as if their business is our business. It’s a true partnership customized to be successful. We are also the publishers of an amazing unique company, HOA News Mag. We create customized official association newsletters with a 98% readability. Our goal is to create a partnership between the HOA management company, the Boards of Directors, the Residents and Local Businesses. ShawDashian is formally in our fifth year now – as of August 23rd – and we have 13 employees (a baker’s dozen).
We have team members with over 20 years in Telecom Operations, 20+ years in all phases of Printing, 20+ years as a lead graphic and design artist, 10+ years in travel sales, 20+ years in mail distribution and the list goes on and on.
What did you do before ShawDashian?
SD: Everyone on our team has years of experience working in corporate America. My background is in sales and marketing working for Home Box Office (HBO) for over 23 years before I started my own thing. I was on projects like Sex and the City, Earth to the Moon, Band of Brothers, and I was with De La Joya on the Golden Boy Tour. I was the handler for these boxers in Vegas. Our role was to make sure they showed up to their signings, made it to the weigh-in, and showed up at the fight. On my projects like Sex and the City and the Sopranos, our role was to travel around and market the shows.
When we started to create Sex and the City when it first came out, we only had 3 episodes. But we hyped the show so that you felt like you knew the characters before you knew the product. We did that for the Sopranos too. But I learned that I was good at marketing. You can tell by your ratings how you are doing in your market, and my section always did very well. It was the greatest job in the world.
How was the company formed?
SD: When I left that major marketing group, I saw how bad a lot of the branding and marketing had turned in other industries. Then Cooke & Brothers, the developers out in Vegas, hired me to manage Shadow Creek Ranch, a master planned community in Pearland. I didn’t know anything about property maintenance, but I do know contract law and marketing. So I came in, saved them $2 million from their budget, and fixed their marketing. I’m still on contract with them there.
When I started working with HOA, I realized they do a lot of amazing things behind the curtain. Residents don’t realize what the HOA should be doing for them. So I went to the Board of Directors, and the developers out in Vegas and I started telling them they need to communicate what this group does for the residents, and do a better job at it. The local businesses need to have support, so the community will support the businesses. The Board of Directors needs a vehicle of a communication tool, and the residents need something so they can learn and speak back to the HOA. So we created HOA News Mag. They’re all customized for the association, and written by the association. We will have over 300 of these that we produce every year. They are made by the Board. We do a paper copy, a flipbook and a pdf. We are the publishers and the producers of HOA News Mag. So we revolutionized the HOA newsletter to be more resourceful and proactive in the neighborhood, rather than reactive.
We champion broken things and make them right. I always want to find the one with the broken wing, and then I want to fix it. The issue is manpower, resources, and I want to do it right, so I take baby steps.
Daily workflow ShawDashian
How does the daily workflow of your business define the way you use your office space?
SD: As a Marketing and PR firm, we are constantly in creative mode. Our world requires us to be able to see not only a glass half-full, but the potential of the open space within the glass. Our suite allows us to surround ourselves with open spaces which encourages us to collaborate with team members. We also have the ability within our amazing suite to go behind a closed door and focus in privacy with the cityscape of Houston right outside our window !
You know when your niche is right because it’s not uncomfortable to you. It’s kind of like this office – when I came in the walls weren’t painted, the furniture wasn’t here and the art wasn’t here. I didn’t own any of this. I just walked into a shell.
Other people thought the office was chopped up kind of weird because it has windows between the offices, and suggested I could do something with them. I wanted to leave them alone. They’re different. They help open up the space, and are also an art piece. When you go up to a mirror or a window, you want to look through it. Even when you already know what is on the other side – because you were just over there – you still find yourself looking past it. It’s part of the art to grab you and engage you when you are in the office. Mirrors and windows are gateways.
I definitely don’t want traditional – I like a more eclectic look. It’s very important to me that everything is recycled – nothing in here is brand new. I had the chairs reupholstered. I went to auctions for everything. These are steel-cased desks that have been painted. All of the paintings are recycled.
I’ve always been red, black and silver, white for my company. But everything in here is green. My whole organization is eco-friendly. The key in marketing is to take something and recreate it. I want my team members to understand that you can take what someone else would consider as junk and turn it into gold. You can tell by the office, in pulling it together and what we did.
And this desk has a lot of history – it’s fifty years old. It will be here when I am gone. I hope someone repaints it again though! (laughs)
How is ShawDashian evolving in the office space? What changes have been happening lately, or are around the corner?
SD: We were fortunate to work with PJ, who is an amazing Boxer management consultant. He didn’t tell us what we needed – he asked us and then gave us options. Our office is more than four walls – it is our inspiration and reminder of the opportunity for our businesses. Some would say it’s our “business getaway”. Since we have moved into our new office, business is booming, our networks have expanded and the possibilities are endless. We are expanding our markets to include Austin, Dallas and San Antonio over the next 10 months!
What inspires you?
SD: The ability to make a difference: with my family, business, clients, community or the world in which we live! It’s not about the dollar – it should never be about the dollar. The money will come, but the love in what you’re doing has to be there first. You have to love what you are doing and be good, so that you can push yourself every day to get better and better.