In the latest installment of Savvy Startups, a series highlighting the personal and professional journeys of some of the most dynamic entrepreneurs, YFS Magazine speaks with Meredith Xavier founder and CEO of Ligne Agency, a Houston-based public relations and business development firm.
Meredith Xavier, the founder and Principal of Ligné Agency, a boutique PR and business development firm, always knew she would someday start her own business. “I always knew I wanted to be my own boss — that was always the goal,” says Xavier. At 23-years-old, she made her dream a reality.
After graduating college in 2006, Xavier moved to London to attend Christie’s Fine and Decorative Arts Connoisseurship Program. At 22, she received her Masters in European Fine & Decorative Arts before returning to Los Angeles, where she began dealing art. Then the recession hit.
Xavier gained employment at a Los Angeles-based high-end furniture showroom. She recalls, “the showroom had a lot of [internal] issues that I was tasked with helping the company fix. I soon realized that it was something I could offer for other businesses.”
In 2009, Xavier quit her job to start the Ligné Agency. Today the full service public relations and business development firm specializes in serving the Interior Design industry. Recognizing the diversified needs of their clients, Ligné provides public relations, product placement, marketing, brand development, distribution, imports, sales support and licensing services.
Poised for growth, in 2010, Xavier opened her second office in Sao Paulo, Brasil and relocated headquarters to Houston, Texas in 2011. In 2012, she became the United States Agent for one of her clients, Windfall Contemporary Crystal Lighting, where she now heads distribution and sales nationally for the brand.
Learn how Meredith Xavier started her public relations and business development firm and why she believes entrepreneurs should just dive in!
|Industry:||Public Relations & Interior Design|
How I Got Started
I always knew I wanted to be my own boss — that was always the goal. I’ve always been good at consulting and business development. I’m a problem solver, so I like working with people to help plan and strategize what their issues are and how I can help fix them. [Starting my business] … there really was no plan. It happened organically.
I obtained my B.A. in Art History from Pepperdine University in Malibu, California and an M.A. in the Fine and Decorative Arts from the University of Glasgow in the United Kingdom.
After [undergrad] I started working for Christie’s auction house in Beverly Hills, as an auction coordinator, cataloging and helping them coordinate sales.
They sent me to graduate school, through Christie’s Education an affiliated institute of the University of Glasgow where I studied decorative arts, [completed] appraisals, [and] studied antique arts. We were trained to have a connoisseur eye to work in the auction house. I developed a love, and fascination, for the decorative arts industry.
Uncertainty, Opportunity and Aha! Moments
When I moved back to Los Angeles, I was working as an art dealer. Then, in 2007, the recession hit. I [shifted gears and] started working in a high-end furniture showroom in Los Angeles. The showroom had a lot of [internal] issues that I was tasked with helping the company fix. I soon realized that it was something I could offer for other businesses.
I initially thought I was going to become a curator, which is why I pursued a degree in Art History. When the economy crashed, the opportunity presented itself to work in furniture. It opened my eyes to a whole different side of the decorative arts world — the business side. I found the business world much more interesting than the academic side.
In the fall of 2009 I left the company to start Ligné Agency. I already had a lot of relationships with other showrooms and manufacturers so I asked them, “Do you need help growing your company in the middle of this recession?” At the time things were at their worst for our industry. [These companies needed] someone go out on the road, talk to people about [their] product, help get some PR placements, and get [their] sales up. So, I just started knocking on doors and people signed up for my services.
I found a niche that nobody else was really serving. When I would talk about our services I would say, “What do you need, what holes do you need filled in your company to help you make more money? Let me fill those holes for you.” As a result, what we do for every client is totally different.
In 2009, I started the company on my kitchen table and it was after 6 months that we leased our first office. The company is now three and a half years old.