Pithy Conversations with CEOs

New Podcast Series: Episode 3

Susan Grossinger and Rainlight

In this episode, the third of a new series titled “Pithy Conversations with CEOs,” Trusted Counsel’s Evelyn Ashley and John Monahon speak to Susan Grossinger of Rainlight, a boutique product design studio in London and Los Angeles. Rainlight’s talented team of industrial designers create products in all areas of architecture and design that include,; carpeting, furniture, and very technical curtain wall systems. In other words, anything that touches the architecture or interiors of a building is within Rainlight’s realm. Susan explained to us during the interview, “We’re part lab, part workshop and part studio.” 

Never in a million years did Susan believe that she’d have a career in running a product design company, but she says it’s great as she finds objects and products fascinating. She has a great quote that says, “Product is about the individual and their interaction with an object. It is the most personal of the design disciplines. Whether it’s your eyeglasses, the chair you sit in, or your steering wheel, we have a visceral interaction with design that affects our day-to-day life. The opportunity that makes experience extraordinary is itself an exceptional experience.”

When we asked Susan what sets Rainlight apart from their competition, she was quick to reply. For Rainlight, it’s about taking the approach of business consulting. They consult their clients every step of the way and takes pride in being their clients’ confidant. Rainlight works alongside their clients to look at the broader picture in helping them be successful in the marketplace. For example, Rainlight will review renderings of newly designed products and explain to the client that the products are meant to pair the brand identity with the design of the client’s space. That branding is not simply a new logo of a website, the space and objects are crucial elements of the brand experience for their client’s customers. The discussion could segue to reviewing an element of the client’s marketing strategy and that’s exactly’s Rainlight’s approach, business consulting. At the end of the day, however, Susan reminded us that it’s about the products and making them work in the designated spaces.  

Susan was recently honored by the International Interior Design Association (IIDA) with a lifetime membership. She is a three-time judge of the Product Innovation Awards. When she’s not working she’s active in environmental and animal rights non-profits and has served on the Board of Directors for Heal the Bay in Santa, Monica, California for more than 15 years.

During the course of the podcast, CEOs, business owners, and C-level executives will learn:

  • About Susan and her background (which is not in architecture nor design)

  • Rainlight’s approach to working with clients in terms of “the process” for product design

  • Susan’s biggest challenge with running the business

  • Rainlight’s business priority of the year

  • Susan’s words of wisdom for show listeners

Don’t miss a single episode of our podcast show. Subscribe to our show “In Process Podcast” on iTunes and now on Google Play to receive this episode as well as future episodes to your smartphone.

New Podcast Series: Episode 2

Liz Harvey. Blog post. Island Windjammers.jpg

In this episode, second of a new series titled “Pithy Conversations with CEOs,” Trusted Counsel’s Evelyn Ashley and John Monahon speak to Liz Harvey, CEO of Island Windjammers. Island Windjammers provides cruises in the Eastern Caribbean to seasoned travelers, the kind who’d likely turn their back on overcrowded massive impersonal cruise lines. Liz's guests cruise on any of the three Island Windjammer’s ships; Diamant, Sagitta, or Vela, and happily spend their recreational dollars for the experience of smaller ships (10 – 26 guests). Experiences include; visits to smaller islands in the Caribbean, exploring quaint villages, and having more personal activities such as snorkeling and beach barbecues. 

Incorporated in 2008 by principal founder Liz and a small group of investors, today, a large part of the ships fan base have invested in the company under Rule 506(c). We commented to Liz (whose past full-time job was as an operating room nurse) the idea that she’s raised capital in a very innovative way. Liz simply shrugged her shoulders and stated simply “Well, I’d never raised money before so I didn’t know how it was done. I just did it one way.”

The conversation with Trusted Counsel revolved around how Liz started the business, what she’s learned with respect to running a seasonal business, virtual management, and her sharp focus on the future. Success for Island Windjammers is all three ships averaging 80 percent or better occupancy over the course of the year. In 2017, when Caribbean tourism drastically decreased due to Hurricanes Irma and Maria, survival was difficult for Island Windjammers. Rather than throwing her hands up in the air and doing nothing, Liz and her team started a GoFundMe page. Using the small yacht, she and her team collected and sent relief items to ravished islands, and anything to help out. “Those are our friends out there too.  Friends of our crew member’s families, it really hit pretty close to home,” Liz told us. 

When Liz is not busy managing her business virtually, you can find her at Roswell Surgery Center in Georgia. Yes, she’s still an operating room nurse who’s always willing to help, although she’s no longer working there full-time.    

During the course of the podcast, CEOs, business owners, and C-level executives will learn:

  • What led Liz to form Island Windjammers
  • Her best tactic for marketing the business
  • How she's able to manage her team virtually from the United States
  • Her experience with fundraising and taking advantage of Rule 506(c) 
  • How she managed to solidify her business when 2017 hurricanes hit hard and nearly decimated her ships and the business

Don’t miss a single episode of our podcast show. Subscribe to our show “In Process Podcast” on iTunes and now on Google Play to receive this episode as well as future episodes to your smartphone.