Monday, November 29, 2010

Noah Cohen: CEO of the Team Who Put Pittsburgh's Nightlife On The Map

Noah Cohen, CEO of Premier Innovations Group
Clique Vodka is sold in 120 state stores. Faded Industry Entertainment runs every major young person's party event in Pittsburgh. What parent company owns both of these (and much more)? That would be Premier Innovations Group, led by 30-year old CEO, Noah Cohen.

"It's a monopoly", Cohen explains. "We own the company who owns its own vodka, the company that plans the parties and the design company, so clubs actually pay us to promote Clique Vodka." Black Friday, for instance, Faded Industry Entertainment is hosting the "Black Out Event." According to Noah, Diesel is paying to host the event, buying Clique Vodka at full price and selling it via special prices. "This is very unique, very special, because most companies pay to promote their own products, we don't have to. We get paid to."

Aside from Faded Industry & Clique Vodka, Premier Innovations Group is also the master company to Primo Designs and Don Panteleon Tequila. Primo Designs does all of the ads (marketing) for Clique, so again, Cohen & his team have it set up so that nothing is done outside of the company. Everything is done in-house. Premier just recently merged with Faded and launched Clique Vodka this past August at Pittsburgh's PPG Aquarium. Clique Vodka has just finished its first "quarter" and Cohen notes business continues very successful. This is remarkable since this is the first time Pittsburgh has seen anything like this; also, a city's nightlife scene that drinks its own vodka. Also very notable, they have one of the largest social network followings in America. Noah explains this success is the product of a great team who puts everything they have into this company every single day. “They key to great business is surrounding yourself people who do things better than you”, he states. His job might include a lot as CEO, for instance traveling to the factories that make Clique Vodka, but he is humble enough to admit that the success wouldn’t be possible without his entire team. Noah takes pride in the fact that his whole team flourishes from an environment that they have all created: one that provides membership and belonging and ultimately provides the success that you see in the events happening here in Pittsburgh.

So, why Clique Vodka? Why, out of every vodka on the shelf, should we go ahead and spend $15.99 on a bottle of Clique Vodka? "The Latvian formula", Noah insists. "Clique Vodka is from Latvia, Russia and is made according to Russian standards and with Russian equipment, which are amazing. It's made with Latvian water, which comes from natural springs and is much better. This makes for a more pure, clean product. We had the opportunity to taste hundreds of different vodkas when choosing this formula and we chose the formula for Clique, so it is something my team and I are really proud of." Cohen says that when he started out, he knew he wanted a midshelf priced vodka geared towards the young drinker. The name "Clique" was chosen by the entire team to promote this idea; the vodka for the young drinker, the young professional or the young socialite.

Within the first few minutes of talking with Noah, you're able to see how passionate he is about the vodka, as well as the company he runs. "Working for something you are not passionate about is no life at all. My entire team is unique in that everyone is truly passionate about the work they do." He is truly an inspirational person. "I am internally and externally happy. I never complain because that denotes a negative attitude. I always have a positive attitude because when you're positive, you'll attract opportunities. Sieze every opportunity. When you're negative and 'down in the dumps', opportunities will pass you by."

"Talk about what you are passionate about to every single person you meet and one day, you'll meet somone who will change your life", Cohen says on the importance of not only networking, but perserverance. Another key component that harnesses success for Premier is his approach to scheduling his staff. "I hate mornings, so I avoid them. I want my team to achieve their optimal performance level and that doesn't always occur within a 9-5 shift for everyone. I don't work my best in the morning; everyone who knows me knows not to call me before eleven. When I am awake though, I'm always working." Noah finds that his team does phenomenal when they work without a time limit. If everyone that works for him is truly passionate about their job, the man must be doing something right.

"Society makes us feel bad for doing what we love", he adds. To someone who looking for a few key points on finding success, what better person to take advice from than a man who was already wildly successful before the age of 30? Don't try to squeeze into a mold that won't get you anywhere anyway. Find your own way of doing things. Noah Cohen is a perfect example of this.

When asked what he would say to someone who is struggling with finding success, Noah suggests keeping a positive attitude at all times. "To weather the storm, continue to push forward. Don't be afraid to share your vision and surround yourself with great people who are positive and supportive. Sacrifices and struggling is part of the business. No matter what anyone told me, I did what I was passionate about”. It's delightful to see a true example that a positive attitude (and a lot of hard work) really does bring success into your life.

The Vintage Rush: What is your choice way to drink Clique Vodka?
Noah Cohen: Clique Vodka and diet. I like a good dirty martini. Of course, though, I drink it straight. I have to do my due diligence and sample my product.

TVR: Why did you choose to start this business in Pittsburgh?
NC: Well, I was living here. More importantly, Premier would be one of the only spirits importers on the East Coast. It's also close to my family.

TVR: Being that The Vintage Rush is a bit of a foodie blog, I'd love to hear what your favorite restaurant is in Pittsburgh? Favorite city to eat in the world in the world?
NC: Here in Pittsburgh, Capital Grille (Downtown). Also, Springfield Grille, which is in Mars and Youngstown, Ohio. In the world, I loved the food in Venice. Gnocchi, chicken, bread.

TVR: Wine?
NC: Yes, I love reds. Mostly Shiraz and Syrah. I like Malbec. No white wine, though.

TVR: What is your favorite cuisine?
NC: Italian.

TVR: Let's talk some more about your travels. What was one of the craziest experiences you had while traveling?
NC: There were many, but in Degollado, Mexico, I was staying in my factory owner's house. They wanted me to ride a donkey in their town parade. No one spoke English at all. I rode the donkey for a little while, I tried, but it went crazy. I don't think it understood English commands. Another crazy thing that happened to me was getting stranded in Europe because of a volcano eruption for over ten days. 

TVR: Who has been the most influential person in your life? Personally and in business?
NC: Personally, my father. He has always been very supportive of me. On a business level, I'd say Nicholas Geanopulos. I've learned a lot from him about business. He's the only person I know who could get the President on the phone.

Primo Designs
Overall, one of topics that stood out for me the most during my interview with Noah's "quality of life" concept. This is a credo that he instills in the people who work for him, but I think it's worth mentioning to everyone who reads this blog. "A good quality of life consists of strong friendships, a healthy lifestyle and loving the work you do." He stresses how important it is to help other people and points out that it is a humbling experience. Focusing primarily on the healthy lifestyle aspect of that statement, Cohen takes fitness and health very seriously. "I tell people every day that a healthy lifestyle is important, so I made sure that I made it of great importance in my own life first." He works out twice a day, no matter what. What does he do when he's not running Premier? He's exercising. "I love to box and lift weights", he says of his free time. One of my goals when I started this blog was to promote that a healthy body should come before anything else. Noah is a great example that even someone with a busy schedule can work out often.

The moral of the story: work hard, play hard and drink Clique Vodka.


Get Naked With Your Health: Holiday Edition
Hip-Friendly Alternatives to Egg Nog

According to this month's issue of Shape Magazine, a cup (8 ounces) of egg nog has an alarming 343 calories & 19 grams of fat in it.  We all probably think of egg nog as being part of the holiday season and it might be a tradition that we can't eliminate.  Don't worry, Silk offers a low-fat version called Silk Nog, which I think is absolutely wonderful (and personally, I think it tastes better than egg nog).  While one cup of Silk Nog does have 190 calories, it only has 4 grams of fat! Also, there is NO cholesterol, since it is made of soy.  One cup also includes 6 grams of protein. 

TIP: Warm your Silk Nog, sprinkle with Nutmeg or Cinnamon & enjoy!

Shape Magazine also offers a low fat recipe of Egg Nog (150 calories per cup) in case you are anti-soy milk:

2 1/2 C nonfat milk
1 C evaporated skim milk
2 eggs
1 Tbsp sugar

Heat above ingredients in a saucepan for 10 minutes, or until thickened.  Stir in 1 tablespoon of vanilla and chill for an hour.  Top with nutmeg.  Serves 4. 

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

H&M Holiday 2010 Collection: Perfect Holiday Cocktail Dresses on the Cheap

The holiday H&M ad campaign is bringing in a lot of publicity for pairing up famous models with "new" models to showcase their latest collection.  I usually can't ever find anything I fall in love with right away at H&M, but I stumbled across their holiday 2010 collection and really dig it.  Plus, everything is totally affordable (everything is about $20-$40).  All of these dresses could potentially be the part of perfect ensemble for a holiday work party or an evening of cocktails. 

{Photos via H&M}

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Royal Wedding Is Set: Prince William & Kate Middleton have picked a date

Kate Middleton

While having my morning coffee today, I noticed that Prince William & Kate Middleton have set a date and location for the royal wedding.  The two are set to get married in Westminster Abbey (the church where Princess Diana's funeral took place) on April 29, 2011.  Not only is this wedding expected to be the biggest wedding since Charles & Diana's, but it is going to be a "public holiday."

The two announced their engagement on November 16 in St. James Palace.  I'll admit that I have always admired Princess Diana.  Kate, 28, is being compared to her because of her lack of a royal background & keen sense of style. 

Kate Middleton A close up of Kate Middleton's engagement ring as she poses for photographs in the State Apartments with her fiance Prince William of St James Palace on November 16, 2010 in London, England. After much speculation, Clarence House today announced the engagement of Prince William to Kate Middleton. The couple will get married in either the Spring or Summer of next year and continue to live in North Wales while Prince William works as an air sea rescue pilot for the RAF. The couple became engaged during a recent holiday in Kenya having been together for eight years.

Prince William proposed to Kate Middleton last month on a "romantic African safari". On why he gave her Princess Diana's blue sapphire & diamond ring: "“It was my way of making sure my mother didn’t miss out on the excitement and the fact we’re going to spend the rest of our lives together."

{Photos via CBS/Zimbio}

Monday, November 22, 2010

Girl on the Go Bumps Into the Cake Boss

Most of my day job consists of copy machines, coffee runs and editing recipe packets sent in by intoxicated local chefs.  However, once every couple of months, we bring in a celebrity chef and my department gets to deal with them directly (because they use our facilities to do live demonstrations).  Today, Buddy Valastro came in to promote his new book, Cake Boss: Stories and Recipes from Mia Famiglia. 

Aside from being the star of TLC's "Cake Boss", Buddy is the master baker in Carlo's bakery (Hoboken, New Jersey).  He is already a legend in the world of fondant.  I've been reading his book all day and it is a great book; one of those "I can't put it down" books.  Not only does it include some great recipes, but it is an inspiring story.  One of my favorite parts of the book is when he shares the picture of the wedding cake he made for his wife: my heart MELTED. 

Naturally, book signings make me a little excited.  I hope to one day sign books with a hot pink Sharpie marker, but anyways, back to one heck of an amazing man, Buddy Valastro.  He brought his kids with him to do the entire event.  While he was signing books, one of his sons sat with him and signed books, too! How cute!  Backstage (where I was) sat his wife Lisa, who is fully pregnant.  She is this gorgeous blonde with big hair and designer boots on, who at first look, you think "she's probably stuck up".  Just because, every other blonde who looks like that kind of is.  But, within the first moments of talking to her, you find yourself wishing she was your best friend.  She's clearly his biggest fan and they do everything as a family.  What an awesome way to promote a book about his family?  Though, as the book states, his family is HUGE.  So, there are many more besides who I met today. 

Buddy, who wasn't scheduled to take pictures with anyone, was picking up people's kids, posing with them and hugging everyone.  I was blown away by how big his heart was.  Not that I didn't expect it, but when you imagine a big heart, his heart surpasses that.  No exaggeration.  He is just a friendly reminder that success doesn't come from walking all over people, back-stabbing your way to the top and having a huge ego. 

{Cake Boss: Stories and Recipes from Mia Famiglia by Buddy Valastro}

{Of course, I snagged a signed copy of the book.}

Buddy's Insider Scoop:
"What it takes:  As business has grown at Carlo's, we continue to go through an increasingly incredible amount of ingredients.  Each week, we use:
800 pounds of cream cheese
1,000 pounds of butter
1 ton of shortening
2 tons of sugar
4 tons of flour"

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Jessica Alba covers December Elle

Jessica Alba, 29, is co-starring with Ben Stiller in next month's Little Fockers.  This month, she sat down with Elle Magazine (and graced the cover) for an interview.  The photos are really fun and bubblegum pink/California inspired. 

Jessica Alba
On her career:  "I know I haven't been swimming in the deep end with some of the movies I've done.  I wasn't trying to.  I knew what they were."

On comedy roles:  "I'm shy.  I don't like being the center of attention.  But when I do comedy, I lose all inhibition and introspection.  I no longer care."

On growth: "I’d been so afraid of criticism ever since I was young. Every time I’d get a critique or some redirection, I’d always just take it very personally, but now I have no problem with it. It’s just a chance to try things a different way. To play more with a character. It also gives me a chance to have some input, to use my voice.”

On the craft of acting: "Good actors, never use the script unless it’s amazing writing. All the good actors I’ve worked with, they all say whatever they want to say.”

On balancing her work life with her daughter, Honor: "The time I’m not spending with my kid has to be worth it, so when I sat down with my agents after I was ready to go back to work, I told them: It’s all about the directors.”

Jessica Alba

Jessica Alba

{Photos via Elle Magazine & Carter Smith}

Monday, November 15, 2010

Behind the Scenes: Return of the Fashion Rejects
....with Sew Addicted Model, Mariyah Wallace

"The Return of the Fashion Rejects" may have started a bit later than scheduled, but it sure wasn't any less spectacular.  "People need to understand that fashion shows almost never run on time", said Mariyah Wallace, modeling Angie Fec's Sew Addicted line, while getting her hair done.  Before the show began, behind the scenes, Mariyah also explained there is a lot of "hanging out, gossiping about girls we don't know and eating McDonalds."  When the show finally came on, it looked as though it went off without a hitch.  Backstage, Mariyah said she was nervous, but on stage, you'd never be able to tell.  All of the girls looked goregous.  All of them looked like they didn't have a nervous bone in their body.  This was one of the biggest fashion events of the season done by Pirate City Productions.  There were two fashion lines being showcased, Sew Addicted & [Dig.] Clothing.  Commonwealth Family performed right before Sew Addicted came out and amped up the crowd. 

One of my questions for Mariyah was to find out what makes a good model.  "Being able to pull off different looks, being versatile", she said.  One of the sweetest girls backstage, she doesn't have a dramatic attitude, in fact, no one did.  Angie Fec, while admitting she was in "stressed-out mode", was the sweetest girl ever.  The Vintage Rush was there to see it all: hair being done, hair spray being sprayed, make-up being applied, the girls lining up backstage, chatting with all of the models & of course, the final show. 

Here of some of the photos from backstage and throughout the night:

{Photos belong to The Vintage Rush/Sarah & Rose Davis}

{Mariyah posing in front of the Sew Addicted Outfits for the night}

{ Eye makeup close-up }

{Sew Addicted}

{"I once changed on this chair before a show"-MW}

{Angie Fec does last minute adjustments to outfits}

{Lined up, moments before the show}

{The Return of the Fashion Rejects: Sew Addicted!}

Friday, November 12, 2010

Natalia Fabia: "Fashionable Aftertaste Without End"

Over the Summer (from July 10 to August 7, 2010), the Corey Helford Gallery in Los Angeles held Natalia Fabia's latest solo art show, titled "Fashionable Aftertaste Without End."  I couldn't make it to the real show, but I loved her work so much that I thought I'd share a few pieces from the collection, so you all can fall in love with this artist, too.  A chandelier ("Kawaii Chandelier") made by Fabia was also showcased at the show, which is partially made of Swarovski crystals!

{All images below belong to Natalia Fabia}

{ "Beverage of Punk Flavor" }

Kawaii Puzzle

{"Kawaii Puzzle"}

Happy Friend Tree

{"Happy Friend Tree"}

Electric Marshmallows For Real Eyes

{"Electric Marshmallows for Real Eyes"}

Sweet Lolitas

{"Sweet Lolitas"}

Kawaii Chandelier

{ "Kawaii Chandelier" }

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Stacey Bendet: The Woman Behind
Alice + Olivia

{Photo: Paper Magazine}
Alice + Olivia is one of my favorite fashion lines; they are known for being "eclectic, yet sophisticated."  I blogged about the A+O Spring Collection a few months ago.  Who is behind this chic, pixie, ultra-cute line?  The answer would be Stacey Bendet.  She is CEO and fashion designer of the company.  (She is also married to film producer Eric Eisner of Disney.)

Launched in 2002 at Barneys New York, Alice + Olivia has been a success from the very beginning.  Stacey Bendet offers a unique style that everyone continues to be attracted to.  Stacey's nickname is "Staceypants" because in college (at the University of Pennsylvania), she was constantly on the hunt for the perfect pair of pants.  After years of tailoring and tweaking her own finds, she launched Alice + Olivia so every girl could have a perfect pair of pants.  There are now 5 Alice + Olivia stores open: Los Angeles, Malibu, Manhattan, Southampton, NY & Greenwich, CT.  (I know, I know, for those of you who are from Pittsburgh, where can WE find A+O:   At Bailey & Bailey in Sewickley!! Their phone number is 412-741-0700 for more information.)

Recently, in addition to the success of her clothing line, A+O teamed up with MAC (eye pigments, lip gloss & nail polish) and Minx Nails.  Be sure to check out those lines.  The line was named after her "two mothers"- her own mother and the mother of one of her college classmates.  "I try to make sexy clothes for the women who did go to law school", she explained in a recent interview.  According to Bendet, her parents wanted her to become a lawyer, but she chose to be a designer.  I guess if you have creativity urging to come out of you, you just have to listen!

{ Alice + Olivia for MAC }

Designer Stacey Bendet of alice+olivia and daughter Eloise Breckenridge Eisner attend the EB Medical Research Foundation picnic presented by Sinupret for Kids and Yogen Fruz held at The Malibu Lumber Yard on June 28, 2009 in Malibu, California.

{ Stacey and daughter, Eloise Breckenridge Eisner ...LOVE her nail color here }

{Photos via Alice + Olivia, Stacey Bendet and MAC}
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