Women that see what is lacking in their environment and take charge of the situation are invaluable. So is Rachel Zaslansky Sheer when she saw the problem executives go through to hire the appropriate assistants. And she decided to bridge the gap.
Rachel Zaslansky Sheer graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Psychology with a major in Women’s Studies from the University of Maryland. To start her career, she had to relocate to Los Angeles, California.
Every journey starts with a small step and a giant leap of faith. Rachel’s first step on the corporate ladder was her work with two Talent Agents in the Motion Picture Department of Creative Artists Agency (CAA). Then she moved up as an executive assistant to Kevin Huvane, the Managing Partner of the same company.
However, after her work at the CAA, she decided to become the boss of her own, doing what she loves. Therefore, she started the Grapevine Agency in her Beverly Hills home with her business partner, Lori Zuker Briller.
As a founder of a top recruiting firm, sixteen years in the business, we decided to meet her to find out what makes this corporate matchmaker’s heart tick.
Beverly Hills Magazine: It’s so wonderful to get to know you better…Please tell us a little background about yourself.
Rachel Zaslansky Sheer: I am from Chappaqua New York. I graduated from the University of Maryland with B.A in Psychology and moved to LA to work at CAA. Then almost 16 years ago, I started The Grapevine Agency in the dining room of my Beverly Hills apartment (Roxbury Drive). I currently live in Brentwood with my husband and 2 kids.
Beverly Hills Magazine: What does it mean to be an entrepreneur?
Rachel Zaslansky Sheer: It means you have a vision and instead of just talking about it, you put your blood, sweat, and tears into it and make it a reality. Basically, manifesting your own career path! I come from a family of entrepreneurs so it was always in my mind, and in my blood.
Beverly Hills Magazine: That’s awesome! When did you start your business and why?
Rachel Zaslansky Sheer: I started The Grapevine in June 2005, because I saw a really big gap between employers and amazing strong assistants. Back then there was no social media or LinkedIn or blogs so we mostly found out about available jobs through referrals.
There was The UTA Job list and sometimes people posted on Craigslist or emailed a group of assistants at the agencies. When I worked at CAA I would get a lot of emails to the assistants asking if anyone was looking for work…and we just kind of passed it along to each other.
It seemed there was a missing piece that needed to bridge the gap between the really bright hardworking industry assistants, with the busy Execs needing good help. Out of that need, and my own frustration of not knowing “how to look for a job” an idea was born.
Beverly Hills Magazine: What is the most challenging thing about being an entrepreneur?
Rachel Zaslansky Sheer: I think the challenges of being an entrepreneur are the same things that make it fun for me. I like always having to navigate unchartered waters and figuring out how to do things.
I still learn things every day. I still have to check in with my partner from time to time to ask how she would handle a certain situation that arises. That’s the fun of it for me.
In a way, is creative in that you have to find solutions and make them work. Failing was never an option for us. I guess ignorance is bliss. I was 29 when I started this company so we just rolled with it all and never had any fear of it not working.
Beverly Hills Magazine: The most rewarding?
Rachel Zaslansky Sheer: The most rewarding part of being an entrepreneur is that it’s all ours. For better or worse we are stuck together, we are one, and you are vulnerable when your name is on the sign. It makes me want to work, harder and smarter and be successful because failing would be pretty lame.
Beverly Hills Magazine: I agree 100%. When I started the magazine, the realization that it was my own was an indescribable feeling of joy and freedom! What is your business mission?
Rachel Zaslansky Sheer: Our mission is to place great people in amazing jobs. We are job matchmakers and we take a lot of pride in making really strong, happy, and healthy long-term matches.
Whenever I make a great fit and hear how happy both sides are, it brings me so much joy. I still kind of give myself a pat on the back. That’s my favorite part of the job by far.
Beverly Hills Magazine: What have been major obstacles/stepping stones that you overcame to achieve your success?
Rachel Zaslansky Sheer: Look, like in all businesses there is competition. A lot of new agencies seem to pop up out of nowhere these days.
There is something to be said for being in the game for 16 years next month. When we started there weren’t a lot of people doing this. And specifically, not in entertainment.
All of our candidates and our clients come through referrals from people we know. It’s still sort of a Mom and Pop shop that way, and that’s how we like it. There is enough business out there for everyone, so I never really concern myself with what others are doing.
I keep my head down and service the amazing clients we have, and when they are happy, that’s how the company organically grows.
Beverly Hills Magazine: Who or what have been your inspirations?
Rachel Zaslansky Sheer: I have been inspired by all the experts in their field that came before me. I love to see someone’s brand be synonymous with who they are as a person. Whether it’s an interior designer, a music exec or a Chef, someone who is an expert in their field has always excited me.
I always wondered what my talent was. I used to ask my family and friends all the time. I finally realized that matching people together was my talent and I do it in all areas of my life. I get a feeling when I know someone should meet another person that I know for either business, friendship, or even love. It’s what I was born to do.
Beverly Hills Magazine: What makes your business different from others of its kind?
Rachel Zaslansky Sheer: What makes The Grapevine different is that we are a referral-based company. Most of the people that we deal with on both the candidate and client end, come through people we know. It’s like our own personal Rolodex that we turned into a business.
I and my partner came into this business with a lot of industry relationships, both personal and professional. We really tapped into our own relationships to grow our referral vines.
Beverly Hills Magazine: Greatest lesson you’ve learned on your success journey?
Rachel Zaslansky Sheer: When it’s your own business, you can do business or not do business with whoever you want. If a client is really tricky and it doesn’t feel worth it, cut it off. Respectfully let them know that you are not the right resource. Time is very valuable, especially these days, and often you can see the writing on the wall pretty early on.
I feel empowered to know that because it’s my business, I have the freedom to turn down work that I don’t want to take on, or feel that it isn’t in my wheelhouse. One of the perks of being the boss.
Beverly Hills Magazine: Three words that best describe you and why?
Rachel Zaslansky Sheer: Confident, intuitive, and straightforward.
Beverly Hills Magazine: How do you balance your professional and personal life?
Rachel Zaslansky Sheer: I am getting better at it now that I have my own family. I really carve out work time and home time and try not to let either get in the way of my task at hand. I work really hard at being present with whatever I am doing.
When I am with my kids over the weekend, I try to limit my phone time. When I am at work, I know they are well taken care of and delegate to my Nanny or husband and trust that all is well.
Beverly Hills Magazine: How do you take care of your spiritual self?
Rachel Zaslansky Sheer: I love to read and hike and be in nature. I also work hard to be present with the people that I love. I make a point to enjoy life to its fullest and try to enjoy the journey along the way.
I take time out to do the things that make me feel good like work out, visit with friends, get lost in the backyard with my family, ride my bike and cook. Without balance, I feel anxious and I am not successful in anything I am trying to do.
Beverly Hills Magazine: How has God played a hand in your life, or let you know that He is always with you?
Rachel Zaslansky Sheer: I believe that the universe always has my back.
Beverly Hills Magazine: If you had to give a piece of advice to aspiring entrepreneurs out there, what would it be?
Rachel Zaslansky Sheer: Follow your passion and keep your eye on the prize.
Beverly Hills Magazine: What is “success” to you? DEFINE success.
Rachel Zaslansky Sheer: For me, success means that I am happy at work as well as at home. I like to surround myself with good people in business and in life. I feel successful when I put a long day at work in and then go home to spend time with the ones I love.
Beverly Hills Magazine: Have you discovered a personal purpose in what you do?
Rachel Zaslansky Sheer: My purpose is to connect people and make them better for having known each other.
Beverly Hills Magazine: If you had one wish that would be granted, what would you wish for?
Rachel Zaslansky Sheer: I wish that everyone finds their true path in life and that we never stop working on ourselves. We are all a work in progress and should always be doing things to try to be the best version of ourselves.
Beverly Hills Magazine: Where can I readers go to find more information about you and/or your company?