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Meet Lizzeth Bastarrachea of Blue Velvet Studio in Long Beach

Today we’d like to introduce you to Lizzeth Bastarrachea.

Lizzeth, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
My history began in Mexico, I went to the architectural school in Merida Yucatan, Mexico. After graduate, I flew to Spain to take a master degree in Sustainable Architecture. Everything about renewable energy.

My parents were living here in California and I was living in Mexico, I used to come to see them every summer and every Christmas. Until finally 4 years ago I moved here with them.

When I decided to moved here, I thought in everything like an adventure, I never imagine the hard it would be for me. Emotionally it was complicated, the first year I was kind of sad, I missed everything about my country, I missed the food, my friends, etc. I couldn’t find the job a really like. After 3 months of getting here, I started to work as an expediter, I learned so much of California’s building code, later I apply for an internship with a Mexican architect who lived here and worked with Frank Ghery, the first month I was exited but with the passage of time I realized that it was not what I was looking for, after the internship I stayed working for a few more months, but finally resigned. The work environment, the office, my boss, everything was fine, I made good friends. But I wasn’t happy, I wanted something more. I am a restless person, I like to stay creative. Before studying architecture, I dedicate myself to photography for a long time, I like to be in movement and in the office, every day were the same, the opportunities to design something were very few. I only drew the blueprints, it was drafting every single day, that was killing me.

The week that I resigned, I had someone who wanted to remodel their kitchen, and asked me for help and I said of course that I can do it and I can also help you with the permits. Then I thought I could do it alone, have my projects on my own, no matter how small they were, but they were my projects and I would design them. Something I learned from the offices I worked in, there are always new things to learn, even if you have 10 years of experience.

However, it is not easy to start, I had few projects and again I started a part-time job with another architect, this time it was different just him and me. So I had an opportunity to design for him, and every day we did different things, I learned a lot with him. And at the same time I did my independent work, sometimes he advised me with my projects. I kept expanding alone and there was a moment when I couldn’t work with him anymore. We are still friends, sometimes if I can help him in something, I do.

I started working from my apartment, making appointments with my clients in a cafe, restaurant or wherever I could. Now the studio finally has its own space in Long Beach, however the work never ends and at night or weekends I work at home, I almost never disconnect from work. But now I am very happy, when we have the opportunity to design something and the client says wow!!! It is the greatest reward that can be felt.

It’s a dream come true. I came here looking to work for an architectural firm. I never imagined being running my own business.

Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
Definitely not, it’s still a bit complicated. When you start with a lot of passion and energy, you think that everything is going to be perfect and you think only about designing. But the reality is different, you have to deal with the city hall permits, building codes, deal with contractors, engineers, etc. There are many people involved and everyone has a different perspective on things.

One of the things that was difficult for me was the language. It is not the same to express myself in Spanish than in English. There were many things I wanted to explain about my projects and I could not, because my English is not the best. Fortunately, in this multicultural country, the people are very understanding, and I have been fortunate to meet very friendly people they understand this is not my native language. And at the end of the day, I can express myself visually, I explain many things in sketches, images, renders, etc.

Time is a key factor, most customers want to see quick results, because with all the new technology, they think you can do magic, but still is not very fast as they think. Takes time to do good projects, and get permits sometimes is a lengthy process and it’s something I can’t control. The pressure is always very high.

Blue Velvet Studio – what should we know? What do you guys do best? What sets you apart from the competition?
Blue velvet Studio is a small architectural design company, which is growing rapidly. We do interior and exterior design, residential and Commercial. No project is small for us, we are passionate and committed to the design. We designed everything. We are specialists in contemporary design. We also have knowledge in renewable energy, sustainable architecture.

What makes me feel prouder of my Company is the passion that exists, we are enthusiastic about each and every one of our projects, we know that everything is not always design, but when it comes to design, we are always ready to innovate and give the best of us. Our goal is for the customer to tell us: Woow, that is what I was looking for, etc. We are committed to all customer, we have designed logos too, in order to help our customers, create the image they want for their business.

What distinguishes us from others is that being a small company, our service is very personalized, I always deal directly with the customer, the clients become friends in our company. And the people who works with me are friends, are partners. We like that circle of community that is forming.

What is “success” or “successful” for you?
I think the success is complicated to define these days. Because for some person having a family or a lot of money is success, but for others run a company is a big success and for others just having a place to live is success. I think you heard this many times, but for me success is do what you like, enjoy what you do. You are not going to be happy every day, you will be very stressed, but when you can see built something you have created, is happiness. That’s why the art is something very human, the animals can’t create is a privilege of humans. I think more people have to invest more time in cultivate their talents, create things, anything, is very satisfying. I think it’s important to keep learning, keep doing, keep going, keep moving. The knowledge is never enough. And if something makes you happy, that is success for me.

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Image Credit:
Kevin Gutierrez

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