Natasha Miller sits at the helm of Entire Productions, but she isn’t your average CEO. She is a hyphenate entrepreneur who began her career in entertainment as a celebrated jazz artist with seven records released on her own label, Poignant Records. Having founded Entire Productions in 2000, when she was still performing, this single mother and Des Moines, IA native single-handedly built a multi-million dollar company.
Today, Entire Productions is the go-to experience design and entertainment booking company in San Francisco and has expanded to Los Angeles and London. Their client base is growing exponentially and Natasha’s vibrant personality and client management prowess are at the core of it all. With the support of her amazing staff handpicked by Natasha, Entire Productions’ trusted expertise is relied upon to execute a slate of high-end social and corporate special events for an enviable roster of clients including Apple, Google, Gap, Louis Vuitton, Tiffany & Co., Salesforce, and more. They were recently added to the Inc. 5000 list of fastest-growing companies in America.
Natasha and Entire Productions are no strangers to media, either—they have each garnered press in their respective genres. In addition to performing as a jazz vocalist, Natasha employed her training as a classical violinist in the role of concertmaster for various orchestras and performed with her own Sapphire String Quartet until 2009. Her talent has been recognized by the Los Angeles Times, the San Francisco Chronicle, and The Wall Street Journal. Likewise, Entire Productions has been featured in Modern Luxury, Bizbash, and more. In 2017, Entire Productions was also named on The Knot Wed 100 list, which includes the most amazing wedding pros in the country.
Natasha’s passion and commitment to giving back drive her invariable contributions and participation with numerous charitable organizations. She founded and supports the Bobby Sharp Scholarship Fund at Blue Bear School of Music, in memory of her beloved mentor who was best known for writing Ray Charles’ hit song, “Unchain My Heart”. She has also served on the boards of the Symphonix Advisory Board and the International Live Events Association (ILEA), while volunteering and donating to numerous charities including Bread and Roses, Alameda Education Foundation, Little Kids Rock, Relay for Life, Alameda Hospital, Sophia Project, Midway Women’s Shelter, Music In Schools Today (MUST), and the Red Cross.
While Natasha maintains an active full plate, she always makes time for professional and personal enrichment. She is a proud graduate of Goldman Sachs’ 10,000 Small Businesses, the ultimate business, and management education program. Her other prestigious industry memberships include The Recording Academy (Grammys), ASCAP, SF Travel, and Meeting Professionals International (MPI). She resides in San Francisco, CA and splits her time between there and Los Angeles where she is a member and on the board of EO (Entrepreneurs’ Organization).
How did the concept for Entire Productions come about?
I was a professional classical violinist and jazz vocalist and didn’t want to turn down offers when I was already booked, so I started sending out other musicians in my place, then creating concert series, and it built naturally from that. We have grown into our name “Entire” as now we do full-event design, planning, and production.
How was the first year in business?
It was just me. I was a sole proprietor, so I just had to make enough money to live on so it was not terribly hard. I didn’t have great systems or processes and most of them were manual even though I considered myself to be progressive with technology.
What was your marketing strategy?
I relied on print advertising in bridal magazines for a while. Until the internet really took off, buying a 1/4 page ad in a magazine was a great lead generator. Then, of course, word of mouth was another great marketing tool.
How fast did the company grow during the first few years?
We grew very slow. I wasn’t interested in fast growth or hiring employees, scaling, etc. It was more of a lifestyle business for me until my daughter got older and was in high school. That’s when I started my growth and expansion.
How do you define success?
I’m incredibly successful now. I have a business I love, I get to learn so much still every day, and I get to employee wonderful people – both inside Entire Productions and also all of the talent, artists, and vendors. I’m creating my legacy and am very proud of it. Yes, revenue is important and net income, but the other stuff is more important to me.
What is the key to success?
Success involves a lot of work, passion, time put into learning and perfecting your craft, and building and maintaining relationships with both your clients and vendor/partners. The key to success is loving what you do.
What is the greatest lesson you’ve ever learned?
The greatest lesson I’ve learned is to find great mentors and advisers and to be constantly thirsty for learning. Once you stop learning, you start fading away.
What are some quotes that you live by?
Just Do It!
What are some of your favorite books?
I’m an avid reader of both fiction and memoir. Favorite books include Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston, The Good Earth by Pearl S. Buck, and The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver.
Tell me about one of the toughest days you’ve had as an entrepreneur.
One of my toughest days was also one of my most powerful. I had entered into a venue to help get my artists set up and our client was in a horrible mood and speaking to both me and my talent in a rude manner. I calmly explained to her that if she continued to treat us like she was, we’d pick up all of our gear and leave. I do not believe in the old adage, “The client is always right.” They are mostly right, but if they’re not being kind and respectful then they’re not the right client for us.
When faced with adversity, what pushes you to keep moving forward?
The fact that I am grounded, provide an incredible service, and believe in what we do keeps me moving forward despite any hardships. Adversity will often rear its head; it’s how you deal with it that can define you.
What advice would you give to young entrepreneurs?
You can start and run a company on gut instinct for quite a bit. Making mistakes is part of the growth, but don’t ever underestimate the power of learning from those who came before you. Just because you think you need to do it “your way” doesn’t mean you shouldn’t know how others did it successfully. Don’t be stubborn.
This interview was conducted for research purposes by author Jason Navallo for his upcoming book, Underdog.
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